Jorge Villalobos
Ideas, technology and the occasional rant

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Why I prefer Firefox over all other browsers

You may have noticed so far that I am quite a big supporter of the Firefox browser. I don't see myself as a zealot or a fanatic, but I guess some people will think otherwise. I think it's important to explain my motivation behind this so that all the icons, links and shameless publicity that you see on this blog are justified or at least understood.
As a little side note: I'm mostly a Windows user, so Safari, Camino, Konqueror and other browsers aren't considered at all in this blog. To be quite frank, I don't think they are all that relevant, since Windows users are still an enormous majority of the Internet community.
I'm no expert on browsers, but I have a brain, so here it goes: Firefox is the best browser out there.
I came across this browser about a year ago, when it was still on version 0.9, I think. I recall reading about it on some article and decided to give it a try. I was a regular IE6 user until then, which now makes me feel dirty, and not in the good way. I had tried Opera and Netscape before, but they just didn't do it for me. Netscape was too slow and Opera was too weird.
With Firefox, it was love at first sight. Its clean and yet attractive interface impressed me very much right from the start. Opera and the new Netscape versions fall very short here, since their default interfaces are extremely loaded with stuff most people won't even bother to find out how to use. I want simple, I need simple, and most people will agree with me. It's also a very easy transition from IE. Everything is right where it should be.
Another aspect that I loved right from the start was the fact that pages loaded lightning fast and where rendered beautifully. I didn't make me miss IE one bit, which is not something I can say about most other browsers. They usually rendered pages very oddly, and that will never take. In defense of Opera, I guess I didn't give it that much a chance, but as I said, the interface discouraged me at once.
Tabbed browsing, RSS integration, security, quick search, web standards compliance, popup blocking... all of these are no longer options, they are basic requirements. That's why I won't get into these. IE is really losing ground here, and IE7 (now on beta stage) is still a very poor excuse for improvement. Lets hope that the final release of IE7 actually satisfies these requirements or very rough times are coming for its creators.
For the intermediate and advanced user there's plenty more. Toolbars are very customizable, and extensions provide a wide array of additional features. I have browsed the entire collection of extensions at and I have about a dozen installed. Web developers are going to be very pleased with some of this extensions. They really allow Firefox to become a powerful development tool.
Extensions are what I love most about Firefox. It's extensibility is extraordinary. Extensions allow you to further customize Firefox and become a whole lot more than a browser. You can use it to check the weather, get sports results, get Gmail notifications or even play games on it. The controversial Greasemonkey extension is the most extreme example of what an extension can do for you. This extension allows you to change the appearance and behavior of a website by executing scripts on them. A large and growing collection of useful scripts is available on the extension's site. I like it and use it for a couple of purposes, but it's not for every user. At least I don't think it is.
Creating extensions is so easy that everybody's doing it. You can create new Firefox extensions using only Notepad if you wanted to. Learning how to create them is not that hard if you're familiar with website design or XML and scripting languages. Check XulPlanet if you're interested in this.
My take on freeware and open-source software has changed since I started using Firefox. I couldn't believe that something so good could come out from a community of volunteers and the will and vision of a relatively small group at the Mozilla Foundation. I now contribute by reporting bugs, reviewing bugs and submitting patches. That's how much an impact it has made on me. I feel totally compromised to this cause; there's nothing that makes me feel more motivated now.
Firefox still has a long way ahead. Version 1.5 is under development at the moment. I'm using Deer Park Alpha 2 (the current development version of Firefox) to write this post. Firefox is close to attaining 10% of web traffic, and several bugs and glitches must be corrected before making the final jump into the mainstream. I have hope. I think it'll make it.
For me, Firefox is more than just a browser, it's a philosophy. It has changed the way I live. Is that wrong? I don't care.

Get Firefox!


Post a Comment

<< Home