Safari vs. Firefox, the yellow battle

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

Since the introduction of Safari, Mac users have favored the browser for its rendering speed, clean interface and fast launch times. Those who relied on Firefox were all about extensibility, configurability and IE compatibility. Or so I thought.

16 Comments

Miguel
2006-02-14 01:44:37
On some SSL Pages i have troubles with safari, the browser hangs. So i switched to Firefox to view any SSL website, it always work OK.
Jody Sanders
2006-02-14 04:56:48
On our own internal site, which is browsed over HTTPS, Safari frequently freezes. We have done a lot of debugging and discovered the problem to be because it tries to do too many simultaneous requests.


I have since advised our members of staff to switch to Firefox.

w
2006-02-14 05:22:17
You should go to #webkit in irc.freenode.net and ask the developers. They are quite friendly and will probably have a lot of insite.
paul
2006-02-14 07:43:44
Other than slow launch times, FireFox is much faster for me in day to day use than Safari. Camino has just been too buggy, and Opera is fast, but does not support the authenticated logins I use.
Alas, not mentioned in your article, I've found the new SeaMonkey 1.0 to be faster than both Firefox 1.5.0.1 and Safari 2.0.3. Laugh you might, but all of the sites I frequent open faster and transition faster in SeaMonkey than Safari.
I still prefer Firefox for the Live bookmarks/RSS feeds.


Marc
2006-02-14 08:52:47
The big problem for me with Firefox is the stupid XUL interface. The overhead of that causes window creation and launch times to be abysmal. Usually I do cmd-N and start typing a URL faster than Firefox can keep up. So, before I realize it, I have hit enter and my browser is like trying to go to bc.co.uk. because it missed the http://news.b .


Coupled with this, Firefox doesn't behave like a "real" application, and its XUL framework is buggy...often, contextual menus won't go away, and whatnot. Safari has its own spate of problems, but I would say that I prefer it -- for now. (I am certainly not loyal when it comes to the most important piece of software I use.)


However, unlike the author of the aricle, I find Gecko to be faster than WebKit at rendering pages. It's just the unbelievably laughable UI redraw that kills Firefox's usefulness.

Sweitzer
2006-02-14 10:00:32
One of the major issues I have found with Firefox is that it has a tendency to hog my CPU even when operating in the background. Granted, this happens most dramatically when the Flash plug-in is being used which might not be the fault of the browser, but it still results in my use of Safari as my primary browser.


Speed-wise, I have found a neglible difference between the two browsers. Firefox might have a little edge over Safari for the sites I visit, but it isn't enough to make me prefer using the browser which keeps my fans in low gear.

grant
2006-02-14 10:40:07
i still find camino to be the fastest browser, http rendering on par with safari and much faster https rendering than safari. now with the official release of 1.0, i think it's a much better alternative to safari.
Mike Snider
2006-02-14 12:07:07
I can't use Firefox because it doesn't support Services, which I use extensively to collect information from the web.
Travis
2006-02-14 13:29:01
I keep trying Safari every few months; but for development I just can't go without Firefox's JavaScript console. It just makes it so much easier to debug complicated scripts.


But even without that, I'd probably fall in the "extensibility" camp anyway. I love the level of control over cookies - especially being able to allow a site to set session-only cookies. I love the finer-grained popup controls. I even love my Google toolbar. :-D


JulesLt
2006-02-14 14:15:46
If it's Flash that's giving you problems in Firefox, it should almost certainly cause issues in Safari. One tip, if you don't want to disable Flash, is to set the quality to 'Low' (right click on the Flash movie). This typically cuts CPU enough on my Mini for the fan to switch back off.


(The problem is that Flash doesn't take advantage of the OS - to keep the code cross-platform and hardware independent,it does it's own rendering, 12 times a second. Great on computers that don't offer alpha-transparency, decent font-handling and compositing as part of the operating system, but pretty inefficient where they do - a better solution might be if they helped Apple develop their own SWF player)

Roger
2006-02-14 15:20:37
I use Safari occasionally. But I can verify the SSL bork-ness. Try opening two or three SSL websites in Safari. See how long it takes for the whole browser to close on you. I can make it happen in less than 5 minutes almost every time.


I can also kill Safari reliably in less than 10 seconds by opening a specific web page in our Cacti network monitoring application. Unfortunately I visit this page many times per day.


Yes, Firefox has issues. XUL is bad. There's no Services menu. It doesn't take advantage of cool things in Tiger like the contextual-menu Dictionary lookup.


But it doesn't crash on SSL or other heavy-duty pages like Safari does, so I use it.

Doug
2006-02-14 20:09:53
Your metaphors have rendered your commentary nearly incomprehensible to me. "while Safari knocks Firefox' socks any day in rendering pages over HTTP, our favorite carnivorous mammal cuts through encrypted connections like butter."


It's bad enough we have software with terrible, easily conflated/confused names (Safari, Firefox, etc.), but to add this metaphor on top of it all is to render things utterly confounding.


I have no idea if you're saying that Safari is faster using HTTPS or Firefox. And, really, I don't care anymore, cause I'm just not going to switch at this point lest I add to the confusion you began.


Oh, and your Preview button doesn't work on Safari (at least, not mine, with PithHelmet and Saft).

J. J. Ramsey
2006-02-15 18:54:45
There have been two reasons I've preferred Firefox to Safari. One, Safari's handling of Yahoo! Briefcase is broken (and yes, I filed a bug report). Two, Safari seems to bog down if I type into a text box for a long enough time, which makes it a pain to use for online forums (and again, I filed a bug report). If it weren't for those things, I'd prefer Safari, simply because it's the default browser.
Benjamin Huot
2006-02-15 20:11:39
I am a web developer and so I like to use a Gecko based one like Camino, Safari, or SeaMonkey as I am interested in how well the rendering engine is at rendering design elements that are most often used in web pages. I was using Firefox for quite a while but it is just so out of place on the Mac - its fine on Linux though. Camino I have kept on trying for a couple days after its released and then switch back quickly when it becomes too buggy, but since the release candidate I have been using Camino everyday for at least 4 hours and have had no problems with stability or speed. Remember how NVU and Firefox were before the first release candidates too. Most of the Mozilla ones get suite stable before reaching gold master, so I recommend people try SeaMonkey or Camino if they are uncomfortable with Firefox shortcomings. The only thing I like about Safari is that it vomes with the Mac and PDFs can be embedded in it and if there is a problem with Gecko I can use it. Opera has some nice features but its user interface gets in the way too often although I find bugs in my web pages fast after previewing in Opera -that makes my code better.
sjk
2006-02-16 10:57:33
@Benjamin: Safari is KHTML-based (via the KDE project), not Gecko-based.
Aristotle Pagaltzis
2006-02-16 15:39:41
Marc from suzerain.com: maybe you should try Camino then? Assuming you haven’t already.