Firefox, What I Would Like To See - gHacks Tech News

Firefox, What I Would Like To See

Firefox is my default web browser, which can be mainly attributed to its amazing add-on support and customization options.

But other browsers have emerged (Chrome) or improved to a point that Firefox feels old fashioned in certain categories, especially speed and performance wise.

If you ever experienced how fast Chrome or Opera are opening the most complex websites, and then compared that to Firefox, you know that something is amiss there.

The Firefox developers on the other hand seem to favor interface and design enhancements. Yes, some developers are working on faster JavaScript engines and overall performance of the browser but those efforts appear to pale in comparison to the amount of design changes over the last years.

The following list is my Firefox wish list with changes that I would like to see in the web browser. While some may be the same as yours, others may be completely different as it largely depends on how you are using the browser.

1. Block add-ons and plugins from being installed and activated automatically

I never understood that one. Add-ons and plugins are automatically added and enabled in the browser if they are placed in certain directories on the hard drive. That does not sound like a clever thing to do and I always wondered why no one bothered to add protection against this in the browser.

A simple check on every start of the browser could be sufficient, asking the user if that new add-on or plugin should be installed and enabled or not. Users could then block those third party apps easily, and would not be left with add-ons and plugins that cannot be uninstalled the usual way.

I understand that businesses may need that functionality to deploy plugins or add-ons across devices but there should definitely be an option to handle this different on home user systems.

2. Improve the performance of the web browser

With performance I mean speed mostly but also resource usage. Start up time, memory usage, page loading times. Do not get me wrong, Firefox is not terribly slow, but it lacks behind noticeably when compared to Opera, Google Chrome and even Internet Explorer 9 Beta.

The developers should tackle memory usage problems and provide options for users to see how many resources extensions, Greasemonkey scripts, tabs, plugins and the browser use.

That way, users will have better control over the browser with options to disable or remove features that use to many resources. Look at the Chrome Task Manager for pointers.

3. Offer a stable 64-bit edition

The Windows 64-bit edition of Firefox 4 has been put on ice again, and it is not clear if and when a 64-bit edition of the browser will be released.

With almost 50% Windows 7 users selecting the 64-bit edition of the operating system, it is time that the developers start to offer a 64-bit edition.

4. Improve the sandbox

Chrome does a lot of things right and one of those is the sandboxing in the browser. Firefox began to use sandboxing as well but only for plugins at the moment. It would be great if that would be extended to core browser modules, to improve the overall security of the browser. More information here.

5. Always offer an option to restore design elements if changes are introduced

The Firefox developers seem to concentrate lots of efforts on improving the browser design wise. Get rid of the status bar and replace it with an add-on bar, add a single button menu link, tabs on top, the on-hover link address in the address bar and not the standard location, new buttons and more.

Lots of changes to digest, that not all users want. Lets take the on-hover links for example. All web browser up to this point, with the exception of the latest Firefox 4 Nightly builds, display link address information in the lower left corner of the screen. Firefox 4 breaks with that, a way that Internet users have grown accustomed to for more than ten years, by adding the link information to the address bar.

What I'm saying, do not make changes that user's do not want. Or if you make them, give your userbase an option to restore the old way.

Those are my top five things that I'd like to see in Firefox. Have something to add or correct? Let me know in the comments.

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Comments

  1. bf said on October 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm
    Reply

    #5 is really unattainable.

    1. Martin said on October 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm
      Reply

      Yeah I know, maybe they should consider making a poll on the official site before any major change.

  2. chris said on October 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm
    Reply

    I would include everything except #5, first, they have been doing extensive feedback on what parts of the browser are used, and which ones are not. and second, thats what extensions are for, you can always reconfigure something with an extension.

    The main reason i haven’t switch back to firefox (from chrome) is the interface. Firefox has completely failed with ‘tabs on tap” the whole point is to move your mouse straight to the top of the screen and switch between tabs (much like the windows taskbar on the bottom), with firefox’s tabs on top, i still have to position my mouse correctly to switch tabs. I know people gripe about how firefox shouldn’t copy chrome, but its really the only way to do it.

