'PC Pro' Columnist Recommends Mozilla Firebird

Saturday August 30th, 2003

jgraham writes: "The UK magazine PC Pro has a very positive article about Mozilla Firebird. In particular, the writer praises the fact that Firebird is standalone, and does not provide an unwanted mail client. He also appreciates the ability to add extra functionality through extensions. The article also goes on to mention the Mozilla Amazon Browser, and is enthusiastic about the possibilities offered by XUL based applications."

After a few minutes of browsing the PC Pro site, you'll be asked to register before being allowed to continue (registration is free). This requirement can be avoided by loading each page of the article in a separate tab or window (Mozilla is only discussed on the first three pages), or by disabling cookies. The article can also be found in PC Pro issue 108.

#1 So everyone is doing mean, small, light ....

by meyergeorg

Sunday August 31st, 2003 2:33 AM

and nobody is left doing All in one. Name me only one "Suite" alternative to Mozilla Suite right now. I don't see any. However, I do see in the lean mean area: k-meleon, galeon, epiphany, Opera, Safari, Konquerer. Even IE is just browsing. With all these programms catering the lean mean area, Mozilla seems to be jumping in a "market" allready more than a little full. I like the Suite. I openly admit I like it more than the concept of seperated apps, not only because there are all the features I want, but also because everything is so swiss-knife like integrated. And I still don't know exactly how Mozilla will look like after this seperation thing happened: We probably agree that firebird will be ready before most of the rest (Indeed, if there is a rest, composer and Chatzilla seems to get lost in the "progress" of lean mean). So what will happen in 1.6? Firebird stand alone app and the suite left with everything except browsing? Or a relatively ready firebird with premature thunderbird and whaeverbirds? And I don't see extensions solving this either: Even with extensions, the whole thing will never feel as integrated as the suite nowadays, will it ? As I said, I do like the All in one concept. Most processors of recent times have no problems at all handling it, these times are long gone, just when the problem was solved, Mozilla started splitting the whole thing. I don't know which project to follow right now. I will probably stay with the suite for a while and see than.

Please don't missunderstand me. I do care about Mozilla a lot, otherwise I woudn't have taken the time to post these concerns.


#6 Re: So everyone is doing mean, small, light ....

by jilles

Sunday August 31st, 2003 9:44 AM

You can have integration between lean and mean applications. Mozilla suite has a nice browser but firebird actually is a better browser. Mozilla suite has a nice mail client but thunderbird is actually becoming a better mail client. There's no need for the browser and mail client to share the same process & binary. Most of the integration stuff that the mozilla suite does can (and should) be handled through the os/window manager. This leads to better consistency and does not hardwire the browser to a specific mail client.

What integration features specifically do you actually miss that cannot be implemented? A toolbar with a little mail icon? Trivial extension, excercise for the reader (and you can even launch the system default mail client rather than hardwire it to mozilla mail).

If you want stability, stick with the suite for a while. However, thunderbird and firebird are pretty stable already and probably suit your needs just fine with a litle tweaking (IMHO the fun part of using both).

Most other mozilla suit members are being transformed into extensions right now. E.g. venkman and calendar can already be installed as extensions in firebird/thunderbird. Similar efforts are under way for composer and chatzilla. Eventually some of these will become standalone as well I think. All will gain features in the process. Essential integration functionality will be identified and implemented. Very likely new mozilla based applications will start to appear when the infrastructure stabilizes.

#7 So everyone is doing mean, small, light ....

by meyergeorg

Sunday August 31st, 2003 10:10 AM

Thanks for your reply jilles,

Maybe you will laugh at this, but a Mozilla Suite like toolbar linking to the different Birds would be a major selling point for me.

Firebird is nice, but the one feature I really like from IE and which is optional in Mozilla (which is "autocomplete match as you type" is not yet integrated. I am also happy to hear about efforts regarding Chatzilla and Calendar.

And of course, mozilla based apps would rock.

I promise you and myself that I will continue to follow the bird till 1.0 at least and to keep an open mind. Maybe everything will be just as good as you say.


#2 Strange Opera quote

by TonyG

Sunday August 31st, 2003 3:34 AM

"The death knell tolls for Opera" is how the PC Pro article begins...

Whats that all about?

