Why I'm a Firefox evangelist, and how you can become oneMikey 18 comments
I have a confession to make, one that I'm not proud to admit. When I first started using Firefox over a year ago, I didn't like it. Seriously.
But given my line of work, I had no choice but to at least include it for web testing in my daily work flow. So after less than one working week or semi regular use, I suddenly realised what my colleagues had been raving about. Firefox was amazing, and not just from a web development point of view. The moral here is that given just a few days perseverance I had gone from one extreme to another - Firefox loather to Firefox evangelist.
From a regular user's point of view, Firefox has so much more to offer than Internet Explorer, and it's faster and it's free. Even the upcoming Internet Explorer 8 (which I use in a virtual environment) cannot come close to mimicking Firefox, and I use that term deliberately because that's precisely what Microsoft have tried to do - and that's probably a smart move on their part. But because Microsoft won't open it up to developers, Internet Explorer will always - and I repeat - ALWAYS - lag behind Firefox is terms of features and performance. Microsoft knows this, so expect to be assaulted by a heavy propaganda marketing campaign when IE8's launch day gets closer. Don't be fooled by it.
"The moral here is that given just a few days perseverance I had gone from one extreme to another - Firefox loather to Firefox evangelist"
In my line of work I get to ask a lot of people why the use Internet Explorer and the answer is always the same variation of "Because it's there" or "Because it came with Windows". And that's a valid reason to start using it. But consider this for a moment. If you only ever use the tools and applications that come with Windows, you will always be using tools that are designed to do the minimum job requirement. You could argue that Microsoft are required to do this by law as part of an Anti-trust agreement, which basically means they are only allowed to make their software ‘just good enough' so as to not rub their competition out of the market. Or you could argue that Microsoft are just lagging behind.
Internet Explorer 6 is perfect example of software designed to do the bare minimum, which made it too easy for Mozilla to wipe the floor with it when they released Firefox.
Back on track now. What makes it so fricking fantastic? There are plenty of tech web sites out there that will give you the technical reasons (speed, security, resources etc.) but here are just a few or my personal reasons that you can probably identify with.
Firefox is free
There's no need to explain why that's important.
Firefox is easy to use
If you know how to use Internet Explorer, then you already know how to use Firefox.
Firefox has an open source plug-in architecture
That means there are loads of add-ons available, and they are free. When I say loads I am not kidding.
There are even heaps of plug-ins designed to integrate with your favourite social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace. Once you start using them you will wonder how you ever got by before.
Plug-ins I use for general use:
- BugMeNot: Logs you into web sites that normally require an account to get in.
- DownloadThemAll: As the name suggests, finds all downloadable files on a page and downloads them all in a single click.
- IETab: Opens a new tab using the Internet Explorer rendering engine, so you can view those web pages that have been made by lazy-arse web developers who still think IE is the only browser on the market.
- MenuEditor: Lets me customise all my Firefox context menus so I have access to what I want quickly.
- DownloadHelper: Lets me download and save any movie on any video site: Youtube, Google video, Break etc.
- Supershot: Takes a screenshot of the entire page or visible area with a single click.
- Greasmonkey: Extends Firefox even further with even more customisations.
- StumbleUpon Toolbar: Makes stumbling easy and fun.
Plug-ins I use for professional use:
- Web Developer Toolbar: Adds a menu and a toolbar with various web developer tools. Makes my job that much easier.
- HTML Validator: Lets me know when I violate W3C web standards.
- Firebug: Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse.
Firefox has built-in spell checking
Never post a comment that resembles a grammatical tornado again
Firefox has a portable version
Download the Portable version of Firefox and run it from a thumbdrive. All your plugins will work as expected, and you don't even need install Firefox. Great for browsing without leaving any footprints.
And one thing you probably didn't know about Firefox, is it imports all your Internet Explorer favourites to make the transition as smooth as possible.
I am even going to make it easy for you if you are interested in trying Firefox. If you have any questions or something about it isn't working as expected, post your problems here and I will walk you through it.
Let me leave you with this. It's one of the entries from the Firefox Flick TV commercial competition from a couple of years back that still puts a smile on my face. Happy browsing.