  3. menem said on October 2, 2010 at 6:44 pm
    Reply

    #0. Stop wasting resources on “mozilla gaming”, “seabird concept phone”, firefox home social features, and anything that has nothing to do with the browser, then fix, finish and ship your browser before you’re completely overtaken by Chrome. Right now it’s the slowest of the main browsers, the one with the worst OS integration (comparing w/ Chrome and IE9), development is out of control as the betas are unreliable and after 6 betas they still add and remove unfinished features. Features which development started way earlier than Chrome are significantly lagging behind, as weave, jetpack light-extensions and OS integration. GPU accel works way better on IE9. Not to mention the speed issue. Just finish FF4 and salvage what you can. It might have an edge in implementing obscure web apis that won’t be mainstream for the next 3 years, but the browsing experience is right know the worst when comparing w/ Chrome, IE9 and Opera.

  4. geeknik said on October 2, 2010 at 7:04 pm
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    Why do you need a 64 bit web browser?

  5. Ahmad said on October 2, 2010 at 7:18 pm
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    Agree on everything, I used Mozilla Firefox up to 3.6.9 version then due to its slowness and up mentioned problems, I moved to Chrome as my main browser. I can only go back if they do some real efforts. Martin you mentioned same things which are in my mind. Thanks for your informative article.

  6. "Firefox" said on October 2, 2010 at 8:21 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for all of your feedback Martin, the only problem is, is that we do not know how this is supposed to make us suck even more!

    Thank you
    Firefox Team

  7. "Firefox" said on October 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm
    Reply

    And remember that Firefox is open-source so compile your own damn thing!

  8. Jojo said on October 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm
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    For me, the weakest part of FF is almost anything to do with add-on’s.

    – There are no performance metrics available on how much memory each add-on is CURRENTLY using. Each add-on should run a s a separate thread in Windows, which I think would then make this info available to standard performance monitors. I’d love to figure out which add-on (s) are eating memory forcing me to restart FF at least 3 times daily.

    – Add-on’s should be able to to be enabled and/or disabled w/o requiring a browser restart..

    – There should be a checkbox next to each add-on for enabling/disabling. This would save mouse clicks in having to individually disable/enable each add-on (for instance, while trying to debug an add-on problem.

    – A lot of people don’t know that you can right-click on the add-on name to access options like visit the home page. This should be made more obvious.

    – Get rid of that stupid graphic of a box with a arrow pointing into it in the middle of add-on list. What the hell is that all about anyway?

  9. Transcontinental said on October 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm
    Reply

    I’ve had Firefox as y default browser for years, but I just couldn’t stand three things anymore : 1- Start time, cold or hot, an eternity: 2- RAM hog; CPU use, drove me nuts. Yje whole browser is nice, but heavy, slow, responds as if permanently strained.

    I then tried Chrome, for a week. Fast, but unfinished. Needed at least three extensions just to get normally built-in functions to work (‘like opening tabs with middle-click in foreground new tab, basically the related options). Gave me the feeling of a raw flat, unfinished, unpainted.

    Now I’ve opted for Opera. I state it is the fastest browser. Try Chrome otherwise than naked, with 5-6 extensions, and its speed goes down. Opera is not dedicated to extensions, but the number of things one can perform with bookmarklets is amazing. Opera lets you call bookmarklets via adhoc buttons, after all it’s scripts like extensions. It’x VERY fast, consumes littke RAM and low CPU. Moreover, iy is aesthetically accomplished.

    But I will try Firefox 4 when it omes out stable, and Chrome updates as well. For now, Opera has the flavour of a new love :)

  10. patrick said on October 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm
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    I have a huge number of add-ons installed and Firefox is still way faster than Safari on my machine.

  11. Transcontinental said on October 2, 2010 at 10:34 pm
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    Well, patrick, of course. Everyone minus you complaining of Firefox being as slow as a snail in craps. Firefox is lightning fast and I am the son of Zeus.
    Cup of tea ?

  12. lapis said on October 3, 2010 at 1:12 am
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    Firefox 3.6.10 under Arch Linux is blazingly fast here, but then I also have a relatively fast system. I also use Opera once in a while and it may well be technically faster, but it isn’t noticable. To me. I really don’t understand the speed whines, unless, of course, you’re all stuck with dial-up connections.

  13. ReX said on October 3, 2010 at 1:28 am
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    Sorry, but I don’t care if pages open 0.0000001 seconds faster.

    And 64-bit builds were dropped for 4.0, meaning 4.0.1+ can still get it, it’ll take until they need to prepare the x64 build machines for Windows. Also, they need to code Windows x64 specific optimizations or it’s not going to give any gain. As of today, the x64 trunk is up-to-date (I heard it was compilled manually).

