More on Firefox, IE & slashdot

Someone kindly submitted my post to slashdot this morning, and it took the site down for awhile – apologies. The first two times I was slashdotted it didn’t generate anywhere near the traffic this one earned.

I wanted to clarify a few things:

  • I left Microsoft in 2003 . I did work on IE for a long time (1.0 to 5.0), but the way the slashdot post was worded many assumed I’m still employed there: not true – I work on my own as a writer and consultant.
  • There is a good parallel discusson on Asa’s blog. Asa works on Firefox and is one of the folks that deserves the praise for making an excellent piece of software. I responded to a few comments over there.
  • Thanks for all the feedback and commentary. I doubt I’ll ever see this many comments for a single post again. It’s been fun – thanks for writing your opinions.
  • On ui design. The mistake we’re all making, myself included, is focusing on designing for ourselves. Designing for ourselves isn’t a sin, but if the game you want to win is market share, you have to work very hard to make sure your needs and wants jive with people who’s needs are less sophisticated than ours (Which is most of the planet’s web browsing poulation). Lots of folks said “my mom can do X” or “my friends can do Y” as justifications of how their experience matches everyone elses, but I think we’d all agree how fragile and anecdotal those claims are. Your mom might be a rocket scientist, and your friend might have watched you do whatever it is before they tried to do it themselves. I’m not saying I’m right, you’re wrong, or that your pants are on fire. Instead I’m saying that design arguments, ui design arguments in particular, can and should stand on firmer ground. There should be an essay somewhere called “how to have a meaningful UI design argument” (finger on nose).
  • On history trails, tabs and new windows. Folks pointed out at least a half dozen different ways both new windows and tabs are used. My stated opinion was narrow: apologies. But the concerns still strike me as valid (tabs make back/forward more complex, since there are now N history trails per browser window). I’ll need some time to read through all this, do some sketching, and rethink my stance.
  • On open source and design decisions. In digesting all of this, my primary thought is “how does each of these opinions/complaints/usage patterns, as diverse and sometime contradictory as they are, fold together into shaping a single design that’s of the greatest value to the most people.” I’m familiar with the extensions and how the community encourages people to modify, create and involve themselves, which rocks. It’s an innovation pool for ideas that can be considered for the core (Some might recall the Win95 and IE powertoys, it wasn’t community based, but the idea was similiar). But I flinch at using extensions as the copout to challenges to the basic design. It’s a great plan B, but as a designer, for core parts of the experience, the obligation is to dig deep enough that plan A stands tall on its own. I’m not suggesting anyone said otherwise: I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page. It’s surprising how few mainstream users, of anything, customize. All the data I’ve ever in my career (web,software, etc.) is on the order of 10-30%, and that 10-30% correlates with advanced, savvy, early adopter, industry types: e.g. most of you reading this. I posit that most people, for most things in life, live with the defaults (I mean this about software and life in general).
  • I’m still reading through all the comments, so keep them coming. I can’t promise to respond to all of it (150 comments and counting, plus e-mail) but I do promise to read them all.


52 Responses to “More on Firefox, IE & slashdot”

  1. Mari

    As a student worker at my college’s computing help desk, we have been told to suggest to everyone who calls in with a web problem to download Firefox. This has been standard since it was first released. However, one of my fellow HDAs insists on using IE because she hates the UI of Firefox. It’s not my favourite either, but I think that so far it works better than IE for my browsing purposes.
    My one question is, though, have you noticed the difference in start-up time? Any idea as to why FF takes so much longer? That’s the only major thing that’s bugged me so far w/ FF.
    Thanks for publicizing your switch! ^_^

  2. AstrO

    I like your idea about moving the tabs above the tool bar. If I had a choice I’d also move the close box to the tab instead of where it is now on the right. Something like this.

  3. dan pritts

    you’re darn right about the close boxes on the tabs rather than in the tab bar. this is the way safari does it and it’s much better.

    Firefox takes longer to start up than IE because IE is essentially always running – the IE application is a small stub that loads existing explorer bits that are already running. Too bad if you wanted to actually quit it and get your memory back.

  4. mml

    “you’re darn right about the close boxes on the tabs rather than in the tab bar. this is the way safari does it and it’s much better.”

