The Firefox Catch-22, Will Firefox 3 Help?

A New York Times article reminded me of my love/hate relationship with Firefox. The article points out that Firefox 3 will be released next month with a bunch of new features. While the new feature list seems impressive on the surface, the truth is that I love Firefox for its extensions more than its features.

Right now, though, I get frustrated with Firefox 2 at least weekly due to lock ups and slow downs associated with memory leaks. A couple times it has frustrated me to the point of switching to another browser (including the beta of Firefox 3). But in each of those cases, I’ve switched back within days. The price I pay in lock ups and slow downs still feels less than the price I pay in loss of functionality by giving up my extensions when switching to another browser.

Along with the new feature set, Firefox 3 apparently runs faster and uses less memory. Don’t get me wrong, fancy new features and better performance is exactly what I want. But will I have to give up my current usability to get it? How long after Firefox 3 is released will I need to wait before the extension problem is fixed?

Firefox, mostly via its extensions, is my browser of choice. But as long as I have to take two steps backward before taking one step forward, I’m going to be disappointed with each new version release every time.

For more on this topic, check out A Tale of Two Betas: Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 8 and Extensions are a double-edged sword – A Firefox 3 Preview.

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  • Bob

    I have been using FF3 betas since they became available in November; in fact, this reply is being created using the RC1 version of FF3.

    I have the following extensions installed and they work:

    Adblock Plus, Adblock Plus Element Hider, Download Statusbar, Down Them All, Extended Cookie manager, No Script, PDF download, Splaah, Toolbar buttons, US English dictionary and Web of Trust.

    These themes are installed and are compatible with the RC1 version:

    Aeon Big, Aeon Clouds, Aeon Colors, Aeon Jumbo, Classic Compact (I use it daily), Default 3.0, HiVis, HiVis Large, Metal Lion – Andeomeda, Microfox, NASA Night Launch (BTW – congrats to those involved with the Phoenix lander), Nautipolis, Pitch Dark, W3V8 and Walnut.

    The thought of going back to FF2 never entered my mind. I have heard chatter about FF4, rumored to be based on Mozilla 2 (Gecko 2.0), being “further integrated into the computer and the internet. I am curious to see where that will go.

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    Bob,

    That’s not a bad list, but last I checked, more than half of the ones I use still don’t work with FF3. We’ll see where things are with the “official” release next month…

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Paul Ellis

    Are any of the extensions you are using in that list the “beta” ones? Last time I tried to run FF3 I had to find a bunch of beta extensions; it couldn’t just upgrade the current ones I had installed. If Mozilla really wants FF to go beyond its current user base it has to make extensions more approachable and maintainable for “average” users.

    If you look at Internet Explorer you’ll find that add-ons for IE6 still work in the IE8 beta.

  • Bob

    None of the extension I use are “betas”. They are the ones that were not disabled. As the betas progressed, some of these extension were broken, and later updated them selves. Several of the themes went through some fast update cycles (over the course of 2 or 3 days); but I expect that,

    After all, if you see a bug “crawling” out of your code; get a flyswatter.

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    To be honest, I can’t remember which ones were beta and which ones weren’t. But like you mentioned, Paul, “approachable and maintainable” doesn’t include micromanaging extensions constantly.

    I’m going to give FF3 a try when it officially comes out (like I did with FF2). But depending on which extensions work / don’t work, I might go back to FF2 until FF3 is ready for prime time.

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Paul Ellis

    I can’t remember which ones didn’t work me, but my problem was particularly with one plugin, Google Bookmarks Sync. I have my bookmarks sync’d across my laptop, desktop, and my wife’s laptop. Due to the dramatic changes in the bookmark system pretty much every bookmark extension is broken.

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  • http://www.globalracingschools.com Motorsport Experience

    I hate Explorer whether 6 or 7. Explorer 7 really pisses me off with the installation a lot of junk proprietary applications. Firefox beats Explorer hands down with it's plugins. Even Google can't match it.

  • http://www.easyquitsmoke.com To Quit Smoking

    I hate Explorer whether 6 or 7. Explorer 7 really pisses me off with the installation a lot of junk proprietary applications. Firefox beats Explorer hands down with it's plugins. Even Google can't match it.