Why Firefox Beats Internet Explorer

by Preston Gralla

Well, it happens to all of us - it's time to eat my words. In my last blog, I wrote that despite Internet Explorer's numerous security vulnerabilities, I was going to fight rather than switch to an alternative browser like Firefox.



As Roseanna Danna Danna used to say: "Never mind!"



I've spent the last week giving Firefox a test drive, and I'm here to tell you that it beats Internet Explorer hands-down. So I've decided to make the switch - although not completely, as I'll explain.



Even putting security vulnerabilities aside, Firefox is a superior browser. It's not bloated like IE, and it loads sites more quickly. The interface is simpler and cleaner. Its tabbed browsing will be a revelation to those who haven't used tabs before.



There are some drawbacks, though. An entire industry has sprung up around add-ins for IE, such as the spectacularly useful OnFolio, which lets you save Web pages in a local database, and then quickly search through it. Those kinds of add-ins don't work with Firefox. Additionally, not all Web sites display properly in Firefox. I'm editor in charge of a number of Web sites, in addition to writing books, and tools I use for the sites don't always work in Firefox. And, of course, Firefox doesn't support ActiveX.



You can find workarounds for some problems. Firefox extensions add all kinds of cool functionality to the browser - for example, there's an extension so that you can use the equivalent of the Google Toolbar, which normally works only in IE. (To find extensions in Firefox, choose Tools --> Extensions. You can also head to the Firefox Extensions Room.) But there are instances where only IE will do.



The upshot? For my normal Web browsing, I've made the switch to Firefox. When I need to use ActiveX, OnFolio, or do Web posting for specific sites, I open IE. I wish Firefox could do it all, but for now I'm a two-browser kind of guy.




Which is better, IE or Firefox? Or do you have another favorite browser? Let me know.


13 Comments

aristotle
2004-07-13 14:20:03
The other side of the coin:
Of course, there are also things I've only seen Firefox extensions for. There are several extensions which turn Firefox into an RSS reader, f.ex, one that posts to sites powered by the LiveJournal engine, and others. Neither I have not heard of anything for IE that would let me do something that's possible with two different Firefox extensions: edit a page's CSS on the fly, with all changes taking effect immediately. (This has completely revolutionized by web layouting.)


There also seem to be a number of Firefox extensions that result from its unixy mindset, for which I have never heard of an IE equivalent. I like to be able to edit text input areas in my browser using a real editor like Vim, f.ex.


And, of course, Firefox does many things without any extensions that IE needs add-ins for. (As you've noted.)


So I guess the situation is give-and-take, where someone with deep roots in Windows will miss a few things in Firefox, while someone with deep roots in Unix will miss others in IE.

chase
2004-07-13 22:47:41
And you just have to try the Web Developer Extension....
http://chrispederick.myacen.com/work/firefox/webdeveloper/


also, check out the xul tutorials at http://www.xulplanet.com. Learn how to build Mozilla/Firefox extensions and more for fun and profit! Well, fun anyway.

bazzargh
2004-07-14 02:47:56
A coupla things...
You should install the Launchy extension:
http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/more-info/launchy


this lets you right click in Firefox and open a link in IE (or other programs); or right click on a page and open the current page in IE. Very useful. I see 'Onfolio' does work with Firefox somewhat via the 'Onfolio deskbar' - you can probably set up launchy shortcuts to file pages into it that way?


Secondly (gentle nudge)... if you're finding that some features of sites you are the editor for don't work in "not IE", shouldn't you tackle this for your readers?

ocampesato
2004-07-14 17:55:01
switching to Firefox
I remember how much I enjoyed Netscape 4, and then switching over to IE 5.5 because 4.7 was too slow:(


It wasn't until the recent security-related issues regarding IE, whereupon I switched to Firebox, that I discovered how accustomed I had become to using IE features.


I use Adobe's SVG viewer in IE for launching and viewing all my SVG code (take a gander at my book) because the SVG code uses IE-specific features.
Anyway, I'm going to continue using IE for local access and Firefox for external access.


Incidentally, I'm working with XAML/Avalon code via Mobiform's browser, which is an excellent product (I'm not affiliated in any way with the company). If you have any interest in XAML, you might want to take a look at their browser....


Regards,


Oswald


darobin
2004-07-15 01:58:58
switching to Firefox
I switched from Netscape to IE *3* when it came out, it was a more interesting browser. I switched to Mozilla when 0.9.x came out (and later to FireFox) simply because it already beat IE hands down three or four years ago.