    I disagree with that. Having the close buttons on the tabs makes it far too easy to accidentally close the tab when what you wanted to do was bring it to the top; especially for those with motor control disabilities, or those like me who are on a laptop with one of those infernal touchpad things. ;)

  5. Argon Sloth

    I agree with your view that an application should be deemed useful on its own merits. It should not need to rely on the extensibility factor to make it useful. However… when said application is hailed as the alternative on their way to the top. I prefer the extensible approach. Switching to a new Application with comperable functionality to what you are replacing is no doubt a daunting task. Even if the new application just has basic functionality. During the switch a user will find a number aspects of the new application that they like, but will also notice when behaviour of the new application differs from what they are used to. Having said that, could you imagine switching from a no frills text editor like Notepad to something in the emacs family? I’m sure there’s at least a few people cringing at that comparison. Sure emacs has got everything but the kitchen sink, but until a user can figure out how to use the left handed corkscrew to their advantage, they might as well be using Notepad. Now consider the option of Firefox having all of the extensions worth using (and there are a metric buttload of them) built into the core. And we’ve got a similar situation on our hands. People will know it’s more powerful, but, can’t be bothered to learn how to use it to their complete advantage. The average user would no doubt be overwhelmed by all the new features. That they may have difficulty finding the features that are the major draws to the browser. Things like Tabbed browsing would be drowned out by the myriad of features supplied by extensions such as Pun Of The Day.

    As you said very few people from the mainstream will end up using any extensions. In a perfect world the average user would discover extensions on their own, and make the browser that they want. As with any point that starts with “In a perfect world,” this is not the case. I see things like this: If somebody was able to convince the average user to to try Firefox in the first place, odds are somebody, possibly somebody else, will get them using an extension or two. For the average user extensions are the first step towards becoming a power user. But they’re steps that will be taking by the user, when they are ready, and at their own pace.

  6. AndyJ

    About moving the tabs above the tool bar…if you try Opera you have many more configuration options, and this is just one of the things you can try. But after trying out all the different options, I imagine most people would switch back to the default – which is the same as FF.
    I have the close box inside the tab in FF using the extension Tab X, though I do believe this should be the default.

  7. smb

    Reading your posts here are quite refreshing. The one thing discussions like this often turn into is a religious battle between UI design ideologies. Your posts show that you not only know what you are talking about but also willing to listen and actually consider different ideas from your own. Bravo!

  8. AndrewF

    I found your comments about the tab behaviour interesting; you specifically mention multiple histories, and I also found that as an annoyance when first using tabbed browsing in Firefox/Safari.

    I noticed the other day that instead of cursing “where’s my back button gone?”, I’d switched back to the previous tab and hit back, without thinking about it further. One wonders if this is something that you learn to ignore or accept in time; and it’s certainly an arguable design position – having a tab ‘start from scratch’ for me makes sense. Starting a new tab is ‘starting fresh’, without cluttering my desktop with all the additional chrome of a new window. After all, I know where my history is, it’s where I came from.

    I’m curious what the ‘other problems’ with moving the tabs above the toolbars are? To me, the implication of having the tabs down low is that your browser buttons share state (history!) between tabs; which of course, they don’t :).

  9. missy

    You’ll get used to the tabbed windows. Pretty soon, you’ll think they’re better than sliced bread!….cause, well….they are! I couldn’t live without my tabs. Now when I have to use IE, I cry.

  10. CK

    When I first switched from IE to Phoenix (0.2 or so), I found the new-tab-not-opening-the-current-page REALLY annoying. I was so used to opening a new window and having a copy of the current page. I think the main difference with Firefox is that you gotta get used to middle-click or ctrl-click to open links in a new tab if you want to branch out from your original page.

    When you think about it, if you’re following a link but want it to keep your place in the main window (like if you’re on a news site and you’re opening new tabs to articles that you want to read later), you don’t want to have to hit Ctrl-N, THEN click on the link or even right-click and select open in new window. If you’re opening a new tab (or window), it SHOULD be blank- it is a new browser session. For example, I hate using IE now for things like my online banking. If I’m on my bank site and I want to check something on another page, if I open a new window it is going to open my bank account info in the new window too. Now I have to worry about closing two windows when I log off in order to protect my personal information.

    Just my two cents.

  11. javathut

    Have you considered releasing your own version of firefox by just bundling firefox with all the extensions you think should be default for non-technical users?

