Reviewing Firefox 3

As some of you may remember, I wasn’t too impressed with Firefox 2 when it first came out, mostly to do with a single change to the structure of the search box. However, I finally broke down and upgraded to it and I’ve liked it, especially with the addition of a few extensions like tab mix plus to make my browsing experience my own.

Strangely, though, when I went to my home page, Firefox Central, and saw the redesign of the page the other day, it was a sign to me that the new version of the browser was out. Now, you’d think that with my prior history with a new version of software and not liking it too much, I decided that I’d be back on the cutting edge of technology and download the new version. So I did, and I have to say that I’m impressed overall, but there are a few qualms that I have.

New Location Bar

The most talked about feature by far of the new version is the redesigned location bar – dubbed as the "Magic Bar". It’s not a lie – it is quite magical. For example, if I know I saw a page about something, but can’t exactly remember the address (which for me is highly unlikely, but that’s me ;) ), I can just type in a word that was in the title, like "Gruen" and that will bring up a list of sites that I’ve visited or bookmarked that has Gruen either in the title or in the address –

Capture6-20-2008-1.30.05 PM

Something that you don’t see is that when a site is bookmarked, it’s got a little gold star next to it, which brings me to my next feature – one-click bookmarking. I didn’t buy into it before, but in practice, it’s devilishly simple. To bookmark a site, I usually drag it to my folder called Sites on the toolbar, but now all I have to do is click on the star in the toolbar (it shows where the go arrow is in the screenshot above) and it’s saved. Then, another click brings up a menu, which lets you file the bookmark where you want it. This even works for sites you’ve already bookmarked, such as my local radar –

Capture6-20-2008-3.14.25 PM

Other neat features

One of the things I have a lot of are links to different RSS feeds in my Bookmarks Toolbar, and from time to time they don’t work. Usually it’s because of an error, but one thing that they’ve added to the menu that comes up when you click on a "livemark" is something deadly simple – a menu item that says "Open "Site name"" – which does just that – open the main site for the livemark so that you can view that page directly.

Also, they’ve added some other useful menus, such as the Most Visited under the bookmark toolbar, where you have a list of the ten sites you’ve visited the most over the last few days, along with the option to save your session without having to tweak your homepage every time you want to use that feature. Of course, you can still just exit the browser, but this way you have the flexibility to do that if you want.

One caveat

And it’s not even Firefox’s fault. Whenever you upgrade to a new version of Firefox (or any browser for that matter), some things tend to break. It’s no different in this case where some of my most favourite add-ons have proven to be incompatible with 3.0, but I think that’s more of a simple coding change that needs to be done.

At first, Adblock (I have regular adblock, not adblock plus) was incompatible, but just as I went to check for updates, it looks like it has been updated. :)

However, Firebug, Fasterfox, Tab Mix Plus, and All-in-One Gestures are not compatible yet. I would suspect that it won’t be too long before that’s sorted out though. ;)

Overall impression

Overall, I have to say that I’m glad I’ve upgraded to the new version of the browser – it adds quite a few features that are really neat (including being able to resize the search box), and it uses quite a bit less memory – I’ve had it open for quite a while now and it’s only using 117MB of Virtual Memory and 108MB of RAM. Also, and to be honest, I haven’t noticed this too much since I have relatively fast Internet, it’s apparently much faster at loading pages.

If you’re someone who waits for software to be stable before it’s released, that’s alright, but I don’t think you’d be going wrong to take a chance and upgrade to Firefox 3. :)

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6 Comments »

  1. Sueblimely said,

    June 21, 2008 @ 2.04 am

    FF3 seems to have been in trials for ages so stability does not concern me so much. It is the extensions I rely on not being compatible that is making me wait. Not being able to use Tab Mix Plus features would bug me.

  2. Sephyroth said,

    June 21, 2008 @ 9.45 am

    Sue – I thought that I’d have issues by not having Tab Mix Plus available to me, but I’ve found that the only thing that I’ve missed by not having it available is the new and reloaded tabs sitting in italics when I open them (and also not having the active tab in bold IIRC). The extension that I really miss is the All-in-One Gestures, which lets me do things like middle-click on the tab bar to reopen a closed tab, and use the scroll wheel up there to move through open tabs. I might just go ahead and hack the code to make it compatible, but I’d rather wait for it to come out. ;)

  3. Mo said,

    June 22, 2008 @ 7.51 pm

    Recently installed FF3 – and the horrors of all horrors – my internet went down – then up – then down, ad auseam, so haven’t had time to fully explore. From the comments above it seems that there are no major issues.

  4. miCRoSCoPiC^eaRthLinG said,

    June 27, 2008 @ 11.25 am

    Both Firebug and TabMixPlus had nightly builds compatible with FF3 out by the time we hit D-Day. Both can be grabbed as of now and work perfectly fine… the only one yet to catch up is FasterFox!

    Cheers,
    m^e

  5. miCRoSCoPiC^eaRthLinG said,

    June 27, 2008 @ 11.59 am

    Forgot to mention the links…

    You can get a FF3 compatible version of Firebug from http://getfirebug.com/

    And as for TabMixPlus, you can grab the dev version from: http://tmp.garyr.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7031 … but a slight hiccup there. Visiting the link says, “Account has been disabled” – which can mean two things…

    The author didn’t pay-up his hosting bills :D
    The site exceeded the bandwidth quota for the month

    Either ways – you’ll have to wait till the link is functional again…

    Cheers,
    m^e

  6. John Hunter said,

    June 28, 2008 @ 2.19 pm

    I think the new Firefox is very nice. The best new feature is the address bar – it took awhile to get use to but the display of previous history is great once you get used to it.

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