In response to a comment made by djinn on Friday about Mozilla/Firebird and Internet Explorer. A few things first though: I’m going to be pedantic; it’s the way I am. Try not to let this affect your reading of the non-pedantic parts of the response. Also, I’m going to explain why I like and use Firebird. There are other reasons to use it that I don’t take advantage of, and I’ve stated before that it’s not necessary for everyone. And finally, bear in mind that any reference to Netscape Navigator is a reference to version 4 or earlier, as subsequent versions are nothing other than rebranded Mozilla suites. For context, here’s the relevant comment, in full:
no thanks. I use this browser for eating, sleeping and maybe building a little fort. What more do i want? Neither of these browsers have any problem with doing the required task the internet was designed for. In my humble opinion, the only people who give a damn are the ones who dont spend enough time out side of their little browser world. It angers me to see such broad intellects worrying about such small differences. I am comfortably browsing this site in IE and and cant see a reason to abondon it in favour of another browser. I didnt pay for this either. It was already installed. I dont have to change anything. It is saving me more time keeping this than moving to another browser will cost me in the attempt to supress pop up adds that vanish with a click. Grrrr…. feel my fury
I’ll get the pedantry out of the way first: The Internet was designed so that Charlie Herzfeld, former head of the Information Processing Techniques Office, part of ARPA, wouldn’t have to remember three different ways to log into three diferent computers. You mean the Web. And you’re right. Both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator were fully capable of handling the Web as it was originally conceived. But neither can exploit the resources of the Web to the extent that Mozilla/Firebird can. Consider that it is perfectly possible to browse the Web without a ‘Back’ button, though it’s clearly much more useful to have one than not.
So why do I use Firbird? Here’s a taste:
- Tabbed browsing
- The single greatest inovation in browsers since bookmarks. I read through a page, middle clicking on any links that I find interesting. All of these pages load in the background so that I can continue reading and have them waiting to be read by the time I’m ready. This saves so much time on a dial-up connection that I would rate this feature higher than every other feature here listed, combined.
- Popup blocking
- My browser is running on my computer. I tell it what to do, not some punk kid halfway across the world. If he says "show Rory an ad", my browser says "fuck you." I don’t want to know. If you want to control my machine, write a virus like everyone else.
- Control of Scripts
- I’d like my statusbar to show me the URL that a link is pointing to. Why should I let that punk change it to "Click Here!!!"? My window is maximised at 1024×768 pixel resolution because that’s the size I like it to be. Why let the punk resize it?
- Control of Text Zooming
- Internet Explorer refuses to resize text specified in pixels, points or centimeters (though NN never had trouble with this). I read a lot of web pages, mostly at night when I’m tired, and I have pretty bad eyesight. It is useful to be able to resize text to something more comfortable. This is even more important when nearly every "web designer" (read page designer) thinks that 80% of my chosen text size looks better that 100%.
- Firebird just plain looks better than Internet Explorer. And if you don’t agree, there are plenty more themes to choose from.
- Bookmark keywords
- I type "sr" in my location bar to get to Soylentred, "/." to get to Slashdot. I can type "g " followed by some keywords to do a Google search. Except I don’t need to because…
- Search with the Location Bar
- typing anything that isn’t a URL into the location bar will bring me to the first result of a Google search for the term, though I can choose which search engine to use.
- Displays ABBR/ACRONYM Properly
- Hover over any marked abbr(eviation) of acronym and have it’s expanded meaning displayed in a tooltip. This removes clutter from the page but leaves the information available. Though if you continue to use Internet Explorer the information is only accessible through View>Source.
I have a list this size again of other features that are useful to me but aren’t so generally applicable. I have also omitted those features that require extensions (Bear in mind that Firebird is meant to be "stripped down" so that many useful functions are only available through extensions, but it still kicks IE‘s ass in the vanilla version.)
To tackle your points in turn, you say "In my humble opinion, the only people who give a damn are the ones who dont spend enough time out side of their little browser world." First, you clearly don’t see your opinion as humble and neither do I. I just think it ill-considered. The people who give a damn are those who use their browsers, who get annoyed when some punk kid starts to screw with their machine when they themselves just want it to work. They are the people who try alternatives, whether out of desperation, curiosity or recomendation, and who see that those features listed above, and the others, are worth the time (only twenty minutes on dial-up) to download. The "little browser world", you might care to notice, is the whole world.
"It angers me to see such broad intellects worrying about such small differences." You seem to confuse my interest in the Mozilla Project, or in the Web or even the ‘net as a whole, with what I require of others. When I suggest people try alternative browsers, I don’t tell them to follow the project, to follow bugs and feature requests in bugzilla, to get accounts in the MozillaNews and MozillaZine forums. I do all of that out of curiosity, like someone would follow a sport or learn to juggle. What should broad intellects worry about, I wonder? Should I not be allowed hobbies because I might be useful for something more important to you? Have you considered that other people don’t share exactly your interests, and that the world is better for it?
"I am comfortably browsing this site in IE and and cant see a reason to abondon it in favour of another browser." Part of the reason you’re comfortably browsing in IE is because I spent considerable time ensuring that you could. Would you like to see what it looks like without the hacks to make IE like it? It’s really not pretty.
I’ll paraphrase your conclusion with "Internet Explorer is good enough for me." I have no problem with this. It makes web design harder because it doesn’t play by the rules, but I’ve accepted that some people don’t want or need to change their browser. But I wonder why you hate the others so much. You have said before that Mozilla is "crap", yet it is inarguably a better browser than the one that is "good enough" for you. Why are you furious that some of us feel the small time taken to download (diminished to almost nothing by the fact that I’m online anyway, my bandwidth isn’t otherwise in use and I don’t sit in front of the download manager waiting), is worth the gain in usability? Why are you so angry?