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Let's just agree that Firefox has it's plusses. Visiting my folks over the holidays I was forced to use IE and it was unpleasant. Firefox has been my default browser since back when it still had other names.
More and more, though, I find it the most cumbersome and annoying browser I've ever used for the end user. Granted, NS4 and IE* are far more annoying for the developer. Even as an end user, I find that Firefox has really two things that recommend it to me
1. tabbed browsing (but I can get that with Opera or with IE via something like Maxthon or Crazy Browser).
2. The numerous developer extensions - developer toolbar, Venkman debugger, things like that which most end users don't care about. Judging from the broken pages all over the place, neither do a healthy number of developers.
My biggest gripe is the terrible tendency to lock up when reading PDFs. I have long noticed this, but it has become a real sore point since losing my high-speed connnection. Now I wait forever for PDFs and Firefox trips all over itself trying to handle them.
So my gripes not in the least in brief....
- freezes up when loading a pdf (much much longer hesitation than IE - as in an order of magnitude or two). Then, after showing the first page, if you scroll way down to an unloaded section of the PDF, the whole thing freezes up until the PDF gets loaded to that point. If you've already hit the "stop" button once, it thinks it *is* stopped so you can't even use that to stop the loading. Very frustrating on a slow connection. My browser is stopped up like that as I write this (on Wordpad since, of course, Firefox is stuck) and I can't even look at the content in the other tabs because the whole thing is frozen until it downloads the PDF to the point that I scrolled to. I can't even close the browser. On some occasions I've resorted to shutting down the internet connection and reconnecting. I suspect that PDFs are not becoming more common, but since losing the high-speed connection, it seems like every third page is a PDF - or at least 1/3 of the time I spend waiting for things to load is spent waiting for a PDF.
- many problems with copy and paste. It often doesn't work with the CTRL-C/CTRL-V sequences and I have to right click and select from the menu. It's the only program I have that does this and FF does it so often I don't even try to use keyboard sequences for copy and paste. I often find the same thing is true of CTR-T to open another tab. I often have to click it multiple times before the tab opens.
- sometimes a folder of my bookmarks disappear even though it still shows up in the bookmark manager (and no, it's not a scrolling issue). They reappear upon closing and restarting Firefox.
- often, if it's still loading pages in other tabs, it fails when you try to bookmark the current tab.
- password manager doesn't work if site demands password then username instead of username then password (I reported this to Bugzilla already and has been confirmed as a bug).
- password manager doesn't fill in fields until the page has fully loaded, which can be forever on a dial-up. There may be legitimate security reasons, but PM just doesn't seem as good as in IE.
- the search function. Aside from its annoying placement at the bottom of the screen (not obvious when it pops up; terrible ergonomics since it is as far as possible from top menus), there again I find it often won't open if I'm in one tab and content is still loading in other tabs.
- print preview gives you the same number of total pages, even as you change the sizing. So you have four pages and you're looking at page 1 of 4. Then you shrink the text tiny so you only have one page. Now you're still looking at page 1 of 4. But there are no other pages.
So there it is... the most annoying browser ever?
[edited by: tedster at 7:25 pm (utc) on Jan. 25, 2005]
[edit reason] remove specifics [/edit]
I. That stupid FF password manager.
I've always though the password manager on FF was bad for its bugs (I have contributed one verified bug in bugzilla on this) and its poor implementation (it won't do anything until the entire page is downloaded, though as I mention, this may be for security reasons - I don't know).
Now I notice that if you get your form, fill it in, and the entire page finishes loading before you hit submit, it wipes out that values that you filled in and replaces them with the ones the password manager assumes you want to use. This is annoying and easy to notice for the username field, but it's just plain annoying for a passowrd field since you can't tell that the field has been replaced. So you literally have to
1. request your page
2. hit "stop"
3. fill in your info
In a universe of reasonable usability, step 2 should *never* be necessary. Again, I think this is a case where FF is poorly designed from a usability perspective for people on slow connections.
2. View source.
I only recently realized that View Source in FF does *not* show you the source. It shows you the source as FF cleans it up. So I was perplexed for an hour about why a page wouldn't render. Turns out that it was missing a > that FF was "helpfully" filling in for me. I noticed someone on PHP.net complaining about the same thing who said "[I]almost become mad before i discover this". Same here... then I became mad in the other sense *after* I discovered this.
The latter one reminds me of Microsoft's philosophy, which can basically be summed up as "Our users are too stupid to be trusted with a computer, so we'll have the computer do all sorts of things for them. They'll like it." This user doesn't and that's the chief reason (rather than price or security) why he avoids Microsoft products. I think they have terrible usability for "advanced" users. Just like in politics, if the competitors adopt the philosophy of their opponents in order to win, the people end up with even fewer choices.
I eventually checked the source using internet explorer only to find that it was fine and an hour of my lfe was wasted. I had so much planned for that hour.
Incidentally, I never noticed the FireFox source-viewer changing anything, beyond adding a few empty lines here and there. And "find as you type" works in the source viewer the same as it does in the browser.
I never noticed the FireFox source-viewer changing anything, beyond adding a few empty lines here and there
That's because you're writing valid code :) But it does tidy things up a bit; as an experiment, create a page with some un-quoted attributes in it and then view the source...you will see that your attributes have magically acquired quotation marks. If I recall correctly, this behaviour has been present in Mozilla-based browsers since at least sometime around Netscape 4. I may be mis-remembering though...
I'll have to try setting a custom editor for view source.
As I mentioned, I'm sure that this is a longstanding 'feature' in the Mozilla series. I recall dealing with this problem with Netscape's browsers at least four years ago...
Let's face it, at least half of the reason that any of is using it is because we are developers and 1) want developer features and 2) spend inordinate amount of time on the web and feel great woe and hardship if forced to go without tabbed browsing for a day (he says with 13 tabs open at the moment).