Firefox 1.0

Friday, November 12th, 2004 @ 1:20 am | Mac

In his Question of Two Days Ago, Erik Barzeski asked if we, the readers, cared about Firefox.

My answer is Yes.

95%+ of the time I’m browsing the Web, I’m using Safari or some other WebKit-derived browsing interface. However, there are certain sites I regularly visit which Safari doesn’t seem to enjoy.

When I first started using Gmail, the experience with Safari wasn’t all that good, so I downloaded Firefox and set Gmail as my homepage. Click the Firefox icon and pops up my email. The Gmail/Safari experience has improved since then, but it’s still not perfect — I still have problems with access keys from time to time — so I’ve stuck with Firefox.

Another problematic site is the Doxygen server we run at my office. Safari apparently doesn’t like the pages we construct and it really bogs down whenever I try to load a class definition. Firefox handles the pages like a champ.

Actually, I like to use Firefox for most, if not all, of my documentation viewing needs. Why? Automatic Finding.

Now, I don’t know if Automatic Finding is the real name of the feature, but that how I think of it. Basically, when I start typing, Firefox does an incremental search of the current page while keeping the keyboard focus on the browser window, not the Find bar. If I’m looking for a link, I just hit Return once Firefox matches it and the new web page loads. Alternatively, Command-Return loads the page in a new tab. This is such a timesaver when I’m trying to find out information about a the implementation of method X() in subclass Y.

For a while, I think this functionality was broken. When I would start an incremental search, I would lose the ability to open a link by hitting the Return key — it appeared that the Find bar had claimed the keyboard focus. Also, Firefox would interpret my Gmail access keys as a requests to do an incremental search. Suffice it to say, these problems severely decreased the usefulness of Automatic Finding. It was with great sadness (OK, minor disappointment) that I was forced to deselect the “Begin finding when you begin typing” option in the preferences (see, doesn’t Automatic Finding sound so much better?).

Now, though, my little productivity enhancer is back in working order, this maintaining Firefox’s place in my Internet toolbelt.

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