New Firefox is A-Ok (so far)

Mozilla Firefox Preview Release Release Notes
I just installed the latest version of Mozilla Firefox and so far, things are looking pretty good. I’ve been using Firefox as my primary browswer for about 8-9 months, I think, and before that, I was using Mozilla.

I’d reccommend Firefox as an Internet Explorer replacement to just about everyone. Its fast, its compatable with most every site and has fewer big security holes.

Best of all, it has tabbed browsing, which allows you to open multiple pages in a single browser window and switch between them by clicking on tabs near the top. I find this very handy while working on a project, because I can have multiple pages related to the project grouped together and easily accessible. You can also bookmark groups of tabs which comes in handy if you’ve got a bunch of pages open and you need to restart your computer or something.

Now to complaing about what it doesn’t do;

Firefox and Thunderbird grew out of the original Mozilla project. The idea was to split out the features of Mozilla, which combined a browser, an e-mail client, a chat client and a web page editor, ditch the unnecessary stuff that most people will never use, and release a lightweight web browser (Firefox) and e-mail client (Thunderbird) that are as good at their core tasks as they can possibly be.

For the most part, they’ve done a great job, but along the way, I think they got rid of a few things they should have kept. For example, you used to be able to block and unblock cookies for specific sites from a menu. Now you have to dig into a preference box, find the site you are visiting in a long list, unblock the entry, and then follow an unintuitive stream of clicks to get rid of all the dialogs and back to the main browser window. This should be much easier, and with the full version Mozilla it was and is. For the most part though, I agree with their choices on what to discard.

Now, getting back to the new version. The new findbar, which appears at the bottom of the screen, is cool for searching within web pages, much easier to use than the old popup dialog that has been with us since Netcape 1.0 and always seems to be concealing the word you are looking for. In addition to finding each instance of the word you typed, it will highlight every instance of the word all at once. Its rather uncool though that it doesn’t work directly with the websearch feature. If I use the searchbox at the top of the screen to search for something using google and then want to find the term in a page I’ve pulled up, I have to enter it again in the find bar at the bottom of the page. This is dumb, especially when the google toolbar for IE has integrated these related functions into a single UI for years now.

The bookmark manager is better with the addition of a folder only view in a sidepane. I still use bookmarks a little, and now its easier to reorganize folders and sort bookmarks into them. It would be even cooler though if they would index all the pages I’ve browsed and let me do searches against the index so I can find stuff I might have saw two weeks ago but didn’t see a need for until now.

The RSS feature is kind of cool, it detects the availability of feeds on most sites and lets you create a special bookmark by clicking an RSS button that lights up in the status bar. The bookmark appears as a folder in the bookmark list with each article in the feed appearing as a link within the bookmark. This isn’t very cool for keeping up with People’s blogs. It is a very cool way to share cool bookmarks with people via linkblogs.