A couple weeks ago I wrote an article about my experiences with the IE7 pre-beta, pointing out some problems with it and explaining why I was sticking with Mozilla Firefox. Boy, did I get a lot of responses! I want to address and elaborate on one particular thread that was mentioned a few times, and that is the feeling that the weaknesses and bugs in Firefox are being downplayed in the media in general and in my article in particular.
So does FF have weaknesses and bugs? Heck yes. Firefox is one of the buggiest programs I use. This is not a review, but I have to say that Firefox is one of the buggiest programs I use on a day to day basis. Here are a few of the warts that either I or other users have reported (as of 184.108.40.206). Of course, your mileage may vary:
- Newer releases feel slower than old releases
- It takes too long to start up
- It crashes often (both on my PC and my Mac)
- It doesn't handle embedded content well (especially PDFs)
- It has serious memory leaks
- It does not protect itself very well from badly behaved extensions.
- ...Did I leave anything else important out?
With all that said, I still use it all the time. I've mostly expunged IE from all my computers (except I have to keep it around for a few intranet pages that require it). I took a look at Opera but decided it wasn't for me. That probably makes no sense to you so let me explain.
There are two things that Mozilla Firefox has that nobody else can match. Things that make me use it even as I occasionally curse it. They are:
- Extensions, and
- Open Source Community
Extensions are so incredibly easy to write that there are hundreds available. Some are tiny, like 15K or less, but are packed with functionality. You just click on a link to install one. There's an extension site that lists and rates all of them, and updates are a breeze. That's amazing power and flexibility.
I have faith in the Open Source community that brought us Mozilla and Firefox. It's a vibrant, growing community filled with people like me who are passionate about technology. I believe the problems will be worked out, and it's comforting to know that if something bothers me enough I can go fix it myself. The Mozilla license is very progressive and corporate friendly, a nice balance of Open Source ideals and practicality.
Every product is going to have its pros and cons, but there are some products that are so darned useful you'll put up with a lot to keep using them. So while I'll always be on the lookout for Something Better, at the moment, despite its many flaws, Firefox has me hooked.