  12. zed

    very interesting article.
    I’m curious as to your opinions on the Opera browser experience. (I’m a FF user, but it was a close call. it came down to a couple of FF extensions that i use frequently, and my dislike for Opera8’s mail program nonstandard behaviour/design)

  13. orange

    It would be fun if you begun doing work for the Mozilla Organization.

    Tho, the only thing I really agree with you is the lost history on opening up a new tab. :) I would love to see the history follows when I open up a link in a new tab (middle click) or when I open it in a new window — that makes sense to me. But when I open up a new fresh tab, I want it to be clean. I’m goingto check out those extensions Asa mentioned, that I hadn’t heard of before.

    I really like the thought, but I have never understood why IE reloads/parses the same page I come from when opening up a new window. I’ve always found this behaviour weird, and in many crashes, this was the cause! (If you fast pressed ESC, the browser wouldn’t crash somehow.)

  14. richlv

    first, thanks for a refreshing read.
    i have been an opera user for a long time, but lately i have taken a look at firefox, and some of the extensions have more features than opera, so i’ll keep my eye on it as a viable alternative.

    taking history to the new tab. when i was reading the first part, i somehow didn’t get what you are suggesting. only after reading the comment here by andrewf i realized what you are suggesting… see, if i had a chance between a browser that keeps history and one that starts with a fresh one iw ould ditch one of them in a moment. the one that keeps history.

    i want by tabs to be separate. i work on different thing simultaneously, and i don’t want to see some slashdot article after i have performed several mouse gestures to the left from another site.

    about find toolbar – i think it’s position should be configurable. for example, in opera, i have address bar at the bottom and tabs at the top, so that there is nothing between tabs & pages themselves.

    above tabs i have only status bar (just so that i can easily see what the links are pointing to) and toolbar – but i don’t use toolbar often, actually for bookmarks only. but then i don’t use bookmarks often as i don’t close opera, and even if i close it i restore last session…

    i’m talking from an opera user viewpoint, but most if not all of this functionality can be had in firefox, too, so i hope my points are still valid :)

    if i though anybody would bother to look i could post a screenshot of my browser configuration, that would sort of make it easier to explain how i have configured things for years now, but whatever :)

    there are things that i agree in your lists, there are things that i don’t – and this is why i support the stance tha, when possible, thing that two people would want to behave differently should be configurable.

    well, i also support kde approach of having no hidden options, so that sort of clashes with about:config in firefox :)

  15. Benjamin P


    Thanks for all this work, that, I’m sure, will be very helpfull for the community. All in all, FF is a collaborative work !

    I hope you’ll have an other opportunity to post such constructive notes about FF (like those) when FF 1.5 will be out, and you’ll know every single place/menu of the app (and get more experienced with tabs scheme). This would be great !

    Thanks again.

  16. Ben Calsen

    >Any idea as to why FF takes so much longer? That’s the only major thing that’s
    >bugged me so far w/ FF.

    Probably because Windows ‘cheats’, by loading a lot of common libraries in the background when you log in that you don’t necessarily need right away. So later on, it can start up common applications more quickly. I’m guessing Firefox doesn’t really use many of those since it’s cross-platform, so it has to load more stuff on demand. (This is also one of the reasons why OpenOffice loads a lot slower than MS Office, for example.)

  17. Paul Nijenhuis

    Mari, on your start-up time for FF:
    afaIk it stems from the fact that a lot of things the IE uses, are started/loaded when you start windows. Microsoft calls this integration.
    Pre: IE starts up very quick. Contra: things that hurt IE can hurt the heart of windows. Quite a few examples are known by now.
    The fact that FF takes longer to start up may be annoying, but I got used to it very quickly.

  18. Benjamin P

    I agree that extensions should not be the way to address design flaws.

    Anyway they’re convenient to test and validate new design concepts. Did you tried to verify the usability experience with the extensions that fix your remarks ? If you have tested some UI modifying extensions, did you found some of them that should become the default behaviour ?

    About tab browsing: you often talk about Ctrl-t (opening a blank new tab). An other frequent and convenient use of tabs is to open a new tab from a link to not disrupt the current page reading (by either midle clicking the link, or right cliking it and selecting “open in new tab” on the drop down menu, or Ctrl-clicking it). Did you found this usage and shortcuts ? How usefull/unusefull do you find them ? Do you think mainstream users do this ?

