MozillaZine Readers Tell Us Which Mozilla Components They Use

Tuesday February 18th, 2003

For our last poll, we asked you to tell us which Mozilla components you use. 3,292 people responded with the most common combination being regular use of Navigator and Mail & Newsgroups with occasional use of the other components (25%). Meanwhile, 20% opted for Navigator only while 17% use Phoenix or Chimera exclusively. The next most popular choice was regular use of Navigator and Mail & Newsgroups with the other components being left untouched (15%). 9% of voters use Navigator regularly and occasionally use Mail & Newsgroups or some of the other components, 3% say they use all the components regularly and 2% just use Mail & Newsgroups. Finally, 2% of you use some other strange combination, 2% just like to troll Mozilla fan sites and 1% use telnet to port 80.

Here at MozillaZine, we know that a little bit of social pressure goes a long way. So, to match our shameless request for donations, we want you all to tell us how much you've donated. You have all donated, right? See, it's working already! Vote (preferably honestly) and watch the latest results to see how you compare to everyone else.

#1 phoenix/browser

by jilles

Tuesday February 18th, 2003 4:22 PM

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I use phoenix (exclusively, haven't launched IE in weeks). But before that I used the full mozilla suit. The reason I switched to phoenix is that I never liked the browser UI in mozilla (just like the phoenix developers presumably). The rest of the mozilla suit never was up to my standards. The mail/news reader continues to suck IMHO (mainly usability issues) and as far as I can see, the current developers are misguided about if/how to fix it (btw this applies to many aspects of the mozilla UI). The IRC client is too limited to be of any use to me, composer is nice for novice users, which I'm not, and useless to all other users. The upcoming calender component would be nice if it were accompanied by server side technology. I currently use an analog agenda and am waiting for some serverside technology to be able to store my calendar in such a way that I can access/edit it from anywhere.

Things I don't like in the Mozilla Browser UI are:

- The poor integration of tabs (why can't I middle click on bookmarks in the sidebar?)

- Inconsistencies between pop-up menu's (sidebar vs browser pane)

- Mouse behaviour (this may be a logitech issue, but basically scrolling using the wheel sometimes continues to scroll after I release the button)

- Bookmarksidebar (basically this is still a very buggy component, see bugzilla)

- Lack of toolbar customization. The can't be moved and they can't be changed.

- The sidebar. Uses way more space then necessary (why not have a dropdown menu instead of wasting space for sidebar titlebars?)

- Overzealousness with respect to ALT/TITLE, this continues to break my sites. The IE behaviour is much more friendly for non standard sites and correct for standards compliant sites (please don't start a discussion about this, I've heard all arguments).

- The download manager. Basically, what's the point of this component? I could certainly use a download manager to resume broken downloads. But it doesn't seem to be very good at that. Instead I get a list of all my downloads (i.e. typically a lot) with my latest down at the bottom of the list (yay scrolling).

- It insists on using mozilla mail to handle mail links (event IE is polite enough to use whatever client you wish).

Phoenix fixes/works around most of this which is why I like it so much. Basically I only have one wish for the next version: improve speed of bookmarks pane (ok, and the alt/title thing).

Now to Mozilla mail. I suppose it can do all the basic stuff. To me that is not the problem. What is annoying however is that it just feels plain wrong. I typically have hundreds or thousands of messages in my inbox. Mozilla, by default, sorts them such that I have to scroll down to see the new messages. It does so for each folder, including news folders which typically have hundreds of messages. Threading is considered as another sort option while in fact it is orthogonal to sorting (I like to sort my threads). Then there are the usual inconsistencies in pop-up menus. I like to right click on a folder or a selection and select "mark all as read" mozilla won't let me. These are just a handful of usability issues I notice within minutes of using the product. I didn't bother to look further. And finally the primary reason I don't like mozilla mail is because it is tied to my browser process. I want my OS to manage my applications, not my browser. IMHO the choice to run mozilla mail in the same process as the browser is the result from a poor design choice (i.e. not to factor out the mozilla platform from the browser and the mail client). As I understand this is being addressed at the moment. IMHO this is also a primary reason for perceived bloat. Most operating systems handle many smaller processes better than one huge process. Mozilla is subject to lots of swapping on my machine (512 MB).

IMHO Mozilla is not a healthy project at this moment primarily because the developers are failing to address known usability issues, are in denial about performance issues and keep adding new features instead. IMHO the mozilla browser component in its current form has no future (phoenix is way better already and its biggest flaws are mozilla browser legacy) and the mozilla mail component requires major changes in order to become an acceptable alternative to e.g. Outlook. Composer is a nice gimmick but cannot be taken seriously by power users. The IRC component is a nice demo of how to develop XUL based applications but is useless compared to real IRC clients. Calendar would be a welcome addition provided it supports serverside technology (which currently it doesn't aside from ftp/webdav).

BTW, please note I use Phoenix full time because I like it and this is intended as a constructive criticism.