MozillaZine

'Houston Chronicle' Raves About Easy, Fun, Fast, Safe, Free Mozilla Firefox

Saturday March 13th, 2004

The Houston Chronicle has an article about Mozilla Firefox, describing the browser as "easy, fun, fast, safe, free". The report highlights Firefox's popup blocking, tabbed browsing, integrated Google search, extensions, download manager, speed and privacy options. Thanks to tityre for telling us about this article.


#1 bug report

by morg

Saturday March 13th, 2004 12:45 PM

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Good article.

The author mentions a bug:

"my only beef with Firefox is that it doesn't detect how you are connecting to the Internet and adjust its proxy settings accordingly, as IE does. For example, if you need to have a certain proxy setting when you connect to a business network, but normally don't use it for nonwork surfing, you must make the change manually"

Sounds like it might be the following bug:

"getting proxy server from windows internet options (separate for every connection)" (enh)

<http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=218944>

If that's not the same thing, we might need a new bug report for this.

#2 Expendability? Uh-oh

by bzbarsky

Saturday March 13th, 2004 12:49 PM

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I didn't realize FireFox had an emphasis on "expendability" [sic]. ;)

#3 print version or just online?

by tniem

Saturday March 13th, 2004 1:07 PM

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It is a great article. Great to get the name out there and hopefully drive potential users to give it a shot. But was it just online or was it in their print edition? If in print, I would assume it would have a larger readership in Houston than its online counterpart. Here's hoping.

#5 Re: print version or just online?

by markwg

Saturday March 13th, 2004 6:43 PM

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Chronicle will have this article in print, as well as online. Dwight Silverman is the Tech guy at the Chronicle and wrote this review.

He tends to review the mainstream stuff, always has lots of reviews of software and hardware and has some good articles.

I have followed him for years and this is only the second time I can recall him reviewing an open source product...the first was like Redhat 5.1 or so, back in '98. I hope this is the start of something for him...

#15 Re: Re: print version or just online?

by GURT

Sunday March 14th, 2004 1:41 AM

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#4 Firefox is the only alternative?

by treego

Saturday March 13th, 2004 6:23 PM

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I prefer Opera as it does all the things cited in this article just as well and usually better than Firefox and it can be had for free as well with hardly any screen estate loss for a text-based ad bar via Google. Opera has no problems with the functions listed in the article and does plenty more with out the hassle and inconsistency and bad interplay amongst the extensions that are necessary in Firefox to make it remotely competitive with Opera's feature-set.

With that said, I hope Firefox gets better for its users and for the sake of pushing Opera on to stay ahead of its competition.

Why Firefox/Mozilla receives the majority of publicity for alternative browsers much to the exclusion of Opera is a mystery that is only exceeded by the mystery of why so many keep on using Internet Explorer. :)

#6 It's no mystery at all.

by neilparks1

Saturday March 13th, 2004 7:18 PM

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Opera is something you pay for one way or another (cash or ads). The Mozilla products are totally free.

#11 Re: It's no mystery at all.

by treego

Saturday March 13th, 2004 8:10 PM

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Do you stop browsing sites that have ads because you feel like you're paying them? If you never desire to get support from Mozilla.org, Mozilla/Firefox is free right now----yes-----but if you want support it's the same price as Opera is if you must have it ad-free:

The following from <http://support.decisionon…lla/mozilla_help_main.htm> :

Immediate and Comprehensive Phone Support!

Talk to a trained support technician about your software problem! DecisionOne has certified technicians available to take your call and help you overcome whatever problem you're experiencing. Stop searching for answers and get your problem solved now for only $39.95!

#16 Re: Re: It's no mystery at all.

by GURT

Sunday March 14th, 2004 1:42 AM

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#17 Re: Re: It's no mystery at all.

by vfwlkr

Sunday March 14th, 2004 3:09 AM

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Comparing cost of software to cost of phone support is very close to trolling.

#21 Re: Re: It's no mystery at all.

by brother

Sunday March 14th, 2004 12:30 PM

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"Do you stop browsing sites that have ads because you feel like you're paying them?"

No I block those ads via AdBlock.

#12 Re: Firefox is the only alternative?

by Squire72

Saturday March 13th, 2004 10:46 PM

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I have all 4 (IE, Opera, Moz Suite and Opera) installed, and Opera remains my least favorite - the interface is butt ugly and cluttered IMHO. As far as speed and useability, I'd take IE over it any day of the week - and I despise IE.

#13 Re: Re: Firefox is the only alternative?

by treego

Sunday March 14th, 2004 12:15 AM

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Well, that's amazing to me.....I have Opera 7.50 Preview 3 currently----which has a browser, email client, newsgroups, RSS newsfeed reader, IRC chat client all in a very nice and tight package that has a download size 1/2 that of Firefox alone. Opera is very quick on my PC, too. It can be customized virtually any way imaginable for speed, interface appearance (tons of skins available)......oh well.

