Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why I still prefer Firefox to Chrome

 In response to the LifeHacker love-letter to Chrome, here are the reasons I don't care for it.

(1) Chrome isn't a proper multi-user application.  It's not easy to run Chrome as another user, and it can't be installed on all accounts at the same time.

(2) Web install. I am a USB sneaker-net kind of guy, and web installs are the bane of my existence. Web-install plus not being multi-user means annoying downloads for each user account.

(3) I hate the tabs-on-top interface. Tabs do not logically belong on the top of the window. Any mouse-pointer accuracy gained by a tabs-on-top interface is negated (and then some) by an OS level task or menu bar at the top of the screen. (Default configuration in Ubuntu, less common in Windows).

(4) Non-native window decoration.

(5) I like my junk. Chrome is often praised for its clean interface. Well, I like my "cluttered" toolbar and bookmark system. The presence of a prominent bookmark or folder of bookmarks offers a reminder of sites that should be visited.  Reliance on a search bar is equivalent to reliance on my own memory, which is not a good idea. (This is reminiscent of the GUI vs CLI debates circa 1993. And while CLI will always have its place, GUI won.)

(6) Auto update is not always a good idea.  There can be reasons for keeping older versions around, at least for a little while.  Who needs continuous incremental updates for features? It's a web browser, for Pete's sake.

(7) The URL box and the Search box are different for a reason.  Searching the URL box looks at history and bookmarks.  Search box auto-completes are pulled from the net.  Why would you combine these two things?

(8) Mature extension environment. Chrome is getting there (and it would be nice to install an extension without restarting the program), but mozilla still rules for now.

(8a) NoScript. As far as I know, there is no Chrome equivalent functionality as found in the Firefox "NoScript" extension.

(9) Developer support. It just works. In my experience, more sites fail to work properly in Chrome.  (And when you encounter the rare site that fails in Firefox, there's IE-tab.)

(10) RSS - I might be the only one, but I actually like the Firefox "live bookmark" scheme. I don't have a separate RSS reader and have hated every one I've tried.

Chrome touts its use of separate threads for each tab.  I think this will be implemented in a future Firefox, but I haven't had the whole browser crash in a while since Firefox made plug-ins separate processes.  I can kill an errant Silverlight process, reload the misbehaving tab and go about my business just fine.

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