November 09, 2004

Why Firefox Is Poop

1) The Firefox is naturally homicidal and is the only known species with a natural instinct to create pies out of people. These aren't nice pies either, imagine the worst pie you've ever eaten, these are worse.

2) The Firefox community is essentially based around making it cool to use Firefox and uncool to use Internet Explorer, Firefox is being treated as the saviour of the internet. As an extremely moral person, I feel that the only way to save the internet is to eliminate pornography, whereas Firefox makes it even easier to view porn.

3) I'm utterly fed up with the idea that Microsoft is some evil corporation that doesn't care about the consumer, anyone who's glimpsed the blogs of the Internet Explorer dev team (who were recently reformed) can clearly see that they are dedicated to a wealth of improvements for the next major release (some of them use Firefox as their primary browser, some use IE).

4) Firefox stole the alert bar from IE, but I bet if IE sticks tabbed-browsing in IE7 there will be a huge outcry from people about Microsoft stealing ideas.

5) Firefox users can't spot obvious jokes. A member of the IE team joked about a new idea they came up with called "tabbed-browsing", nobody got it.

6) Firefox takes longer than IE to load, on some machines it may not, but on mine it does and that's all I care about.

7) Am I the only one who finds merchandise for a web browser slightly depressing?

8) The GUI widgets in Firefox differ slightly from those used in the rest of windows, they don't differ enough for you to immediately notice the difference, but the functionality is slightly different and this is sometimes annoying.

9) Scrolling in Firefox isn't as smooth as in IE.

10) I don't even like tabbed-browsing

I hope you all enjoy this list, most of it isn't a joke.

- 31 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. But…. but… Firefox rules!

    People are promoting Firefox as being 'cool', but it is still a very good browser. It has a lot less security vunerabilities as IE, hence people turning others away from IE.

    I'd agree with what you say about MS being made out as being evil – MS rule. Follow the videos at link for a while and you'll see how enthusiastic their developers are, and how much work they really put into their products.

    About stealing the alert bar – this is a reasonable move I think. People will be moving from IE to Firefox. They want the move to be as seemless as possible, which means mimicking IE's look and behaviour. It's a simple usability issue.

    Loading time, well I don't care about that

    GUI widgets you're right about – they use more of a Linux style UI, but I have no problems with this personally.

    Scrolling has been fixed in version 1.0

    How can you not like tabbed browsing!!!?

    09 Nov 2004, 18:34

  2. Mathew Mannion

    Actually, it's not a usability issue, it's an intellectual property issue, but that's a moot point. I generally prefer IE anyway.

    09 Nov 2004, 20:14

  3. My point about the alert bar was that if it had been a Firefox invention and IE had copied it, Microsoft would have been criticised for stealing ideas. This is more a reflection of the Firefox community than the application itself however, but in a world where software is increasingly represented by it's community I find the way Firefox is headed to be quite irritating.

    Regarding scrolling, I actually ran my tests on Firefox 1.0 today before making that point, it may have improved a bit but it's nowhere near as smooth as IE.

    I always keep the latest versions of all major browsers on my system, it makes webdesign a lot easier, but IE still remains my browser of choice.

    09 Nov 2004, 20:23

  4. James

    I think alternative browsers and their vocal communities are a good thing (like 'em or not) simply because they promote choice.

    Competition is always a good thing since it benefits everyone. Arguably MS only reformed it's IE dev team as a response to the growing number of Firefox, Opera, Safari… etc. users (it only happened recently, and even then IE7 will only ship when Longhorn does so you won't be seeing any updates until 2006).

    If they put some effort in because other browsers are taking market share and improve IE then you get a better browser out of it. Likewise this will keep the Mozilla foundation, Apple et al on their toes so others like myself benefit too. Everybody wins!

    I think the main reason so many people portray MS as evil is because they do everything they can (lawsuits, iffy software patents, (borderline illegal) abuse of their monopolistic position ("integrating" stuff with Windows) etc..) to hinder choice and force people to only use what they supply. And once they get you hooked they crank up the prices and hardly bother innovating. Of course it makes perfect business sense for them, but for consumers like you and I it sucks. You'll never have one product that meets everyone's needs. Different people prefer different things and they should be free to choose what they want.

