This is another of my browser quick evaluations.
This time, I’m evaluating Firefox, to see if its a suitable candidate in my quest to replace Maxthon as my default browser.
I’ve been using Firefox while working with Entrecard blogs, so I know it lacks multi-threaded tabs… its annoying, but not a huge problem.
The border width is the standard windows width… good.
Now for customisability:
At first, there doesn’t seem to be the ability to create your own toolbar, but I eventually find it: view -> toolbars -> customise -> add new toolbar.
OK, I’ll start by installing a pagerank add-on… I install SearchStatus, and it can be placed on any toolbar/menu bar available to firefox… its an excellent addon.
Now onto advert blocking: I installed adblock plus, and flashblock, and using the standard settings, I hardly saw and adverts and all flash content was blocked until I pressed the “play” button. This is the best ad blocking I’ve seen so far, with hardly any training required from the start, and a simple ABP “button” to switch ads on and off.
RSS feeds worked, but the built-in feed reader (looks like an extension to bookmarks) doesn’t allow you to “mark bookmarks as read”… so I can’t be sure what I’ve already seen and what I haven’t. Looks like I’ll need to use an “external” feed reader (I’d rather use the reader built in to the browser).
Unfortunately, typing a URL into the address bar, and pressing enter caused the website to be loaded into the current tab… Alt Enter will open it in a new tab, but will activate the new tab… I tried the tabnavigator addon, but it didn’t do anything that I wanted. Next, I tried the “tab kit” addon. It worked, and it has some nice features (tabs on multiple lines, typing a URL in the address bar opens it in a new tab, grouping tabs, etc)
I wanted to switch between tabs by using ctrl-right arrow & ctrl left arrow. I tried tabnavigator, tab kit, and keyconfig (to remap the keys), but none worked. Its disappointing, but not a major problem
I wanted to close tabs by double-clicking on the tabs, and found a plugin to do just that (close tab by double click).
I also added an “undo closed tabs button” … nice.
drag and drop urls from a web page only works if you drag the url all the way to the address bar… I’d like to just drag it slightly, and it looked like it couldn’t be done, until I accidentally found what I was after (QuickDrag).
spellcheck: like opera, FF will check spelling in input boxes… but it only started working once I installed a dictionary (Australian).
I also installed the SearchStatus add-on… it displays pagerank (plus a few other ranking figures) on the toolbar… great for SEO work.
I installed firebug (web developer tools)… its nice, but I’ve found that Operas “developer tools” (dragonfly) is just so smooth and seamless. Dragonfly is so good, that I’ll happily switch browsers every time I need to do some website development/alterations.
Other add-ons I added are: “Menu Editor”.. when right-clicking on a link, I have now moved the option to “open link in a new tab” to be the first option in the context menu…. Remove New Tab Button” removes the unneeded “+” button at the end of the bar of tabs.
Exporting favourites from Maxthon & importing them (into Opera & Firefox) is a simple process.
So far, the biggest advantage of Firefox, has been the wide range of plugins… but that’s also its biggest problem, as its difficult to know what FF can do unless you’ve heard about a feature before.
Finding the quickdrag add-on is a good example of this… I knew what I wanted, but it took a day of idle searching before I found what I wanted.
I’ve heard that Firefox still has problems with memory leaks and memory bloat, but I didn’t really look carefully enough to make a conclusion.
But I can say that Firefox 3.5.3 has crashed, locked up, frozen, or just simply disappeared (gone from task manager as well) more times than all the other tested browsers, combined.
So, the final verdict: (Many people will say “I told you so”) I’ll be switching to Firefox as my main browser(with Opera as a website development aid). Its not perfect, but its my best option.