Archive for the ‘Mozilla Firefox’ Category

Saturday, May 17th 2008

Almost Firefox 3 is here!

Mozilla have just released a release candidate of Firefox 3 while us Swedes were asleep.

It’s packed full of small and large improvements that make life easier.

And here’s a tip for saving some milliseconds now and then:

When using the new cool address bar, hit Tab and then Enter to easily get to the first suggestion in the list. That’s way easier than doing Down, Enter when you’ve got your hands in typing position.

Friday, April 11th 2008

Nice start, Ameibo

Screenshot of Ameibo

I was just checking out Ameibo which was launched only yesterday. If I’ve understood correctly it is a legal, torrent based file sharing service which charges for downloads and pays users for uploads.

I haven’t actually tried downloading anything yet. Since downloads cost money I’ll only download stuff I really want. But everything was looking really promising and I got the feeling of Wow, finally someone has worked it out!. How to provide legal downloads of films for a reasonable price.

But then I got a welcome email, and I quote: (translated from Swedish)

To make best use of the service we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 6.0 and Windows Media Player 11 or higher.

Emphasis mine there. Well as you understand, that’s a bit of a turn-off for a Firefox guy geek like me. At least there’s the higher which refers to IE7 I guess. That’s better than asking for IE6 only, which would be plain crazy.

Don’t they understand that their audience, people using (or willing to use) bittorrent, are much more biased towards using Firefox than the average internet crowd?

Then there’s the fact that most of the films are DRM’ed, and therefore can’t be burned and played on a DVD. But perhaps the film industry will one day understand (like the music industry now finally has done) that DRM is only a nuisance for the legal downloaders and no one else.

Wednesday, April 2nd 2008

Firefox 3 beta 5 is out

As the title says ^^. Get it now. Or read a review over at Mozilla links first.

Screenshot of the Firefox 3 beta 5 first load page

It’s available in an amazing 45 different languages, simultaneously! I hear Vista SP1 in Swedish will be out some time during quarter two…

There have been quite a few nice little theme tweaks since beta 4. And I believe all the memory and javascript performance improvements that the Internets have been raving about are new for beta 5 as well.

Monday, March 3rd 2008

How to define Firefox 3

Ok, so we all know Firefox 3 will be great. But what will it mean? What will it feel like?

Well it just hit me. Firefox 3 makes Firefox 2 feel like a beta. It’s not that Firefox 2 is buggy or hangs, but there are just so many things in Firefox 3 that work better, easier, faster, simpler.

I guess all the Firefox releases so far have been like that. The improvements make you wonder: Why didn’t they just do that in the first place? That might sound like criticism, but it isn’t.

Instead it’s a matter of the Firefox community and developers managing to think of more and more ways to streamline and simplify the browser for every release.

New location bar

Cropped screenshot of Firefox 3 awesome bar or location bar.

For instance, take the new location bar: When you start typing, Firefox will start listing previously visited pages that match what you’ve typed so far. It will match against URL, page title and bookmark tags. Firefox will take into account how often and how recently you visited the pages in the list and order them accordingly.

The location bar search is very soft, in other words it will find matches with the searched words in any order, and it’ll also find parts of words.

Also, the location bar will learn how you think. Sort of. If you type in “news” and then choose http://www.cnn.com/ from the list of previously visited websites, Firefox will remember that combination of search phrase and web page. The next time you type “news”, CNN will end up higher in the list, if not at the top.

Other new features

Here are a few other things that will make Firefox 3 easier to use and live with:

  • A panel in the Add-ons manager for installing addons straight from within the browser.
  • Another panel in the Add-ons manager for plugins. Makes it very easy to enable and disable plugins as you like in stead of mucking around in the installation folder.
  • Pausable downloads – great for large downloads or if you’re on a dialup connection.
  • Searchable download history.
  • Quick bookmarking – just click the star to save a bookmark! Click it twice if you want to place the bookmark in a particular place, or if you want to tag it.
  • Per-site permission settings for images, cookies, popups and addons, all accessible in a new panel in the page info window.
  • Full page zooming
  • Saved bookmark searches. Allows you to automatically sort your bookmarks into folders based on tags, location (server/URL) or visiting dates. Great for the bookmark addict.
  • New themes making Firefox 3 fit much better in Windows Vista, OS X and in Linux. I’m a little sceptical about the new XP theme though, but then it’s not actually finished yet. See Wikipedia for some fairly up to date screenshots.
  • Malware protection. In the same way Firefox 2 blocked known phishing sites, Firefox 3 will also block sites known to try installing viruses, spyware, etc on your computer.
  • New manager for controlling how your downloads are handled. Similar to the file-type handler in Windows, Firefox lets you set if you want different file types to be saved, opened by a certain program or handled by a plugin.

