Firefox Users Trump Microsoft Programmers

by Preston Gralla

Firefox will always be a superior to Internet Explorer, even if Microsoft eventually decides to modernize its browser with features like tabbed browsing.



That's because Firefox opens up the browser to the collective intelligence of the entire Internet, something that Microsoft will never do. And the collective intelligence of the Internet trumps Microsoft programmers every time.



Let me be specific. One of Firefox's niftiest little features is its built-in Google search box in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Type in a search term, press Enter, and you do a Google search.



Even better, you can add any search engine or site to the box - Yahoo!, Amazon, Microsoft, encyclopedias…pretty much any site or search engine on the Internet.



Firefox comes with a few of these search engines built in, but you can add more by clicking the down arrow to the left of the search box, choosing Add Engines, and you'll come to a site that will let you add any of hundreds of search engines via search plug-ins.



Here's what's best about those plug-ins: Anyone can write one, and then have it posted on the search engine plug-in site. It doesn't take programming experience. Public documentation provides a quick start.



Using it, my 14-year-old son Gabe wrote a search plug-in that lets you search WindowsDevCenter from inside Firefox. Download this Zip file, unzip it and put it into the C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins folder. (That's assuming that you used the default folder for Firefox installation.) Then restart Firefox, and you'll be able to choose the WindowsDevCenter search engine from the drop-down list to the left of the search box.



Firefox extensions are another example of collective intelligence applied to the browser. It's tougher to write an extension than a search plug-in, but it's not killer programming, and so people have written dozens or hundreds of these useful extensions. And more keep coming all the time. (For more information about extensions, see Using Extensions in Firefox .)



Firefox builds on the collective creativity of the Internet, and it's very unlikely that Microsoft will ever open up its browser in the same way that Firefox has. And because of that, Firefox will always be at least a step ahead of IE.



What do you think of Firefox search plug-ins and extensions? Let us know.


11 Comments

TimmMurray
2004-11-18 06:32:33
Better Yet
I stopped using the search box entirely and used the address bar instead. You can type "google " for Google, for instance. You can add new ones through Bookmarks -> Manage Bookmarks, then add a bookmark under "Quick Searches".


Now I need a way to get rid of the search bar, since I don't use it anymore.

TimmMurray
2004-11-18 06:36:19
Better Yet
I stopped using the search box entirely and used the address bar instead. You can type "google " for Google, for instance. You can add new ones through Bookmarks -> Manage Bookmarks, then add a bookmark under "Quick Searches".


Now I need a way to get rid of the search bar, since I don't use it anymore.

leifm
2004-11-18 06:42:56
Better Yet
Right click in the navigation bar, choose customize and then drag the search bar into that dialog box that comes up.
brianterry
2004-11-18 10:08:02
firefox
I agree that firefox is superior to IE6 and I would really like to use it.BUT when browsing I get a message more often than not 'this document has no data'.
If I fire up IE6 and go to the same address I get straight there.
This happens so often I find it difficult to believe that I always hit on IE6 only websites. I can,for example, use ms updates usung firefox.
Any suggestions to overcome this irritation will be welcome
Profgoff
2004-11-19 02:49:27
Mozilla Firefox
Several times over the past months I've downloaded Mozilla Firefox and installed it on my machine. I install various themes and extensions and get all excited about its many features ... and then, WHAM ... disappointment! For some reason, Firefox will not display a significant portion of my online banking site, and I can't even use scroll bars to view the missing material. And so, I limp back to IE6, as I never have that problem there.
rmalafaia
2004-11-19 03:08:36
Mozilla Firefox
>>For some reason, Firefox will not display a significant portion of my online banking site, and I can't even use scroll bars to view the missing material. And so, I limp back to IE6, as I never have that problem there.<<


Yes, that's what happens when you have a large monopoly and you can make people feel like they are writing cross-platform web apps when in reality they are using your Operating system specific features or javascript proprietary extensions API of your 95%-market-share browser.


Many IE-only aren't using web technologies only by any means and that's why they won't work in a _web_ browser, like FireFox.

rmalafaia
2004-11-19 06:17:14
Nice censorship work here
Beware folks, the man will get rid of comments he doesn't like.


Why can people whine about FireFox not working with Internet Explorer-only sites and i can't reply that it's because a _web_ browser won't and shouldn't work with Microsoft-specific technologies?


Felt i insulted Microsoft for calling them a monopoly? It's the DOJ who said so and then stepped back...


Yeah, it's your weblog, you're god here... do as you please...

rmalafaia
2004-11-19 06:19:20
Nice censorship work here
eh... sorry. :P


main thread only... ** runs away ashamed **

Trizor
2004-11-19 14:30:55
Better Yet
>>Now I need a way to get rid of the search bar, since I don't use it anymore.<<


Right click on the toolbar, select customize, then drag it off. That simple.
The customization of the toolbars is incrediably well done and is never mentioned.

shiflett
2004-11-20 17:37:28
The Argument for Open Source
> That's because Firefox opens up the browser to the
> collective intelligence of the entire Internet,
> something that Microsoft will never do.


The same can be said of open source software, since it opens up software development to the collective intelligence of the entire Internet, something that Microsoft will never do.

liliafan
2004-12-06 09:40:54
firefox
I haven't encountered that problem much, I have used firefox for 99% of my web needs for about a year now on my computer and throughout my house for about 6 months, I have encountered 1 site that doesn't work with firefox, and that is because of platform specific shockwave code from a game site my wife plays at.


In term of windows update, in the windows start button the is usually a windows update option that will launch IE for you, use IE for this task, I do, it is the only task it is used for in my home, to the point that I have set up restrictions on all windows machines in the house that only one account can launch IE, mine, and only then do I use it for the purpose of windows updates and testing webpages I write locally (so far never had a problem with my standard compliant code). I have taken other measures to ensure that no one can use IE such as setting restrictions on all machines having access outgoing on port 80 blocked in my firewall, except one which contains a proxy server, firefox has the proxy addresses set IE doesn't, when I do a windows update I disable this rule.


Firefox rocks, so far haven't had a single security threat in my house related to the web since I installed on all machines, before that in the dark days of IE I was getting 2 a month.