    And finaly: how good (well thought, easy to guess, easy to find documentation about …) do you find the default keyboard shorcuts set ?

  19. Mike

    Another vote for Pike’s Clone Window extension for tabbed browsing. I was an early adopter of Firefox/Phoenix and my only pain point was the tabbed browsing/history issue.

    With Clone window configured with: New Window -> Cloned Window and New Tab -> Cloned Tab, I have never looked back. I find it very easy to get used to using Ctl+T or the middle button on a link for a new tab and Ctl+N for when I actually need a new window.

    I install and configure this extension everytime I start someone on firefox and everyone seems to transition without a second thought. I would vote that the firefox team should move this into the core if they can.

  20. Anssi

    “Windows” and “tabs” are multiplexed communications channels between user and the computer. There are also the “toolbar”/”system tray” or whatever “panels” your FOSS system has, and some other side channels like the Windows “BSOD” ;-)

    “Tabs”, like the Windows “multiple document interface” are half OS/GUI controlled, half application controlled entities. The real big question is, how many different types of communication channels do you want to manage, how (confusingly) similar should they be, and which agent should manage them (OS GUI, application, user configuration, user interaction)?

    Personally, I use Windows not tabs in Firefox. I like to manage all my windows with familiar OS tools (alt-tab and toolbar). And I use “Minimize to Tray” to prevent me to loose my contexts too easily.

  21. Soulhand

    > I couldn’t live without my tabs. Now when I have to use IE, I cry.

    Install the MSN toolbar. Not quite as integrated as firefox’s tabs, but very usable.

    I have to look twice to see which browser I’m using nowadays – I use IE and/or Firefox almost interchangeably. Although my most used firefox extension is “open this page in IE” :)

  22. Hoss

    FF load times. I just rebuild my machine a few weeks back and after the obligatory Firewall, Avirus, (then) connect to internet and patch cycle was over the VERY first thing I did was install Firefox – Clean – no extensions and the load time wasn’t that bad. I mean really hard to see a difference. But man I love all my extensions. I stocked up on all my favorites (TabBrowsing, G-Mail, ForcastFox, ect.) and whatta ya know… FF did start taking longer to load. Eh.. It’s worth it to me.

    Also, ahem… disk fragmentation, disk speed, disk location… and another one I noticed, Home Page?? My wife’s home page (, IMO takes forever to load (regardless of browser). Mine ( pretty snappy. I’ve tried to get her to change, but she thinks it’s dull and c’mon… You have to pick your battles. I’d rather fight for the remote.

    Your mileage may very.

  23. niv calderon (israel)

    as someone who uses AVANT browser more than any thing else i have no problem with multi-TAB-Back/forword. i think its becuase i use my laptop and not a desktop, so my hand doesnt leave the keybord and i can Alt-Tab everything.

    i used the FF and Netscape browser before and was disapointed to a degree i uninstalled them (few times).
    the design (for me) wasnt intuitive as was suggested. for me to see the whole wide range of websites i regularly visit i had to download many many plugins. and to think i had to do it 3-4 times (each time i installed it again)… IT WAS A HEADACHE.
    what i suggest for the designers next time is to prepare a popup window or a small menu or Tab in the Prefrences that lets you click once on everything that you might need (and its not a lot): flash, activeX, Java etc… think of it this way, on this subject you need a “ONE TIME CLICK-AND-FORGET THINGY”.

    just reccently i added Opera to my browsing XP. without the commercials stuff its a preaty cool browser.
    i havent learned it in deapth yet but one thing i can tell you- you wrote that FF needs to put the Tabs above the Back-Forward. in Opera it’s there- and yes- it’s much more logical.

    now for my favorite AVANT. its Tab are down, where i like them, but they are moveable :)
    i like all the options it gives me. i like i can move everything inside to wherever i want. i love it that when i shift click it opens a new tab and that i have the freedom to change it (no way i’ll do it)

    but i’ll tell you what i use most, and maybe it’s your work.
    all my Favorites are inside Favorites- – Links . i put this folder under the address bar- so all my folders (inside Links) are shown.
    from all my friends and family- i’m the only one who works like this, insted of opening the Favorites dropdown menu everytime or taking a huge sum of the screen space for it.
    i love it- avant gives it to me easily (more than any other browser) and that’s why its my favorite.
    i guess it’s your idea, or not, anyway THANKS, ive enjoyd reading you

  24. Hal

    I couldn’t agree more with your comment on how few mainstream users customize. The FF team would do well to put out a “Firefox Lite” which would be a barebones implementation and a regular Firefox distribution that would have the most popular extensions installed. Netscape did something very similar but they disabled some features I refuse to give up (search prefixes being the biggest one) so that disqualified it as a browser for my own use.