    Well, that's my 2 anyway

    09 Nov 2004, 21:04

  5. Hmm. You're one of those Windows-loving Computer Science students, aren't you? How strange. Where's your sense of adventure? :) I do actually own a Mozilla Firefox T-shirt. It's not too depressing – it's bright blue. As for (5), where was this joked about? On a Microsoft developers site, perhaps? Meh.

    For me, the fact that IE does not conform to standards (like CSS) is really rather annoying. You must find this yourself if you make web pages – having to adjust your perfectly valid XHTML and stylesheets just so that it looks right in IE 6 (never mind IE 5). I mean, if they're going to break standards, can't they at least do it consistently? But no… This is why Microsoft are evil. It is the fact that they can release a sub-standard product, not update it for years at a time, and cause me to have to work ten times as hard to work around bugs which are their fault.

    In case you're interested, I only use Linux, but have IE 6 installed under Wine for comparison. I'm told that pages will load faster under Firefox than under IE, which might compensate for slower initial loading time. (Which only comes about because MS have built it into the Windows shell, at the expense of significant security vulnerabilities.) Oh, and you didn't mention themes, extensions, popup blocking, search bar, rss feeds, … but you did admit that Firefox makes browsing easier, even if only for porn. Middle-clicking to open a new tab is something I really miss when using IE.

    Have you tried the Web Developer Extension to Firefox? I'm not providing a link, because there's a cunning update site in 1.0 under the Tools menu. There's one for Themes as well. And try out installing different search engines for the top-right search bar – or make your own custom one (it's not that hard). Really, the possiblities are endless. :) Have fun.

    10 Nov 2004, 01:44

  6. Mozilla user

    Intellectual copyright is unlikely to have been infringed. You'll be aware of the 'look and feel' case between Apple and Microsoft with early windows versions, and it seems correct that the same applies here. Monopolies would rule and software development would get no-where if every component of a new application had to have every component completely unlike any other (it would be like only picasso being allowed to draw his subjects with sharpe angles in weird colours) . Which applies both way of course, so there's no reason why MS shouldn't use tabbed browsing.

    Internet Explorer does seem to get more than its fair share of mal-ware attacks. I don't know if this is due to security problems with ie, mal-ware programmers deciding to target microsoft simply because of their image, or mal-ware programmers targetting the most prolific browser. But a consequence of this is that using an alternative does have its advantages beyond different features alone. My version of IE isn't working, and guess what, I can't get any MS updates (including a more up-to-date version of IE) without it. Thankyou microsoft for not letting me use a different browser to get full functionality from your site. When I do re-install everything (and this is what I'll have to do at somepoint due to this problem), I think I'll just be using Internet Explorer for getting microsoft updates.

    I'm not really sure I could find anyone that would claim to be cool based on a piece of software they use. Maybe the concept of cool is much different in the CS department.

    Speed. I don't personally use firefox yet, so I can't be sure of this; but earlier the earlier Mozilla browser I use (1.7.3) has the option of quick launch, which basically puts the browswer into memory at start up. I suspect IE explorer does this anyway due to it's "integral part of the OS" status.

    Bundling IE with windows does seem anti-competitive to me. Yes you can still use a different browser if you want, but the problem is most users will simply use what is already on the machine, meaning web-sites often get written in code that is friendly to Internet Explorer and not much else. HTML standards don't seem relevant when MSIE norms will do perfectly for the majority of the population. Making joining the minority a little less appealling. You see the problem.

    But these are just my thoughts.

    If you're happy with Internet Explorer, use it. Even if (and it seems like quite a big if to me) it's cooler to use a different piece of software.

