Firefox goes ChromeRodney 11 comments
You used to care about me. You used to care how I was feeling. You didn't even need me to tell you; you always just knew. But now, something is wrong in our relationship. And it's breaking my heart. I hope it's not too late for us.
So what the hell am I on about?
Firefox. I love it. It's the only browser that feels "just the way it should", when I am using it. But every day it's getting harder and harder to use.
I recently wrote about the severe memory leaks in Firefox 3.6 which make it essentially unusable for sustained heavy use and have tried everything I can find to alleviate the problem, however nothing has worked. In my desperation, I have begun to use Google's Chrome browser but it just isn't right. The spell check doesn't work anywhere near as well as Firefox's, for starters (in many pages it doesn't work at all). I hate the menu system and I miss all my add-ons; especially smart bookmarks and my web developer ones.
Let's not even go to what the hell Internet Explorer 8 is like.
So tonight I decided to see how far away the next major release of Firefox is, hoping it would be any day now... and I am not liking what I am seeing.
It seems the next major release of Firefox will be inspired by Google Chrome. A sleeker, newer menu system now adorns the top of the browser and the old fuddy duddy "file", "edit", "tools" system is gone.
Well call me old fashioned but I like those old style menus! I've had 15 years of getting used to them and I'm pretty partial to them, thanks very much! I am very used to "file" and "tools" and hotkeys that go somewhere. I think one of the universal complaints about Microsoft's Office 2007 is that, for quite some time after switching to it, no one can find anything in the menus. It's one of the things I hate about Google's Chrome - when I want to check a setting I don't intuitively know where to go.
As these screen shots show, the new Firefox release (still a work in progress) has very much stolen it's queues from Chrome's look and feel.
As you can see, the menu system is now much more similar to Chrome (in that it's freakin' outright missing!).
Ok, I understand why they do it. This minimalist approach is very popular now and allows developers and designers to use more of "their canvas" and provide more features, while compressing rarely used items like "connection settings" deeper into the recesses of a single menu root (which we can see in the top left, in a sort of orangish button). For many users, this is not a problem.
However for those of us who have developed a strong familiarity with the old menu system, it's a total PITA. Much like Word or Excel 2007, where I often find myself pressing old key combinations (like alt-i-b to add a page break), I fear I will be frustrated when some completely unexpected menu option pops up.
I'm sure I'm not alone.
I do understand the need to be fresh and exciting. I even enjoy it. But I also like things to not fundamentally change for no good reason. I don't see the need to continuously dumb everything down, to make it more accessible, when people who struggled with Word 2003 still struggle with Word 2007.
So for now I am leaving my mind (and heart) open to you, Firefox. I am hoping you will surprise me and make me smile, once more (and fixing that damn memory leak will be a great start). Because if you fail me now, I have nowhere else to go.