  25. Mike

    I agree with everything you mentioned. I am a tab user however. I love Tabs. One thing that is really nice about it is that it frees up the Start bar at the bottom of the Windows screen. More room for more applications so that they don’t force a new row of application to be listed. This is huge for developers or anyone who runs a lot of applications at once.

    The ideas of the location of the Find functionality are spot on! I’ve noticed that there are issues with certain web sites causing havoc with the Find functionality. Unfortunately I can’t remember an example.

    I’ve also had issues with javascript errors stemming from extensions causing problems with websites. Sounds like a scope issue.

    Anyway, I’m really glad that you chose to write you’re comments in a objective, constructive manner.

  26. jeb

    Another comment about tabs. Keep in mind they are still a fairly new concept. It is SO true that wherever you put them you can/will run into design issues. Like missy said, you’ll get used to it. Remember when the WWW was new and the idea of a web browser was foreign to everyone?

  27. Mike

    A little birdie told me that the Go menu is kaput for 2.0, to be replaced by similar functionality in a more subtle area. I find I use it a lot for getting back documents I was just reading but closed the tab. Its actually the last 10 pages opened that aren’t in an open tab.

    About the findbar positioning, it was initially top-oriented, but this was less intrusive and didn’t shift content down, which was a big feedback to the initial impl. There’s some back and forth about moving the sidebar to the right for similar reasons.

    I didn’t read the comments on the first post, but its Ben Goodger who deserves the biggest chunk of the gatekeeper credit, though there’s others like David Hyatt, Blake Ross, myself, and a few others who have all fought the good fight on feature creep etc.

  28. Steve

    Hey Astr0, your screen shot of how you’d like it to look is exactly how Opera is laid out.

  29. Marc Mengel

    This is actually a followup to AndrewF’s comment as well as the original post — people are discussing whether tabs share history with each other or not — I think it should not be all or nothing — to wit:

    if I make a new, clean tab/window it should have no history. Similarly if I open a bookmark in a new tab/window (which I wish I could do).

    If I “open link in a new tab” (by middle clicking, in my config, which I really like) I would like that new window to get a copy of the current history (obviously with the new page appended…) Ditto if I open in a new window. In my mind I have made a branch in a history tree, with each branch ending in a window…

    So I guess I don’t consider history to be attached to a window; I find it really annoying that I can’t get back to someplace I’ve been recently ’cause I closed that window/tab. I want
    there to be an overall history tree, which starts at my bookmarks and/or home page, and branches out from there, and each window is attached to some branch of the history tree.

  30. Jared

    I find in using firefox that my tabbed browsing doesn’t usually require a window history – my tabs ARE my browsing history. I’ll use this blog as an example:

    1)I read the slashdot article in my original window. That article had a link to
    2)the “Why I Switched to Firefox” blog, through which I opened tabs to
    3)the “How to build a better browser” article and
    4)this response to the original blog.

    As I read each article and found an interesting reference, I opened the link to that reference without interrupting the flow of what I was reading, without losing my original page, and without ending up with a gazillion windows cluttering my screen. This one window contains everything I’m viewing related to this subject.

    On the note of people asking why FF takes longer than IE to open – not my area of expertise but I assume it has something to do with IE being built into windows and therefore having most of its resources already open and ready, whereas FF needs to open and/or access whatever resources it needs before it can open the browser window itself.

  31. John Olsson

    I think that (as you say) extensions are a great way to experiment with different UI changes to FF before accepting them into the core application. Its something like “live prototyping” where you let lots of folks test different crazy ideas. Some of them will turn out to be very bad and some of them might turn out to be quite good with some tweaking. This is actually what has happened before (tabs were an extension) and is happening in the upcoming 1.5 version (lets you reorganize tabs with drag and drop).

