Intraplanar.net - Firefox http://intraplanar.net/taxonomy/term/22/0 en Can Safari replace Firefox? http://intraplanar.net/2007/06/can-safari-replace-firefox <p>Much ado has been made about <a href="http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/d7625zs/event/">Steve Job’s presentation</a> at <a href="http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/">WWDC</a> and, specifically, a <a href="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1378/549353790_fe1b911944_o.png">pie chart</a> showing <abbr title="Internet Explorer">IE</abbr> with a market share unaffected by the release of <a href="http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/07/06/11/apple_to_release_safari_browser_for_windows.html">Safari for Windows</a> but with Safari claiming the entirety of the remaining market share. Mozilla COO <a href="http://john.jubjubs.net/2007/06/14/a-pictures-worth-100m-users/">John Lilly suggests, quite understandably, that Apple is intending to gain market share at Firefox's expense</a>. The question is: does Apple understand the target audience and can they deliver on a browser that delivers for that target audience better than Mozilla Firefox does?</p><!--break--> <p><img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1118/549353792_ef59efe867_o.png" alt="pie chart" /></p> <h3>What kind of Firefox user are you?</h3> <p>There are many contributing factors at work when a user consciously chooses a browser. Performance, appearance, stability, compatibility, customizability, familiarity, ease of use, and freedom of use are just a few. Obviously, every user has different priorities and those whose priorities are aligned with factors which are not a strength of Firefox may be easily convinced to try a different browser. Fortunately, Firefox is strong in almost every area which accounts for its rising number of users. Furthermore, I would argue that its greatest strength, freedom of use, makes Firefox (not IE) the unbeatable contender.</p> <p>What exactly do I mean by freedom of use though? Am I referring to the fact that anyone can download the <a href="http://www.mozilla.org/source.html">source code</a>, make changes to it, and use or even redistribute the modified browser? Or do I mean that anyone can create and publish an <a href="https://addons.mozilla.org/">extension</a> which adds compelling features to the interface so that even non-geeks have access to the same powerful tools? Perhaps I am referring to the fact that Firefox allows anyone to use and customize the web however they choose by creating <a href="http://userstyles.org/">user stylesheets</a> (e.g., change the colors or add new buttons in Gmail), <a href="http://userscripts.org">user scripts</a>, or control which websites can save cookies and execute script? Maybe I mean that Firefox runs on every operating system that I might need to use a browser on? Well, yeah, I mean all of that and then some. Mozilla Firefox doesn't simply grant the freedom to use the browser the way you want to. Thanks to a large community of users and contributors that value freedom, Firefox gives you the tools to use the web your way.</p> <p>Of course there are Firefox users who have minimal need to customize their usage of the web. There are certainly those who value a shiny new visual style. Display of fonts is certainly a factor (<a href="http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/06/12.html">one which might work against Safari on Windows</a>).</p> <p>So, what kind of Firefox user are you? More importantly, for Apple, how many Firefox users are willing to sacrifice freedom for the latest variation of brushed steel? My guess is that there are far fewer than Apple will need to realize the infamous pie chart. I expect there are a larger number in the IE user-base. It seems unlikely that Apple does not realize this. Perhaps Job's pie-chart was merely a ruse intended to keep Microsoft from becoming overly alarmed?</p> http://intraplanar.net/2007/06/can-safari-replace-firefox#comments Firefox http://intraplanar.net/comments/node/98/feed Fri, 22 Jun 2007 20:18:22 -0500 tangent 98 at http://intraplanar.net Website identification in Firefox 3 http://intraplanar.net/2007/06/website-identification-firefox-3 <p><a href="http://blog.johnath.com/index.php/2007/06/04/will-firefox-have-a-green-bar/">Johnathan Nightingale recently presented his work on making website identity more transparent (and less confusing) for Firefox users</a>. I downloaded <a href="https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4983">his prototype extension</a> to see for myself exactly where he was headed and I ended up becoming much more interested in his project.</p> <h3>The "Identity Feedback" extension</h3> <p><img src="/files/identity_feedback_0.6.1_ui.png" alt="screen-shot showing the website identity info in the toolbar adjacent to the URL bar" align="right"/>I love that Jonathan's extension displays the identity of the <abbr title="secure sockets layer">SSL</abbr> certificate owner in the user-interface (it appears to the left of the urlbar in v0.6.1 of the extension but that isn't pertinent here) and that it allows for easy viewing of additional details. However, I think there are some significant issues with the current implementation (which may have changed since then but I will proceed as if the implementation I discuss were the final design).