    10 Nov 2004, 01:48

  7. For the record, I don't think any browser fully conforms to W3C standards. I always find it very easy to get a design working in both Mozilla and IE6 (IE5 is another matter, but earlier versions of Mozilla and Opera don't render properly either), it's hardest getting something working in Opera as well. A relatively recent update to IE6 (last year or so) allows you to force IE to use a strict renderer rather than it's lazy mode if you specify the doctype to something recent. I've always been able to make my designs work in all 3 main browsers and validate perfectly, obviously there are certain design areas I stay away from (where all 3 browsers have inconsistant levels of support), but for the most part the real issue is whether you want to make a design work in IE5 or not.

    The problems with IE date back to when it had to render Netscape's poor table code, IE has always had to cope with the rendering pages that use the markup of other browsers, it's something that happens when you aim to increase your user-base. I agree that these problems are probably amplified by the fact that Microsoft is in it for the money, but I can't help but believe that if anyone else had produced a browser to overtake Netscape the result would have been the same at least to some extent.

    I've had Firefox on my machine since it was Firebird, i've used it purely for website development (and as my main browser for a brief few months when some Norton software completely broke javascript in IE). What I like about IE is that it has a look-and-feel consistant with that of Windows, why do I need a themeing engine when I can use WinXP's?

    10 Nov 2004, 03:08

  8. Do your websites display correctly in lynx or links as well? It's a serious question – it's very important for visually impaired users that their user agents can read the page. It's also important for google, and your sites will be searched better if they can display on a terminal.

    Probably the only way of accomplishing this, and still having a visually pleasing effect, is to use stylesheets. And the CSS box model in IE is very definitely broken. Plus, they haven't implemented such things as the position attribute – scroll down the page, and the menu on the right should stay fixed. It doesn't in IE 6.

    Plus, doesn't it say something that some Norton software can completely break Javascript in IE? Oh, and a new security flaw is found every day. But hey, it's your choice. ;)

    10 Nov 2004, 10:42

  9. Plus, that comment about using the "markup of other browsers" is utter rubbish. HTML, CSS etc. are all international standards approved by the W3C – there's no excuse.

    10 Nov 2004, 10:45

  10. Since Norton Software is supposed to be highly trusted, it could take over your entire computer if it wanted, it could just as easily have broken Firefox so your point is moot.

    My designs are now done in such a way that I do the markup first (no formatting, no styles) so that it can be read in a text browser (I use Opera's text-browser simulating feature), only then do I add styles (all formatting is done with stylesheets).

    The markup of other browsers comment isn't utter rubbish, because I was clearly referring to the past in which IE had to render Netscape's own special brand of html in order to tempt Netscape users away. However, even now Opera has it's own special css attributes which no other browser supports, so it's not just IE which goes around doing it's own thing. Safari is also fairly difficult to get css2 sites working in.

    10 Nov 2004, 12:35

  11. James

    True, no browser completely supports CSS. And yes, Opera and Mozilla both have proprietary CSS attributes. But in my experience Mozilla, Opera and Safari/Konqueror support way more CSS than IE does and with less bugs too ( and the extra attributes are clearly identified with a moz- prefix and mostly intended for XUL apps so I think they are excusable ).
    I design sites like you do – structured, semantic XHTML first and then the CSS (and sometimes JavaScript/DOM). But without fail it's IE that gives me grief. I usually get consistent results across Firefox (and other Gecko browsers), Safair/Konq and Opera. IE lacks support for position: fixed, its box model is screwed up, it can't do margin: auto properly, :hover support (and other pseudo attributes) is poor and don't even get me started on the peek-a-boo bugs you get when you float elements. And lets not forget that it can't do PNG transparency either.
    The only browsers that render worse than IE are iCab (which is nowhere near finished, so that's understandable) and Netscape 4! (well, there is Mac IE, I guess, which, while in some respects better than the Win version, generally sucks too)

    10 Nov 2004, 22:01

  12. Meh. I don't mind arguing. :) Your using Norton software is a result of the relative untrusted nature of your operating system of choice. Norton probably broke javascript in IE because there were security exploits that used it. It is less likely to break Firefox, because Firefox is not built into the Windows shell, and in practice is much less of a security risk.

