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Non-IE Browsers

I must admit that I usually use IE. I really like both Mozilla and Opera a lot, I think they’re probably about 99.9% right. But it’s their integration with the rest of Windows that destroys the pleasure for me.





Take Mozilla. All other Windows programs consider dashes, slashes, and other punctuation to separate words. So when you hit Ctrl-Backspace to delete backwards word-by-word, Windows and IE will consider “word-by-word” to have five parts: “word”, “”, “by”, “”, “word”. Mozilla is different from any other Windows program, because they decided to reimplement the basic text input widgets instead of using Windows built-in. Hit Ctrl-Backspace once, and all of “word-by-word” is gone. Bam! It’s especially annoying in the address bar, because URLs usually don’t have any spaces at all, so Ctrl-Backspace will delete the entire URL. There’s nothing in between deleting the whole URL and one character at a time. Sigh. I always wondered how come the developers of something like Mozilla either don’t notice or don’t care. I always notice, and I always care.





Then there’s window handling, which is something that both Opera and Mozilla do poorly, and which is enough for me to not want to use them. Regardless of the “open links in new window” setting, I can’t get Mozilla 1.1 to reliably always open links in a new window, instead of reusing a randomly picked one of my open browser windows. The thing is, with more and more applications running in browsers, I’ll have a handful of permanently open browser windows: My calendar, and my time logging application, to name just a few. And IE has a feature that, when you hit Ctrl-N to open a new window, it starts out by showing the same page that you came from. Turns out, in 90% of the cases, this is what I want. I use it as a backup, as a short-cut, or to explore multiple paths from wherever I am. Mozilla can’t be configured to have this behavior, it offers home page, blank page, or the last page for which you typed the URL or something useless like that. Bummer. Would be super-easy to implement.





While we’re at it, it annoys me that Opera insists on having all windows live within the master browser window, which de facto makes it impossible to have multiple different window sizes at once. My calendar window needs to be pretty big, because I’m using the month view. My time logger window and various other windows I want to be tall and slim, because that makes it easier to read, etc. Opera won’t let me do this.





Anyway, this was just a long rant to say how it’s the totally minor, trivial things that make Opera and Mozilla so painful for me to use in practice. IE has pain points as well, such as crashing, and how it handles cookies, but most of the time, these are easier to live with because the basic usability is in place.

6 comments

John Sequeira

Adopting new software is such a pain. I was initially turned off my Mozilla, because of alot of the cross-platform strangeness and wierd controls you mention. I can understand that being too big a turn off to merit a switch. But having used it for awhile, there's no way I could live without tabbed browsing, a choice between MDI and SDI (or a combination), popup suppression, gestures (!) and per-site banner ad and cookie blocking. When I switch back to IE and lose those things, I really notice the absence. The bonus of not having to worry about someone's malicious active content reformatting my hard drive is subtle, but I'm just paranoid enough to appreciate it. There was a Windows/Emacs integration project mentioned on the bboards that hardwires Emacs keystrokes to any Windows input/text box ... it would be neat if that could solve your Mozilla woes, but that very likely wishful thinking.
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Michael Zajac

Pheonix You might try Phoenix, which is a Mozilla offshoot. <p> I haven't used it myself, but I've switched to a similar Mac program, Chimera, which uses the Mozilla page rendering engine with a pretty nice Mac-native interface. It's feature-competitive with IE/Mac, and it's constantly being improved.
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A few comments It seems that my habits are a bit different. <p> <blockquote> And IE has a feature that, when you hit Ctrl-N to open a new window, it starts out by showing the same page that you came from. Turns out, in 90% of the cases, this is what I want. </blockquote> In 100% of the cases, this is not what I want, because when I want to explore another path, I simply hit the middle mouse button to launch a new tab with the link. Which is why i find IE very annoying. <p> But what annoys me more, like John, is the lack of so many useful Mozilla features (which are in Phoenix too, which is what I mostly use), such as tabbed browsing, type ahead find and quick (%s) searches.
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Luigi Martini

Excuse me, sir... I shouldn't write these words to you, an expert in the field, but...<br> Have you positively forwarded your interesting message to the people involved in developing the cited browsers?<br> As for me, I just use Mozilla (used Netscape in the past), and have never tried Explorer in my life, so I can't say.<br> Luigi
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Bjorn Thor Jonsson

Bugzilla Bug 182097 This poor url navigation in Mozilla also annoys me, and I also wondered if Mozilla developers didn't notice this. So I searched their bugtracker and found some indication that they are working on this: <a href="http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=182097">http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=182097</a>
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Christian Dalager

You must be an somewhat important person <p>Check out the <a href="http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla/nightly/latest/">1.3b Build</a>.</p> <p>If you really have this kind of influence I could mail you a wish-list with important stuff?</p> <p>/christian</p>
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