    Don’t even get me started about memory.

  14. Some Random Guy said on October 3, 2010 at 4:40 am
    Reply

    Maybe you should be watching this
    http://arewefastyet.com/?machine=5

    Fx 4 has come along in leaps and bounds, and its still heavily under development.
    And its currently about two thirds the speed Chrome 7.0.541.0, which, incidentally, is faster than the Latest snapshot (& any previous versions) of Opera on peacekeeper.

    Its still a few months away from release yet…so calm down.
    As for I.E9 being faster? please, get a grip ;)

  15. Jojo said on October 3, 2010 at 5:19 am
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    I also don’t understand the speed complaints.

    I don’t see any problems opening pages except on sites that are known to be slow anyway (like any story on http://www.SFGate.com).

    FF is/was slow very slow to open up though which I know is due to the fact that I typically have around 50 tabs active. But since installing the bartab add-on, this problem has gone away.

    I have a 3MB DSL connection.

    btw: If you use the Firebug add-on, Google issued a note that Firebug should be disabled for their pages if they were slow to open. I did this and did notice a speed-up. I also tried it at http://www.sfgate.com and it did help their also. So maybe Firebug should be set disabled for everything unless you need its functionality for debugging something.

  16. Transcontinental said on October 3, 2010 at 10:22 am
    Reply

    I wasn’t stating that pages don’t load fast in Firefox, only that Firefox itself opens very slowly, as well as it uses much RAM (this hog is notorious) and that it is CPU-hungry. These 3 points are indeed mainly caused by an extensive number of… extensions. But extensions are as far as I’m concerned, the first reason of my care for the browser. Not the only one.

    Firefox is by all means the most security and even more privacy concerned browser. Even Opera has lacks, as for Chrome it’s not lacks, it’s deliberate.

    If I feel animosity towards Firefox and the slowness and lack of reactivity i mentioned it is because I cherish since always this browser. Now as above has been pointed out, the user’s system capacities is of course a first parameter. But we do compare browsers’ capacities each one of us on our respective computers, right? Opera opens itself fast, but pages hrdly faster than Firefox. But there is not only page velocity, there is also the whole browser responsivness, which in Firefox seems to be heavy, you know what I mean.

    So, should I return to Firefox (1- privacy, 2-extensions) then I would think twice before installing an extension, these are for many absolutely an enchantment but extremely resource-hungry.

    1. Jojo said on October 3, 2010 at 8:18 pm
      Reply

      I’m still not understanding this “slowness” that you and some others are complaining about.

      How do you recognize this slowness? WHAT do you see when the browser is slow?

      As I said previously, I don’t see any any slowness UNLESS I am on a slow site OR FF total memory use gets too high. For me, I notice this when the total VM size gets over about 900MB. Task Manager in WinXP doesn’t show this figure, but Process Explorer does show it in the column labeled “Virtual Size”

      I’d suggest that those experiencing “slowness” in FF take some time to examine and monitor memory usage. Try restarting the browser. If performance is suddenly better after restarting, then you know the problem is the usual FF memory pollution (likely from one or more add-on’s).

      The FF developers seem unable to control memory usage in their browser from the add-on’s. And instead of trying to fix this long standing deficiency, they waste developer resources on stupid ass things like replacing the status bar with a new toolbar. Jeez…

  17. harjeet said on October 3, 2010 at 11:40 am
    Reply

    firefox is not so good as chrome.

  18. micwallo said on October 4, 2010 at 5:17 am
    Reply

    There has a place for you to express your voice to Firefox 4.0

    https://firefox.uservoice.com/forums/57440-firefox-4-beta

  19. Matias said on October 4, 2010 at 8:15 am
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    Firefox has much better add-ons than rivals. I almost moved to Chrome but came back to Firefox when i found how bad Chrome is to block ads and flash. Using Firefox with Flashblock and Adblock is good choice. In some websites Chrome can’t even open dialog box before you reload the page. It’s annoying. And when some of these websites are my favorite i really start to avoid Chrome. So my honeymoon with Chrome is now over. Folk, please don’t be fooled by these SunSpider and Peacekeeper statistics. Test your browser in real life and make your decision after that.

    And IE-browser – there will be e.g Active X and malware issue. Remember it. Using IE will always be a huge risk.

    1. Jojo said on October 4, 2010 at 10:19 am
      Reply

      I won’t use IE, except in rare cases, because of Active-X controls.

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