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Firefox, What I Would Like To See

Firefox is my default web browser, which can be mainly attributed to its amazing add-on support and customizability. But other browsers have emerged (Chrome) or improved to a point, that Firefox feels old fashioned in certain categories. Especially speed and performance wise. If you ever experienced how fast Chrome or Opera are opening the most complex websites, and then compared that to Firefox, you know that something is amiss there.

The Firefox developers on the other hand seem to favor interface and design enhancements. Yes, some developers are working on the faster JavaScript engine and overall performance of the browser, but those efforts pale in comparison to the amount of design changes over the last years.

The following list is my Firefox wish list, changes that I would like to see in the web browser. While some may be the same as yours, others may be completely different as it largely depends on how you are using the browser.

1. Block add-ons and plugins from being installed and activated automatically

I never understood that one. Add-ons and plugins are automatically added and enabled in the browser if they are placed in certain directories on the hard drive. That does not sound like a clever thing to do, and I always wondered why no one bothered to add protection against this in the browser.

A simple check on every start of the browser could be sufficient, asking the user if that new add-on or plugin should be installed and enabled or not. Users could then block those third party apps easily, and would not be left with add-ons and plugins [1] that cannot be uninstalled the usual way.

2. Improve the performance of the web browser

With performance I mean everything. Start up time, memory usage, page loading times. Do not get me wrong, Firefox is not terribly slow, but it lacks behind noticeably when compared to Opera, Google Chrome and even Internet Explorer 9 Beta.

The developers should tackle memory usage problems, and provide options for users to see how many resources extensions, Greasemonkey scripts, tabs, plugins and the browser use.

That way, users will have better control over the browser, with options to disable or remove features that use to many resources. Look at the Chrome Task Manager for pointers.

3. Offer a stable 64-bit edition

The Windows 64-bit edition of Firefox 4 has been put on ice again, and it is not clear if and when a 64-bit edition of the browser will be released.

With almost 50% of the Windows 7 users selecting the 64-bit edition of the operating system, it is time that the developers start to offer a 64-bit edition.

4. Improve the sandbox

Chrome does a lot of things right and one of those is the sandboxing in the browser. Firefox began to use sandboxing as well, but only for plugins at the moment. It would be great if that would be extended to core browser modules, to improve the overall security of the browser. More information here [2].

5. Always offer an option to restore design elements if changes are introduced

The Firefox developers seem to concentrate lots of efforts on improving the browser design wise. Get rid of the status bar and replace it with an add-on bar, add a single button menu link, tabs on top, the on-hover link address in the address bar and not the standard location, new buttons and more.

Lots of changes to digest, that not all users want. Lets take the on-hover links for example. All web browser up to this point, with the exception of the latest Firefox 4 Nightly builds, display link address information in the lower left corner of the screen. Firefox 4 breaks with that, a way that Internet users have grown accustomed to for more than ten years, by adding the link information to the address bar.

What I’m saying, do not make changes that user’s do not want. Or if you make them, give your userbase an option to restore the old way.

Those are my top five things that I’d like to see in Firefox. Have something to add or correct? Let me know in the comments.

© Martin for gHacks Technology News [3], 2010. | Permalink [4] | Add to del.icio.us [5], digg [6], facebook [7], reddit [8], twitter [9]
Post tags: firefox [10], firefox 4 [11], firefox 64-bit [12], firefox development [13]

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