browser wars chrome firefox opera

Browser Wars: The Truth about Firefox 4.0

I was just reading Maximum PC’s article reviewing modern browsers and they crowned Firefox 4 the best browser out there.  This is extremely unfortunate for a multitude of reasons and this post is my rebuttal.  It feels like Firefox 4.0’s feature list was created in response to using Opera and Chrome.  To put it more bluntly, Firefox 4.0 is nothing more than Firefox catching up to the competition.

I just heard a bunch of geeks gasp and clutch their mouse in complete horror.  How dare I say such a  thing! It has GPU acceleration out of the box, for christ sakes!   It’s gotta be good!  (Yes, thats a Maximum PC article dig)

Firefox copies features:

  • Firefox copied Opera’s menu in the top left-hand corner.
  • Firefox copied Chrome’s rapid development schedule.
  • Firefox copied Opera and Chrome’s simplistic interface motto (For example, Firefox now has tabbed extensions).

Firefox Improvements Debunked:

  • Firefox is FINALLY competitive in Javascript performance to Opera and Chrome.  However, Firefox 4 is not the fastest.
  • To improve security, Firefox 4 implemented something called HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security). The only problem is that no one supports this yet.
  • Firefox has GPU acceleration.  There actually is nothing wrong with that, but so does Chrome if you enable the labs feature.  In fact, I leave it disabled because GPU acceleration means little to nothing to me right now.
  • Firefox scores a 97 on the ACID 3 test, hurray!  Chrome and Opera only managed to get 100.  That was close.

Firefox’s Downfalls:

  • Firefox does not run plugins and tabs into separate processes like Chrome does.
  • Firefox does not bundle Flash with the browser for improved stability and security.
  • Firefox still takes longer to open on a PC than Opera or Chrome.

So how exactly is Firefox the best browser?  Because of their 1,000,000 extensions?  By now, 99% of the good ones are available on Chrome too.  If you want to tell me Firefox is better for web developers then I agree.  Firebug, yslow, and pagespeed all kick butt.  That is what I use Firefox for, but not for daily browsing.  There are plenty of subtle things that Chrome does that I love, but I don’t have time to get into them now.

Now don’t get me wrong, I want to praise Firefox for finally doing some development work.  They must feel really good finally catching up to a 1 year old browser (Chrome).  Boy I sound bitter huh?  Maybe because I was a huge Firefox fan for 5 years and then a brand new browser came along and opened my eyes to Firefox’s flaws.

Sorry that this post sounds amatureish, but I don’t have time to develop a well thought out article.  I just had to get this off my chest. Feel free to leave comments about your thoughts.  I’ll be more than happy to update this post.


Chrome Ad Blockers: AdThwart Vs. AdBlock , Round 1

UPDATED: 1.25.2010 UPDATE #2

One of the most important aspects of a web browser today is how good it is at blocking ads.  Today Google announced that it has released a Windows version that has the ability to use extensions.  This means that extensions are ready for the masses.

Users thinking about switching to Chrome from Firefox NEED to have a reliable ad blocker.  The two best ad hidders are AdThwart and AdBlock.  I call them ad hidders because currently Chrome is unable to block ads the way we are accustomed to seeing with Firefox.  Until Chrome developers add this functionality, these two extensions are forced to simply edit the CSS on the fly.  They both support EasyList, but that doesn’t mean they are both equally effective and user friendly.  I decided to compare a vareity of categories that I look for in an ad blocker.

Have a look at my chart below which goes into detail about each extension

AdThwart vs AdBlock

The winner is AdThwart!

Both produce similar speed results, both are maintained and updated on a near daily basis, both have a wide user base, both hide most ads, both have friendly and bright developers working on them.

AdBlock has issues with it’s icon to show if a site is blocked or not.   The icon is actually a separate extension, so if you disable AdBlock, the icon remains.  That is a glaring issue for ease of use.  I also have no idea how to edit the custom filters I applied, what happens if I end up blocking all images by accident?  Those of you who care about open source, AdBlock is not entirely clear on the subject, whereas AdThwart is open source.

The issue of speed I want to touch on in more detail.  At first glance, the speed tests seem to be inconsistent when it comes to speed of a page with no extensions applied.  TechCrunch takes a lot longer to load when advertisements are present, but MSN is much quicker when ads are present.  How can this be you ask?  Well, it depends on the type of advertisements on the site.  MSN has ads that don’t require the browser to render them as much as TechCrunch, therefore when we add the added time it takes for the extensions to hide the ads. . . it actually takes longer to load.  However, I am pleased to see in testing that for the majority of websites, hiding ads does make load times faster.  The fact that AdThwart is a tiny bit faster may not mean much because it is probably not even noticeable.

I also want to mention that each page load could have different ads, sometimes it would include an image ad, other times an it would have a javascript ad.  Other times the sever may have a slower response time than the previous request.  Therefore the speed tests can vary greatly.  To combat that, I reloaded each page 5 times and took the average.  I’m looking to compare rendering speed and the response time for the server can screw that up.  Any time the server responded with a response time of over 500ms, I redid the test.  I performed each test using Chrome’s developer tools resource tracking (Ctrl+Shift+I).

So where does this test leave us?  AdBlock needs to go back to the drawing board for the icon implementation, provide more details on if the extension is open source or not, and revamp custom filters.  The majority of users should be more pleased with AdThwart’s ease of use and custom filter implementation.

chrome Google

Chrome: New “Press Tab to Search” Feature

Google Chrome, Developer version 4.0.302.2 includes a new way to easily search a website.  When typing a URL into the address bar, an option comes up to “Press Tab to search”.  Have a look below:

Press tab to search

The feature looks great to me.  My only question is how Chrome decides which sites are available to search and which ones to omit.  I have yet to see another site come up with this option other than Tomshardware.  Now let’s take a look at what happens when you press tab:

After Pressing Tab

Chrome maintains a smooth transition to the new search option and it is clearly visible within the url bar.  Now let’s try to search Tom’s Hardware for the Radeon 5770 card.  I search “5770”:

Google Finds Articles Related to 5770

It appears that those results coming in from the dropdown list are things that I have already visited.  It appears Google is searching my browser history, rather than Google search results.  While this is still useful, I’d look forward to an option to see live search results right from the dropdown box.

What do you guys think?