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Friday, July 11, 2008

Firefox 3: First Impressions

I've been using the latest Firefox 3 web browser for a few weeks now, so I thought in this post I'd share my impressions so far...

There's a lot to like about the new Firefox 3, but one of the best things in my view is the 'intelligent' Location bar. This isn't just a bar to display the URL of the site you are visiting any more. It also serves as a search tool for finding bookmarks or pages stored in your browsing history.

What this means is that you only have to enter two or three letters in the Location bar and Firefox will display up to six sites including that sequence of letters in either the URL OR the page title. The sites listed come from your bookmarks and your recent browsing history, with the sites you visit most often shown at the top.

I must admit I now find this feature indispensable. If I want to visit my forum, for example, I simply type the letters 'my' into the Location bar, and pops up at the top of the list (along with Mywritingblog, of course). All I then have to do is click on the site I want in order to go there.

Another change is the addition of a neat, all-in-one page-back/page-forward icon. It's also now possible to search your browsing history in more ways than you ever believed possible, using tags, date and time of visit, fragments from the page title/URL, and so on. Other changes 'behind the scenes' make sites faster to load, and the whole program seems very stable (it's only crashed once since I installed it).

Are there any minuses? Well, I was a bit disappointed that a lot of my Firefox extensions didn't work any more when I first upgraded. I believe this is to do with the higher security standards applied in Firefox 3. By searching online I was able to find upgrades for most of my favorite extensions (e.g. Morning Coffee), however, and others have been found by Firefox itself and installed over the last few weeks. So it hasn't been as big a problem as I first thought.

The other thing I'm not sure about is the way Firefox 3 handles downloads. It works perfectly well, and the downloads window appears as before, but not as much information is provided as previously. I didn't know at first where Firefox 3 was saving my downloads - it changed this unliterally from my previous default folder - and I only found out how to check and change this by doing some research on the net. I'm getting used to it now, but I don't personally see this particular change as an improvement.

Overall, though, I'm a big fan of Firefox 3. If you're a Firefox user and you haven't yet upgraded, I recommend doing so now. And if you haven't yet discovered the joys of using this open-source browser instead of Microsoft Internet Explorer, now could be the ideal time to take it for a spin.

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Blogger Professor Tom said...

Some of use use Opera. Oddly enough, Opera added the "awesome bar" in the latest release and yet no one has had an orgasm over it. I think I might have to do a column on this.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for the heads up, Professor Tom. I've never used Opera myself, but I know it has plenty of fans.

Aside from the new Location bar in FF3, the thing I have always liked about Firefox is the way it can be customized with extensions. I use about six of these, which I find save me a lot of time and effort, and make using the web a more enjoyable experience. I'll blog about this some time soon.

I guess my main advice, though, would be that if you're still using MS Internet Explorer because it came with your PC, you should try out one or two alternative browsers to see the difference they can make to your online experience.

8:15 AM  

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