firefox considered usable

For a long time I have been on the outside of many geek surfers, shunning firefox and pouring active scorn on it’s many failings.

Failings?! Yes, compared to my favoured browser of many years, Galeon, firefox (through to the last version2 releases) was slow in interface, memory intensive, and deficient in interface features. (session saving for eg was years ahead in galeon)

introducing Firefox3

Unfortunately, galeon ceased active development several years ago, and while it was kept up to date with the latest of the firefox2 era gecko engines, there were otherwise no interface changes, updates, bugfixes, etc.

So with firefox3, I have jumped ship. firefox3 improves the major issues I had with ff2 – most notably memory usage. ff3 still uses more memory for the same 70 open tabs as compared to galeon, but this is more than offset by improved rendering, basic plugins (flashblocker especially, though tabfavicon is another favourite now), and mere ‘continued active development’.

developing actively

ff3 nevertheless still fails in some aspects. Let me list the ways… all are relatively minor, so if you consider them nitpicking – that is fair. All are features I have appreciated from galeon. (in some cases I haven’t used them, but I appreciate the correctness and forethought of the options being there)

  • middle-paste-URL creates new tab: in galeon this combined middle-click-load of ff behaviour, and middle-click-link=open new tab. ie, you would paste the URL and it would open in a NEW tab, not the existing. That was beautiful behaviour, and ff3 is limited by comparison. However, I’ve noticed it less than I expected as I switched from xterm to gnome-terminal at the same time.
  • image context menu: I miss ‘open image in new tab
  • tab-organising: no keyboard shortcut to move tabs? No ability to detach a tab into a new window? No ability to drag a tab between windows? Galeon had all these things back when ff couldn’t even move tabs by ANY method!
  • no ‘clone this tab‘ option on tab context menu. This was surprisingly useful.
  • no ‘up‘ button.
  • returning from a crashed session gives me no option to save the session to bookmarks. It’s either try it again (and presumably trying to reload the page which crashed out last time!), or discard it all. I do like the more advanced saving of sessions (galeon was limited to only a list of windows and the tabs within them), but I am mildly concerned about what happens if a session file is corrupt (galeon was a relatively friendly XML file), or otherwise needs storing for future re-analysis. Expect a rant about this if it ever occurs.
  • Smart bookmarks. Galeon knew to load the regular bookmark version of a page if there were no parameters passed to make it smart. Firefox? Not so much.

Firefox3. It works. But in some areas I am now changing my usage to accomodate deficiencies which were solved years ago in other browsers. I’m not really complaining mind you – on balance ff3 wins more than it loses, and it is a net gain. I would not have switched otherwise…

STOP PRESS: thanks to

…turns out some of my testing was biased by Galeon usage; so whilst these are not obvious within the UI (indicative of poor design?), they are at least possible!

  • Cloning tabs – hold control when dragging the tab to clone it to any location
  • Moving tabs between window – aim for the tab bar. This can be mixed with holding control to clone a tab to a new window
  • Viewing image in new tab – hold control when managing context menu and selecting ‘view image’. Use ‘shift’ to get it in a new window.

this edit: 2008July09 09:52am

2 thoughts on “firefox considered usable

  1. nemo Post author

    2011… where is my firefox usage? ff 3.5.10 at work, 3.6.x at home I think…

    * middle-click paste of a URL? Still fail. I note that Chrome does this, but only for the [+] new tab tiny button. Still, a tiny target for one click is better than no one-click solutions that ff has.
    * open image in new tab? no biggie – context menu has ‘open image’ – just middle click the menu to open the link to the image in new tab :)
    * tabs cannot be organised by keyboard, but no biggie, I never missed it. Detaching and moving between windows are both possible now.
    * still no ‘up‘ button.
    * sessions – I now use a third party session manager (at home), and this gives me much greater control over sessions than galeon did. Still no option to save a session as bookmarks, but I can open a session, but disable certain tabs from opening…
    * bookmarks – yes, I’ve had corruption in this, and other sqlite files galeon uses. gar.
    * smart bookmarks – still dumber than galeon

    other nifty I DO like in ff now?
    * bartab plugin – when restoring a sesison, does not load all tabs. only the active ones. All other tabs are visible, and become loaded when first selected
    * treetabs – tabs down the left on increasingly wide screens. This gives me visually nested tabs for sub pages

    1. nemo Post author


      * bookmarks – yes, I’ve had corruption in this, and other sqlite files that FIREFOX uses. gar


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