I’ve been using the new browser for nearly 48 hours now, so I thought it about time I share my thoughts.
The Awesome Address Bar
I think the name is somewhat exaggerated, and I hated the look of the new address bar so much that I installed the oldbar extension, nonetheless the new functionality is nifty. It took some getting used to, but is now increasing my efficiency (a teeny tiny bit).
I don’t like, however, the fact that the bar no longer changes colour when you visit a secure website. The critics of the critics point out “it’s spoofable”, but that doesn’t change the fact that I *need* that visual indicator just to make me feel safe. Sure, it’s psychological and means nothing really, and there’s a tiny padlock on the status bar if you care to go looking but that doesn’t matter: if I’m going to part with my hard earned (well, let’s say earned) cash I want to feel safe about doing so. Searching for ways to change it back have returned fruitless.
The “go” button — which doesn’t say Go on it so I’m not sure why I’m referring to it as such — is far too small. Although I am for the most part a keyboard jockey, I do frequently right-click paste URLs into the address bar which means it’s quicker to click -> than hit the enter key. However, I’m now having to mash around with my mouse until I activate the button because the clickthrough area seems ridiculously small.
The World Record
Firefox 3 topped over 8 million downloads as the 24 hour period was brought to a close, hitting 14,000 downloads a minute at its peak, with the total still climbing as I write this. Despite a rocky start, I think it’s pretty amazing to be able to clock up that sort of almost instantaneous user-base, and I’m not surprised that the reported market share for FF3 is some 5.8—6% or so. Not bad for a browser that’s been out for about a day.
Facts and figures aside, the cynics are already calling foul. Ryan Stewart, a “Rich Internet Application Evangelist” dismisses the achievement in his entry “Break the Guiness World Record For Downloads? Flash Already Did It” saying “
we get 8 million installs of the Flash Player…on an average day“. Personally I think this is an unfair comparison — I download Flash because I have to, not because I want to — so I left a comment summing up my thoughts:
Given that you have little choice whether or not to download Flash — if you don’t, a huge percentage of websites don’t work — it’s hardly a fair comparison to Firefox. I could choose not to download FF and still have a variety of browsers at my disposal.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I’d ditch Flash plugins in a heartbeat if only Flash were less commonplace on the web.
Dislike for Flash aside, it sure will be interesting to see companies making and breaking more web-related records now that the Mozilla guys have started on it.
…perhaps I’m a Firefox fangirl at heart.
Tweaking it Up
Once I’d settled into FF3 I set about making customisations that I couldn’t do via the normal Options route (about:config is your friend). Those that come to mind are:
browser.tabs.tabMinWidth — I have a small default Windows font enabled so my tabs didn’t need to be a minimum of 100 pixels. I changed this to 75.
layout.spellcheckDefault — set to 2, the spell-checker also checks single line input fields in addition to textareas, etc.
network.prefetch-next — this option basically makes assumptions about which links you’ll be clicking next and preloads the page to make the page load more quickly. I don’t like the idea of using up bandwidth by loading pages I might not even visit so it’s set to false.
I reset the back button to normal size; to do so, right-click the toolbar somewhere and choose “Customize”, tick “Use Small Icons” and click “Done”.
You can now change the size of the search/address boxes by over the gap between the two. This brings up a slider cursor… and I’m sure this doesn’t need explaining, because y’all know how to resize something. :P
Minor niggles aside, I am quite happy with what FF3 has to offer, and I’m sure that there’s a whole horde of features I’m yet to find. If you’ve not downloaded it yet, why not?