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  • Firefox 2.0 Reviewed: I Think

    October 24th, 2006

    I try to maintain a positive outlook on my work, and do my best to make sure that I publish accurate information. When I review a new product, I want it to be the release version, even if that version has problems. Yes, I cover betas sometimes, clearly labeled as such, with appropriate warnings.

    In this case, I’m not quite sure. You see, Firefox 2.0 was supposed to be released on a Tuesday, yet it has been widely reported that Mozilla’s servers already had the release version posted as of Monday. Making matters all the more confusing, the available Mac version appears to be identical to the RC3 version posted only a week ago.

    That being said, it’s certainly possible that RC3 was stable enough to deserve official release status, and that doesn’t seem to be out of line based on my experience, so here we go. Should a later version appear in final release form, I’ll amend these comments if necessary.

    At first glance, you probably won’t notice a tremendous difference between version 2.0 and 1.5. Unlike Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, which sports a new interface that ignores some of the graphical user interface conventions in its standard motif, you will not have to fathom an entirely new interface with the latest Firefox.

    Changes are largely subtle. So when you mouse over a toolbar icon, for example, it’ll appear to glow. Such interface enhancements make Firefox seem more Mac-like, even though it is designed to look and work pretty much the same across the Mac, Windows and Unix platforms.

    In the scheme of things, perhaps the most important enhancement is phishing protection, a feature that’s also included in Microsoft’s browser update, by the way. You can set phishing to use a downloaded list of suspicious sites, or access the one available from Google. Time will tell how robust this feature will end up being, but it’s interesting that it arrives at a time when Symantec is touting its new Norton Confidential application, which makes phishing protection a major feature.

    For people like me, the built-in spell checker is one of the more significant improvements. It allows me to use Firefox to access our WordPress Web publishing tool with all features intact, including the formatting toolbar; the latter feature doesn’t function in Safari.

    A Session Restore feature functions as a preference setting, or as an option in the event you install an application or plugin, or Firefox crashes. Users of Opera are accustomed to this feature, and if you open lots and lots of windows or tabs during a browsing session, it’s something you’ll simply treasure.

    There are lots of other enhancements worth exploring, such as improved handling of tabs, search requests, RSS feeds and so forth. I’ll leave it to you to check out each, in turn, and see what appeals to you.

    My sole criticism remains unchanged in this “release” version, and that’s printing. While it works all right for some sites, others do not print at all, or just deposit blank or partially printed pages in my printer’s output tray. This forces me to return to Safari from time to time to handle those chores, but otherwise, Firefox functions as my default browser. I gather Firefox 3 will address this shortcoming, which is apparently worse on the Mac platform.

    I expect that some Windows advocates who strive to jump on every nuance in this commentary that seems to attack Internet Explorer 7. Some will tout the advantages of Microsoft’s browser update, but that’s largely a catch-up release. I’ve played with it for a while under Windows XP and the prerelease versions of Windows Vista, and, aside from the unnecessary interface changes, it seems to work pretty well most of the time. But it also crashes far more often than Firefox 2, which has been remarkably stable on both the Mac OS and Windows.

    It’s no wonder that more and more computer users are embracing Firefox. But I’m never satisfied for long, and now it’s time to start thinking about version 3.



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    19 Responses to “Firefox 2.0 Reviewed: I Think”

    1. shane says:

      have you tried Flock
      cross platform based on firefox and has built in blogging , photomanagment and bookmarks that follow your machines etc.. I saw it on http://www.screencastsonline.com quite a few shows ago and is quite inovative alot more than any other browser i hav seen

    2. shane says:

      forgot to say http://www.flock.com for flock., also has built in news reader

      shane

    3. Dave Barnes says:

      I use Firefox almost exclusively.
      Why? Add-ons (formerly known as Extensions).

      In particular, Adblock. Sometimes I have to disable Adblock to make a site work and then I surf to a site that I regularly visit and am amazed at how many adverts there are. Normally, of course, I never see them. To me, the one big failing of all the other big-name browsers is the lack of Adblock.

      I also use Web Developer frequently.

      Others such as: Fireform (auto form completion)and DOM Inspector are less important.

      And some such as: McAfee Site Advisor are available for other browsers.

      ,dave

    4. Mark Tennent says:

      I was delighted to download Firefox 2 this morning, got it up and running and thought it was so good I made it my default browser.

      Then I found a page I wanted to email to my wife. What’s this? No way to email a page.

      Later, I tried to drag a URL from the address bar into one of the Toolbar folders (which aren’t identified as such as they are in Safari). Nothing highlighted as the mouse pointer hovered over the folder but I let go the button and the URL apparently made its way into it. But then Firefox crashed.

      Back to Safari, Firefox dumped with the has-beens and nearly-theres broawsers.

    5. Mike Snider says:

      I have been largley unable to use Firefox because it hasn’t supported Services, which I find invaluable in doing web research associated with making poems. There’s no mention of Sevices in the review–does that mean they’re still unsupported?

    6. Malcolm says:

      There’s no mention of Sevices in the review–does that mean they’re still unsupported?