    What I think would be an interesting exercise is if you told us which extensions you would pick (possibly with what setting to use as default) to include in the FF core. :)

  32. Horst G

    i was using IE and Netscape 7.2 before using FF. i installed early betas of FF and now i´m using FF v1.5.
    after using early versions of FF i switched back to ns 7.2. the default implementation of tabbed browsing was too BAD.
    i was searching a long time to find the right plugin wich gives me everything i want:
    * open a new tab near the open tab
    * close all tabs left / right the active tab
    * a “new tab” button” (!!)
    now i´m happy.

    btw: the worst “features” of IE are the following

    * fixed size fonts are not resizeable. totally stupid. especially for people with disabilities
    * the font-resize button is disabled (default). so 90% of the people will never use it.
    * i cannot open a bookmark in a new window.
    * IE History: imagine i´m surfing from 23:50 – 00:30.
    there´s a nice feature: “sort in access-order (today)”
    this feature works nice till midnight. after that i loose my access-order history 23:50-00:00!

    and so on…..

  33. AlbertPacino

    Hi all,
    I want to clarify something about “slashdotted” first of all you were not “slashdotted” you were digged (the so called digg effect) i submitted the story on before even heard of it..

    Look here mate,

    You got an amazing 1431 diggs and 11 blogs directly linking to you (multiple that number by 100 non direct links)

    I got nothing against slashdot nor IE, i myself is an old Firefox user and i am happy to hear from an expert like you the difference between the 2.

    Bless you and keep up the great work!

  34. Cheski

    Hi Scott,

    I heartily agree with you that some core functionality should be built-in. It’s really annoying to hear people say that you should install all these extensions such as mouse gestures, tab-behavior extensions, add bookmark here, stop or reload button, download manager tweak (btw: this UI should seriously be revamped imho!), disable targets for downloads, adblock, saving files in archive format, etc. They should be out of the box!

    Nevertheless, I think that features like the search function, rss, extensions, better security, the options menu, etc. rock.

    My annoyances with FF:

    – How it deals with video and audio files, as well as PDF, Word, etc.
    – Favicons always get confused
    – Extensions install their own menu item under tools; this can really get messy!
    – can’t resize / move he search bar without extensions. i actually believe it should be in the same place as the find bar
    – should be standard a simple button to clear the cache (online transactions) and delete the history on the toolbar
    – it should allow you to work with directX but safer (in the sense that you must actively whitelist it)
    – why can’t ff by default have the behavior that you can strip off tabs and start a new instance of the browser? abs could really be more sexy.
    – file > send this link per mail is missing

    I think we need a site where developers and users can discuss FF issues and come up with great ideas, like you do.

    Have a nice week!


  35. wolfgang

    hi scott,
    may I suggest that you do yourself another favour and try opera as well (it’s my primary browser for nearly 4 years now, on linux btw, I tried ff when it was released and stuck to opera)
    some of the issues you found with the ff ui (search at the bottom etc) is either done better or more configurable in opera. moreover, it is still the most w3c-compliant and nevertheless the fastest browser (concerning rendering on linux) and most of the nice features in ff (like tabbed browsing, mouse gestures) were originally impülemented in opera an still work better than in ff (all part of the core browser, not done with plugins)
    and features like “continue browsing where I was last time” (effectively saving the complete session as it was with all windows, positions etc) is not only great at all times but especially for the (extremely rare!) crashes – nothing lost except the last click that triggered the crash (some mainly ie-optimized sites may do this to opera on some occasions unfortunately)

  36. Mari

    Thanks for the responses… I completely forgot to note that I’m using a Mac. Sorry about that… It seems to take just as long on my iBook as on a G5 or Dell. Just seems odd to me, and I hope it’s something they can fix for 2.0!

  37. Kris Silver

    All I want to breifly emphasise, is just how customisable Firefox is. Firefox was developed after a lot of testing, research, experience etc. to be easy to use for all users, especially novice ones. Even novice users may like things slightly different, or extra functionality, different behaviour etc. Most wont realise the difference or realise it is easily possible. But some do.

    Any my friends, we need to be educating and emphasising that just about anything you want, you can have with Firefox. If you dont like how something works, its unlikely the worlds population will share your view, if they did those points and complaints would be popping up all over the place. So make Firefox what you want, really.

