Categories: applications, fluff

Firefox 3.0 - ruining a perfectly good browser

Okay, so I've just uninstalled an application. That alone is not really spectacular news, but the Application in Question was the Firefox 3.0 Web Browser. Yes, I am a bit latem given the fact that the browser was released 6 months ago, but I am so fed up with the broken URL bar now, it had to go.

Let me start by the usual disclaimer: This is highly subjective and based on my habits.

So yeah, Firefox' URL bar. I regularly browse some web pages, for example The Wikipedia, both in English and German. Their urls are en.wikipedia.org and de.wikipedia.org. Also, I am a regular visitor of stackoverflow.com, where I was part of the private beta when the URL still was beta.stackoverflow.com. Also, I regular visit some German news sites like Spiegel.de or Heise.de.

So, what happens if I want to visit the German Wikipedia? I usually type in "de", press down once since de.wikipedia.org is the first result and hit Enter. Not so with Firefox 3.0: The first result is Heise.de or Spiegel.de, since they END in .de.

When I start to type in "sta" to go to stackoverflow, the first result is... beta.stackoverflow.com, because I visited that site a lot, but that link is now obsolete since MONTHS. And no, I am not going to clear out my cache or history or whatever, just because the browser is too stupid to learn that beta.stackoverflow.com is not being used since 2 or 3 months now...

Oh yeah, and that new download manager... it is as useless as it ever was as a download manager (hint: A good download manager works essentially like "wget -c ", not like "I may just leave that temp file behind, or maybe not, maybe I'll even resume if the download is interrupted, but... meh, let's just start from 0 again), but now they even removed that "Saving to: (Folder)" Button that allowed to quickly open the download folder. That change was a really useless change between Firefox 2 and 3, because it removed convenience without adding any value.

Don't get me wrong: I think that the Firefox guys have done an important and excellent Job. They had success where other failed: In offering a stable and viable alternative to Microsofts Internet Explorer, which is still a very inconvenient browser in Version 7.

But changing core behaviour between releases (and the URL Bar is part of the core of a browser) is something that should be carefully considered, and at least there should be an option. Maybe not in the GUI, but at least about:config should allow me to change behaviour. (You can change some behaviour, but you cannot get the Firefox 2 behaviour back)

I believe I heard that Firefox 3.1 is supposed to change this now, but since there are now viable alternatives, Firefox just got thrown off my hard drive. Ironically, I am now running Chrome, a Browser that I avoided at first. Google recently changed it's policy, and the default settings are a lot more sane now. I do not know if I am going to keep it, but for now, this is my replacement. Chromes download manager is even worse though, but at least the URL Bar is properly working. And at the end of the day, there is still Opera.

Good luck with Firefox 3.1 and 3.2, maybe we'll see us again in the future.