</p> <ol type="1"> <li>Placing the website identity in the toolbar as a <abbr title="user-interface">UI</abbr> element creates a situation where the identity label will resize depending on the current site which causes the entire toolbar to shift around when the user changes tabs or visits another site.</li> <li>Displaying a "greyed out" icon (currently also displaying the text "Unknown identity") for unencrypted URIs, which are the most common, is likely to confuse less sophisticated users into thinking every website is suspicious and is wasteful of toolbar space.</li> <li>Placing the website identity outside of the urlbar blurs the association with the address, and therefore the site, being visited. An icon or label should be placed as close as possible to what it is associated with.</li> </ol> <p>After realizing the above I came to the conclusion that site identity is best placed inside the urlbar. This would eliminate toolbar shifting and make its relation to the address unmistakable. It would also result in less space for the <abbr title="uniform resource identifier">URI</abbr> but for most users it is likely that the only part of the address which is generally relevant is the domain. With this in mind I started modifying the extension to try out some variations on icon and identity name placement.</p> <ol type="1" style="overflow:auto"> <li><img src="/files/concept1.png" alt="white urlbar with green identity label and Larry icon on the right" style="vertical-align:top" /><p>In this concept I created a less detailed "Larry" icon hoping that it would be easier to identify at a low scale. I also removed the "secure" background color from the entire urlbar and applied it only to the site identity label and icon. I was not impressed with my efforts on the icon though and found that the graphic more closely resembles the statue of liberty than a customs agent.<p></li> <li style="margin-top:0.5em"><img src="/files/concept2.png" alt="white urlbar with green identity label and lock icon on the right" style="vertical-align:top" /><p>In this concept I decided to revert to the lock icon. I found this more intuitive, easy to identify, and familiar than the Larry icon and stuck with it for the rest of my tests.</p></li> <li style="margin-top:0.5em"><img src="/files/concept3.png" alt="white urlbar with green identity label and lock icon preceding the label" style="vertical-align:top" /><p>In this concept I obviously experimented with icon placement. I noted that IE7 places the lock icon before the identity label but because Firefox also places a feed icon in that position it detracts from the visibility of the lock icon.</p></li> <li style="margin-top:0.5em"><img src="/files/concept4.png" alt="green urlbar with label and lock icon on the right lacking a border" style="vertical-align:top" /><p>In this concept I tried coloring the entire urlbar green, as IE7 does.</p></li> <li style="margin-top:0.5em"><img src="/files/concept5.png" alt="yellow urlbar with label and lock icon on the right lacking a border" style="vertical-align:top" /><p>In this concept I reverted the urlbar background color to the current yellow.</p></li> <li style="margin-top:0.5em"><img src="/files/concept2b.png" alt="concept 2 and showing the identity details popup" style="vertical-align:top" /><p>This is concept 2 with the identity details popup shown.</p></li> <li style="margin-top:0.5em"><img src="/files/concept5b.png" alt="concept 5 and showing the identity details popup" style="vertical-align:top" /><p>This is concept 5 with the identity details popup shown.</p></li> </ol> <p>I have been using the extension for a few days now using concept 2 and I am pretty satisfied with that implementation. I believe that coloring only the label and leaving the rest of the urlbar white called more attention to the identity and secure icon than does coloring the entire urlbar. I also find the green background more pleasing to look at than the current yellow. It also would result in consistency with the colors used in IE7 even though that isn't a critical factor.</p> <h3>Website identity in Firefox 3.0</h3> <p>Jonathan's idea of logoizing website identity with "Larry" the customs agent isn't a bad one. However, based on my experiments above I would argue that there are more disadvantages than advantages to changing to the proposed graphic from the lock icon.</p> <p>If the "Larry" icon replaced the lock icon then it would be implied that "Larry" represents a secure connection as well as representing site identity. I'm sure more discussion and thought about this will result in a clearer definition of how these concepts should be presented to the user. As encryption is currently understood though, I think that replacing the lock icon with something which represents something only loosely related (for a layman) could prove to be a step backwards for usability. Furthermore, the icon isn't really recognizable at a scale suitable for a toolbar element.