Returning to Firefox

Posted by Jamis on December 09, 2005 @ 08:53 AM

Since moving to the Mac in March of this year, I made a 7-month effort to fall in love with Safari. I almost succeeded, especially since the default look-and-feel of Firefox on the Mac is excrutiating. However, there was just enough pain involved in using Safari that I began to look at making Firefox my default browser again. In particular:

  • Safari makes debugging Javascript very, very painful. Often, you’ll get an error message with a line number of 0. The only way to debug those are to throw alerts everywhere. That, or use Firefox (or Opera, which really seems to have figured out how to report JS errors, backtrace and all!).
  • The tab key never seems to behave like I expect in Safari. I’ve tried the various options for changing its behavior, but it still surprises me. I haven’t really tried to sit down and define why it surprises me, but Firefox seems to behave more in keeping with my expectations.
  • The tab key in dialogs in Safari never seems to work—I have to explicitly point-and-click when I want to click something other than the default button. Grrr!
  • Safari doesn’t have Greasemonkey! I decided I wanted to see what all this hoodwinkiness is about, and it was too much of a pain to have both Firefox and Safari open at once.

So, I turned to Google to see if I could solve the look-and-feel issues I had with Firefox on the Mac. And, lo and behold! I found the following nuggets of wonder and beauty:

  • GrApple is a very nice OSX-ish theme for Firefox. Makes it look much (much!) nicer. (Unfortunately, at the time of this writing the site appears to be having problems…hopefully that gets resolved soon.)
  • Tab X is a Firefox extension that puts the “X” button (for closing tabs) on each tab.
  • Firefoxy is a MacOS app that updates your Firefox chrome to make form widgets look a bit more like OS X widgets. (Just a bit—but it’s a lot better than the klunky Win32 look that Firefox sports otherwise.)

Furthermore, Firefox has a feature that lets you import your Safari bookmarks! Very nice. It even preserved the contents of my bookmarks toolbar, which I had set up just so in Safari and was a bit trepidatious about replacing.

These, taken together with the speed improvements in Firefox 1.5, make using Firefox on the Mac much nicer. I now use Firefox exclusively, and only dust Safari off every now and then for testing.

Posted in Reviews

Comments

Have something to add? Click here to leave a comment.

09 Dec 2005

1. Hans said...

Ah, but what about RSS? When I got my iBook I decided to give Safari a try and was in short order hooked on its built-in RSS capabilities. I've never seen anything come close to giving me RSS the way I want it like Safari has.

2. Jamis said...

RSS never clicked for me until I started using "NetNewsWire Lite":http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/. It works great for me, and nothing else ever did. I never touched the RSS stuff in Safari.

3. low said...

You might reconsider when you discover this 3 year old bug.

4. Jamis said...

low, actually, it doesn't bother me at all. First of all, I never scroll that way, and secondly, if I did, I don't think having the CPU go to 100% for the second or two that I spend scrolling would bother me. At any rate, the features I get with FF are well-worth tolerating that minor annoyance. Especially when considered against the annoyances I've enumerated regarding Safari.

5. George Hotelling said...

You might want to check out the G4 and G5 optimized builds of Firefox 1.5 (with Firefoxy built in).

6. Jacob said...

I agree with your beefs against Safari in favor of Firefox (I've grumbled about most myself) but when it comes to hoodwinking, you don't really need GreaseMonkey. MouseHole it!

7. Alan said...

Couldn't agree more with George - the optimized versions feel a lot zippier and Firefoxy looks great. I hope GrApple is up again soon, it's lovely and I want it for the office machine. Love the del.icio.us extension too.
10 Dec 2005

8. Thomas Balthazar said...

The one big thing that is missing with Firefox is the lack of integration with the Keychain.

9. Thomas Balthazar said...

Concerning GrApple, you'll find it "here":https://addons.mozilla.org/themes/moreinfo.php?id=931&application=firefox There are some variations of the GrApple theme. To see them all, simply search on "GrApple" on the "Mozilla addons site":https://addons.mozilla.org/quicksearch.php?cof=&domains=mozilla.org&sitesearch=mozilla.org&q=GrApple§ion=A I think it's worth trying it!

10. William Voll said...

I love Safari but find the memory leak(if that is the problem) to be a pain. With Fifrefox 1.5 and the G4/5 Deer Park browsers are a bit nicer till Apple fixes Safari's memory problem.

11. Jamis said...

I've never experienced any memory leaks with Safari--it's been generally very stable for me. I'll have to try the Deer Park versions of FF.

12. court3nay said...

the latest version of safari now includes a javascript error line trace, and it works 99% of the time. debug menu - show javascript console will highlight the line in the file for you. and if you double-click the error message (or view source) it updates if you refresh the page.

13. Jamis said...

What's the latest version? I'm pretty sure I'm running the very latest (build 416.12), and I've still been plenty frustrated with Safari's JS error reporting.

14. Shane Vitarana said...

Have you tried Camino?
11 Dec 2005

15. Jamis said...

Shane, yes, I did, and while Camino is very pretty, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of firefox, which is one of the reasons I made the move.

16. tobys said...

i just did the same thing. the g4/g5 builds with the grapple themes are great. you just can't beat all the extensions.
12 Dec 2005

17. Thomas Balthazar said...

One feature I also miss is the integration with the dictionary. English is not my mother tongue, and as I often read blogs and pages in English, I often use ctrl+command+d to read the signification of words I don't understand.
14 Dec 2005

18. null said...

There is the LiveDictionary plugin for Safari (pimpmysafari.com)!