Archive for Browsers
Firefox 4.0 released
There are some interesting new features in the release. One of the notable changes is that the address bar has now been moved closer to the web content, just above the page.
If you have sites that you normally want open, now you can pin them on the tab bar so that they are always available. You no longer need to create a favourites group or homepage out them to get easy access to the sites.
Another feature that may be useful is that when you type the address of a site that is already open in one of the tabs, you get the chance to go that tab instead or you can open a new tab if that's the plan.
For users of Windows XP who cannot use the new released Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4 can be installed on XP.
The ability to handle partial downloads is quite handy. One can stop a download midway and then complete at a later stage.
There is support for CCS3 and also HTML5.
A full list of the Firefox 4 features can be found here.
Firefox 3.6 released
I downloaded this latest version and I can say that so far I am happy with and I can see some of the improvements on the pages that I use the most.
One of the easiest to spot features is Personas. I think I quite like how easy it is to change from one Persona to the next without any restarting the browser required. I think its good to add a bit of colour to the browser.
This new release also comes protection for out of date plugins and so if a plugin is out of date you get a warning. You no longer need to go to a special page to check whether plugins are current or not.
From a developer perspective its good to see Firefox supporting new CSS attributes. This version will now support attributes such as gradients, background sizing, and pointer events.
I also think that the support for new DOM and HTML5 specifications including the Drag & Drop API and the File API is great.
There are also some other small niceties like when you click a link in a page, it opens the new tab next to the originating tab and not place it as the last tab.
Its good to see these improvements as Firefox continue to get better and better with every minor release.
Firefox 3.5 released
Most importantly I was able to upgrade Firebug to the newer version and the same for the Web developer addon.
Its interesting to see Firefox playing catch up in some areas after some browsers have added features which Firefox didn't have.
Firefox 3.5 introduces private browsing option which is already available in Google Chrome and IE8.
But there also some new cool features like location aware browsing. This option will enable the browser to tell websites where you are located so that content can be tailored depending on your location.
Its good to see all these advances in browsers and for more of the new features have a look here
Auto refresh in Firefox
The extension that I use a lot for that is ReloadEvery which you can specify how often you would like a particular tab to be refreshed.
You can set ReloadEvery to refresh all your tabs after a certain time interval and also you can opt out some tabs as well.
I quite like the idea of being able to make tabs refresh at different intervals because there are some tabs that I open for reference and the information will not be changing at all and therefore reloading is not required.
For manual refreshing then the extension Reload Tab On Double-Click will do the job.
As the name implies you double click the tab you want refreshed.
Microsoft releases IE8
IE8 has been in beta for some time and I actually installed the beta version and for the time I used it I had no problems.
Whilst I think its now good that Microsoft now updates its browsers more often, its good to see that they have also introduced some good features.
I think the contextual menu is the best of the pick and can be quite useful.
Another good thing is that you can change to IE7 mode so that there is no need to run IE7 in a virtual machine or find a way of running IE8 side by side with IE7.
I still think for now I will continue to use Firefox and use IE8 as a test browser mostly.
Add-on downloads reach a Billion
Mozilla started recording the add-on downloads in 2005 and it has taken some three years to reach a billion downloads. I actually think there has been more downloads in the last two years or so as people have become aware of Firefox and then also the available extensions.
I think the add-ons have made sure the that Firefox browser is my default browser because there are some extensions that I need for my day to day work like Firebug.
Apart the add-ons I need to have like Firebug, I tend to have other favourite extensions from time to time which I install for a while then later on uninstall if the shine falls off or keep them.
At the moment the add-on that I am playing with is Tab Splitter which splits your current browser in half and allows you to view two web pages at once with the ability to use tabs in both browsers.
This can be very useful when you want to compare two pages side by side and its also useful when you have a big widescreen monitor because I think it enables better use of screen real estate.
Browsing in 3D
Basically ExitReality shows conventional two dimensional pages in three dimensional.
If you don't want to download and install you can enter a site URL on the ExitReality website and it will be shown in 3D.
I think the interesting bit is to see your normal website in 3D but I couldn't do much because it was very slow I didn't have the time to check many sites.
Over time I intend to visit more sites but I also think the application is good when you have a very fast connection.
Chrome enters the browser fray
The installation did not go as smoothly as I would have liked because thrice I got the error The installer encountered error 1. but on the fourth attempt I managed to install the browser.
Firefox is my default browser and so to import my bookmarks and other settings I had to close it down and from there I think I was a bit impressed but also remembering that this is only a beta version and so there are bound to be some quirks here and there.
There are not many settings which is good but in the settings you can enter your home page. Surprisingly I could not find a way to easily to go to that home page by form of a button or some other means and I think its something that needs to be done.
I tested the browser on all of my sites and I was happy to see that all the sites looked alright and it appeared to load fast as well.
I quite liked the location of the search box on the right hand corner and the fact that likes Firefox it incorporates a spell checker. It seems however to have just the default dictionary.
I think I will use Chrome mostly as a test browser and I will stick to Firefox for now because I cannot see how I can do without my favourite extensions.
