Thursday, November 02, 2006

Firefox 2.0 is awesome, but could be better

Soon after Internet Explorer 7.0 was release, Firefox 2.0 was also released. Now both these browsers have tabbed browsing with ability to close tabs without actually activating the tab since they have the little close button on each tab. Firefox has an excellent feature to re-open previous session if it was not closed properly. I discovered how useful and perhaps risky this feature is.

At work I use a windows laptop (yeah I know, it is unlike me, but the tools I need are available only in windows). So I installed firefox 2.0 and liked it a lot. Ever since I used eclipse (the java IDE) with its close button on each tab, I have hoped firefox would do it one day. At that finally happened. Anyway, after installing a certain patch to the windows machine (forced down the throat by corporate update system), the windows machine wanted to restart (so what is new). It gave me 1 min to close all windows. I frantically saved all my work (I usually have a minimum of 10 windows landscaping on my two monitors), and closing window after window, close eclipse, close Visual Studio, close IDEA. There I was, breaking a sweat while the time is ticking, the hard drive thrashing even with the system's 1 GB memory. Finally the computer started to shut down before I was able to close my firefox.

After a reboot, I launched the web browser and it presented me with a dialog box, informing me that firefox did not close properly and asking me whether I wanted to resume previous session or start a new session. Hmm this is exciting, so I clicked restore previous session. Instantly all the previous tabs started opening. What surprised me most is that is automatically logged me into my gmail account and everything looked almost as it did before the dreaded reboot. Although I like that I can continue working from where I left off, I am worried about my gmail opening without questions. I guess the cookie from my previous session was still valid and gmail happily allowed login without user intervention. That is only a minor issue though. However some other sites did not automatically log me in after the restart. Phew...

Another interesting feature I liked a lot is the spell check. Firefox does spell check in any text box on the web page. This is espcially useful for sloppy spellers like me. Now I don't need to run spell checker when typing emails! This is one of the best features.

Other than those goodies, I did not find any more interesting features. The browser got a make over, and the buttons were more vista like. Unfortunately the browser still eats a lot of memory. If I leave it running for a while the memory usage goes as high as 150 MB. Don't know if there is a memory leak. Gone are those days when firefox used to be slim. Firefox always launched slower when compared to IE (which is fine since IE uses shared dlls which are already in memory), and it is becoming slower. Now with the increased memory usage I am worried if I will be tempted to use another light weight browser. But the main reason for me to stick with firefox, is because of its security. It is much better than IE.

I hope with the new features I will be able to pardon some of the short comings of firefox...