Speed

One major advantage of Firefox 3 over 2 is its performance. Firefox 3 is quicker and uses less memory than Firefox 2. I haven’t compared the two for speed myself, but the difference in memory usage is easy to see after a few hours of browsing.

I’ve always known Firefox was generally a quick browser, but I obviously hadn’t understood quite how fast it was. Yesterday I did a quick test of various pages in Firefox 3 and IE7. Man, this thing flies! It just sucks the pages down off the net, while IE7 sort of sits there – waiting to be served… If you want to read more about Firefox 3’s performance, see this article by Percy Cabello.

Well, I’m probably forgetting a few things now, but those are probably the main reasons to switch to Firefox 3. I’m predicting we will see a final version some time in July.

Friday, February 29th 2008

Firefox bug submitted

Today I submitted my third Mozilla bug, “Search using awesomebar locationbar doesn’t always find history entries”.

(The use of both locationbar and awesomebar is to make it easier to find using the search in bugzilla.)

Screenshot illustrating Firefox bug 420271

Here’s the description of the bug I posted to bugzilla:

When I type in a word into the location bar it doesn’t always find the relevant
history entries.

For instance, in the past 60 days (my history cutoff) I have visited the
website “Helgessons kök”, http://www.helgessons.se/. Now when I type
“helgessons” (no quotes) into the location bar I get nothing, even though it
should match both the URL and the page title.

When I do the same search in the History side-bar I *do* find the website. (Se
attached screenshot.)

I have previously submitted one bug for Thunderbird and one for Firefox.

Wednesday, February 13th 2008

Firefox 3 beta 3 is out

The third beta of the mighty Firefox 3 is out now. You know you want it.

If you don’t know you want it, read this great review at Mozilla Links.

Edit: Here’s a full list of improvements in Firefox 3 beta 3.

Tuesday, November 20th 2007

Firefox 3 beta 1 out now!

It’s here!

So what’s the big deal about Firefox 3? Well, many people who try new versions of Firefox (both version 3 and previous releases) complain that there aren’t any major new features. But that’s the thing with Firefox: It is constantly being refined and tweaked to improve your web browsing in subtle but great ways.

Here are some examples: (Copied from the official what’s new list.)

  • Easier password management: an information bar replaces the old password dialog so you can now save passwords after a successful login.
  • Simplified add-on installation: the add-ons whitelist has been removed making it possible to install extensions from third-party sites in fewer clicks.
  • Resumable downloading: users can now resume downloads after restarting the browser or resetting your network connection.
  • Full page zoom: from the View menu and via keyboard shortcuts, the new zooming feature lets you zoom in and out of entire pages, scaling the layout, text and images.
  • Save what you were doing: Firefox will prompt users to save tabs on exit.
  • Find toolbar: the Find toolbar now opens with the current selection.
  • Star button: quickly add bookmarks from the location bar with a single click; a second click lets you file and tag them.
  • Location bar & auto-complete: type the title or tag of a page in the location bar to quickly find the site you were looking for in your history; favicons, bookmark, and tag indicators help you see where results are coming from.

Firefox 3, alltogether, will be a huge improvement over Firefox 2. In my eyes there are two killer features:

  • Rendering updated to Gecko 1.9. (If that can be called a feature.)
  • Bookmarks and History combined into Places.

Once Firefox 3 has replaced most of the Firefox 2 installs (which should be sometime in april, thanks to Firefox’s sleek update feature) web designers can seriously start playing around with semi-transparent colours. Also, soft hyphens will work in all the major browsers. (Although it is rather embarrassing that Firefox is the last browser to implement ­.)

Places is a very nice semi-revolutionary change in Firefox 3. If you want to, you can keep using bookmarks in the same old way you always used them. But if you have lots of bookmarks, chances are you will have a go at using the new tagging feature and use the location bar for searching your bookmarks and history.

