Another Browser Story

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:09 am by Toby

Here comes another boring browser story. You know the kind,

“What are all you idiots doing using browser X, browser Y is so much better in every way that you need to be in bed with browser manufacturer Z to actually use their rubbish browser, in fact I can tell you’re so stupid purely based on your choice of browser, that I’m not even going to talk to you anymore.”

Well actually no. I’ve found firefox thanks to public virtual MemoryStream: Firefox again a short blog post by Luke Hutterman telling the world why he is using firefox, and what extension (more about those later) he uses to make it the finest browser he has ever used. See the problem with most boring browser stories is the bit about ‘in every way’ which is completely untrue, there is always a reason why a new browser is worse in some way to our old browser, whether it works differently when you ctrl-click, doesnt display your favorite site quite right, doesnt have multiple tabs or just looks silly. This has been the case up until now for me, so let me take you on a short browser journey.

I’m guessing at the dates, so no doubt some will be wrong.

1984 – Never heard of browsers!

1994 – Studying Artificial Intelligence in college and get my first view of a browser it was NCSA Mosaic, I knew this was funky. (side note: I’ve always firmly believed that it was not Tim Berners Lee who was responsible for the web and all its associated benefits. It was the team at NCSA who came up with mosaic. The web had been around for a long time before they produced mosaic, but it was only when the web got given a friendly face that things really began to happen)

1994 – 1997 – Due to the appaling state of modems 14.4 k being the norm at this time didnt do much browsing outside of college. When I did though, it was with the netscape program.

1998 – Still on Netscape. IE 4 was the most hurrendous browser to ever be developed, primarily due to its desire to take over your entire windows machine and crash it on a regular basis.

1999 – IE 5 released, and despite my desire to continue to use Netscape, they seem to have abandoned me. Microsoft has finally realeased a working browser and Netscape have run away (not to be heard from for about 4 years!)

2000 – 2002 – Move through successive versions of IE 5 -5.5, 6 . I thought they were a fine browser, but what really annoyed me was having 15 windows cluttering up my start bar and screen.

2003 – I find MYIE2

2003 – I wax lyrical about myie2 (now Maxthon for some reason). MYIE2 is my browser of choice and still is. It is IE with tabs. That for a long time was all I needed. IE rendering so I can develop my sites knowing that what they look like in myie2 is what they will look like in IE, but with multiple tabs so I can have 15 sites open (not an uncommon occurance) but only have one window shown in my start bar. If a site opens a new target windows, it opens as a new tab. And more than anything else, and the one this that I now could not live without having in a browser is a system of displaying favorites that means you actually use them. It may not have been the first browser to do this, but it was the first I came across. All your favorites are provided as menus on your toolbar.

This as far as I’m concerned mean that I use my favorites, whereas before I never did.

2003 – During my love affair with myie2 (sorry guys I refuse to call it Maxthon) I has a brief flirtation with firebird, but it didnt do some things right. It had an annoying habit of opening new window links in a new window rather than just a new tab. Also it never really grabbed me. Myie2 continues to be my browser of choice.

Nov 2004 – I’d been hearing a few people talking about firefox (and I couldnt quite remember whether that was different to firebird (whats with all the fire anyway)). And then I read the article above. And what caught my eye, was not a new browser hurray, but the extensions. These seem to be bits of code that anyone can write that extend the functionality of firefox. Primary among these he points out are a web developer extension which allows you to do all sorts of funky things like edit the css for any page your viewing, highlight table cells, view form fields – loads of really cool things. And once your download a tabbing extension it handles new windows and tabs, fairly much the same was as MYIE2, and it allows you to have your favorites sitting on the tool bar (a little bit more cumbersome to set up though).

All in all firefox is looking fairly promising, though it will need a bit more testing before it knocks myie2 off its perch as my default browser.

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