<http://tntluoma.com/opera/lover/7/> and <http://nontroppo.org/wiki/WhyOpera>

#14 Re: Re: Re: Firefox is the only alternative?

by bzbarsky

Sunday March 14th, 2004 12:59 AM

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> <<http://nontroppo.org/wiki/WhyOpera>>

That site makes various claims that it backs up with footnotes, but its footnotes:

1) Claim something that is a bug that Mozilla and Safari avoid at all costs because it breaks some rather popular sites as an Opera feature. 2) Point to a CSS2 "test suite" known to be incredibly limited (it has about two to three orders of magnitude fewer tests than are needed to actually test something resembling CSS2 compliance). The fact that this test suite gives POSITIVE points for a buggy implementation of a CSS property is the first thing that should sound alarm bells. 3) Point to a "JS" test suite that actually tests various DOM functionality, not JS, lists results without controlling for the processor speed or operating environment (for example the popup test suffers terribly if the user places every window by hand, because the test is then measuring the user's reaction time), and is badly susceptible to spamming and mis-representation (by anyone who can change a user-agent).

it's very obviously an advocacy site by someone who loves the browser but has very little clue about layout engines, JS, DOM, etc.... and as a result makes a number of totally unfounded claims.

#25 Re: Re: Re: Re: Firefox is the only alternative?

by nontroppo

Sunday March 14th, 2004 3:47 PM

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1) Fair enough - FOUC is a controversial way to get text content faster to the user - which is why it is configurable. The option is there because many Opera users specifically asked for it - it is NOT a 'display' bug because the page renders with CSS when the CSS has downloaded - Opera merely gives the option to view text unstyled if the user wants to READ THE CONTENT. Do you have a W3 recommendation in mind that is broken by this user choice?

2) Chris Hestor's summary, based on Eric Meyer's CSS2 tests are about as comprehensive as anything else out there? PPK's site is limited by his 'quirks' based tests, which he does acknowledge in the introduction - but many tests render as expected whether in quirks or strict mode. Your criticism is therefore very misleading as you complain about one link yet ignore the Eric Meyer reference completely.

3) The WhyOpera page links to that test suite as a DOM/DHTML test - you have simply misread the WhyOpera page. The footnote discusses that you should compare your different browsers on THE SAME MACHINE and ignore the 'grouped' results - your points are therefore totally irrelevant to the purpose of the footnote (and the users is not expected to move his popup windows around).

That page is an advocacy page for sure (it doesn't hide it), but your points of 'technical' criticism are largely invalid.

#28 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Firefox is the only alternativ

by bzbarsky

Sunday March 14th, 2004 5:37 PM

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> it is NOT a 'display' bug because the page renders with CSS when the CSS has downloaded

Unless the page positions boxes via Javascript based on computed positions of other boxes. In that case, since the JS may run before the CSS has downloaded, the boxes will end up mispositioned. See hyatt's blog about the problems he ran into with this.

Now this does not break a W3C recommendation, since there is no W3C recommendation that requires CSS to be loaded at all. But it _does_ break actual real-world popular sites. Which, all else being equal, makes it a bug.

> Your criticism is therefore very misleading as you complain about one link yet ignore the Eric Meyer reference > completely.

My criticism applies to every single test involved. See Eric Myer's recent posts to <www-style@w3.org> for his opinion of his own tests. It's not very flattering; he's stopped maintaining them for a reason. PPK's tests are even more limited than Eric's and even less indicative of anything.

I admit that I somewhat misread what you say about the DHTML test. But note that you don't address the problem of interaction with the browser UI and window manager. For example, Mozilla used to be about 10 times as fast on the window.status test, when we updated the status asynchronously. As a result, we would only paint the statusbar every 10 updates or so, which was a hell of a lot faster than painting it every update (as we do now, since it leads to a better user experience). Opera doesn't seem to change the status at all (in part because it's not even showing a status bar) during this test. That's about 20 seconds time difference right there (on my machine, Mozilla takes about 25 seconds or about 2 seconds if I disable status bar updates in preferences; Opera takes those same 2 seconds, and as I said it's not updating the status bar).

#41 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Firefox is the only alternativ

by nontroppo

Monday March 15th, 2004 10:47 AM

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RE FOUC rendering bug: do you have a specific test case link, I don't doubt your concerns, but what Hyatt describes as a problem with Safari's incremental page building may not apply to Opera - maybe I missed the right post on his blog...

RE CSS test cases: I am well aware that comprehensive test cases are few and far between, but I at least tried to link to what is available in the public domain rather than make a baseless assumption (like on the Why FireFox page). This is again somewhat irrelevant, because the relative poorness of available third-party CSS test cases says little about the quality of Opera's CSS support - which is excellent. We can argue about the minatuae of specific implementation details (of which each browser has strengths and weaknesses, e.g. NGLayout's weak generated content support) - but your implicit inference of Opera's inferior support for CSS2 does not hold water (the WhyOpera page does not claim a superiority either).

RE DHTML test: Opera does has a status bar (and also a status field to place in other bars) thus does update it for this test on my machine. Thus your analysis here is incorrect.

(note: the devs of the Mozilla project have/are doing an excellent job - and as a writer of web pages, I am very happy to have it about. Most of my reasons for prefering Opera are to do with a design choice of the two projects - I simply find the UI becomes increasingly incoherent as different developers extensions are added into the core, and find myself regularly reinstalling extensions - a situation which I am sure will improve in the future).

#42 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Firefox is the only al

by bzbarsky

Monday March 15th, 2004 10:56 AM

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> do you have a specific test case link

Unfortunately, no. See <http://bugzilla.mozilla.o…show_bug.cgi?id=84582#c19>. Perhaps if you're a citibank customer you can figure out what page it is?

