Thoughts on software and life.

Tuesday November 9

Why I Love Firefox

Firefox delights me to no end. After installing 1.0, I just discovered a feature I've wanted forever - in the advanced options I can force links opened from external applications to open in a new tab instead of a new window. No more browser windows scattered all over my desktop after I read my mail. Viva la Fox!

Every release leading up to 1.0 has had some sort of little new feature that is incredibly useful, and yet so inconspicuous. That's why it is difficult to explain to people why Firefox is so great - it really comes down to the whole being greater than the sum. Firefox just doesn't get in your way. It wasn't always this way with Mozilla browsers...

I remember how liberating it was to work on Firefox (then Phoenix) back during the 0.1-0.3 cycles when I was involved. After years of struggling with the design-by-commission mentality of Mozilla and Netscape, we finally got to just do things according to our own judgement. Take the Toolbar Customization feature as an example. At Netscape we spent months talking about this feature, debating ideas, sketching them out, and discussing them with the Mozilla community... and we got absolutely nowhere. Freed from that process, Hyatt, Blake, and myself just went with our gut feelings and implemented the feature in a matter of days. There it was in Phoenix 0.2, working just the way it should. Feature after feature came to life the same way, and likewise, dozens of features were cut. Blake and Hyatt simply had good taste, and everyone who has worked on Firefox since then has channeled their original vision beautifully.

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