What’s Your Take on Firefox 3?

29 Comments

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.

29 Comments

dmac

The update to Firefox 3 for OS X destroyed all my users profiles . I re-installed last version of 2 and all is well.

brad

I can’t stand the scrolling differences between firefox and safari. Firefox is so choppy and rough, while safari is as smooth as can be. I can’t bring myself to use ff3 over safari.

Don Parr

There has to be something else going on with these reports of crashes, beach balls, etc.? I’m running FF3 on both my Macs, iBook G4 (PPC) and Intel Core 2 Duo iMac, as my daily default browser, and it has been working flawlessly. No crashes, no beach balls and no problems. Both Macs are running 10.5.4, but FF3 ran just as well, for me, under 10.5.3.

Jason

I’m still using it every day, it’s my primary browser. But I am crashing. A lot. Still. Since the beta versions. More since the RC versions. Starting with a fresh profile didn’t help. I have tried running a “bare” profile for a while — no extensions, no baggage from my old profiles. Hasn’t helped. So I went back to my standard profile + extensions. I get crashes between 2-6 times a day. Always when opening or closing tabs.

Crash signature is always the same:

objc_msgSend

Crash reason is always the same:

EXC_BAD_ACCESS / KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE

It’s evidently pretty common; it’s the #1 reason for crashes on the Mac platform. I learned a new command last week to help troubleshoot… Type “about:crashes” in the address bar to see your crash info and get it analyzed. Interesting if not terribly useful.

I keep hoping the crashing will get better soon as I really prefer Firefox to Safari, but I may be heading back to Safari soon.

bala chandar

Its still buggy, i get beach balled every time i load the browser – the keyboard shortcuts at times don’t work! I’m sticking with safari.

Adrian

I installed FF3 and initially liked it, but then found that my bookmarks were destroyed. Every time I tried to repair them they got worse, to the point that the entries in my list of bookmarks were getting random URLs from my surfing history. I tried to lodge a bug report but you have to have an account, at which point I thought, “enough” and now I use Safari exclusively. I know other people who went back to FF2, but that was always crashing on me, so Safari it is from now on.

Paulius

I think with each new version there is more bugs that coming out. Submitting feedback for Firefox team while it was in beta did not made anything better.

Scrooling is one of the most annoying problems that I have and its not fixed after beta 1 came out. Scrolling is freezing when opening in tabs a lot of web sites. I don’t understand how come new version can be tested if on all my three machines its having same problem.

There is Some visual elements like creating New Folder which always gets created inside selected folder in Bookmarks is really bad visual design. Find “Ctrl + F” has buttons Next and Previews is in opposite directions.

If Safari would have Side Bar for Bookmarks like Firefox dose I would be more than happy to switch. But since Apple is still has no idea how to implements this than I will stick with Firefox.

raj

I really like Firefox 3! Now, if it would stop hanging my entire machine (Leopard, latest updates), such that I have to hold down the power button to reboot and then check the drive when rebooting, I’d like it even more and actually use it! Until they fix the hanging problem, I’ve gone back to Camino. :(

pandaslist

FF3 is the best I’ve ever handled and honestly I don’t see explorer coming back from this (like it was gonna come back before!!)
But honestly Microsoft has a lot to worry about, and for the most powerful company in the world new competition has come with Flock as they mention in this website:
http://www.themostpowerfulcompany.com

Michael

I think FF3 is really fast, incredibly fast! (Mac Mini G4 1.25Ghz, 1GB ram) However, there was this one time it sort of crashed, but didn’t fully die. I tried Force Quit several times, but it still remained in the dock as “Application not responding”. Had to reboot to get it working again. Slightly disappointed with that. Might give it another run soon, but so far back to Safari which is abit slower, but keeps on ticking well…

louis

I’m digging just about everything in FF3. Love the Proto theme too.

This is one I’d pay for.

Don Parr

I honestly didn’t think there was any browser that could get me away from Camino as my default browser – FF3 has done what I didn’t think was possible! FF3 is my default browser on both my Macs, 14-inch iBook G4 (2005) and 24-inch Intel iMac (2006), both running Leopard 10.5.3. I’ve had absolutely no crashing issues on either. Something else different (for me anyway), I’ve actually begun to use extensions / plugins and what not for the first time – not extensively but it’s a start. I’ve added Quartz PDF Plugin (0.9.8) and ColorfulTabs (3.1).

My matrix, or benchmark, for choosing apps, since I don’t operate in the nanosecond timescale, is what appeals to me. Prior to FF3 it was Camino – now, and for the time being, it’s Firefox 3.

jrobcet

There is a lot to like about Firefox 3, but to my eye, the fonts just don’t look nearly as good as in Safari. Perhaps I’m somewhat anal about fonts, okay maybe very anal; but if I am, Safari made me that way. In my opinion, Safari does a much better job rendering fonts.

Brad

@ Ryan:

That is definitely not normal behavior. Try deleting the Firefox folder under

/Users//Library/Application Support

and launching it again. Note: This will delete any firefox bookmarks or extensions, but if you haven’t been able to use it for more than 5 minutes, I’m willing to presume you don’t have many.

Not to discredit Camino, but obviously something is preventing you from actually giving FF3 a chance.

Ryan

I’ve booted it about 7 times since I downloaded it. It has crashed all 7 times within seconds of boot. I tried the RC releases and all of them crashed within minutes of usage. I have not gone any longer than 5 minutes without a crash. Needless to say I went back to Camino which crashes once a month maybe.

Scott H

I use Firefox as my primary web browser, both at work on Windows, and at home on my Mac. I also use Safari simultaneously for certain web sites. Firefox 3 is definitely faster, and the memory leak problems that caused me to close it every day have totally vanished. It’s been rock-solid for me, with no crashes at all.

BUT I want the Firefox 2 look back! I don’t want Firefox to look like Safari. I want it to look like Firefox, so I have a smooth transition from FF/Win at work to FF/Mac at home. It also makes it easier on my Mac to tell one window from the other when I have both FF and Safari running. I’ve yet to find a theme for FF3 that brings back the look of FF2–if anyone else knows of one, please post it here.

Simone D.

I use Firefox by long but the 3rd release is continuously crashing to me :(
I tryed to create a fresh profile, uninstalled all extensions, delete all and so on but none worked for me. I hope it will fix the problem soon … it’s quite noisy to see crashes all day long. :(

Brad

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.

Jeff

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.

maze

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 ;)

mike

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.

Brian Warren

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.

rampancy

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.

Paul Armstrong

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.

Robert Lewis

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.

Lee Williams

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…

Johan

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.

Comments are closed.