Case In Point: Multi Browser Man, Editorial By Loyd Case

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The current crop of web browsers are total crap.  Let me explain...

Today's web browsers seem to be still mired in the Internet of five years ago. Back then, the browser wars were in full swing, and different browsers tried to lock you into their view of the Internet universe. Today's web is a multifaceted content multiverse. Yet despite common features like tabbed browsing, today's browsers still try to lock you in. Some sites are only viewable in Internet Explorer. Firefox locks you in with the vast array of cool plugins. Google Chrome grabs you with its integration into the Googleverse, particularly Google Apps. Apple's Safari appeals to Mac and iPhone owners. It's a ridiculous, fragmented state of affairs.

As I write this, I have two different browsers open: Firefox 3.5 and the beta of Google Chrome 3.0. Occasionally, I even fire up Internet Explorer 8.0, whose user interface is arguably clunkier than either Firefox or Chrome. I’m thinking about installing Apple’s Safari as well.


So many browsers, so little time.  Needless...

One reason is that I need to have different instances of browsers for different purposes. For example, I have one set of tabs for normal, daily stuff. Those tabs include personal email, Facebook, the Quartertothree.com. I open up a second instance that has tools needed for my blog at improbableinsights.com. That includes WordPress admin dashboard, Google Analytics, WordPress help and more.

This is irritating on so many levels.

Let’s take Firefox 3.5.2 first. I like the user interface of Firefox the best. Plus, if it lacks some key feature I want, I can find a plugin that performs whatever task isn’t built into the standard Firefox build. For example, I think the Firefox downloader is pretty clunky, so I use Download Statusbar, a very cool plugin. Another useful plugin is Firebug, which allows me to easily edit or debug HTML and CSS code while remaining in the browser.

If it were up to me, I’d just use Firefox all the time. Alas, that’s not possible.

There are two reasons for this. First, I keep my WordPress admin and author accounts separate. If I opened two Firefox instances or tabs of the WordPress dashboard, the browser gets confused as to which login is the current one. I’ve written posts as admin, and been annoyed when I couldn’t approve comments as an author.

So I open up a set of tabs as author in Chrome. There’s no confusion between browsers, plus the title bars look different enough that it’s easy to pick the correct one.  You see where this is going.  There's more though...

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3vi1 5 years ago

>> Firefox locks you in with the vast array of cool plugins. Google Chrome grabs you with its integration into the Googleverse

Idea 872: Create new Firefox plugin that integrates with the Whedonverse.

Note to self: Blame Marco for giving me the idea.

Dave_HH 5 years ago

I do so hate them all. Firefox is crashing lately on me too in Win 7, IE8 is such a fussy pig. Safari 4 is impressive but does something funky with fonts and smoothing. Opera... don't even go there. Chrome, I gotta take another look but it was pretty slim last I checked.

bob_on_the_cob 5 years ago

1. Loyd Case writing for HH! Big Smile

2. FireFox has been really crashy on my netbook under Windows 7. That and just plain slow. I switched to Chrome on it and I have been relatively happy with it for now. I like the way the UI takes up a bit less space than most. Firefox has not given me many issues on the desktop, but I do have the issue with "FF is already running, but not responding." I have to kill the process under the task manager.

digitaldd 5 years ago

[quote user="bob_on_the_cob"]

1. Loyd Case writing for HH! Big Smile

[/quote]

 

Agreed I used to love the stuff he would write-up on Extremetech. He's probably going to make some appearances on some revision3 shows too, i can see him on HDNation or Tekzilla.

 

ClemSnide 5 years ago

Well, I agree somewhat, but still have to toss my two cents in.

Part of the reason things get stuck in 2001 or whenever is that people get used to doing things a certain way, and really don't want to see alternatives-- just more of what they're used to. There have been plenty of experimental browsers, "new ways to view the Internet," and they've gone nowhere. Being an RPG addict, I bemoan the fact that the supercomputers of today are still running what's essentially the D&D of our grandparents (which is actually true; it's 34 years old). New keyboard designs are met with ridicule and die a quiet death. Face it, people, we're complacent.

It's easy to see why-- without a compelling reason to switch, people won't make the effort. And poor designs (generally choices made by engineers and not Human Factors experts) make it easy to stay with the state of the 10-years-ago art.

Web designers especially need to have a purge, and I mean that in the Stalin sense. I can't find more than a handful of websites where the words (enlarged to a point where I can read them) don't overlap and fail to fit the designer's chosen layout. It's one of the reasons I read HotHardware; the hinky text is at a minimum here. (It's also why I stay with Firefox. The largest text size in IE is still miniscule, same as the largest text size in Windows Help.)

But for my particular area of need, there's hope. As designers age, they'll get poorer eyesight, and will of course design for themselves... which means that low-vision users will get some love. A guy can dream, can't he?

 

I should also mention that Firefox is pretty damn stable for me; I honestly don't think I've had it just suddenly quit, and I cut down on the startup time considerably with a few tricks published in PCWorld. I run without a great deal of AddOns; I'd suspect that one of them was the culprit.Make sure your Adobe Flash player is up to date-- that's one of the leading bughouses.

 

I had a lot more problems with the same version under Vista than under 7 (the Not Responding part especially) so the OS must share some portion of the responsibility. Speaking about doing things the old fashioned way: Until downloading the RC of Windows 7, I was ready to go back to Windows XP. When you get a title bar saying "Task Manager (Not Responding)," you know things are seriously bad.)

Dave_HH 5 years ago

Clem, you make very good points about complacency. However, I think what we're seeing now is a race between browser developers to out-do each other rather than battle-test their code to make sure it's stable/compatible. Also, there is little question that making a browser compatible across the entire wild-wild-web, along with various operating systems, is literally a herculean effort. Good luck to them all!

kid007 5 years ago

Dave to answer your last statement, I believe we live in a generation that programmers and developer would be able to meet the demand. and yes right now is not like back in the day when IE, Netscape, Opera where in the market. Obviously I believe that in a short time things not only would change for the better but it would be great change!

Great thing are coming up pretty soon not only because Windows 7 is finally out and what keep hearing is finally something that not only would put Microsoft in the right direction but also Apple is working cool little things that would be interesting to wait for.

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