Right now though, Places doesn’t seem to work very well. The searching is slow, and sometimes doesn’t find bookmarks that I just added a couple of minutes ago. This could be because I use a nightly build of Firefox which is newer than beta 1. (Can someone tell me if this works in beta 1?)

Anyway, give it a try!

Saturday, August 25th 2007

Firefox 3 Shaping Up

A lot of nice features are being added to what will become Firefox 3. The final release will probably be out sometime in November or December.

Here are some of the many improvements that have landed recently in the Firefox code:

  • Colour management. Previously, if you saved a colour profile in a JPEG picture, only Safari would be able to interpret that information. Now Firefox will be able to as well.
  • Improved Bookmarks and History: Places. Searchable, taggable bookmarks and history. To bookmark a page, just click the star in the URL bar.
  • Plug-in manager. The add-ons manager gets a new tab for plug-ins. (Flash, Java, Acrobat Reader, etc.) Makes it easier to see which plug-ins are installed.
  • Full page zoom. Together with bicubic interpolation of images, this can be quite useful. A website can for instance have a 800 pixel wide image and display it as 400 pixels wide. Then, if you like, you can zoom in to 200% and see more detail in the picture.
  • Native audio and video support. Firefox 3 will support the new <audio> and <video> tags, which will make it much easier for website creators to include video and audio in their pages.
  • Support for soft hyphens! All scandinavian web editors say yay!

I’ve downloaded a nightly build of Minefield and it is looking pretty good, even if the Places interface needs a bit of polish IMNSHO.

Wednesday, March 7th 2007

Mozilla Links is Great

If you didn’t know, Mozilla Links is the name of a brilliant new Mozilla news site.

Cropped screenshot of the Mozilla Links website

They update often, with articles on stuff that happens on the Mozilla scene. Percy Cabello, who runs Mozilla Links, also writes reviews of interesting Firefox extensions and posts useful tips and tricks.

MozillaZine was for a long time the one-and-only website for Mozilla-related news. But around at the same time as they introduced the ads, things started to go downhill.

Now I feel that anything I read on MozillaZine I have already read somewhere else. And the comments after the articles are seldom very lively nowadays. (Perhaps because we don’t get the bimonthly name-changes for the Mozilla products any more…) I don’t actually think that the change has anything to do with the ads though. In fact, I’m not even sure that MozillaZine really has changed. It could just be that my news-gathering patterns have changed. I (obviously?) read many more blogs now than I did a couple of years back.

Anyway, for the Firefox aficionados, Mozilla Links is a great resource. Don’t forget to add it to your RSS readers.

Tuesday, January 9th 2007

Search Netscape for Firefox, get Netscape

The other day I was bored and searched for Firefox using the built-in keyword search in Netscape 7.01. (Somewhat outdated browser, I know… To make things better, this was on Mac OS 9.)

The search results were very interesting. You would have expected the top hit for a “mozilla firefox” search to be at least a page hosted somewhere on mozilla.org or mozilla.com, but no. Instead the first item (after the skilfully disguised sponsored links) was Download Netscape 7.2 Browser.

That’s just plain weird if you ask me. I could sort-of have understood if the first hit would have been Netscape 8, since that at least is based on Mozilla Firefox…

Searches for firefox browser and opera browser both result with the top search spot being filled with a specially designed ad for Netscape 8, while the previous number one has been pushed down to second:

In fact, any search including browser will put Netscape’s ad at the top.

Imagine the fuss that would arise if Microsoft did something like this! The fact that this hasn’t caused a huge fuss just proves that Netscape means nothing these days.

Interestingly, though, a search for Microsoft Internet Explorer doesn’t put Netscape in first position…

Netscape, you’re fighting a losing battle. Even Microsoft is! 😀 Just move aside, and you might keep some dignity!

Monday, December 18th 2006

Firefox Gaining, Thunderbird 2 Beta Out

Firefox logotype (logo), 200x200 pxI love the fact that Firefox is still gaining on Internet Explorer even though MS just released version 7.

According to WebSideStory, Firefox is now at 10.7%, having increased by 0.89 percentage points between October and December. Internet Explorer meanwhile dropped 0.86 percentage points to 88.2%, even though version 7 is seeing increased usage.