</p> <p>However, I don't see any reason why the "Larry" graphic might not be used in the identity details popup but omitted from the popup button. It's a fine idea when applied to the applicable information.</p> http://intraplanar.net/2007/06/website-identification-firefox-3#comments Firefox http://intraplanar.net/comments/node/97/feed Thu, 21 Jun 2007 12:54:28 -0500 tangent 97 at http://intraplanar.net Bookmarklets in Firefox http://intraplanar.net/2007/06/bookmarklets-firefox <p>Firefox <a href="https://addons.mozilla.org/">extensions</a> are great for adding significant functionality to the browser but for simpler features that can be provided with a simple <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bookmarklet">bookmarklet</a> I prefer not to use an extension. The reason is that every extension adds more code and memory consumption which slows down your browser more and more. However, many bookmarklets are unable to open a new tab or window in their published form.</p> <p>For example, I used to use the <a href="http://del.icio.us/help/firefox/extension">Del.icio.us Firefox extension</a> back in Firefox 1.5 but I dislike how significantly the current version of the extension changes the bookmarks <abbr title="user interface">UI</abbr> so I no longer use it. <a href="http://del.icio.us/">Del.icio.us</a> also offers a couple of <a href="http://del.icio.us/help/buttons">bookmarklets</a> which allow you to tag a URL without the extension so that's what I now use.</p> <p>My only issue with the bookmarklet is that it doesn't open a new window so that you can quickly type your tags, close the window, and get back to what you were doing. Instead, it loads the tagging page in the current tab forcing you click the browser back button a couple of times to get back to what you were doing. To resolve this issue I modified the bookmarklet to open a new tab instead of loading in the current tab.</p> <p>All that's required is to change the <code>location.href=''</code> to <code>var w=window.open()</code>.</p> <p>My Del.icio.us bookmarklet: <a href="javascript:var w=window.open('http://del.icio.us/post?v=4;url='+encodeURIComponent(location.href));">Tag this page</a></p> <p>I ran into this issue again with <a href="http://www.google.com/translate_buttons?hl=en">Google's translation bookmarklets</a>. In this case, the bookmarklets are a bit more sophisticated to work with a variety of browsers which behave differently. Modifying these bookmarklets to open in a new tab had the added benefit of removing a lot of unnecessary (for Firefox) code. <p>This Google Translate bookmarklet will open a new tab with a translation of <em>either</em> the currently selected text or the current URL. <ul> <li><a href="javascript:var from='fr';var to='en';if(document.getSelection()){if(window.open('http://translate.google.com/translate_t?text='+document.getSelection()+'&hl='+to+'&langpair='+from+'|'+to+'&tbb=1&ie='+document.characterSet)){};}else{if(window.open('http://translate.google.com/translate?u='+escape(location.href)+'&hl='+to+'&langpair='+from+'|'+to+'&tbb=1&ie='+document.characterSet)){};}">French to English</a></li> <li><a href="javascript:var from='es';var to='en';if(document.getSelection()){if(window.open('http://translate.google.com/translate_t?text='+document.getSelection()+'&hl='+to+'&langpair='+from+'|'+to+'&tbb=1&ie='+document.characterSet)){};}else{if(window.open('http://translate.google.com/translate?u='+escape(location.href)+'&hl='+to+'&langpair='+from+'|'+to+'&tbb=1&ie='+document.characterSet)){};}">Spanish to English</a></li> <li><a href="javascript:var from='de';var to='en';if(document.getSelection()){if(window.open('http://translate.google.com/translate_t?text='+document.getSelection()+'&hl='+to+'&langpair='+from+'|'+to+'&tbb=1&ie='+document.characterSet)){};}else{if(window.open('http://translate.google.com/translate?u='+escape(location.href)+'&hl='+to+'&langpair='+from+'|'+to+'&tbb=1&ie='+document.characterSet)){};}">German to English</a></li> <li><a href="javascript:var from='en';var to='fr';if(document.getSelection()){if(window.open('http://translate.google.com/translate_t?text='+document.getSelection()+'&hl='+to+'&langpair='+from+'|'+to+'&tbb=1&ie='+document.characterSet)){};}else{if(window.open('http://translate.google.com/translate?u='+escape(location.href)+'&hl='+to+'&langpair='+from+'|'+to+'&tbb=1&ie='+document.characterSet)){};}">Anglais au Français</a></li> </ul> </p> <p>To create bookmarklets for other languages, just modify the <code>from</code> and <code>to</code> variables with the desired language identifier.</p> <h3>Usage</h3> <p>The way I use these bookmarklets is by creating a folder in my Firefox bookmarks toolbar (e.g., "Translate") and placing them there. That way, I can translate any language (for which I've created a bookmarklet) as easily as if it were a Firefox menu option.