Note that I use FireFox for all my SVG development -- Adobe SVG Viewer doesn't use IE-specific features, you must've been using some part of IE's broken EcmaScript implementation.

minoopy
2004-07-15 09:55:58
Firefox is fine to beat IE
Simple interface, and safe and sound mechanism for privacy are good reasons for me to choose Mozilla's brower, although there are still many functions awaiting for improvement and invention. Changing themes is another sparkling point for choice.


It is just a brower! We still have many choices for us to pick up to satisfy your desires and fresh ideas!

jfontecha
2004-07-15 11:54:26
Firefox OK, but...
Firefoz & Mozilla are great web browsers, but they don't do everything IE does. That's a set back some people go through because they do not like figuring out how to tweak things to their liking or use (i.e. adding extensions,etc).


Being an academic, I use various alternatives for everything. So let me suggest you give MYIE2 a try. It does everything IE does but it gets the bads stuff RIGHT. And it's free. It has built-in pop-ip blocking, tabbed browsing, tab grouping(I use this when I read my daily news sites and I just open wired,slashdot,linuxjournal & others with a single click because they're all tabbed in a group ready for me to enjoy, Mozilla & Firefoz do this too but differently).


Try it. www.myie2.com


*One thing though, as with many web browsers, MYIE2 does not work on Linux or MAc because it's IE based. Sorry. But Mozilla & Firefox do more than well in Linux.

teejay
2004-07-20 06:33:25
Firefox OK, but...
so myie2 is just a cosmetic reworking of IE. It doesn't actually solve any of the inherant damage in IE such as the lack of support for modern CSS, HTML, etc or any of the huge security holes.
Random
2004-08-25 11:04:34
Who cares which browser we use...
...the important issue here is that Gilda Radner played a character named "Roseanne Roseanna-danna". Phew. Now that's straightened out, back to the browser-wars v2.


OK, I use Firefox for 3 major reasons:
Web Developer extension
Ad Block extension <-- my new favourite game is "how many ads can you block with a well-placed asterisk"
Sage extension <-- RSS reader

TommyA
2004-11-09 12:31:58
Use the standards
Quote from the article:
Additionally, not all Web sites display properly in Firefox. I'm editor in charge of a number of Web sites, in addition to writing books, and tools I use for the sites don't always work in Firefox.


Generally if you use the W3C standards which you as webdesigner ALWAYS should do, firefox will display the contents as it is supposed to. Fact is that firefox is way more standards compliant than Internet Explorer, I too had problems when I changed but that was because I had gotten used to the "standards" offered by Internet Explorer. So I hope since you write that you write books about the subject that you learn to use the W3C standards ASAP.


Good luck
Tommy

agent009
2005-02-06 05:29:27
Multilingual texts
There is one significant point here needs to be noted - Firefox seems to perform much better then IE in displaying multilingual texts for the following reasons:


1. It supports more encodings and generally does better job in auto-detecting the apropriate one. Also, IE sometimes has a nasty habbit of overriding manully set encoding, which Firefox doesnt't seem have.


2. If your default font does not have glyphs for certain charactes, Firefox will automatically pick a glyph from another font installed on your system. Although it might not necessarily be the font you would choose, at least you get a meaningfull representation of the character in most instances. Some fonts out there, though, have fallback glyphs mapped to certain code points (e.g. Cardo) which fools Firefox into thinking that they have apropriate glyphs for those characters. A mechanism to manually set preference for fallback fonts would therefore be useful.


IE on the other hand relies on Windows GDI to find the apropriate fallback fonts. This is not a bad thing by itelf, except that the mechanism implimented in Windows GDI for this purpose is rather imperfect and can not be configured by any other means then regedit. This implementation also does not offer any support for Unicode Supplimentary Planes.


3. IE implementation of Unicode Supplimentary Planes is pretty much useless, since it only recognises those charactes coded as NCR (not as UTF-8 or UTF-16!!!). And to achive even this level of functionality you have to resort to regedit.


Firefox, on the other hand, offers full support for supplimentary planes characters (whether encoded as NCR, UTF-7, UTF-8, UTF-16 or UTF-32), including adequate font fallback mechanism.

kapwatt
2006-04-30 11:23:27
I have also recently made the switch from IE to Mozilla Firefox. I also agree that Firefox beats IE without doubt. However, I have heard that because of the closeness of Mozilla's Firefox and Google, Google is able to track your activity through Firefox. I doubt that this is true. And suppose it were true, would it also be the same for IE? One more question: Isn't Firefox safer to use when considering viruses and malware? Unlike IE, Firefox has shields right?


Thank You for helping me.

w3cstandards
2006-06-10 15:25:14
W3C Standards...


That's why I switched to firefox...