How I Learned to stop using Firefox and love the Chrome

One word: SPEED.

Seriously. I have been a long proponent and user of Firefox, having been lured into it by its relative elegance and the extension framework many moons back. Also, the web development support has always been far better than its competition, with Firebug and Web Developer to name just two great reasons for it being the developer’s browser of choice.

firefoxbrowserfreewaystocustomizeyourinternet1.png

The sheer number of Firefox add-ons and extensions (about 13,000 in the last count) is staggering – and list absolute essentials such as Adblock Plus, XMarks and DownThemAll! This combined with the themes (I suggest GrApple Yummy on the Mac) has been making the web browsing experience a far better one for me than Safari.

But the problem with Firefox is … it is SLOW.

With just seven add-ons (Adblock Plus, XMarks, DownThemAll!, 1Password, LastPass, FlashBlock and Firefox PDF Plugin for Mac OS X) it takes about 3-4 seconds to launch the application opening a blank home page on an OS X 10.6.3 MacBook. Another 2-3 seconds before any reasonable page is fully rendered. This becomes excruciatingly slow when I am busily opening tabs from a RSS reader or another application – and frustrating when it has to launch the first time I click on a link in another application.

Also, while a custom theme does look pretty – it sometimes does expose artifacts in the chrome (no pun intended) when rendering new pages – especially in the “awesome bar”.

All in all, while the experience is nice, it certainly is not perfect. Speed of launch and rendering are the main gripes.

googlechrome-getafastnewbrowser-forpcmacandlinux.png

I have been toying with Google Chrome ever since the beta for OS X came out. I was initially put off by the inverted tabs as well as lack of extensions (hey, a 21st century browser with no extensions, come on!) Also, the single URL bar/search bar UI seemed … odd. So while the beta version did stay on the HDD, it did not see much use, and Firefox remained the work horse for daily use.

However, with the recent launch of the stable OS X version, I became interested again. And this time Chrome did have a pretty mature extensions ecosystem, some of which seemed to be reasonable replacements for the Firefox equivalents. Time for a spin!

The first thing which struck me was the speed of launch as well as page renders, and the UI feels much more “fluid”. The Inverted tabs still look odd and out of place, but I understand the need to squeeze the additional 20-30 pixels for actual page use.

Actual page rendering in terms of quality is more or less at par with Firefox, though a few oddball sites (especially the work related sites) sometimes get weird effects. I blame it on the IE centric development though. :-)

The unified bar is also starting to make sense, as it actually helps in not having to remember one extra key short cut for searching. It has good support for Firefox like keyword searches as well (example, ‘wk’ for Wikipedia searches) provided you set them up.

I also found more or less feature equivalent extensions:

Xmarks is available for Chrome
Lastpass is available for Chrome
AdThwart in replacement of AdBlock Plus

I found that FlashBlock does exist for Chrome, but I don’t really need it anymore.

The one big hole in the extensions/add-on replacement is DownThem All! There are quite a few download managers, but none can match the Firefox one in terms of features (I am still looking).

The extension manager is also pretty nice, and arguably better than the Firefox one (at least for FF 3.6.3). However, the actual extensions gallery on Google is not quite as user friendly as the Firefox one. The extensions are not categorized completely, which makes it somewhat of a pain to search and find the right one.

extensions1.png

All in all, the Chrome experience has been a refreshing one so far, and Firefox has not seen much use of late – except where I needed to use DownThem All! (simultaneously downloading all chapters of the free audiobooks from www.librivox.org is one example). If anyone has recommendation for a good replacement, let me know.

So there you have it. My infatuation with Chrome has already lasted more than a week, and I still find it a pleasure to use. Have not really dabbled much with the extensions (and themes – Chrome does have support for these as well) – but am finding that I don’t really need to.

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7 Comments on “How I Learned to stop using Firefox and love the Chrome”

  1. Jason says:

    So when Firefox ceases to be “SLOW” will you switch back or will you stick with Chrome and use Firefox for the things Chrome can’t do? I’m curious because speed seems to be Chrome’s one big selling point and the reason I imagine why many of it’s users switched from Firefox. I’m wondering if they’ll all fall back to Firefox when speed is no longer an issue and Firefox’s addon advantage starts to hold more weight again? Thanks for your post.

  2. evolve75 says:

    Jason,

    Don’t know the answer right now. Thanks to the current Chrome experience, might just stick with it – main reason being that I have now got used to running with a light weight browser which meets most of my needs.

    For Web development though, Firefox will always remain as the primary browser of choice. Its ecosystem for supporting development is simply unbeatable.

    I guess it really boils down to wait and watch … Opera 10.6 just came out … may be it is time to check that out as well.

    ~
    Anupam

  3. Badi says:

    Did you find a DownThemAll replacement or alternative?
    Greetings,
    Badi

  4. ChrisM says:

    Late to the party. A year late, but a bit of perspective wanted…
    Firefox 7 has now got its speed back… well, mine has, which is great as it means that I ca use FFox and so my VoIP (sipgate) and FTP add-ons work.

    A major issue for me is the dumb-ass removal of the status bar site-link popup from FFox. This fails to disclose malware links in dodgy emails until the link is activated, when it might be too late (There’s a very believable Facebook one, complete with ‘Dear but all links are to the same odd address).

    So, staying (mostly) with Chrome.

  5. android says:

    firefox is doing my head in with the frequency of major version updates – dont know if that applies to other browsers like chrome and IE9 but its enough to make me stop using it despite firebug, web developer toolbar, and colorzilla


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