> but your implicit inference of Opera's inferior support for CSS2

Where do you see this? I can't judge which of the two layout engines has "better" support for CSS2, because there is no way currently in existence to test it. All I was pointing out is that anyone claiming to have such a way is perpetrating a fraud. It really doesn't even matter whether you claim superiority. Even claiming "good" CSS support based on existing test suites is a lie. The "Why Firefox" page is as guilty of this as anyone (and of much else I dislike besides).

Now I don't dispute that Opera has excellent CSS support. It does. As you pointed out, it's quite a bit better than Gecko in some areas. But citing those test suites in support of that is highly misleading, since it would be rather easy to do just as well on the test suites while having much worse CSS support than Opera does.

For the status bar, I am still having no luck finding it. Using Opera 7.23 on Linux here. Where should I be looking?

#58 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Firefox is the only al

by nontroppo

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 3:01 AM

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I am sympathetic to your concerns, but your point is at an extreme of relativism that makes any assertion as valid as another. Would you thus state that iCab or IE 5 have as good CSS2 support as Mozilla and Opera, it is only that Moz/Op are more 'tuned' for existing test cases? One has to maybe clearly delineate the limits of what can be asserted, but I think one can assert with reasonable confidence in this case about relative compliance to the CSS2 spec. Yes it is a rough approximation to the real nature of things, but isn't that the case for ANYTHING?

Status bar: View menu > status bar > top/bottom - or you can right click any other toolbar > customize toolbars and drag the status field where you want (if you want to see the status info without wasting the space of a status toolbar.

(oh, and thanks for the bugzilla link!)

#60 Re: Re: New Extension Server

by jgraham

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 4:48 AM

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> I am sympathetic to your concerns, but your point is at an extreme of relativism that makes any assertion as valid as another.

What? Did you actually read what was said? Boris certianly didn't say "It's impossible to differentiate between the CSS support of any two randomly selected browsers", he said "I can't judge which *of the two* layout engines has "better" support for CSS2" (emphasis mine) - i.e. he can't judge the difference between Opera and Gecko.

The point he makes is good; in order to do what you ask, we first need a measure of "better". The traditional test-case measure of better is "supports the largest number of features in the simplest possible case". This is because testcases are basically reductionist; you have the smallest number of possible elements so that it's obvious where problems lie. On the other hand, someone designing for the browsers would consider the browser "does more of the things I'm trying to do without bugs" to be better. This defintion of better can't be tested using the traditional testcase; it depends on complex interactions between all the different style features that the designer is using. The first definition of better will favour browsers that have a great breath of implementation, but will say little about the depth. The second definition is quite the opposite. Given this, I think it's perfectly reasonable to say "I can't judge which of the two layout engines has "better" support for CSS2, because there is no way currently in existence to test it", without being labelled a cultural relativist. In fact, demanding evidence to back up claims (and making no claims where no evidence exists) is quite the opposite of cultural relativism.

#63 Re: Re: Re: New Extension Server

by nontroppo

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 9:29 AM

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Well his point "Even claiming "good" CSS support based on existing test suites is a lie" is where I read exessive relativism in his reply. I do agree with you that you have to be aware of the nature of currently available test cases, but to discount them as equivalent to 'no evidence' is for me a step too far. The second class of test-suite you mention is an impossibility - it would depend on the needs of particular designers and approaches to CSS used (looking like the CSSDestroy tests - <http://www.literarymoose.info/=/css.xhtml> - advantageous to Opera largely because of the designers heavy use of generated content). Considering the complete lack of availability of such platonic test cases, I still stand by my choice of at least footnoting my statement with the currently available evidence, and I very strongly refute the suggestion that such footnoting is 'lying'. I've added qualifying statements in the footnote as such.

#65 Re: Re: Re: Re: New Extension Server

by jgraham

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 10:32 AM

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I didn't intend to give the impression that the number of bugs that authors find could be considered some sort of "testcase"; merely that it provides a defintion of "better" which is very different from that provided by simple testcases since it emphasises a rather different aspect of the browser's CSS support. I agree it would be almost impossible to quantify this definition of better but the fact that something can be quantified isn't itself an indication that it provides a useful measure of the quantity that you actually want to know. That's why i was deliberatly vauge when I originally wrote the standards comparison matrix for the Mozillazine wiki <http://kb.mozillazine.org…son:_Standards_Comparison> ; I think most people would agree that Opera and Gecko (and KHTML) support CSS better than say IE or iCab, but beyond that how "good" a particular browser appears depends on what you're trying to do (I believe Opera has some features that I would *love* to see implemented in Gecko - but then gecko is the only browser with a MathML implementation, which I also consider important).

#66 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: New Extension Server

by jgraham

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 10:41 AM

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Obviously, there shouldn't be quotes around the word 'good'. Stupid brain.

#70 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Browser minutae

by nontroppo

Wednesday March 17th, 2004 2:21 AM

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And i would like some of the CSS3 selectors Gecko has, to play with in Opera!

aside: Although it is indeed true that Opera does not natively support MathML - the rather twisted mind of LiteraryMoose shows Opera can do a pretty good job of styling it nevertheless (don't take his descriptive spiel too seriously):

<http://www.literarymoose.…o/=/synopsis/mathml.xhtml>

(note: there are some pretty comprehensive Math CSS sheets available for Opera at <http://geocities.com/csssite/index.xml> - the author is pretty critical of MathML from the point of view of authoring.)

