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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Mozilla's Firefox launched!

Mozilla's Firefox launched!

Mozilla's Firefox 1.0 was released today after spending a long time in beta. Firefox is my browser of choice and I have been using it for a very long time now. The earliest forms of Mozilla that I used were buggy and had its share of "user" challenges (I still can't believe it took them a few versions before they realized a warning message is necessary when the user tries to close a window with multiple tabs.). Am glad we are over those hurdles now. Here is a brief history of Firefox and here are some reasons why I dig Firefox (earlier known as Phoenix and then Firebird):

  • Tabbed browsing: For the uninitiated, in IE, everytime you want to open link from within a IE window, either you load the link in the same window or you open a new window. With firefox, you have the added option of opening it as a tab WITHIN the same browser window. Why would you need this: For me browsing is like running through a dictionary. I open the dictionary to lookup a word and that leads me on to other words and very soon I am a "walking dictionary", at least for a couple hours till my memory cells fade out! So when I open a web page, I start finding other interesting links and I soon find myself with 10 different windows. With tabbed browsing, I basically have only one window with 10 tabs. My taskbar is less crowded and if my manager walks into my cube I have to minimize only one window! :) So heres the math:
    10 interesting links imply: in IE -> 10 windows; in Firefox: 1 window with 10 tabs.
    Of course, Firefox does provide the ability to open a link in a new window too.

  • Searching: This and tabbed browsing are my favs. Though it supports "CTRL + f" to open the FIND window, it supports a simpler search method. Hit the "/" key and start typing the word you are interested in and the browser jumps to the phrase as you type it. "CTRL + g" finds the next occurance and so on. If you land on a link, hit enter and it opens the link in the browser. How cool is that!

  • Bookmark management: Much better management of bookmarks than in IE. You can associate a keyword to a bookmark.
    Example: Set the keyword to to "g". If you now type "g" in the location bar, it will replace the keyword with the URL and go to No extra search toolbars; less clutter.

  • Quick Searches: Do you use google frequently to look up stuff? Or do you jump to a dictionary site such as often? Wouldn't it be nice if you dont have to first go to or before you can lookup the word/phrase by just typing in the word/phrase in the location bar? Quick Search in Firefox allows just that. Example: If I want to lookup "R.L.Stevenson's Vagabond" on Google (my favourite poem), I just type "g R.L.Stevenson's Vagabond" in the location bar. And the google search results for my query is immediately loaded. :) To set it up, define a bookmark for google, set the keyword to "g" and the location to "". Anything you type after g in the location bar will be taken as the query string for the search. And you can type in queries just like you would in google with characters such as + or enclosed in "". To create other quick searches, use similar logic to construct the location string.

  • Live bookmarks: RSS feeds can be read into the bookmarks toolbar. So, you know when a new feed is available from your favourite website even without going to the site.

  • Open source: Implies more choice for the customer. Developers worldwide continue to enhance the browser and to build extensions to it for specific features. This site should you give you a general idea about the rich options available. This one too.

  • And numerous other features such as built-in pop-up blocking, better security than in IE, an efficient download manager, multiple extensions, numerous keyboard and mouse shortcuts, etc round it up. Oh! And its free!!! :)

My recommendation: Go for it! I still use IE, but only if the page does not render well in Firefox which happens a few times esp when the site is flash-driven or sometimes when there are embedded media objects.


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