This Post could also be titled “Why I now use Google Chrome” as I’ve recently done something a few weeks back I would have thought extremely unlikely. I used and loved Mozilla Firefox for many years and then I was forced to reinstall the OS and software onto my laptop due to a trojan. The reinstall went well until I attempted to install Google Toolbar in Firefox 6 (the latest version of Firefox).
I used Google Toolbar alot and find the tools it provides essential in keeping organized. In Firefox 5 I used the “Add-on Compatibility Reporter” to make the Google Toolbar I installed years back compatible with version 5 of Firefox. The problem I faced this week was that I couldn’t find a means of installing a Firefox version of Google Toolbar; Google have stated that they won’t be updating Google Toolbar for future versions of Firefox and I could have forced Firefox to recognize an incompatible version of Google Toolbar … if only I could have found a way to install Google Toolbar for Firefox whilst having Firefox 6 installed.
I was loathe to move from Firefox because I’ve loved using it for years and it’s always worked so well with WordPress. I also love the Web development related add-ins that are available for free use with Firefox. As Google Toolbar is so important to my organization I decided to try another browser.
The Search for a new Internet Browser
So which Internet Browser to use? I test the WordPress Websites I develop on all of the major Browsers; Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari and the vast majority of Internet users use one of these Browsers so it had to be one of the afore mentioned.
I find Apple Safari slow and don’t like their ‘propriety’ take on software so that was the first to be removed from the potential list. Internet Explorer is the most popular Browser but has issues with lack of standards-compliance (version 9 is far more standards-compliant than previous versions of IE so Microsoft is moving in the right direction). IE then was out.
Now the choice became tough; the two remaining contenders to use as my primary Browser were Opera and Google Chrome. Opera is beautiful and quick but few of my clients use Opera. Chrome, on the other hand, is from Google (this is significantly positive in my view), has a large user base, is increasing market share, is standards-compliant and uses the same layout engine as Safari; Webkit. Google therefore was the logical choice as my primary Browser (and, being a Google product, all the tools from the Google Toolbar are easily available for use in Chrome).
Plugins, Add-ons, Extensions for Chrome
Something I was very concerned about with regards to moving from Firefox was whether the various Web design/development Add-ons/Extensions that I used with Firefox would be available with Chrome. Firebug, HTTPS Everywhere, Add This, Web Developer, Google Toolbar and Page Speed, in particular, were Tools I used often.
I’ve found, in my week of using Chrome, that many of the same Extensions are available for Chrome as well as many more. In Chrome, the Add-ons too seem to be better integrated into the Application, are easier to use and take up less screen ‘real estate’. I do however miss the full version of Firebug in Chrome but I guess I just need a bit more time getting used to the many other means of achieving the same outcomes in Chrome
Firefox Release Schedule
Whether Google decided to stop updating the Google Toolbar for Firefox in order to take users from Firefox (like me ) or whether they got fed-up with constantly updating Google Toolbar for the latest version of Firefox I don’t know. It is however evident that Add-on developers aren’t keeping up with the rapid release cycle that Mozilla has recently introduced. Here is some quick commentary relating to this release cycle:
Mozilla’s Release Schedule was rejigged earlier this year. Both consumer Software and Hardware from significant vendors is being released in quick succession to previous versions. The days of many ‘point-releases’ seems far gone and it is assumed that the Firefox released schedule in particular may have something to do with the rapid releases of Google Chrome versions.
The Mozilla Firefox Release schedule has become incredibly aggressive; just consider the gaps between he versions of Firefox as below:
- Firefox 3 released on June 17,2008
- Firefox 4 released on March 22, 2011
- Firefox 5 released on June 21, 2011
- Firefox 6 released on August 16, 2011
- Firefox 7 to be released on September 27, 2011
Those poor Add-on/extension developers trying to keep up with this roadmap!
Anyway, Firefox describes their Development process thus:
Firefox uses a schedule-driven process, where releases take place at regular intervals. That means each release happens regardless of whether a given feature is ready, and releases are not delayed to wait for a feature to stabilize. The goal of the process is to provide regular improvements to users without disrupting longer term work.
In principle, the decision by Mozilla to speed up the release schedule seems in line with general industry trends. It’s also consistent with releases of consumer hardware and software being released on a schedule rather than on a ‘feature’ basis (see Matt Mullenwegs excellent article about Apples success with this formula).
Mozilla must however address the problem of Add-on/Extension developers trying to keep their add-ons/extensions current as this is causing Firefox users to move to competing Internet Browsers. A strength of Firefox has been the many good quality extensions available; the new schedule is eroding this strength very quickly.