IE7 holds 16.3% of the market, or 18.5% of IE usage. Firefox 2 meanwhile has 3.1% of the market, or 29.1% of Firefox usage. As usual, Firefox users seem to be more with it.

Keep in mind that nearly all other browser stats show Firefox at higher percentages than WebSideStory. XiTi, for instance, show that Firefox usage in Europe is at roughly 23% and 14% in the US.

Thunderbird 2 beta 1

Thunderbird logotype (logo), 200x200 pxMozilla have just released the first beta of Thunderbird 2. There are many great new features and enhancements:

  • Message tags – sort your emails using tags instead of folders, or both if you like.
  • New theme, which uses the every-second-line-is-light-grey scheme for the message list.
  • Improved performance of saved search folders, which btw is a wonderful feature.
  • Improved information popup when you receive new mail.
  • Session History Navigation – New Back and Forward buttons which work like back and forward in your web browser.
  • Improved filing tools. Remembers folders that you recently copied or moved emails to and makes them easier to find in the context menu.
  • Several others, but the above are my favourites.

Finally a word of caution. If you are planning on reorganizing your emails in Thunderbird 2 beta 1, make a backup of your profile first.

I found a nasty data loss bug, which drops some messages if you try to move too many in one go from one folder to another. (It seems to depend on message size.) A simple and seemingly safe workaround is to copy your messages and then delete the copy in the first folder.

I haven’t been able to find a bug for this at bugzilla.mozilla.org, so if you’re good at searching bugzilla and feel like helping me (and everyone else) out, I’d be very greatful.

Tuesday, October 24th 2006

Mozilla Websites Get Facelifts

Just like last time Mozilla did a big release, addons.mozilla.org is getting a facelift.

Screenshot of addons.mozilla.org

The fact that plug-ins and search engines also are listed as add-ons indicates that they will be merged in future versions of Firefox. That’s to say, extensions, themes, search engine plug-ins and regular plug-ins will all be managed using the add-ons manager (which now in version 2 contains only themes and extensions).

The You’re firefox has been updated page has been given a similar design, so I presume they will be redesigning the main Firefox page too. A good addition they’ve made to the you-have-updated page is a link for installing spelling dictionaries. Great thinking there – a great way to promote one of the main advantages of Firefox 2 over IE7.

Update: Yeah, Firefox 2 has now been released and the main mozilla site has also had the redesign.

Monday, October 23rd 2006

Great Firefox 2 Review

Mozilla Links just posted a great (=detailed) review of Firefox 2. Some of its new features are hard to live without once you’ve got used to them…

  • Spellchecker
  • Undo closed tabs (Ctrl+Shift+T)
  • Session saving

Then it has been improved and polished in loads of ways, but those are the main addictions.

Sunday, October 22nd 2006

New Firefox Theme: Saturated

I got a bit inspired this evening and decided to create a slightly tweaked version of the original Firefox 2 theme. Here’s how it turned out:

Screenshot of Saturated, a theme for Firefox based on the original theme of Firefox 2.

This is basically what I wanted the new Firefox 2 theme to look like. I think they made it a little too pale (which was a concious decision), but thanks to the wonderful nature of Firefox I can just change it any way I like! Also, I can share my changes with anyone who wants them.

Edit: Here is the original theme for comparison:

Screenshot of the original theme of Firefox 2.

So, to all of those who think that the default Firefox 2 theme is too pale, I give you…

Saturated 1.0

Saturday, October 21st 2006

CSS3 Teasers

Some of these CSS3 previews show just how far behind Internet Explorer is when it comes to the latest and greatest in CSS3. Nice features such as HSLA colours are already being implemented by other browsers!

HSLA colours are a very nice thing indeed. Instead of defining a colour as Red, Green and Blue, web designers of the future will be able to choose Hue, Saturation and Lightness, as well as Alpha, an opacity value.

That means it will be much easier to guess-pick colours when you’re coding. Also, making a colour semitransparent will be a very nice possibility for backgrounds. (No more semitransparent 1px png graphics!)

Then we have rounded borders, which is already being used around the web, since it degrades nicely (into square corners).

Another promising feature of CSS3 is columns. Currently, only Mozilla browsers (Firefox 1.5+) support this in any way. The idea is that you will be able to set a column width as well as spacing, and the browser will calculate how many columns to fit across the screen. Alternatively, you can define how many columns you want, and the browser will adjust their width to fit the space provided. A List Apart has a very nice article on the subject.