    Add ons are a prime source of adding functionality, settings, behaviour changes and more to Firefox, even theme changes, icons, appearance, get new search engines. That will solve the vast majority of things being put here. If you dont like how tabs work out of the box, click Bookmarks > Firefox & Mozilla links > Themes and Extensions. Extensions in particular are easily browsed by sections, such as Tabbed browsing. Also of course, Firefox Central has these links and more, and more information on getting the most out of Firefox. 9/10 complains I’ve seen are easily changeable with add ons or tweaks, so I stress that people really look into all of this a little more, to better there Firefox usage, and encourage others to do the same!!

  38. JJ


    With all due respect, you should REALLY try Opera. It has most of what you need by default (or it can be easily configured in preferences, not some obscure about:config settings), you can rearrange its appearance to however you’d like it to be, and finally, Opera doesn’t require any extensions. Reorder tabs? It’s there. Mouse gestures? Implemented. Feed reader? Yup. Useful download manager? Of course. Memory cache? You bet. History manager with filtering, notes, session saving – all there. Plus much, much more.

    What you’re seeing with FF’s extensions, and the upcoming Firefox 1.5, is in many ways where Opera has been YEARS ago. It’s a mature, small, stable and secure product.

    Just try it.

  39. Jez

    I found that by disabling all IE auto load components it takes about the same time to load as FF and Opera. It also improves the general operation of the Windows o/s as there is less “junk” running in the background that serves no purpose until IE is fired up.
    Maybe I use the tabbed browsing differently to most (on FF and Opera) as I tend to open in page links in new tabs, read the content then close the tab leaving the original page there until I’ve finished with it.
    I must mention that I do like the fact that I can use extensions to add funtionality to FF, rather than have more funtions built into the app at the start most of which I have no use for. Ok, that makes me (and probably everyone else posting here) a form of power user, Jo and Josephine sixpack aren’t going to use anything other than the default product but, for me, the ability to add what I want when I want makes FF unique and is something that Opera could benefit from too.
    Good blog and good replies – thanks for the chance to comment :)

  40. Phobia

    You got the Digg Effect not the slashdot effect.
    Check it out Master Albert submited you and you can’t even give the site credit.

  41. Avaranger

    Is there any chance to replace IE Shell with FF Shell… I fyou know what I mean… Windows core running on FF, not on explorer. Any suggestions ? avaranger(at)gmail(dot)com

  42. Kris Silver

    Jez, interesting, goes to show how the playing field is not open and fair to begin with, but can be made so. Would you mind listing the processes to blacklist, and the best way to do so. For those whom never use IE anymore, theyre losing CPU and performance un-necessarily, so this is very helpful to many people and computing as a whole. Thanks.

  43. Rolyat

    I tried a lot of browser, starting with NCSAA (well, long time ago), and some on the Amiga. I don’t use IE anymore since I tried MyIE2, I think 3 to 4 years ago, after my brother made me discover CrazyBrowser.
    Meanwhile, I tried Opera, Avant Browser, and of course FireFox. And the problem is the UI for me.
    OK, it is possible to customize, but I don’t like to have UI, which, for me, seems unlogical. Since my switch to MyIE2, this one became Maxthon ( And I still using it, the interface is, in my eyes, Windows compliant, and not disturbing. Though I recognize that Scott (if I can call you Scott) is right when he wrote that the “back-next-stop” etc. buttons should be below the tabs. Ah yes, Maxthon is using the engine of IE, but without knowing it people may think it is a different browser.
    On the whole, no browser are perfect

  44. Kris Silver

    You dont like to have the UI, in Firefox, what do you mean? And Maxthon Windows compliant, what does that mean, Firefox and most others are no different, this doesnt make sense.

    I and most think the tab bar should be below the navigation bar. If this wasnt true there would be complaints galore. Its not that different, and if it really annoys you, you can change it. Maxthon is the same anyway. And, IE7’s bars are all over the place. The File, Edit menu is no at the top lol, its ridiculously ugly and badly placed. No browsers perfect no, its preference.

  45. dalsen


    “Maybe I use the tabbed browsing differently to most (on FF and Opera) as I tend to open in page links in new tabs, read the content then close the tab leaving the original page there until I’ve finished with it.”