#72 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Browser minutae

by jgraham

Wednesday March 17th, 2004 4:37 AM

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> the author is pretty critical of MathML from the point of view of authoring

That's basically because MathML wasn't designed for authoring; you're much better off using something like itex2MML ( <http://golem.ph.utexas.ed…istler/blog/itex2MML.html> - the page specifically talks about a moveable-type plugin, but the package contains a generic converter and a MT frontend ) in order to author pages in a LaTeX-like language and then convert to MathML as a final step.

One big advantage that MathML has over the hacked-together XHTML + CSS solutions that the authors propose is accessibility - a screenreader will make a complete mess out of a document with lots of <div class="fract-top">a</div><div class="frac-bot">b</div> instances - although they suggest their method is "seperating content from style", what they're actually doing is moving the document semantics into the presentation layer.

That's all a bit tangential to the issue of Opera managing 'pure CSS' renderings of MathML. How well does that work? I can imagine it would suffer from poor typography and limited flexibility - but maybe I am wrong. Can you set up one of the MathML sheets as a user stylesheet and take a screenshot of, say, <http://golem.ph.utexas.ed…~distler/blog/index.shtml> roughly equivalent to <http://golem.ph.utexas.ed…~distler/blog/index.shtml> This may not be the best example in the world, but I'm intereted to see how the CSS solution holds up in real world use.

#73 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Browser minutae

by jgraham

Wednesday March 17th, 2004 4:39 AM

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Sorry, the link to the screenshot should be <http://www-jcsu.jesus.cam…enshot-Firefox-MathML.png>

#74 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Browser minutiae

by nontroppo

Thursday March 18th, 2004 7:47 AM

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The details of maths rendering in browsers is not my speciality, but I posted your points on a rather long MathML thread on the Opera forums and got some responses:

<http://my.opera.com/forum…;postid=487954#post487954>

#67 Re: Re: Re: Re: New Extension Server

by bzbarsky

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 1:20 PM

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> "Even claiming "good" CSS support based on existing test suites is a lie" is where I read exessive relativism in his reply

Perhaps we have different definitions of good.... Any time I create a page with any nontrivial CSS, I end up running into bugs and incomplete implementations in every single browser currently on the market. To me that makes CSS much more difficult to use than it should be.

In fact, in some ways text-only browsers like lynx have the best CSS implementations. At least I can depend on them ignoring the CSS instead of pretending to implement it and doing something totally bizarre.

#69 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: New Extension Server

by nontroppo

Wednesday March 17th, 2004 1:57 AM

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"In fact, in some ways text-only browsers like lynx have the best CSS implementations."

:) :D - yes, after fighting through obscure implementation bugs - I certainly see where you're coming from...

#62 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Firefox is the

by bzbarsky

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 9:26 AM

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> IE 5 have as good CSS2 support as Mozilla and Opera, it is only that Moz/Op are more 'tuned'

In some ways, yes. At least for IE6 I could make this claim (though it would be a bit of a stretch); I don't know whether it holds for IE5, and I don't have it available to test. For example, IE's support for advanced text features (mostly CSS3) is superb.

Of course everything is an approximation. The question is how rough. In this case, it's so rough as to be worse than no approximation at all, in my opinion.

#19 Re: ? :o

by CeleronXL

Sunday March 14th, 2004 7:46 AM

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Opera is also version 7! It's taken all this time and they're made it all the way to version 7 and it still can't render all completely compliant sites correctly. CSS support is less than subpar. I have Opera installed, but I only use it for testing. I would *never* consider using it as my main browser. I find it awful for real browsing. Default screen real estate also sucks. The (very little) extra speed it offers over Firefox is not enough to excuse the crappy rendering it performs. Lastly, Opera is the stupidest name for a browser that I've ever heard.

#29 A thought about the name Opera

by pkb351 <pbergsagel@shaw.ca>

Sunday March 14th, 2004 5:38 PM

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"Opera is the stupidest name for a browser that I've ever heard"

Maybe this is a reference to fat opera singer...we will have the best browser when the fat lady has sung...maybe the fat lady has sung and the result is Opera.

I don't know since I am using a Mac and have no access to Opera.

#54 Re: A thought about the name Opera

by miragee

Monday March 15th, 2004 8:59 PM

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Well . . . you haven't even visited the Opera home page apparently because Opera is available for the Mac, as well as for Windows, Linux, Mac, and "other," including FreeBSD. Solaris, OS/2, QNX and Smartphones/PDAs (<http://www.opera.com>).

<http://www.opera.com/prod…er/index.dml?platform=mac>

And, I've become quite fond of the name Opera. :-)

Although I don't like the Interface as it comes right out of the box, that is easy enough to change with the more than 200 skins. And, I've configured it to take up very little space, since I put all the functions I need on my right-mouse button menu.

Check out this interview in The Inquirer today:

<http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=14734>

Don't look now . . . Opera is moving up fast in the "browser wars." :-)

#55 Re: Re: A thought about the name Opera

by bzbarsky

Monday March 15th, 2004 10:11 PM

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> because Opera is available for the Mac

Opera _6_ is available for the Mac. I urge you to note that all the Opera advocates say that Opera 7 is a lot better. And it is. Opera 6 is pretty painful to use compared to the other browsers currently available on Mac. You may as well claim that since Netscape 4.8 can be downloaded Netscape is available on the Mac. While technically true, it's not relevant to actual use as a browser (and yes, I know there are in fact later versions of Netscape for the Mac; I'm simply making a comparison).