    I'm pleased you use stylesheets – wouldn't it be much nicer if adoption of stylesheets hadn't been hindered through a combination of 1) the near monopoly of IE, and 2) IE's pathetic support of CSS? And I would recommend again the Web Developer extension. It's very good.

    No-one has yet mentioned the fact that Firefox is open-source, so new features can be added (and bugs fixed) in a much shorter timescale. Support for CSS 3 is coming along nicely – the selectors are very useful (especially for blocking adverts ).

    I'm sure you'll be able to find an XP theme if you look around (or write your own!). And I'll stop ranting about IE when they improve the standards-compliance and the security – if this happens in IE 7, so much the better. Unfortunately this isn't likely to happen until Longhorn, is it? When's that, 2006? Firefox is here now, and it is cool, not just because it's non-MS, but because of the features I've tried to describe to you. If (as a web developer) you cannot see how much better Firefox is than IE, then I suppose you're a lost cause – your loyalty to MS is blinding you to the truth.

    10 Nov 2004, 22:12

  13. It always comes as a great surprise to me when fellow Computer Science students use Internet Explorer and Windows. Anyone who argues over the respective merits of open and closed source software is missing the point. The point is, to quote a previous poster: where's your sense of adventure? Do you have no desire to tinker a play with your software?

    10 Nov 2004, 22:51

  14. It's open source! Sharing is good. Plus if you ever had to do any web developing, you would have endless hours screaming at Ie when it wrongly interprets your code and every other browser under the sun sees it the correct way.

    But at the end of the day i suppose it is up to the user to choose what they like and what they want. Firefox is just there to give you more variety to choose from.

    10 Nov 2004, 23:04

  15. Let's put this another way: Even if you ignore IE, not all browsers render things the same way, and at least workarounds for the IE problems are a lot easier to find.

    Now i've tried Firefox, I do have it permanently on my system afterall, and i've tried numerous flavours of Linux. I can't exactly be accused of not willing to experiment. There probably is a degree of preferring what is familiar to me, but that's a very common personality trait.

    You can make hover elements and png alpha work in IE, but it does involve a workaround that unfortunately doesn't validate.

    In terms of features and compliance, Firefox is the better browser, i'm perfectly willing to say this. But that doesn't mean I prefer to use it. It's like the fact that I have both Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop, I use Paint Shop Pro for the stuff which it's on par with Photoshop for (because it loads faster and it is generally easier for me to work quickly in), but switch to the powerhouse that is Photoshop when the task requires.

    11 Nov 2004, 01:45

  16. James Taylor

    Sorry but I think Firefox is the best thing since sliced bread.. and pretty much anyone I know who has tried it (apart from those who use predominantly MS centric sites that are powered heavily by ActiveX) love it and have stuck with it.

    Kudos to the Firefox team – its a fantastic piece of software.

    Oh.. and the merchandise thing. You know how it doesn't cost you anything to use the web browser.. well they need to make some money to keep paying their developers, etc – so merchandise is one way of generating revenue! Its like giving them a donation to show your appreciation of the software but as a bonus you get sent a t-shirt as well ;)

    11 Nov 2004, 09:31

  17. I personally use Firefox for the same reason I use a different mail client instead of Outlook Express. Knowing Microsoft apps, they're always buggy, and sooner or later, hackers start to exploit holes within it that will force the app to run malicious code. Firefox operates similarly to IE anyway, so I have no problems.

    11 Nov 2004, 10:02

  18. I always wonder why people are always on about security. I have not had a problem with security since i was about 13 and that was only because I didn't have a clue what was going on! I admitted to running a linux box and running everything as root. You could hear them screm in Leamington. Why? Firstly the box is firewalled, secondly why would anyone bother trying to break into my PC, and thirdly I really couldn't give a smeg if they do. They are more than welcome to trash the 5 pages of the website I started to make about a year ago. Even so, this box has been online for a year now, and nothings happened to it yet!

