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Summary:

After over 8 million downloads last Tuesday, it’s safe to say that the Mozilla Foundation has given birth to a happy baby boy browser with Firefox 3. Was it worth the wait? I’d have to say that after playing with it for over week, I’m sitting […]

After over 8 million downloads last Tuesday, it’s safe to say that the Mozilla Foundation has given birth to a happy baby boy browser with Firefox 3. Was it worth the wait? I’d have to say that after playing with it for over week, I’m sitting firmly on the fence. Here’s my take.

The Good

Speed. That’s the number one advantage to Firefox 3 for me. The browser seems much faster overall, as in my (very) informal tests, Firefox 3 loads pages significantly faster than Firefox 2. 3rd party add-ons like the Web Developer toolbar, are more responsive as well. Viewing a page’s CSS with the toolbar’s “View CSS” feature used to take up to ten seconds in Firefox 2. In Firefox 3, it’s close to instant. Of course Firefox 3 broke several of my add-ons, but I expected that.

I also like the new interface overall, though I have my complaints listed below. It looks a bit more utilitarian, and at first glance it feels like it gels with Leopard, like it belongs. The chrome of the browser seems pretty tight and softer visually, bringing less competition to the page you’re browsing (even though many of us tune out the shell of the browser these days). And I love the large back button.

The Not So Good

I’m really turned off by the curved tabs to the left of the address bar and search – especially given the fact that many favicons have white backgrounds. A favicon with a white background ruins the effect for me (I have with IE7 as well, for the record). 

And while I like the the interface, I feel that it’s wayyyy too close to Safari, who of course does the sexy dark gray the best. Firefox 2 had a playful charm that set it apart from Safari and Internet Explorer. It just looks like Firefox 3 made an attempt to grow up. And as some have noted, the Firefox team attempted to copy some OSX form controls and in some instances they didn’t do the greatest job. It undermines the experience for me just enough to notice.

Overall, I’m fairly luke warm on Firefox 3. I love the browser as a whole, but the upgrade hasn’t exactly blown my socks off. But what do you think loyal TAB readers? Has the upgrade been worth it for you? Sound off in the comments.

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  1. I’ve never used firefox as my primary browser but after reading about better osx-integration I decided to give it a try but it did not last very long. Alot of standard keyboard-shortcuts for navigating in textboxes and more are still wrong. The controls at first sight looks like the native ones, but when looking closer it not hard to notice that they’re not.

    I’m sticking with Safari, a browser that I don’t have any real problems with.

  2. Oddly enough I was using FF 2 more because Safari wasn’t compatible with many sites…now I’m using Safari more because FF 3 isn’t compatible with a number of sites…

  3. I love FF and have used it for some time in conjunction with Safari. The first two day FF was blazing fast but now it crashes daily. I thought it was only me but many of my co-workers have the same issue. Back to 1) Safari and 2) Camino.

  4. Paul Armstrong Thursday, June 26, 2008

    I think the part that annoys me the most is the default UI. First, the address bar and search bar: Why the rounded buttons and controls are way too rounded. Moving the favicon further away from the URL and over a darker background isn’t very appealing with a lot of sites. This also annoys me with the search bar: can’t I just remove that part? And the two worst about this area for me is when typing in the address bar: I don’t want the favorites to pop down and I definitely don’t want that star sitting there. That whole area is just clunky now.

    I do appreciate its improvements in Javascript. That alone has made things a lot easier on me. But Mozilla is getting further behind in CSS and standards support. I fear the day when Internet Explorer renders websites better than Firefox.

  5. Well, for starters, the browser chrome is still drawn under its own XUL, as opposed to Cocoa – but then again, this is the reason why Firefox supports themes and extensions, and conversely this is the reason why Camino is a substantially better OS X UI citizen than Firefox.

    There’s a laundry list of UI grievances listed on the AppleNova forums here: http://forums.applenova.com/showthread.php?t=29478

    Granted, a fair amount of them could be nit picks, but it’s the reason why the Mac UI is so good – attention to detail.

  6. I’m surprised to be writing this, but I’ve been far more impressed w/ FF3 than I ever thought I would be. It’s a little awkward at a few things that safar excells at, but it’s really rockin for me so far. To force myself to use it for a bit to give it a go, I made it my default browser, and I haven’t gone back to Safari yet.

    If you dont like the UI, fire up the GrApple Yummy theme. It’s what I use and looks fantastic.

  7. Spend a day with it, now back to safari. Safari isn’t as flashy, but it does the job and never gets in the way.

  8. upgrade to firefox the 3rd? definitively. much better OS X integration than in firefox 2, more sophisticated addon installation, the lot, and: i don’t like safari, it misses a real mouse gesture plugin and the web developer bar etc. the UI is okay, it isn’t as sexy as in other apps for OS X but hey, it’s a browser, the interface is secondary, what counts is the magic inside ;)

  9. I tried Firefox 3; I don’t care for it any more than I did Firefox 2 or even 1 and was back to Safari within minutes. Safari 3’s find feature rocks, and its RSS implementation still blows Firefox out of the water—always has.

  10. I upgraded to Firefox 3 to see how things have come. When I used Windows (wow, that seems like a long time ago, now), I used FF1.5 exclusively because it was hands down the best browser out there.

    When I switched to a Mac, I started trying out all the browsers. First, Safari. I just don’t get Safari. It’s not really that great a browser. Sure, it integrates into the OS well, but there are other browsers out there with far more features than it, and there are other browsers out there that render faster than it.

    I tried Shiira and that didn’t last too long. I tried OmniWeb, and I really enjoyed it. Enough to buy a license when they were on sale for $10. I used that for quite a while, and then began experiencing Webkit incompatibilities on some of the websites I frequent, so I had to go searching again.

    I ended back on FF2.0. And it was good. I enjoyed having plugins like VideoDownloader and AdBlock Plus back at my fingertips, but it didn’t load pages nearly as fast as Webkit and it didn’t have even a semblance of OS integration.

    And then came Firefox 3. This browser is by far one of the best browsers I’ve ever used. It renders extremely fast (faster than any other browser I can get my hands on; this being on my Macbook Pro), has really beefed up the user interface: the new addon system works wonderfully, the new password save bar instead of popping up a window is fantastic, and no browser even comes close to the new location bar in FF3. The default theme fits OS X much better, although I’m using the Grapple theme to make it far more OS X-y.

    FF3 uses less memory than any of the other browsers after several hours and lots of tabs, and it hasn’t crashed, beachballed, or anything else I would expect after a couple hours of browsing with 20+ tabs open.

    FF3 isn’t the perfect browser, but it’s made large strides in this latest release towards being the best out there.

    @ Jeff: While I agree that Safari 3 does have an awesome find feature, is RSS implementation that big of a deal in a browser any more? Given that Mail does RSS feeds, and there are a wide array of free RRS feed readers that do the job far better than Safari does, it’s kind of a non-issue now.

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