Waiting for a theme
The problem at first was with themes because it took a bit of time to get a lot of themes compatible wth version 3.
One of my most favourite themes in Firefox 2 was Blue Ice and at the moment its not yet upgraded for version 3 and I hope that it will be available soon.
Last week I tried the Noia 2.0 (eXtreme) theme but
though good I didn’t quite like it that much and therefore I went back to the default theme which I should admit is
not that bad.
I will also trial Phoenity Modern which looks
Firefox reaches 400 million downloads
This number refers to the number of downloads and not installations and so I assume the number of installations would be fewer than this. However, there are also a number of users who install through CDs or DVDs on magazine covers and so whichever way you look at it, its quite a big number for a browser that was released just under three years ago.
I think the browser itself is quite good but I think what it makes it even better is the number of extensions available that really enhance the browsing experience and take the browser to a higher level.
Just last week I had a problem with a web form button that did not respond to clicking and I quickly used the Web Developer's extension to find out what the problem was and I solved the problem in a few short minutes. But there are also many other extensions and it just depends on the user what they want.
Internet Explorer is still the leading browser but Firefox is slowly closing the
gap as more and users start using the browser as their default browser.
Trying out Windows Safari
To me the best thing about Safari being available on Windows is that I no longer need to run around looking for a Mac to test how a new web application or site runs under Safari. Before I either had to completely ignore Safari which is not a very good idea or use a friend's Mac but now with this Windows version that's a step in the right direction.
Having said that, I will be sticking to Firefox and Safari will just be a test platform. Initial very quick tests showed no problems although I couldn't prove the claim that its very fast. This is only a beta version and there could be some errors here and there but so far so good.
Testing in both Firefox and IE7
For some time now I have been using the Paessler Site Inspector tool and I have found it to do a very good job at least for testing in Firefox and IE7 from one application. With Paessler Site Inspector you can run both IE7 and Firefox engines from a single application saving you from firing the individual browsers themselves. There are other functions which it does as well which are quite useful including markup and CSS validation.
On a similar note I found the IE installer on Tredosoft quite useful because it allows me to run multiple versions of IE on the same computer. Basically the installer installs previous versions of IE of which the most important one is IE6 which most people still use and I also need to check if my CSS works as expected.
The other way to have IE6 would have been to install say XP without IE6 or Windows 2000 in a virtual environment
but that will only give you IE6. with the Tredosoft installer you get IE versions from IE3 to IE6 and I find
using this method quite convenient at the moment.
Browsing with IE7
I use an IE browser mostly for checking how a website looks like when browsing with IE as the majority of my users still use IE. I was impressed from the brief testing that I carried out that it looks like IE7 is more compliant to CSS as some pages that didn't look right with IE6 now look perfectly alright in IE7 as they do in both Opera and Firefox.
Unfortunately IE7 is not available for Microsoft operating systems earlier than XP SP2 and therefore users who use Windows 2000 will still have to make do with IE6 unless they opt for another browser like Opera or Firefox. XP SP1 users also won't have access to IE7 but I don't see any reason why one would be stuck with XP SP1 when they can freely upgrade to SP2.
For those users with Windows 2000, a developer would need to have Windows 2000 installed preferably in a virtual environment to check the user experience for IE6. I won't be going that path as I will just check with IE7 unless there is a compelling reason to do so.
RSS handling and tabbing are some good features of IE7 as well as increased security which includes the anti-phishing checker.
From the few pages that I printed I also realised that IE7 handled the printing better than
IE6 used to do.
Some handy Firefox extensions
I find Link Alert useful because it alerts me about the type of link I am about to click, say for example a new window/tab or a e-mail link and so on. This is useful especially when the link doesn't show that its going to open your e-mail client, for example or that the link opens a pdf file.
The TrustWatch Search extension rates the search results when using the top three search engines, Google, Yahoo! and MSN. If you want to be pro-active you can report sites that look suspicious but I haven't done that so far. Its another thing to verify whether the ratings are actually accurate but at least you get some sort of indication.
I like the Colorful Tabs extension because it adds some colour to the tabs. It just gives a good looking interface especially if you have a few tabs open. Also this extension works with the Mozilla browser because the other two only work with Firefox.
In comes Browzar privacy
Its main feature is that it doesn't save browsing history, stored files, or cookies. The Browzar also doesn't support auto-complete. The whole idea is to protect user privacy by not retaining details of their web surfing.
The beta version 1.2.0 comes with a very simple menu and there is no configuration of any sort. The default homepage is the Browzar search page and cannot be changed and this is in line with the policy of not storing details on the client computer.
I would use this browser on a public computer say at an Internet Cafe or in a library
because you can run the browzar executable from a memory stick as long as you can get permission from the firewall.
Testing Using the OffByOne Browser
If for some reason you would like to see how your website looks like without CSS the OffByOne browser also comes in handy.
Interestingly, if you select "Show NoScript" and "Show NoFrames" from the Options menu then you would see the search engines view of a website when they crawl it.