</p> http://intraplanar.net/2007/06/bookmarklets-firefox#comments Firefox http://intraplanar.net/comments/node/96/feed Wed, 20 Jun 2007 17:28:45 -0500 tangent 96 at http://intraplanar.net Tabbed browsing comes of age http://intraplanar.net/2004/10/tabbed-browsing-comes-age <p>It looks like tabbed browsing will finally get the usability boost it needs in Firefox 1.0. A recent check-in adds the needed ability to open links from either a webpage or from an external application in a new tab instead of in a new window.</p> <p>I can finally feel good about not working on the <a href="/project/tabprefs/" rel="nofollow">Tabbrowser Preferences extension</a>. I had hoped this functionality would be added eventually anyway.</p> http://intraplanar.net/2004/10/tabbed-browsing-comes-age#comments Firefox http://intraplanar.net/comments/node/45/feed Sat, 02 Oct 2004 12:53:43 -0500 tangent 45 at http://intraplanar.net Preaching security to banks http://intraplanar.net/2004/08/preaching-security-banks <p>I feel somewhat lucky in that my bank supports, to some extent, browsers other than MSIE. My one complaint is that printing in any other browser sucks.</p> <p>There is a "print" feature offered following transactions (e.g., bill payments, transfers) that prints a nice transaction report. Attempting to use this feature in <a href="http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/">Mozilla Firefox</a> or any other Mozilla browser may cause it to hang or at best simply leave you with a bad print job in your print spooler. Printing the entire webpage works of course, but I end up with a lot of garbage on multiple pages which I would prefer to avoid. Because of this small issue I usually just switch to IE for my online banking. No More!</p> <p>So I submitted a message on the customer service page (for the second time, the first time being over a year ago) requesting that they fix the print feature so that it works in Mozilla based browsers. I got a predictable response about their service not having been tested with Firefox but that I should not worry about their service being insecure even with this browser. I simply had to respond to this statement.</p> <p>Here is my response, which I am posting on the off chance that the links I reference may be of use to others requesting support for an alternative browser from their bank.</p> <blockquote> <p>Thank you for taking time to respond to my message.</p> <p>Please be aware that I have very little concern about the security of Easyweb when using Firefox. In fact, I would be far more worried if I were using Microsoft Internet Explorer given the fact that it has a large number of exploitable security vulnerabilities which Firefox does not suffer from.</p> <p>Secunia.com, a security tracking website which US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team; <a href="http://www.us-cert.gov/">http://www.us-cert.gov/</a>) refers to, lists 18 currently unpatched security vulnerabilities in the latest version of Internet Explorer, one or more of which are "Extremely critical" in nature.</p> <p><a href="http://secunia.com/product/11/">http://secunia.com/product/11/</a></p> <p>This USA Today article, published in July 2004, describes how Internet Explorer was exploited to capture and transmit login credentials to another website whenever the user went to one of 50 targeted financial institutions.</p> <p><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2004-07-01-cyber-threat_x.htm">http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2004-07-01-cyber-threat_x.htm</a></p> <p>Here is a quote from the article: "A Citibank spokesman says the bank, with 2 million online users, took steps to protect its Microsoft Web servers several weeks ago. However, the only thing banks can do to stop the most recent kind of attack is recommend that customers stop using Internet Explorer, says Joe Stewart, a researcher at security firm Lurhq."</p> <p>I apologize for having to point out these facts since it is your job (or at least the job of someone in your organization) to know this and perhaps you already do. I also regret the need to defend my choice of web browser but it seems I have little choice.</p> <p>Regarding the "print" function, the browser compatibility list you give below shows Netscape Communicator 7.0 as a supported browser. This is a Mozilla based browser (any Netscape product newer then 4.x is) which means that if your print function works in Netscape Communicator 7.0 then it should work in any other Mozilla browser like Firefox. I believe I tested the feature using Netscape 7.0 over a year ago though and found that it didn't work. I have a feeling that it still doesn't but I have no desire to install it just to find out. I hope that you will follow up to confirm this yourself.</p> <p>My enhancement request would be that you add Mozilla Firefox to your list of supported browsers since it is functionally equivalent to Netscape Communicator 7.0 from a web application development perspective. I hope you will give this request the attention it deserves in light of Internet Explorer's deficiencies.</p> <p>Cheers, Chris</p> </blockquote> http://intraplanar.net/2004/08/preaching-security-banks#comments Firefox http://intraplanar.net/comments/node/13/feed Mon, 30 Aug 2004 21:13:09 -0500 tangent 13 at http://intraplanar.net