    Maybe you do, I don’t really watch outer people browsing the net enough to notice….but just letting you know that you’re not alone in using this approach :) It always seemed to me to be the simplest/best way to do things, especially when I’m reading a news headline site and want to read say five out of ten of the articles…I’ll scroll through the headline list, open the articles that interest me in new tabs, work my way through the tabs, closing each when I’m done (or following links from them, opening those links in new tabs too unless there’s only one I want to open).

  46. Leon Brooks

    Extensions aren’t a cop-out. They’re a frank admission that (1) the original designers can’t read everybody’s mind; and (2) there is more than one way to solve almost every problem; and (3) people who don’t understand [the Lego-like nature of] Unix are doomed to reinvent it, poorly; and (4) not everybody wants or needs every feature (modularity/granularity control).

    The GIMP has its flaws, but it also has extensions, and it’s interesting to see some of those extensions eventually being merged with the core program. It’s a useful way to spread out the design work and make it bite-sized.

    I’ve seen a sparse few extension features leak back into the main Firefox tree, but not to the same extent. I’m not sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing.

  47. Execute (

    A few things to cover… I’m the head webmaster at

    1) The bugs about FireFox, or so called annoyances, can be annoying sometimes, but they are trivial in the sense that they aren’t as annoying as the bugs in IE.
    The only thing that bothers me is the download manager is very very bad, i like the IE one better.
    2) The people saying “hey you should also try opera” I have tried it, and its not that great, first of all it doesn’t read code sometimes, some of my AJAX etc don’t work great sometimes. DOJO doesnt work well with it either. Although i have opera 8 or 9 (not sure) i dont use it much, other than testing, because it sometimes loads like a billion pages in tabs for no apparent reason when i switch from firefox.
    It doesnt have Extensions.
    The good thing about Opera is its much safer, because there is less people using it, and it reads code better, as it almost passed the acid2 test, which is an extensive testing for CSS, HTML, web standards. Google it. However, i prefer FireFox, because of extensions, the nice layout, and definately the tabs, opera has that too though.

    The bugs in IE are terrible, i recommend everyone should get firefox, or Opera too, its not bad, but I don’t believe its good at some coding parts. Plus its LESS compatible as people don’t test as much for it.

    As a web developer for many years, i seriously recommend FireFox as the best browser. Although Opera might have its good features, its better for mobile phones….

    As for IE… I’m guessing the development team is good but the administrators and marketers are not giving them enough time or something wierd. OR maybe the team just isn’t looking at their competition.

    For FireFox, its just the best, like i have a nice web developer extension, its customizable, a VERY good Javascript debugging console, and many other great features that you dont recognize at first. I always thought IE was very very nice compared to others but i was wrong for many years. It’s time to get FireFox.

  48. DannyK

    I am reading this well after it was written and also after I am already using FireFox 1.5RC1. I completely agree the AndrewF in that if you change your pattern of browsing, TABS make a lot of sense. A good tip is anytime you switch to a new website or different part of the same website and want to keep where you are, open a new tab (with Mouse gestures on my setup it’s right-click-down). Jez and dalson seemed to follow a similar browsing style.

    The Back button makes sense — no problems there, click back in that tab it takes you to the previous site in that tab.

    History is a major problem. Even with my browsing pattern discribed above, once in a while, I accidentally close a Tab. If I don’t have that site bookmarked, finding it in the history is a pain. The history is linear – going sequentially by what site you visited last, but if I close a tab by accident that I visited 30 sites ago, it’s hard to find.

    I like the simplicity of the interface in FF. Customization can be good but can get out of control for the average user. UIs that think hard about the best way to do things and change users habits are better. It’s a browser – used basically for reading, following links, downloading, and saving links to places you like – the learning curve can’t be that high, there’s only so much you can do in a browser – it’s not a photo-editor or something.

    Scott – Overall very insightful and well-thought comments.

  49. Sid

    One thing I agree with you, new tab should carry the history of the original tab! Although I like the page to be blank, unlike IE!



  1. A Real Classy Guy

    Scott Berkun used to work for Microsoft on the Internet Explorer web browser. So if there is anyone around who can appreciate the machinery behind the web browsing experience, it’s him. Scott recently switched to using Firefox as his primary web…

Leave a Reply

* Required