While I write a lot about Pro Audio I do actually spend a considerable amount of time as a web developer (php/Laravel, front end responsive design and object orientated js). Historically I’ve used Firefox as my main browser. I’ve stuck with Firefox over Chrome and other alternatives because:
- Firefox has been highly customizable to the point where you could easily change how the browser look and functioned
- Firefox has had a huge number of plugins available the likes of no other browser comes even close to
- Firefox’s debug tools have been historically verry good well thought out
Even when most of my web development friends moved on to Chrome I stuck it out with Firefox because in my opinion it had better debug tools and was most of the time ahead in the HTML 5 rollout race.
In the past, every time I looked at swapping to a different browser I always came back to using Firefox. Having said that there are enough things wrong with Firefox now that I can’t justify using it as my main browser any more.
Australis - Denying the Inevitable
The first issue I had was with the introduction Australis interface.
The first problem I had wit Australis is that it’s just ugly. It looks like something you might have seen in Windows XP or Vista. If I’m going to be staring at something all day it better look good.
The curved tabs in the Australis UI design takes up soooooooo much space over old square tabs. So much so that you that lose a tab or two of space horizontally. The combination of the padding around the text and the curve edges wastes so much space. This isn’t an issue if you only have a few tabs open but at about 12am; on an average day, I have 15-20 tabs open with various bits of documentation.
With Australis came the new Firefox menu. The old Firefox menu has been their almost as long as I’ve been using Firefox (at the time). It was a huge pain to relearn where everything was hidden away in the new menu.
On the plus side, I could live with these issues because of a plugin called Classic Theme Restorer. This plugin allowed me to switch everything back to how I wanted it to look. It even allowed me to use the old and new menu side by side while I had figured out where everything was in the new menu.
Build 57 – Why You no have API Features
And all was good in the world; of my Firefox use, until Mozilla announced they would be replacing the old plugin API with a new one. This new plugin API lacks the funcanality that Classic Theme Restorer needs to be ported over to the new API.
Now this change doesn’t take effect until the launch of build 57 in November 2017. While build 57 appears to have returned to the square tabs it does appear to have another new menu layout. So again, I’m going to have to re-lean where everything is without the safety net of the older menu.
Realistically if I’m going to be forced to have relearn the interface and have to put up with a lack of plugins than I might as well see what other browsers have to offer.
Build 55 – You’ve Failed Me for the Last Time
The final nail in the coffin was the removal of preview pane in the debugger’s network tab. This critical tool is necessary for ajax debugging. I use ajax a lot to make php based websites behave and feel more like web apps. Php and most frameworks return HTML formatted stack traces which are normally rendered nicely in the preview pane.
I came across the preview issue in the middle of a project. One morning, all of a sudden, the tool I need the most was gone; without a deprecation warning. Now the people behind the preview removal are putting it back however the feature won’t return (in any form) until build 57 (which launch is 3 months away).
So, I begrudgingly swapped over to Chrome; which at least I’m somewhat familiar with as I’ve used its debug tools for browser validation (making sure HTML/js/CSS work in Chrome) and debugging electron apps (which has the same debug tools as Chrome).
Life after Build 57
So, will I be going back to Firefox when build 57 is released? Well it depends on how the preview pane is re-implemented and how the new, new UI experience is. I’m still hesitant to go back to Firefox because a feature I and many others rely on was just removed without any consideration for php/ajax developers. What else might they remove that I need for web development?
After I finish my current project I’m going to see what; Chromium based browsers and new browser players like Vivid, Maxthon, Brave, etc. have to offer.
Zach Radloff lives on the Gold Coast. He is studying IT and Multimedia at university and is a qualified Live Production, Theatre and Events Technician.
Zach Radloff's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/zach-radloff.html