Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Firefox 3 Review

I have been using Firefox 3 Beta 5 for a while, and here is what I think.

1) Speed - Pages are much faster to load. You don't realize how good it is until you go back to IE 7 or Firefox 2. Worth the upgrade just for this.
2) Session restore - If you close Firefox with multiple tabs open you can set it up so they reload on the next start.
3) Other new features: Better memory usage, new awesome bar, native look and feel and advanced bookmarking.

1) Memory spike when shutting down Digg comment pages - While much quicker to load, memory usage can jump really high (200MB+) when you close a Digg comment page. It can take so long that you get a dialog box asking you if you want to stop the script (not sure what script that is referring to). I have Digg setting set to display all comments and the Digg comment pages aren't designed very well, but however Firefox changed the way they are handing javascript, has made this problem worse. Sometimes it will cause my machine to run out of memory causing greatly reduced performance. I have also seen temporary excessive memory usage when loading the Climate Progress page (150 MB+ for a few seconds then released).

Non-fixed problems (issues in Firefox 2 that weren't resolved):
1) Long shutdown/startup/restart time - It can take 10+ seconds for Firefox to shutdown and another 20+ seconds for it to start up. I have tons of add-ons (see below) so that is probably the cause (if I remove all add-ons then it only takes a few seconds to start), but still, why so long?
2) Memory usage - While memory usage has been improved, I still don't get why memory usage starts at 50 MB goes to 200 MB with lots of open windows, but won't go back down to 50 MB if you close all of those windows. Instead you hang out at 150MB+ and the only way to go back to 50 is to restart (and go through the 30+ seconds needed to do that).

Loading webpages quickly is the browsers primary job, and Firefox 3 smokes. The other changes in this version are minor but do help to improve usabilty. I have run into no major issues with this new browser. I would therefore recommend upgrading/switching to it if the add-ons you use are compatible with it (more below).

Update: Release Candidate 1 has just been released. See other reviews on Firefox 3 here and here.

The ability to customize Firefox with add-ons sets it apart from the other browsers out there. After using add-ons for a while, you will become hooked, your whole browsing experience will pale without them. I figure since I am reviewing Firefox that now is a good time to list the:

Fat Knowledge Endorsed Firefox Add-ons & Greasemonkey Scripts
All add-ons are compatible with 3.0 beta 5 unless they have one of these notes: NC = Not compatible, SC = Sorta compatible, AC = Actually compatible but doesn't load by default (use Nightly Tester Tools)

Must Have
Adblock Plus - Removes ads from webpages
Google Notebook (NC) - Allows you to take web clippings (see previous review)
Google Reader Notifier - Alerts you when you have new items to be read
Greasemonkey - Allows you to tweak the way individual webpages are displayed using Greasemonkey scripts (see below)
Tab Mix Plus (NC, but the latest build is) - Undo closed tabs and multi-row ability among others
Yahoo! Mail Notifier - Alerts you when you have new email messages

Nice to Have
All-in-One Sidebar - Lets you view dialog windows and more in the sidebar.
CustomizeGoogle - Enhance Google search results with extra information
Dictionary Tooltip (SC - missing outer window) - Highlight a word to find its definition
Download Statusbar (SC - doesn't remove items when done) - display status of downloads on the bottom of the screen
Favicon Picker 2 (NC) - Change the icon of bookmarks (see previous review)
Google Toolbar (NC) - Lots of features but I use AutoFill the most
Keyconfig (NC, but can be tweaked to work) - Allows you to add/modify/delete keyboard shortcuts
Link Alert - Lets you know if a link is a .pdf or other type of file before clicking on it
Nightly Tester Tools - Allows you to run add-ons that are supposedly incompatible with your version of Firefox
PDF Download - Lets you determine how to load .pdf files
Personal Menu - Turns the File-Edit-View menus into a single drop down item
Restart Firefox (AC)- Gives you a button to easily restart Firefox
StumbleUpon - Huge time waster
Web Developer - Tools for debugging websites

Greasemonkey Scripts

Yahoo! Mail

Welcome Skipper - Skip welcome screen and go immediately to inbox
Large Editor -Use all available space for edit box
Skip session expired page - Take you to the relogin page when your session has expired
Auto-Login - Automatically relogin from the login screen
Attachment download link - Download attachments from the link
Mailto 2 Webmail - Redirects mailto links to be handled with Yahoo! Mail
Turns out in FF 3 you can go to Tools:Options:Applications and set the mailto application (mailto links) to open directly in Yahoo Mail

Large Post Editor - Use all available screen space for your editing
Current Time Publish - Add a "Publish Now" button to set time to current time when publishing

New York Times Single Page View - Automatically redirect to single page view of an article
Netflix Rating Granulizer - Allow 1/2 star rankings of movies
Digg - add mirrors -Add mirror icons to Digg articles
Auto add to Google Reader - Skip the prompt if you want to add to Google Reader or Google Homepage
Other Fat Knowledge created scripts
Check for more

1 comment:

Pariuri Sportive said...

The interface is the same in some places, but different in others. Placement of buttons hasn't changed, but the icons are new. Firefox 3 now provides a native look and feel (for example, the Linux version matches the Linux user interface), and smooth scrolling of open browser tabs. What will draw the eye are more icons near and within the address bar itself. A company logo, if available, will appear before the URL; after the URL there's the new one-click bookmark star and the familiar RSS icon. Other tweaks include those to the Password manager, Add-Ons manager, and Download manager.

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