Firefox 3.5 Mini-Review


Mozilla Firefox 3.5 is the latest version of the open source project originally spun off of the Netscape browser. Its latest incarnation features private surfing, better history handling, a number of web standards display features, speed improvements and a tweaked icon.

With 3.7 already on the way, Firefox 3.5 may prove to be a short-lived pleasure. But it is a pleasure, nonetheless. 3.5 feels faster, especially in JavaScript heavy applications such as Gmail or Calendar. The new features are all nice additions even though they simply feel like incremental improvements to a good product (which is fine). The two features that matter the most these days, however, are memory handling and webpage rendering, both areas wherein 3.5 improves over 3.0. With CSS drop shadows and inset styles, it certainly feels like its catched up to the competition (Safari, Chrome, Opera).

The icon, originally designed by Jon Hicks, got an update. It’s now more glossy, and updated by the Icon Factory. Pity. I like Jon.

When it comes to speed, the browser certainly feels both faster and lighter. Yet somehow, now that I’ve tasted how fast a browser can be (Chrome, Safari), Firefox falls short. It still takes a long while to launch the browser. It’s bulky to open lots of tabs and when they’re finally open, the whole thing slows down and if (this is rare, fortunately) one tab crashes, all tabs crash. Oddly, even closing the browser takes a while; closing the browser and starting a new one immediately after will tell you that Firefox is already running.

Back when it was Firefox versus Internet Explorer, things were simpler — and not only because IE was the worst browser in the history of everything — no, Firefox was the open source, extensible browser that took on the giant. It was David vs. Goliath, and David had a chance. We rooted for the browser, and overlooked the few issues there were, because after all, it was still parsecs ahead of IE. Things have changed, and I’m almost sorry they have. Out there is Chrome, which through Chromium is also open source. Chrome has better speed and memory handling. It’s got Google behind it, and soon it has extensions. At some point, the only thing keeping me on Firefox will be the icon, which isn’t even the sole product of someone I know any more. It’ll be a tearful goodbye.

2 thoughts on “Firefox 3.5 Mini-Review”

  1. Jeff says:

    I switched to Chrome when it came out around FF3.0 time. The speed was simply too much of an advantage over FF.

    However, now that I am doing lots of dev again, and now that FF3.5 doesn’t eat up 1GB of ram if I leave it open overnight, I’ve at least got both open now. I still do most my “regular” browsing in Chrome, but FF still wins hands down when deving — between Web Developer plugin and Firebug, there’s just no competing.

    Hoepfully FF team can get it up to the same “perky” speed Chrome has!

    1. Joen says:

      With regards to web development, I completely agree, Firefox is the place to be, and not only because of the extension architecture which chrome is bound to get — also such a little thing as “View selection source”. I use that ALL the time.

      So yeah, I’d like to see FF perk up the speed!

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