#56 Opera availability for the Mac

by treego

Monday March 15th, 2004 10:32 PM

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It's on its way according to this: <http://my.opera.com/Junyor/journal/8>

#57 Re: Opera availability for the Mac

by bzbarsky

Monday March 15th, 2004 10:38 PM

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When it happens, it happens. ;)

#68 Re: Re: Opera availability for the Mac

by treego

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 2:08 PM

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Well, it has happened today! :)

<http://my.opera.com/Junyor/journal/22>

#59 Re:

by CeleronXL

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 3:47 AM

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Because Opera is not free, it won't ever make it very far in the browser wars. People are resistant enough to just testing a new browser that's free and adless - if you start asking them to pay for something like Opera, it won't go over well with the masses you're trying to convert. Opera will always have its niche market, and as long as it continues to charge, that's about all it will ever have.

#30 Re: Re: ? :o

by RMo

Sunday March 14th, 2004 5:48 PM

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"Lastly, Opera is the stupidest name for a browser that I've ever heard."

I love Firefox as much as the next guy, but I don't think we're in any position to talk about weird browser names. (Unfortunately, a Google search reveals that "Internet Explorer" is already taken. Drat.)

#71 Re: Re: ? :o

by nontroppo

Wednesday March 17th, 2004 2:33 AM

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"CSS support is less than subpar"

That is completely untrue! See some of the discussion above, in which Boris (one of Gecko's developers) comments that Opera's CSS support is excellent. The discussion above also highlight the impossibility of which is better (and the futility of such a point), but for you to label Opera's CSS support as less than subpar is a utterly ridiculous.

#18 Re: Firefox is the only alternative?

by jsebrech

Sunday March 14th, 2004 3:40 AM

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You do understand that the opinion of firefox users is that firefox does everything opera does, as good or better, but that it is truly free (in both senses of the word), don't you? I have yet to witness this claimed bad extension interplay myself, and I use firefox exclusively (though I admit to installing few extensions, since I find the default install very satisfying in functionality, even if it doesn't do everything opera does by default).

As far as I can see the opera / firefox choice is a lifestyle choice. They're both capable browsers who far outstrip IE in speed and features. There's no need to diss firefox if you're an opera user.

As for why firefox gets the publicity... I think because opera isn't sexy. It's not open-source, it's not new, it's not pretty (after a default install). It's not a cool product to the casual reviewer. Firefox is. Even the name "opera" is uncool. I agree, that's a bullshit reason, but the world is based on image more than on logic.

I do think the mozilla and opera teams provide good competition for each other. Opera let their standards support lag, and it wasn't until gecko whooped their ass that they got serious about that, and updated their engine so they could bear the standards flag again. And mozilla should take the lessons of footprint, speed, and rendering styles (small-screen rendering, projection rendering, ...) from opera, as is happening through things like the minimo project.

#61 Re: Re: Firefox is the only alternative?

by d_ralphie

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 9:26 AM

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"You do understand that the opinion of firefox users is that firefox does everything opera does, as good or better"

one would have to disagree with this. firefox and opera are two completely different beasts. firefox is a basic browser while opera has everything preinstalled.

that firefox does everything opera does is not true either. does it go back instantly like opera?

but the most important difference is that opera is created with all those features in mind while in firefox they are just tacked on later, often causing clutter.

so while firefox might do most of what opera does, it doesn't do it as well or with such neat integration between features. for every extension more clutter is added to firefox.

#20 Why Firefox receives the majority of publicity

by jgraham

Sunday March 14th, 2004 10:26 AM

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> I prefer Opera

That's fine.

> it can be had for free as well with hardly any screen estate loss for a text-based ad bar via Google

People generally don't like having adverts on their computer. The version of Opera I last used (maybe 7.2 or so) had annoying flashing blinkng banner ads which were quite distracting. There might be a way to customise those away to something less annoying, but it's not obvious. People have also come to expect that software is free; they think of Windows as free because it comes with their computer. Many people "need Office at home so they can work" and so install bring home the Office CD rather than paying out 400 for a copy. Most of the other common programs (mail clients, messenger programs, document viewers) and so on can be had for free. Convincing people to pay real money for software is hard. Partically this iis because software in general is buggy and unreliable and requires constant upgrades.

> Opera's feature-set.

Opera does indeed seem to have a lot of features. Unfortunatley, the side effect of this is that it has a lot of interface to wrap around the features, which makes finding the tiny subset of the features that people actually want to use difficult to impossible. Most users don't care about advanced functionality, they just want to get on with using the program. Even when they would find a particular feature really helpful, they probably won't know that it would help nor take the time to learn to use it. There are lots of people who don't even use bookmarks. Even as a relatively compenent user, I find Opera's default interface to be confusing and difficult to navigate. Maybe it can be skinned to make it simple, but it should be siimple by default rather than complex by default. That's the route Firebird is trying to take, although there are difficulties, as you note.

> With that said, I hope Firefox gets better for its users and for the sake of pushing Opera on to stay ahead of its competition.

:)

#22 Re: Why Firefox receives the majority of publicity

by Waldo_2

Sunday March 14th, 2004 1:41 PM

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He does make good points.

There's just one little nit I have with what he's said, and that's in the ads. I tried Opera for about five minutes once (long enough to realize I hated the interface and didn't feel like trying to customize it), and while installing I was given the option of banner ads or Google text ads. The text ads are actually very non-intrusive compared to flashing banners.