      That’s right, they are still unsupported. This, and printing anomalies (as Gene has noted), are Firefox’s biggest drawbacks. For me these two limitations are not show stoppers however. My browser of choice used to be Opera until Adblock came along: can’t live without it. Safari has Pithhelmet, but it’s not as robust as Adblock. Gotta have the Firefox DownThemAll! and PDF Download add-ons as well. There are of course many many other add-on options when using Firefox, and they are largely what turned my into a Firefox advocate.

    7. Matthew says:

      Personally I feel that my OmniWeb is still much better, have they even fixed the memory leak issue? I’m one of those types that leave my browser run for days, but with firefox I always have to restart it. Plus the ad blocking feature in OW is more superior than firefox imho.

    8. Malcolm says:

      …have they even fixed the memory leak issue?

      I have had Firefox 2.0 running all morning. I just checked it’s current memory use with Activity Monitor:

      88 MB of live RAM
      345 MB of Virtual Memory

      So it’s not small, but I don’t think you could attribute a memory leak to those numbers.

      To go slightly off topic, the Mac Business Unit at MS seems to have solved the problem of ‘Word’ hogging CPU cycles with the 11.3 update. When ever I check on it when in the background it seems to be fully behaving 🙂

    9. Dave says:

      While I like Firefox OK, I find myself using Camino a lot. It just seems faster than either Firefox or Safari. I do however occasionally encounter a web page that doesn’t look quite right with Camino.

    10. As far as printing is concerned, I am not sure if it is posiible to make every page print correctly. HTML is not designed as a print friendly format. The websites should include PDF versions of their writings for easy printing. I do that on my website and my budget is less than most websites. In fact I use Apple and Open Source software almost exclusively currently.

    11. As far as printing is concerned, I am not sure if it is posiible to make every page print correctly. HTML is not designed as a print friendly format. The websites should include PDF versions of their writings for easy printing. I do that on my website and my budget is less than most websites. In fact I use Apple and Open Source software almost exclusively currently.

      Sure it is. We don’t provide PDF support, directly, but we design our pages to print adequately in most browsers, and we have a special Print This Post option, where the pages are formatted specifically for printing.

      As to other sites, I find that Safari works fine for virtually every page I’ve tried, whereas Firefox fails on some of these pages. Clearly the folks at Mozilla realize the problem, and that Mac users get the worst of it, and they promise to do better in Firefox 3.0. In the meantime, Web designers can provide Print alternatives where the regular pages look bad.

      Peace,
      Gene

    12. Jim says:

      I downloaded Firefox 2.0 and gave it a try but was not able to render this site below properly but could with 1.5. I’ve returned to 1.5 until fixed.

      https://www.baisidirect.com (B of A Investment Services)

      Jim

    13. 12.

      I downloaded Firefox 2.0 and gave it a try but was not able to render this site below properly but could with 1.5. I’ve returned to 1.5 until fixed.

      https://www.baisidirect.com (B of A Investment Services)

      Jim

      The errors are pretty obvious, although it seems Safari renders it OK, assuming I understand how it’s supposed to look.

      Of course the biggest issue is whether it’s Firefox’s fault, or Bank of America, and that’s always debatable in such cases.

      Did you use the Report Broken Web Site option in the Help menu to send the information to Firefox’s programmers?

      Peace,
      Gene

    14. Curt says:

      I took a look at Firefox 2.0 today. I have never been able to render the Apple Store properly with Foxfire. I don’t know if that is a bug or something specific to my configuration but, in any case, it isn’t fixed. The rest of Apple’s website is fine but the store has no graphics on any page. I know this isn’t a support page but I’d be curious if others have had this problem.

    15. I took a look at Firefox 2.0 today. I have never been able to render the Apple Store properly with Foxfire. I don’t know if that is a bug or something specific to my configuration but, in any case, it isn’t fixed. The rest of Apple’s website is fine but the store has no graphics on any page. I know this isn’t a support page but I’d be curious if others have had this problem.

      No problem here that I can see. What sort of rendering issues do you have?

      Peace,
      Gene

    16. Curt says:

      None of the graphics appear. I get the text boxes on either side and the navigation tool and text at the bottom center but no graphics or banner ads. I don’t have adblocking off just pop-ups. Any thoughts? Right now I use Safari when I have to shop at the Apple Store.

    17. None of the graphics appear. I get the text boxes on either side and the navigation tool and text at the bottom center but no graphics or banner ads. I don’t have adblocking off just pop-ups. Any thoughts? Right now I use Safari when I have to shop at the Apple Store.

      No thoughts other than to empty the browser cache at this point.

      Peace,
      Gene

    18. Justin says:

      None of the graphics appear. I get the text boxes on either side and the navigation tool and text at the bottom center but no graphics or banner ads. I don’t have adblocking off just pop-ups. Any thoughts? Right now I use Safari when I have to shop at the Apple Store.

      I had the same problem and came across this site trying to fix it. It turns out I had blocked images from a248.e.akamai.net due to ads. Go to Tools>>Options>>Content and choose “Exceptions” next to “load images automatically” and remove this site from the list. Good luck

    19. Ali says:

      Help me please…
      I just installed Firefox 2.0, and all of a sudden, my username/password isn't being inserted in the signon window (it always was before). I tried the usual suspects–I did not mistakenly tell FF not to remember the password for this site; and I also tried the remember password bookmarklet, but all to no avail–FF will not ask me to remember this password. What do I need to do to get around this?

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