Warning: The following blog post is about internet browsers. If you’re bored already I suggest you don’t read further, the boredom will only get worse, possibly to the point of causing dancing monkey hallucinations. Read this post about earthquakes instead, it’s a whole lot more interesting.
I’ve been a loyal Firefox (FF) user for the last couple of years. It left Internet Explorer (IE) for dead and I never looked back (unless I had to test a website in IE (*cringe*), but in those cases I often used the IE plugin in FF).
But in the last month, my install of FF had become sluggish and was even refusing to load up my Gmail, so I decided it was high time I gave Chrome a fair shake of the dice to see how it stacked up compared with FF (IE didn’t come into it – even IE9 is not doing anything for me, maybe there’s just too many bad memories caused by IE6). So I switched to my install of Chrome and clicked that ‘make Chrome my default browser’ button, you know, the button that makes the other browsers cry themselves to sleep (but I thought I was your bestie?!?).
After using Chrome solidly for two weeks, I’ve gone back to Firefox. Let me tell you why.
- No Google Toolbar – This sounds ironic doesn’t it. A browser built by Google has no Google Toolbar. Of course, the technorati tell us that the whole browser is a Google Toolbar. Sorry, that doesn’t work for me. For one thing, search suggest doesn’t work in the address bar, even though I have suggestions turned on. And Google Toolbar buttons are actually really useful, something not available in Chrome. It allows me to do some specific searches (e.g. site, images, country or even YouTube) so that was another strike against Chrome.
- No master password – I know Google developers will argue against this one (they have categorically stated that they will not be introducing this feature – ever. End of story.) because apparently it flies in the face of internet security but for me, I can’t live without it. When you have as many logins as I do, it’s simply a must-have. There is a Chrome plugin called LastPass that I used during my test period, and while it works well (except when it can’t access the LastPass server) I just don’t feel comfortable having a relatively unknown third-party storing my precious passwords (although I was quite liking the auto-login feature).
- Memory hog – I know Chrome is meant to be touted as a lean, mean machine that has stripped itself of all unnecessary baggage to be as fast as possible, in my experience, Chrome sessions would stay open even after they were closed, meaning by the end of the day it was as slow as any other browser.
- No FTP client – In my line of work I use FTP a lot so that was one of the first add-ons I looked for. Sadly there was nothing that comes even close to FireFTP, the feature-rich FTP add-on for FF. I ended up having to go back to using CuteFTP, which was less than ideal.
- New tab always shows page suggestions – Ok it’s a nice feature but sometimes I just want to be able to open a blank tab not wait for Chrome to calculate my most visited pages and display those, and I couldn’t find any way to change that. This leads me to my other gripe – a lack of options. I know Chrome is trying to be lean but some of us like to have access to a bunch of switches and settings to experiment and customize with. Even the Options right-click on the taskbar button in Chrome was hard to find!
- Poor web developer support – This is one for web developers. Sure Chrome has the right-click Inspect Element option but it doesn’t hold a candle to FF Web Developer add-on, which provides a much more comprehensive tool for designers and developers, or anyone else who wants to look under the hood of a website. I dare say IE’s developer add-on is actually better than Chromes (sorry, did I say that out loud?).
In my opinion, Chrome is still lagging behind FF and could be for some time. It would probably take a big Microsoft-style faux pas on Mozilla’s part (no HTML5 support?) to lose ground to Chrome. Google’s only hope is to forge an OEM deal that ships Chrome as pre-installed with Google OS. But after the whole anti-trust thing, I can’t see that ever happening. In Chrome’s favour I did like the resizable text area fields – I will miss them.
So under the circumstances, I’ve changed back to FF (which I had completely uninstalled and done a fresh install because it had got really sluggish and had stopped loading Google.com – intentional?).
Sorry Firefox for leaving you for those two weeks but I’ve learned my lesson – are we all good?