A few weeks in Chrome

A number of weeks ago I got annoyed with Firefox and decided to use Chrome for a while. This reminded me of the olden days where I used Netscape for a while, and then IE6 came out, and then Phoenix came out all the while I’d keep switching to the newest shiniest thing (note: I’m not sure about the timeline of all the browsers either).

My browser of choice since Firefox was released has been Firefox. For some time - nothing shiny in browser-land was coming out. Little UI things in Safari kept me away (and the lack of extensions), but Chrome finally showed promise. WebKit, out of process plugins, process separated tabs and now extensions. This was great.

I immediately felt like I was going to really love Chrome, and be that guy at the office (I work at Mozilla) who insists on using Chrome (just like I was that guy at Yahoo! who used Google for everything). I also wanted to answer the question as to why so many people really like Firefox in spite of Chrome’s amazing speed – even many Googlers will admit to preferring Firefox.

Overall I’m happy with Chrome, but I’m switching back to Firefox for now. Here’s some things I observed:

  • /” in Firefox let’s you search. Which to me seems more natural than Ctrl-F. I am pleased that Chrome supports a lot of Firefox’s shortcuts, like Cmd-1..9 for switching tabs, or Cmd-Shift-T for reopening a closed tab.
  • No titlebar… I kind of miss it.
  • XML is way easier to work with in Firefox. It’s collapsable and always looks pretty.
  • Certain sites don’t work well in Chrome, like Rypple or the AmericanExpress web site. Rypple surprisingly enough is built using the Google Web Toolkit. I really wish their was a “FirefoxTab” that would open certain sites in Firefox instead.
  • There’s a number of Jetpacks and Extensions that only exist for Firefox or they are severely lacking.
    • The Jetpacks for Mozilla’s Bugzilla instance are awesome.
    • The Delicious and AdBlock extensions on Chrome aren’t nearly as good as the ones for Firefox.
  • Firebug is much better than the Chrome developer tools. For example, you can adjust css values instantly.
  • Extensions die… and don’t come back without restart and appear to never have been installed unless you remember them crashing.
  • AwesomeBar (the location bar in Firefox) queries your history much better than the OmniBar (the location bar in Chrome)
    • At first I thought this was because of a sparse history, but after several weeks I still have a hard time finding sites I’ve been to.
    • Chrome will show you a handful of results, and then let you know there are more results, but that takes you to a new screen which is a jarring UI.
  • Chrome can be slow. The extensions can take a while, and even switching between tabs can be slow. At this point startup time can be a moot point.

Overall this was a healthy exercise, since I really like to be up on new browsers, and Chrome really seems like it’s can be a good browser for many people. I’ll probably try it again after the next major Chrome update.