#4 Re: Strange Opera quote

by aldo_

Sunday August 31st, 2003 5:30 AM

In the actual magazine, there is a good paragraph 'introduction'. I've got the magazine so I just OCRed it:

"In my Review of Opera 7 a few months ago, I concluded that 'religously observing W3C standards can make a rocky real-world ride' and warned readers that 'many developers sing from a different hymn sheet, which becomes apparent as pages fall over or display oddly'. All of this meant I couldn't at the time recommend Opera as the winner of my mini-group test of tabbed browsers. Since then, I'm afraid to say things have got worse, to the point where I use Opera very little and recommend it to others even less."

#3 A reality check...

by as265

Sunday August 31st, 2003 5:19 AM

The author of the article write:

"No matter how hard it is to hear this, I must keep on saying it and it matters not one jot who's right and who's wrong. Blame dumb web developers for not sticking to W3C standards, blame Microsoft for encouraging them not to, or blame me, if you prefer, but the truth is the only 'standards'that matter in the software world are market forces."

This guy got it right! When 95%+ of the PC users work with IE and Mozilla/Firebird wants some of that market share, it has to ensure that users see what they expect to see on those webpages. The customer is always right! Remember folks, we all work with people who have used PCs for years and still have to call on us for help (or push F1) when they need to copy data from one cell to another in a basic spreadsheet. That's the target market.

#5 Re: A reality check...

by bzbarsky

Sunday August 31st, 2003 7:47 AM

Unfortunately, 100% IE compat is not possible without introducing serious bugs in things that people actually expect to work and rely on now (especially on intranets).

More to the point, what's the goal here? Why bother with building a browser just to make it "just like IE"?

#8 Re: A reality check...

by Zaccix

Sunday August 31st, 2003 10:32 AM

The argument that browsers should replicate IE "standards" in order to be acceptable to the masses is a flawed one. Whatever happened to making a better browser than IE and showing people how and why it's better?

The majority of people use IE, but this is because the sad truth is lots of businesses have standardised on it, and are so scared of losing money if Joe Public can't use their site with it. This is the main reason why businesses are slow to pick up on web standards.

Firebird needs to be exposed to people who think IE is "good enough". Show them popup-blocking; explain that Firebird is far more secure than the swiss cheese browser that is IE; tell them that pages load faster; show them tabbed browsing; ask them to recommend Firebird to their friends if they like it. There are so many ways that Firebird completely destroys IE in terms of functionality, but unless people on the street start to use it, the current status quo will never change.

I always recommend Firebird when a conversation about browsers occurs, and have some ideas of my own to try and get the word out there, because, as a part-time webmonkey myself, I've had enough of living in an IE-dominated world.

#10 Re: Re: A reality check...

by as265

Sunday August 31st, 2003 7:18 PM

I guess I really wasn't very clear.

First of all, I believe that FB already renders every page that I normally visit correctly, so that's not a problem. I suppose it has more to do with the way the one "sets up" FB. Your average PC user will get confused and turned-off by having to install extensions. The idea is great, but the interface is not what most people are used to. The installation routine has to be changed - most vanilla users won't work with unzipping files manually, then, during the installation process, or the first run of FB, most popular extensions should be easilty set up wth a "point and click" kind of routine.

My point was more to making the program more popular by appealing to the average, everyday PC user who doesn't want to tinker with anything. He/she can install software OK, but if you ask him/her to download and unzip a file, they will no-doubt avoid it.

And of course, there's the "fear factor". Telling users that it's a safer browser is one thing, but they need to know what could really happen if they continue to plod along with IE.

#11 Firebird is still a pre-beta product

by jgraham

Monday September 1st, 2003 12:26 AM

I think that many of the points that you make are known issues. For all the publicity that Firebird is getting, it's still only at version 0.6.1, and problems like the lack of an installer and the difficulty of installing / uninstalling extensions are targetted toward future releases. People who actually read PC pro are likely to be more technologically competent than the population average, and so they can probably cope with unzipping a file (or maybe finding the unofficial installers that are avaliable), and will certianly manage with the extensions interface.

#9 Re: A reality check...

by Lemerly

Sunday August 31st, 2003 1:41 PM

why is it people think so small? why target 95% when you can have 100%???

it is true the customer is always right. it is also true that the customer doesnt care about standards. that is becuase it is not the customer's job to care. this responsibility falls solely on the developer of a website to ensure the underlying technology is hidden from the user no matter the browser they are using.

#12 Off-Topic

by johnlar

Tuesday September 2nd, 2003 7:41 AM

Wow, keep on reading, this guy slowly gets very off-topic, after a while he starts to rant about nigerian scam email, without even tying its purpose into the rest of the article. Very very strange.