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If not for a handful of Firefox extensions and my obsession with Roboform, I've reached the point where I would probably rate FF as my #3 choice of browser these days, behind Chrome and, yes, after years as an IE hater, IE.
IE versus FF is a tough one now for me, but with so many amazing plugins, Firefox just wins. That's why I call it the Windows of browsers. I don't like Windows, but I love the amazing array of applications readily available. So I'm on a clunky interface, having sold out for a machine loaded with little doo dads that make it run as I like.
Similarly, I feel like in the interface design department, FF is just getting passed by. The amazing clean feel of Chrome and the stupendous speed at certain tasks makes it feel much more relaxing. And with the "Inspect Element" feature, it's so easy to see what's happening on a page.
And then of course, there's the fact that FF, like Windows, is prone to crash, but I must say, Vista and FF3 have really been very stable for me (FF2 was becoming unusable).
For now, Chrome is a no-go. It does not support Roboform (or any similar password manager AFAIK) and its own password storage is absurd - the passwords are stored in plain text and available to anyone with access to your computer without a master password or anything. So Chrome just can't be my primary browser.
So what's not to like on FF? There are the little niggles, just to name two that are bugging me today:
- If a download happens too quickly (i.e. it's done before I pick a save location), it doesn't clear the window and there's no way for me to clear my download list that I can find. Though the download long ago finished (like a day and a reboot ago), it still tells me, every time I close it, that I have a download in progress. And though there are no DLs in progress, it has been showing six for two days. Finally, on this restart of FF, I was able to clear the window. Why can't I stop them and clear it no matter what?
- I can close a tab that does not have the focus. I lose pages all the time b/c of this. IE is the only one that gets this right IMO. Chrome does a decent job though of making a much more clear difference between tabs (dark grey) with and without focus, so you're less likely to do this.
I could go on, but it isn't really that. It's also that the interface just feels dated and clunky. I think I finally get what Opera users are talking about when they say that. I've never been an Opera fan, but the feel is more smooth. At this point, I think Chrome and IE really passed FF by in that department.
You can debate the interface merits of OSX, Gnome or Vista, but they're all fairly clean. Increasingly, when I'm on FF, I feel like I'm running Windows 95, as it were.
I always thought interface aesthetics didn't really matter to me (usability and functionality, yes, but not pure visual pleasure), but lately....
...I can close a tab that does not have the focus. I lose pages all the time b/c of this.
Tab Mix Plus enhances Firefox's tab browsing capabilities. It includes such features as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs and windows, plus much more. It also includes a full-featured session manager.
On the tab bar:
...making a much more clear difference between tabs (dark grey) with and without focus...
I've never been an Opera fanI used to be a most ardent fan... for the last three(?) years, Opera has been a distant second on my list - now behind (at least) three flavours of Mozilla; FF, Netscape and Flock
After around two frustrating hours a few months ago, I think Chrome sucks like a very sucky thing, indeed
What am I missing?
I have it installed. I knew I could change viewed and unviewed tabs (great feature). I'll have to look into changing the color on tabs in/out of focus.
>>After around two frustrating hours a few months ago
At first I just couldn't get used to it. My wife said she liked it, but I just didn't get it. Then I started checking layouts in FF, IE and GC and more and more I just found I preferred using Chrome. Now I would default to it if not for the absolutely awful, insecure password management with lack of 3rd party integration.
What's to like? It's simple, clean, fast and has the "inspect element" built in which is like having right-click access to the Firebug DOM inspector. It's just very Zen, pared to the essentials to make Michaleangelo proud.
>>until they have separate fields for urls and search terms
My initial impression too, but that was just curmudgeonly habit in my case. Now I actually prefer it that way. I don't actually see the down side anymore and don't remember why it felt so uncomfortable at first.
And I think about all the times I accidentally enter a URL in the search box in Firefox. One field to rule them all.
As for your question... Well, that is NOT Firefox's fault in all likelihood.
Ancient history: traditionally, Internet Explorer has been very bad at respecting published standards of how the web browser should interpret the code that goes into building a web page, especially the CSS (Cascading Stylesheets). So pages designed to look good in IE often look bad in every other browser in the universe.
I'm not up on IE8, but Phranque surely is. Anyway, the way IE has worked in the past, is if you didn't have certain code at the top of your page (in particular a DOCTYPE statement) it triggered "quirks mode" meaning that new versions of IE would interpret code in the same non-standard way that old versions of IE did. Which means the page, again, looks good in all versions of IE but pretty much no other browser in the known universe.
So the short answer: your pages look bad in FF because the web developer didn't know or didnt' care about testing in multiple browsers.
So what do you, the new developer do? The best thing is to develop in a standards compatible browser (Firefox being one good choice) and then look at it in IE and use Conditional Comments [msdn.microsoft.com] to get things to work right in IE.
Hope that helps.