#24 I didn't actually install Opera...

by jgraham

Sunday March 14th, 2004 2:35 PM

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Heh, you made it through the applaing quality control and grammar then ;)

The version of Opera I used was preinstalled (for some reason we have IE and the adware version of Opera installed on our Windows computers and Mozilla on the Linux computers (I guess someone in computer-services likes Opera), so obviously when I'm forced to use Windows (for the maths packages no one bothered to install under Linux usually) I use Opera rather than IE. Therefore I didn't see any of the install options. Once I found the adverts options in preferences I didn't notice anything obvious to get rid of blinking adverts but I probably didn't look very hard. Having said that, I wouldn't expect most people to find the prefs panel at all...

#26 Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by treego

Sunday March 14th, 2004 4:42 PM

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Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy (Alt-P is pretty easy, for example)....let's face it....we fall in love with what we want to fall in love with, I guess. Anything else we consider to be inferior or just too difficult as we are already satisfied. This is one (probably the major reason?) that IE stays as the #1 used browser----people are satisfied and don't want to be bothered with something else. Some Firefox/Mozilla users don't want to be bothered with a program that is at least its equal in Opera and better in some areas, too. Give Opera a real try before passing it off as inferior. I've had Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox on my PC for the last several months, and I do like it, by the way.....I just like Opera a little more, though. With that said, it seems strange that Opera remains "in the dark" for so many, including the technology reviewers.

#27 Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by jgraham

Sunday March 14th, 2004 5:17 PM

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> Finding Preferences [...] is very easy [...] Alt-P is pretty easy, for example

Well yes, if your computer came with magic faries which flutter around and giggle, occasionally whispering secret keyboard combinations in your ear...

#32 Re: Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by treego

Sunday March 14th, 2004 8:07 PM

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It's just as obvious in the Opera menu as it is it in the Firefox/Mozilla menus......your comment is very far removed from factual content.

#37 Re: Re: Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by jgraham

Monday March 15th, 2004 5:55 AM

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> It's just as obvious in the Opera menu as it is it in the Firefox/Mozilla menus...

Except that it's under "File". This violates the two basic rules of deciding where something will go on the menus: 1) Adhere to conventions 2) If no convention exists, try to make conceptual sense

Firefox has "options" under tools. This is a standard location in most Windows applications (including recent versions of Explorer, MS Office and other apps people are likely to use). Mozilla uses Edit - Preferences which is consistent with Netscape <= 4 and makes some sort of sense (one wishes to edit one's preferences, although in reality, most 'Edit' items relate to the current document rather than the entire application; I regard this as a faliure of the Windows model where there is no conceputally good home for application-wide options. Apple have got this right). File - Preferences fails on both counts; few other programs use that layout and Preferences aren't related to the current file so the positioning doesn't make conceptual sense.

Apart from that finding the correct option is hindered by the fact that the 'File' menu has no less than 19 different items, 4 of which have second level menu items. The total number of top-level menu items in the copy of Opera I'm using (it turns out to be 7.11 - if the situation has changed substantially in more recent versions, I would be happy to stand corrected) is 94, of which 20 hide second level menu items. I don't have a copy of Firefox to hand, but there are about 5 items in the default tools menu and far fewer menu items overall. There are also very very few Firefox menu items that hide submenus. Seamonkey is worse than Firefox, but Seamonkey is on the verge of being depreciated as an end-user product. Therefore I stand by my assertation that finding the Preferences menu in Opera is hard.

> your comment is very far removed from factual content

Actually it's a fact that no faries came with my computer - or if they did I unwittingly let them escape. Did you get faries?

#38 Seamonkey

by jgraham

Monday March 15th, 2004 6:06 AM

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To emphasise the point, the copy of Mozilla 1.2.1 installed here has 61 top level menu items of which 11 have submenus. I think the latest versions probably have a couple more menu items so the current total is probably about 63.

#39 Re: Re: Re: Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is ve

by jgraham

Monday March 15th, 2004 8:11 AM

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fairies

#40 Re: Re: Re: Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is ve

by bzbarsky

Monday March 15th, 2004 9:15 AM

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> Seamonkey is on the verge of being depreciated

Depreciation is something that happens gradually. You can't be "on the verge of being depreciated"; you can "depreciate" or you can have "depreciated" (in the past).

Now if you were talking about deprecation....

#44 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Finding Preferences in Opera i

by jgraham

Monday March 15th, 2004 3:44 PM

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:-p

(Yeah OK, my spelling sucks. Sorry...)

#43 Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by treego

Monday March 15th, 2004 11:34 AM

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Opera has preferences under "Tools," also, FWIW.....you obviously are using an old version of Opera. No fairies are needed to use Opera-----just fairy tales are needed to criticize Opera, it seems.

<http://my.opera.com/forum…php?s=&threadid=47840>

#45 Hardly

by slxception

Monday March 15th, 2004 4:03 PM

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I finally found a reason to start a Mozillazine account. I use Opera 7.23 as I downloaded within the last few months and there is still no 'tools' menu. Preferences are still under the File menu, which I would have to agree that that is a very bad place to have it.

#46 Re: Hardly

by treego

Monday March 15th, 2004 4:08 PM

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Well....you need to keep current.....Opera has 7.50 Preview 3 out right now. :)

#48 Re: Re: Hardly

by bzbarsky

Monday March 15th, 2004 4:13 PM

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That's in no way obvious from the site... in fact, knowing that it exists, I still can't find it on their site.

