I am now using Firefox! (and my observations)

Over time I have noticed the percentage of access on my sites with Firefox has been slowly increasing and has reached around 30%. That was even with me accessing it with Maxthon, an IE shell. So, I decided I would download Firefox and see how my sites looked with it and work with it enough to form my own opinion about it. One of the things I really liked about it “out-of-the-box” is the built-in spell checking that works on any form you type in. I then started to look around the Firefox Add-ons site to customize it to my liking to work as closely like Maxthon did functionally and feature wise, and even beyond. Some of these add-ons I’ve installed to help overcome issues I have come across.

Add-ons installed:

  1. Adblock Plus – adds the functionality of Maxthon’s Ad Hunter. I actually like the user interface of this one better.
  2. Add Bookmark Here 2 – puts an “Add Bookmark Here” option at the top of each Folder, to match what Maxthon could do.
  3. AI Roboform Toolbar for Firefox – was installed when I installed Roboform which I use to manage all my passwords..
  4. IE Tab – This is a real handy add-on. It let’s you swap the render engine on a tab back and forth between IE and Firefox (Gecko) and adds context menu items to open a link in an IE tab or external application. I am using this add-on to also get around some printing problems that Firefox has with some web pages. I can just swap the render engine (or open in an IE tab) which will then print the page using using the IE print preview and printing method.
  5. Live HTTP Headers – captures HTTP headers on fly as you browse, going to and from the server.
  6. Mouse Gestures – to match Maxthon’s mouse gesture feature which I use as a reflex now, and keep trying to use them in places they won’t work, such as normal IE.
  7. Print Preview – adds print preview and page setup options to the context menu and to the print button on the toolbar. A convenience modification.
  8. Tab Mix Plus, to add more control over what would cause a new tab to be created, such as from the address bar and search bar, again to match Maxthon’s ability.
  9. Web Developer – Adds many development tools.

With these installed, I will have to say that Firefox has exceeded my expectations and I like the way some of these additions work. The Web Developer and Live HTTP Headers are a real handy feature for getting at the nuts and bolts of web pages, which I do not have the ability with Maxthon. There are some other additions that look interesting as well.

Other than some rendering differences, there have only been two issues with Firefox:

  1. If you visit a site that has a favicon.ico with only a 32×32 image, then it seems to mess-up the bookmark’s appearance in the sidebar as it doesn’t resize it to fit like the others. The icon looks fine in the bookmark menu and toolbar, however. My blog here had such an icon. So, I just made a 16×16 icon instead.
  2. It doesn’t seem to handle printing as well as IE. The Shrink-to-fit option doesn’t work as well, the print preview looks somewhat amateurish in comparison, and it doesn’t even print some pages properly at all, such as my gallery. It actually fails to print and produces an error. I’ll see if I can find a fix or work-around, but this one is almost a deal breaker for using Firefox. Perhaps an add-on to use IE’s print feature instead.

As you’ll have noticed, I installed the IE Tab add-on as one work-around for printing. I also found this thread in the Firefox Support Forum, and it seems that using CTRL-A to select the whole page and then printing with the selection option chosen will print the page okay; however, this doesn’t work with print preview and will sometimes chop-off the right side of the page.

It is these printing issues/oddities with Firefox that makes me unable to recommend Firefox as a browser for novice users Sad, such as my parents; however, I most certainly would for more technically savvy users. In fact I have made Firefox my default browser now. One of the things Firefox does seem to handle better is WordPress’s post writing form. Green with Envy

I previously mentioned that there were some rendering differences which caused to me to modify some of my website’s pages; however, I will discuss that in a separate post Smile.