If you’re really intersted, have a look at what the W3C are working on right now, the different modules and their specs. CSS3 is still work in progress, so only a couple of the modules are even close to the recommended status. (I.e. implement now! status.

Friday, October 20th 2006

IE7 Only Half Way There

I guess I was just a little curious to try out IE7, so I have now installed it, although I said I wouldn’t… 🙂

But before doing so I created a system restore point so that I could go back properly, if necessary. (I believe IE7 is uninstallable, restoring IE6, but I wanted to be safe – not sorry.)

To begin with, I’ve somehow got the feeling that some think we should just be kind to the IE devs and like IE7, since they are very nice people and they have worked very hard, and after all, IE7 is very much better than IE6. But I don’t buy that. In 2001, Microsoft messed up – and even five years later with IE7 they haven’t caught up with the competition on some major points.

Sure, the individuals in the IE team have worked their gluteus maximuses off to get IE into it’s current shape, and deserve credit for their work. Keep it up! But the fact remains that it is not yet on par with Firefox et al., and I believe the leadership that killed IE development back then should hear that.

Anyway, lets start with the goods.

The Goods

Internet Explorer 7 feels snappier than version 6, which is a positive surprise. I was really expecting it to feel more bloated.

They’ve done a good job in maximizing the website canvas. And the strive to maximize the canvas was probably what made them remove the menus and put those commands over to the right. There’s been a lot of whining about those changes, but frankly, I think they work quite well.

Screenshot of IE7 (Internet Explorer 7)

Tabs have been made discoverable in a very nifty way. There is always a tab visible, but without stealing a whole bar of screen space. The new tab waiting at the end is sort of cool, but I think Firefox’s button is more practical, especially if you want to open more new tabs in one go.

The Bads

I did say IE7 was quicker than IE6. Sadly, IE6 hasn’t been a benchmark for browser speed for quite a few years. So IE7 is still quite a way behind Firefox. (And that’s comparing to a Firefox installation with a ship-load of extensions.) The most annoying slowness in IE7 is when opening new tabs: Hit Ctrl+T, and there are two discrete phases until your cursor is actually sitting in the URL bar waiting for you to type. First a tab is opened in the background, saying Connecting…. (Why??) Then focus is switched to the new tab, which changes title to Welcome to Tabbed Browsing. All of this takes roughly one-mississippi, while in Firefox you get a new tab in about one-.

Having the stop and reload buttons at the right end of the URL bar does not make sense. They are both buttons that you want within quick reach if there’s to be any point in having them at all.

It beats me that you can’t rearrange the buttons as you want. (So we could move the stop and reload buttons to a more practical position, perhaps.) In 2006, you’d have thought rearranging buttons would be possible in any old browser. Even stranger is the fact that if you right click within the top toolbar, you get the alt+space menu popping up where you clicked. Makes it feel like a beta… or an alpha, by Firefox standards.

Quick Tabs is mentioned as the feature that Firefox doesn’t have. If you’re asking me, it’s cool, but not in a usable way. It’s only cool in a wow, look what you can do! kind of way. I can’t think of any situation when it would actually be quicker to use the Quick Tab feature than to navigate the tabs in the traditional ways. Even if I open loads of tabs, I don’t get the feeling that Quick Tabs actually saves me any time. But as I said, it does look cool:

Screenshot of IE7 (Internet Explorer 7) Quick Tabs feature

For some obscure reason they’ve chosen to stick the off-by-default menu under the URL bar, if and when you switch it on. It strikes me as ironic that no other software company brakes the UI design guidelines for Windows as often and as seriously as Microsoft…

Another weirdness is that the Tools command and the Tools menu contain slightly different menu items, and because of that use different accesskeys. I expected them to be identical.

While IE7 was a positive surprise when it came to speed, it was a disappointment when it came to standards. I was under the impression that the IE Team had basically fixed the CSS stuff that web devs wanted. When I checked my blog design yesterday, I realized they haven’t. Max-width for instance, which is a very useful CSS property, has not been implemented. This will probably be my main reason for letting Firefox stay in charge of my http transfers.