7.23 seems to be the latest thing that's actually clearly linked.

#51 Hardly?

by treego

Monday March 15th, 2004 5:23 PM

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You can find previews/betas of Opera in Opera's forum only unless it is a public beta, I believe----not exactly sure---anyway, here's the link to the Opera Forum's Beta Testing section where you can find the link to Opera 7.50 Preview 3. <http://my.opera.com/forum…lay.php?s=&forumid=31>

#47 Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by bzbarsky

Monday March 15th, 2004 4:10 PM

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It's very unfortunate that the Firefox propaganda pages look like an official statement by the Mozilla project... :(

On the other hand, that part about the Opera DOM was written on July 22, 2003. Opera 7.2 wasn't available at the time, as I recall, and I would not be surprised if they didn't test the most up-to-date version that _was_ available at the time....

#64 Re: Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by mlefevre

Tuesday March 16th, 2004 9:36 AM

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Actually I think it was earlier - the "Why Firebird" page existed elsewhere for a while before it was moved onto the mozilla.org site. At the time it was written, I'm not even sure that Opera 7.1 (which came out in April) was out. As you say it may not have been the latest version it was referring to anyway - it could refer to 7.0 or even 6.0.

#49 Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by jgraham

Monday March 15th, 2004 4:28 PM

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Sorry, you're saying it has the /same/ option in /two/ places on the menu? Have I misunderstood? Does the "also" apply to the position of the menu item or is it just joining the two halves of the sentence together? I assume it's the latter, in which case I'm glad to see that Opera are trying to improve their UI.

Please note that I haven't said Opera is a bad browser, just that it has a poor default interface.

I don't understand the point of your link... that seems to be a bunch of Opera fans trying to pick holes in Firefox marketing documents. However, most of the points they make support my position rather well, for example:

"Might be true, but if you talk about customization you can get much more space using Opera."

But nmormal users don't customise. That's why the document specifically talks about the defaults, because that's what people use. I'm sure that with customisations of both Opera and Firefox one can free up more screen space, but most users won't know how to do that. The difference is Firefox is uncluttered by default.

"Sure, Firefox might be clean and easy to use by default. But by default it doesn't really have any compelling features. So it is unusable for serious browsing. "

But normal users don't use "serious browsing" features. Advanced users do (almost by definition). So clean and easy to use by default is /better/ because advanced users are the same people who can deal with a cluttered, unusable interface (and believe me, I've seen screenshots of people's FF setup that look nightmarish to me. The difference is that they are advanced enough to choose a complex setup, with Opera you have to be an advanced user to get a simple setup).

The problem with all the people on that page is that they have poweruseritis. They want a bunch of complex features that optimise for complex tasks. The majority of people aren't like that; they just want simple features that do simple things. The symptom of powerfeatureitis is that you don't recognise this and so advocate adding all the advanced features to the interface at the expense of obscuring the simple features. I'm quite sure that there are people who would jump at the option to have a dialog pop up every time they loaded a page asking if the page should be cached (there really are feature requests about that silly for Seamonkey). Sure, it might help in some edge cases, but to 99% of the population, even a simple checkbox to turn the feature on would make finding the checkbox they did need a little harder, so making their browser experience less pleasant. Someone on the page you linked complains that in order to get advanced features in FF, you must neccesarily clutter the interface. They seem to feel that this is a point in favour of the Opera everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach, but I strongly disagree, even though I do recognise some of the problems with the FF approach (see <http://www.mozillazine.or…back.html?article=4350#18> for example). There is a necessary tradeoff between interface complexity and functionality. The Firefox model allows simplicity for those who would suffer from complexity and features at the expense of some complexity for those who will use the features. The Opera model offers complexity for everyone.

I'm quite happy to have a discussion on the relative merits of Opera and Firefox but only if we can avoid mindless advocacy. It is quite apparent in the Opera forum, and sadly afflicts the Mozillazine forums too. It's quite embarassing when people get so insecure about their choice of software.

#50 Re: Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is very easy

by jgraham

Monday March 15th, 2004 4:56 PM

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Oh and I should say that I believe FF should have large toolbar icons by default but they choose to have harder-to-use small icons, probably just so they can claim more unused screen space than IE...

#52 Re: Re: Re: Finding Preferences in Opera is very e

by RMo

Monday March 15th, 2004 7:17 PM

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Personally, think small are good; the large are 30x30 (I think--I believe they used to be 32x32 but they changed it; I could be wrong), which is totally out of place on a Windows toolbar. If you offer two sizes of toolbar icons, Microsoft recommends 24x24 and 16x16, as IE does. I believe Firefox offers 20x20 as its second choice--which, though not an "officially recommended" size, I mostly like. I think 30x30 are too large to be by default.

But I might occasionally use large icons; the Qute icons are so well designed that I miss the detail I lose at the small size ... though I usually want my space instead. :-)

#34 Re: Firefox is the only alternative?

by schapel

Sunday March 14th, 2004 10:20 PM

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"Why Firefox/Mozilla receives the majority of publicity for alternative browsers much to the exclusion of Opera is a mystery that is only exceeded by the mystery of why so many keep on using Internet Explorer."

