Safari vs Firefox

As a web designer, I get to deal with every major web browser in existence on a weekly basis. As a Mac user, I use two, as a matter of practicality. As a computer geek, that means that I’ve developed a favorite I consistently use, though at least I’m not fanatic enough to draw blood over it.

This is a tale of my attempt to shift my day-to-day browsing from Safari to Firefox, and why I went back to using Safari for most everything.

This is not to say that Firefox is a bad browser. First of all, it has built-in AJAX handling that makes it easy to edit online weblogs such as those driven by WordPress with a convenient formatting toolbar. I may be a hand-coding web geek, but when I’m writing the last thing I want to do is remember tags. Second, it has a dedicated plug-in and theming architecture that allows you to add some absolutely fantastic tools. Third, many web designers who care if their site works with a browser other than IE on Windows will make sure it works and looks good in a Mozilla-based browser first – especially if there’s extensive Javascript or css changes.

Since google had added a bookmark synching capability, as a long-time Safari user I decided to copy all my bookmarks over and give it a try.

All in all, it was nice. The plugins worked as advertised. Full AJAX support was a joy. With the appropriate theme the windows didn’t hog the screen any more than safari did.

Over time, several things drove me nuts. First of all, Firefox is noticeably slower, especially on an older G4-based iBook like I was using at the time. Secondly, the bookmark synchronization was nowhere near as smooth as I’d hoped between my office desktop and my iBook – often failing if I forgot to completely shut down Firefox on the other machine. Lastly, while they finally, finally put the close boxes for tabs somewhere sensible (on the individual tab), the behavior still wasn’t consistent. Once I’d opened up enough tabs, the tab closure box would disappear off of all the tabs except the current one, still forcing me to shift to the tab I wanted to close before closing it.

Safari might be missing a few features, and isn’t expandable or themable, but it doesn’t use up excessive real estate, it’s faster, and in a matter of utterly personal stylistic preference it behaves more like I’d like a browser to.

That said, I still bring up Firefox to do weblog updates, and to reserve books at the library.

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