    I also run a windows PC - an up to date copy of AVG, keeping up to date with windows updates and its been fine. There was a bit of a wobble with Blaster, but even that didn't give me a headache for more than an hour. With service pack 2, things have got even better becuase i no longer have pop ups and i can easily refuse Active X controls.

    Having used linux on and off for about 4 years, i find it hard to use, extremely obscure and hard to configure. I should not have to be compiling network card drivers and other programs from source. Getting MP3 to work in xmms was impossible. When I want to install something, I want to be able to get that, and not have to faff about getting 29 dependancies which then depend of 56 other things and so on and so forth. I have tried to alter the resolution on a sony Vivo. I have to go to the command line, edit the XF86Config file, and strip it back untill it only has the resolution I want. Does it work? Does it smeg! I spent hours and hours and hours trying to get named virtual hosts working under apache. I followed the documentation precisely, I tried every possible combination I could think of, I even copied the config from another computer and just changed the IPs and Names. Did it work? No! It's just so impossible to use for anything normal I have given up on it entirely for anything other than serving. And its not even that fast at that!

    11 Nov 2004, 11:20

  19. My god. Someone who's admitted that Firefox isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    I used to love Firefox passionately, but IMO it has been on a downwards trend since 0.8. Though, to be fair, I haven't installed 0.10 or 1.0 yet since very few of my extensions would then work.

    I find it crashes at least once a day (half the time when it's just reloading my Gmail tab) and frequently takes up a huge chunk of my CPU usage. It has a couple of bizarre things going on with its CSS 2 support (I mean, what's with giving a list padding by default rather than a left margin?) Since installing SP2, I find that IE6 is actually better at blocking popups than FF is. It's often raaather sloooow.

    The thing that annoys me the most though, is this insistence from the FF community that it's the only browser worth using. Come on, people, admit that there are other decent browsers out there! Opera! Konqueror! Safari!

    And yet, I still use FF. Mostly out of habit, partly because Opera's my only other option on Windows and there are a few things that bug me, small things like keyboard shortcuts I'm used to that Opera doesn't have.

    11 Nov 2004, 23:46

  20. Catherine: Check the CSS spec on block-level elements – if you just gave an <ul> or an <li> tag a margin, the background colour would not appear. I'd be very surprised if the Firefox developers implemented the specs incorrectly (a few minor bugs aside).

    As for being slow and crashing, I would suggest looking harder at the operating system you use. ;) (I'm never knowingly uncontroversial.)

    12 Nov 2004, 00:12

  21. Ian: Come along to the LUG, on Wednesday evenings, 7:30pm in Xanana's or Xanana's Lounge. There is help available for people like you. ;) We could also give you a hand with Linux. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

    12 Nov 2004, 00:22

  22. Catherine, You have hit on the exact point. Everyone thinks their brower is devine and everyonelses is complete bollocks. I try different things and find that more sites work in IE that FF, so I choose IE. I admit this is because more users use IE that FF, but that is becuase it is easier. This brings us on to the whole monopoly thing. I think everybody using the same system is great becuase it ensures compatability when i send document X to person Y i can be sure they can use it. I am all for obeying standards, but theose standars have to be standard to the majority of people, and currently that is the IE users like it or not.

    Tim, I would love to learn more about linux but i feel that I would be 1) ridiculed for my views as expressed above and 2) Rejected on my views that windows can actually de a damn site better than linux at most things i do!

    12 Nov 2004, 02:16

  23. Cathy Young

    Timothy: Okay, to be fair I don't know which is the actual correct behaviour with lists. You'd be very surprised if FF was wrong about this. I'd be very surprised if Opera was wrong about this (Opera's CSS 2 support is a teensy weensy bit better than FF IMO).

    And please don't blame it on my operating system – I consistently have several applications running all day. I use browsers other than FF too. My rate of program crashes is roughly once a day for Firefox, and probably one other program will crash during a week.

