Firefox 4

Friday, May 20, 2011 - 04:44:07 pm
(Posted Under: Firefox Firefox)
I upgraded to Firefox 4 today, something I've been avoiding, despite the quite persistent reminders from Firefox. Y'know, "remind me later" in my book means "much later". My delay in upgrading really should come as no shock at all. It's how I roll. And from the changes I've read about, it's somewhat surprising that I've taken the leap (not on my main machine) this quick, since it's only been about a month and a half since it came out. Firefox 2 and Firefox 3 didn't fare as well. If my memory serves, I don't think I upgraded to either of those until I absolutely had no choice.

I wasn't immediately pleased, not surprisingly for the same reason why I've put off upgrading - "Tabs on Top". Ugh. The fact that the Mozilla website boasts this as "making it easier to focus on the content of the sites you visit" astounds me. Did you do any studies on this, and if so, what was the proportion of Internet Explorer users in this study? The fact of the matter is that in the day and age of tabbed browsing, switching between tabs is a much more frequent activity than doing anything with the "Awesome Bar". I mean, honestly, who types in a URL for anything these days? It's not 1996 anymore guys. And QI don't think it's just familiarity on my part. Tabs are where it's at, and the extra distance to continually scroll over bookmarks and the Awesome Bar is nothing short of annoying.

But thank god that there is an option to replace the tabs at the more appropriate location above the content canvas. So we're still cool Mozilla - that's a relief. For a second there I thought the honeymoon might have been over.

This doesn't affect me, since I don't run anything later than XP, but the whole "Firefox Button" also boasted about on the Mozilla website also blows my mind. Microsoft have made some worthwhile user interface advancements over the years (the Start Bar introduced in Windows 95 is the only one coming to mind though), but the whole "all menu items are to be accessed through a single button" isn't one of them. It makes sense for the Start Menu, but absolutely makes no sense for applications. And in no way saves any vertical space. So I'm shocked that Mozilla has updated their UI to this stupid Microsoft-ism.

The reload button being on the right of the Awesome Bar is another example of "can we stop trying to be Internet Explorer". How unintuitive! Maybe that's through having used Mozilla products for browsing for the last, oh, I don't know, 15 years (since Netscape 3). Let's keep "reload" over by the forward and backwards buttons, thank you very much. Of course, thankful that too is configurable. It's kinda weird that the Home button is also off to the right, but I hardly use that these days, so...

Right off the bat, I'd have to say that my biggest pet peeve with Firefox 4 is that the context menu for tabs no longer has "New Tab". I'm the sort of person that will naturally combine the most tasks as possible with the input device I am currently using. If I'm doing something on the keyboard, then I'll hit Ctrl+T for a new tab. But if I'm navigation with the mouse and want a new tab, I'll right click on the current tab and select "New Tab". It's obvious that I do that a fair bit (more than I realize) given the amount of times I've already been frustrated by that being gone. I definitely need to find an add-on or something that brings that back. And here it is: Firefox 4 UI Fixer.

But now the good. App Tabs. Single most important feature added probably. I always have Gmail, Facebook and Twitter open, and App Tabs are something we've all wanted for such a long time.

Sync - Sync is probably really cool, though unless setting up a server becomes a little less convoluted, I'm going to be sticking with Xmarks for the time being. But still, the inbuilt functionality is in theory really cool.

Now Playing: Jimmy Eat World - nothingwrong

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