Firefox 2 advantages

So, if you don’t believe in the ideological reasons for sticking with Firefox, you might like to know that Firefox 2 will have some very real advantages over IE7. And it’s only days away.

I already mentioned the speed, and the rendering engine being in an entirely different league. Firefox 2 can also undo closed tabs. This, folks, is a very usable feature. Just hit Ctrl+Shift+T and you’re back at the page where your brain had a temporary glitch and made your fingers hit Ctrl+W although you didn’t really want them to. You can also find recently closed tabs on the history menu.

Firefox also has a built in spell checker for forms. This is another feature in the list of Firefox features which just work, and work very well. Incorektly spellt wordz are underlined in red, and Firefox almost always gets the first spelling suggestion right.

Then we have the Firefox extensionsphere. If you ever catch yourself thinking Oh, I wish Firefox could do such and such a thing, you can bet there’ll be an extension at addons.mozilla.org which will do exactly what you want. One-thousand-eight-hundred-and-ninety-six free extensions, just waiting for your imagination to find them.

In a me-too spirit, Microsoft have launched ieaddons.com. But if you look at what it actually contains, you’ll see that it is basically just a showcase of the toolbars and add-ons for IE6 which made people switch to Firefox in the first place…

  • Half the stuff they list is paid stuff.
  • They have a whole page of pop-up blockers, even though IE7 supposedly includes one. (And half of these cost money, too… $30 for a pop-up blocker anyone?)
  • A whole page of form-fillers… shareware, naturally
  • A whole page with bookmark managers.

Admittedly, there are a few useful things there too, but very few are as simple and pure as Firefox’s extensions.

Wait a minute… um … bookmark managers? Is that a freudian slip of the tongue from Microsoft? 🙂

The End – Finally

Finally &ndash The End

Phew! I didn’t intend for this thing to get so long… Sorry! Anyway, you get the idea: I’m sticking with Firefox, and if you’re ever planning on visiting my websites again, I hope for your eyes’ sake that you do to!

Wednesday, October 18th 2006

The Doodle Themes for Firefox 2 Out Now!

The two Doodle themes for Firefox have now been updated to work with Firefox 2. Get them here:

New Features

The two new main features that needed themeing were…

The RSS feed skin, to make reading raw RSS a nicer experience:

Screenshot Doodle Firefox 2: RSS Pretty Print

The phishing filter:

Screenshot Doodle Firefox 2: Phishing Filter

New Supported Extensions

We’ve also added support for IETab and Undo Closed Tabs:

Screenshot Doodle Firefox 2: IETab and Undo Closed Tabs

Oh, and I believe we’ve added support for Sage too.

Wednesday, October 18th 2006

Why I Will Use Firefox 2, Not Internet Explorer 7

Gervase Markham has a well-written blog post on why you should stick to Firefox as opposed to switching to IE 7.

I think he really nails it. To cut a long story short:

  1. Firefox stood up for the user when Microsoft/IE stood down.
  2. Microsoft’s only motive to produce and update IE is control over internet access.

And I’d like to make an additional point: a heterogeneous web is a healthy web. If everyone uses the same web browser, we’re all more vulnerable to virus attacks and similar stuff. It’s simple logic.

Thursday, October 12th 2006

Doodle for Firefox 2 On The Way

With Firefox 2 just around the bend, Ogirtd and me have got cracking on updating the Doodle themes – Plastik and Classic. There are quite a few changes that need to be addressed, such as the new RSS behaviour and a few changes to the extension system.

Selection of icons from Doodle for Firefox 2.

We are also adding support for a few more extensions: FireFTP, Sage and Undo Closed Tabs.

Undo Closed Tab icon of Doodle for Firefox 2.

Might also add support for IETab. Actually, I think I’ll get to it right now. Edit: IETab is a great extension which embeds the IE rendering engine into Firefox (gasp!) for those websites which use stoneage layout techniques, etc.

IETab icon of Doodle for Firefox 2.

Update: Added the Undo Closed Tab and IETab icons.

Tuesday, August 29th 2006

Wickid Firefox Extension

Just found my favourite extension! Googlepedia. This is a simple yet wonderful plugin which gives you a relevant Wikipedia article alongside your Google search results. Something like this:

Screenshot of the Googlepedia Firefox extension in action.

I’m speachless! Googlepedia, where have you been all my life?