Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mozilla Firefox (#1) Mozilla Firefox (#1)

As noted in earlier blog posts, I have been primarily running the Mozilla Suite (1.7.11) for my browser and email. It provides fairly decent security (esp. compared to IE 6), has tabbed browsing, and has the tools either built in or can be added easily that make my life easier.

But the Mozilla foundation has been moving away from an integrated suite for awhile now, and its efforts have been going into the Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client. Inertia was keeping me from downloading the latest and greatest of these two programs, but I ran into problems yesterday with a client and its brand new web site. Mozilla would hang occasionally, and downloading and playing audio and video was a bit uneven. I ended up using IE 6, with all of its problems and inconveniences.

So, last night, I downloaded the latest versions of Firefox and Thunderbird and installed the former. At first, I was a little disconcerted - it was missing a lot of the features that I had grown to love in the Mozilla browser:
  • Print button

  • Top and bottom navigation buttons

  • Site Navigation Bar
Add to this, that it had problems with both my blog and my professionial web site - both apparently violated W3C standards.

But then I went to the Mozilla/ Firefox web site and looked through the available extensions, and almost everything that I was used to with Mozilla was there as an extension. So, I very quickly had a Site Navigation Bar almost identical to the one I use in Mozilla, as well as Mouse Gestures, Copy Plain Text, Copy Location, etc. But Firefox allows you to customize the button bars and menus (like MSFT Office), which I immediately did. Vanilla Firefox only provides a handful of buttons to add, but there are extensions that provide a lot more. So, now my Firefox is button heavy, with the Firefox menu bar, navigation bar, two personal bars, the bookmark bar, site navigation bar, and tabs.

Add to this that I have also been able to edit all of the menus, including the context (right click) menu, allowing me to order and group functions a lot more logically than the Mozilla mostly chronological ordering.

All in all, I think I will like it. And there seems to be some integration between Firefox and Thunderbird, which is one of the reasons that I tried them a year or so ago and went back to the integrated Mozilla suite.

Finally, the Firefox DOM inspector and Javascript Console are much improved over their Mozilla counterparts. The DOM inspector actually opens up to where you are in your document, instead of at the top level of Mozilla - which makes it almost useless. The Javascript Console provides much improved error messages, plus uses its own display windows to show erroring code, highlighting the offending line, as compared to Mozilla invoking Notepad for this purpose. These are much improved tools for debugging HTML and Javascript.


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