I'll clue you in. Opera before version 7 could not handle much dynamic content, and was therefore unusable for many applications. When Opera 7 was released, it could handle dynamic content, but was all new code and was released after only a short beta test period of a couple of months. It was incredibly buggy for final release software. It looks like they're finally working most of the annoying bugs out with Opera 7.5, but I still find it buggier than other browsers and it doesn't have nearly the number of users of Mozilla browsers. At least the company finally made a profit last year so they can continue trying to make a truly better browser. Like you, I keep hoping that competition from Opera will help make Mozilla browsers better.

#7 Page would not load for me.

by neilparks1

Saturday March 13th, 2004 7:27 PM

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Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Win 9x 4.90; en-US; rv:1.7b) Gecko/20040303 Firefox/0.8.0+ (djeter)

Page started to appear. Got headline, and table of contents down the left side, and nothing else. Page never finished loading. The only way I could read the review was by going to View/Page Source.

#9 Re: Page not loading

by markwg

Saturday March 13th, 2004 7:45 PM

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I use Mozilla and Firebird and have perfect access to the chron site.

A year and a half ago, I was on assignment in Canada, and had difficulty reaching the site from there...similar results as to what you're having. Could this be the case with you as well?

#23 Re: Re: Page not loading

by neilparks1

Sunday March 14th, 2004 1:50 PM

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Might be a bug in RCN SlipStream Accelerator. When I turned that off the page came in normally.

#8 Hear, hear!

by neilparks1

Saturday March 13th, 2004 7:31 PM

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(quote)

About the only annoying thing it does on installation is to insist on putting icons on your desktop and the Windows quick-start bar without asking. (Software developers: Always ask before doing this. Unsolicited icon droppings are rude.)

(end quote)

In my case, it created duplicates of icons that I already had.

#35 Re: Hear, hear!

by schapel

Sunday March 14th, 2004 10:23 PM

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#36 Re: Re: Hear, hear!

by schapel

Sunday March 14th, 2004 10:28 PM

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Sorry... that was the Seamonkey version.

The Firefox version of the bug is <http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=225641>

#10 Not a mystery

by pkb351 <pbergsagel@shaw.ca>

Saturday March 13th, 2004 7:48 PM

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"Why Firefox/Mozilla receives the majority of publicity for alternative browsers much to the exclusion of Opera is a mystery that is only exceeded by the mystery of why so many keep on using Internet Explorer. :)"

I don't see this as a mystery at all for the following reasons:

1. Many computer users don't know there are viable alternatives to IE, which may or may not suit them better.

2. Computer user (mostly the "non-GEEKS) are fearful about adding new software to their computer for various reasons. I believe that the #1 reason behind this fear is the fear that if they add a new program to their computer it may cause a problem, the computer will crash, not restarft correctly, etc.

3. They may want to try Mozilla, but do not know how to set up a new browser. How is the browser set up to your ISP's settings and how do I import IE's favourites to Mozilla/Firefox's bookmarks. Mozilla has to make this process automatic. The installer transfers the user's internet favorites and internet settings from IE (or other browser i.e. Opera, etc.) to Mozilla/FireFox.

4. The user has hear about Mozilla/FireFox and is willing to test drive it but either doesn't know how or where to obtain it or is on dailup and is not willing to spend hours with the download. Mozilla.org might attempt to get its products on various different types of cds. Possibly Apple may allow Mozilla to enjoy a place on its OS instalation CDs? Several years ago I remember that software instalation disks sometimes included demo/shareware/freeware software. Is it possible to to distribute some of the Mozilla products in this manner? Mozilla could encourage/make a deal with computer manufactures to either include a pre-install of Mozilla or include Mozilla on a supplied CD.

5. IE works for them. a. Prefer IE to anything else. b. would try another browser, but since IE works why bother? c. believe all browsers are just as insecure and prone to viruses (and other security issues) as IE so why bother with anything else? d. any of the pts 1-4 above.

<Off topic>: The DOJ shoulds have required MS to unbundle it browser from its OS and ordered it not to include a browser/email program. In place of a browser/email program MS should have been ordered to include a simple ftp program with a list of all the currently available web browser/email download sites. The user could then slect which browser the wanted. No browser, including IE would then have a preferental placement (ie preinstalled vs download and install).</Off topic>

#31 Re: Not a mystery

by plwong

Sunday March 14th, 2004 7:45 PM

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I think it's fair if they're ordered to make all computers with windows preinstalled with "just the operating system and basic desktop envrionment". Then those sellers or users can add on stuff like browsers and media players of their choice. If they bundle so much stuff on the OS, it's really not fair. And it's annoying too. I always have to uninstall a bunch of stuff every time I format my computer and resintall Windows (it's also annoying when it cleans off my dual boot data #$%^).

#33 Re: Not a mystery

by Ben_Goodger

Sunday March 14th, 2004 8:20 PM

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re: DOJ requiring Microsoft to unbundle IE and include an FTP program and a list of browsers.

This is ridiculous. Do you realize most people have no idea what FTP is? The EU sanctions requiring MSFT to distribute a version of windows without WMP are equally absurd. No vendor in its right mind would ship it. How is a consumer with little experience with computers supposed to pick from two unfamiliar choices? (Or, just as likely, pick from the familiarity of IE and some unknown other browser (Firefox)).

#53 To everyone complaing about OPera...

by alcatraz52 <red.baron@rogers.com>

Monday March 15th, 2004 8:35 PM

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try the preview release (Mozillazine Tech), it fixes the interface problems.