    I think what I've noticed from the (many) times I've installed Firefox as a clean copy, and then gone through and added my extensions, is that it really is quite fast and stripped down and slick right after it's installed. It's once you install the extensions that things start going wrong. And no, I don't have a huge sprawling mass of extensions installed – I have a few small ones (like Paste and Go, EditCSS) and Tabbrowser Extensions. Which hasn't worked fully since I upgraded to 0.9.

    12 Nov 2004, 09:06

  24. Cathy Young

    Ian: Ick! I'm not really advocating One Browser for All, and handing over the reins to Microsoft. It's a fact that IE is the least standards-compliant of the major browsers around and the moment, and it can make life very difficult for those using CSS and trying to achieve the same visual results across a range of browsers.

    I like having a number of browsers around, and it wouldn't be a problem if they all stuck to the standards (and interpreted them in the same way). My main gripe really is that a large number of Firefox advocates make out IE to be the absolute worst browser in the world and constantly rail against it (for example, Ben Goodger arrogantly blocking IE users from his blog) and many of them don't admit that a) there is anything at all wrong (or that could be improved) with Firefox, or that b) there are Other Browsers Out There.

    12 Nov 2004, 09:15

  25. Yeah, i know thats not what you were saying, i was just trying to explain (having just come back from varsity!) why i use it. It made a lot more sense to me last night as well :)

    12 Nov 2004, 11:04

  26. Cathy: It'll be the Tabbrowser Extensions. Never tried them myself, but I've heard they're slightly… umm… bloated. I'm concerned, because ITS are planning to include them on the XP machines – if they slow down FF as much as I've heard, then it's just going to present the wrong impression to everyone. I'll have to try them out.

    I did try EditCSS for a bit, but found the Web Developer one does all that as well, and more (as far as I can remember). As for Opera, I'd much rather people used that than used IE. Opera doesn't support all of CSS2 but I'll have to look around a bit to find out exactly what FF does. You might be right.

    Ian: Aww, we won't ridicule you. I mean, just about /every/ Windows user is running everything as root as well. Not everyone in the LUG is as fundamentalist as me, but I'm pretty sure they'd agree that Linux is going to the better choice for servers, with better stability and configurability (and cost). Come along – you know you want to. If you bring a computer to the upcoming LAN we'll even give you a hand with the install.

    12 Nov 2004, 11:59

  27. James

    Regarding lists, there is nothing in the CSS (or HTML) specs to define whether they should use padding or margins. These are just differences in the browsers' internal stylesheets. Eric Meyer has the definitive article on this subject: link

    12 Nov 2004, 14:25

  28. Yep, that makes sense. Both Opera and Firefox (and probably most browsers other than IE and I think Amaya, ironically) will implement CSS 'properly', but developers might need to specify a few extra details to get everything pixel-perfect. It's when people decide it would be a good idea to implement standards incorrectly that the fun starts.

    I'm beginning to feel guilty about all the BlogBuilder e-mails that must be ending up in Andy's inbox – but then he did ask for it, I suppose. Have you seen the google firefox start page ? I wonder why they're not doing an IE one…

    12 Nov 2004, 17:03

  29. Kevin

    Timothy: I'll save you looking, Firefox doesn't support all of CCS2 yet. Not that you'll find any admission of such weaknesses by anyone who worships it. It fails in some of the same areas as Opera, such as @font-face, and last time I tested it didn't support things that Opera does such as the counter-* properties.

    It's all swings and roundabouts, some browsers do some things and others do others. Pick which one works best for your needs and don't waste your time trying to convert anyone else. All browsers suck! Some just suck less than others.

    Oh, and I think IE is covered by the Microsoft search page: link which came first :-)

    12 Nov 2004, 18:21

  30. Bah, surely Microsoft's is equivalent to the Linux search ? It will only return Microsoft-related results - sure, very useful, Kevin. Interestingly, there is an /ie page, but it looks a bit weird - like it's for hand-held devices. And let's not forget the BSD and Mac pages.

    13 Nov 2004, 10:30

  31. Whoops, I meant the Mac pages.

    13 Nov 2004, 10:32

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