Monday, October 10, 2005

Firefox 1.5 beta 2 review (and existential ranting)

Okay, i haven't been writing much here lately. Skip the next few paragraphs if you don't like existential rambling.

Yeah, whatever. I have school (18 credits? What was i thinking! Oh wait, i know: "I'll just drop one of these and then i'll be down to something more reasonable". Note to self: "effects on sanity" has not, typically, been a factor in my decision-making process...) and i've been sick and stuff.

Plus, really, the stuff i've been blogging about recently (politics, politics, and oh yeah: also more politics!) has been sort of burning me out. (See: outrage fatigue) and even though it looks like some of the punk-asses are going to get at least some jail time (even if it's Martha Stewart "It's like I'm back in college!"-style jail time--as opposed to "Meet Jake. He murdered five people with his penis; he weighs 350 pounds, a surprising amount of that is muscle, and he's your new cell-mate." jail time) it's still pretty shrug-your-shoulders unexciting. The House, Senate, and White House are all under separate, though thematically related, investigations for illegal wrong-doing. Each has the potential to end some sick bastard's carreer--possibly, though very very unlikely, someone's life in the last case; of course, the death penalty "is for little people" who are very much unlike the ones involved here.

It's all very nice, but what more can i say? Not much. Commenting on the mechanical procedures--although fascinating to me--has never really been my "thing" and there's not really anything else here to say. Republicans still suck, mmm'kay?


Skip to here, yo!

Okay: so i downloaded Firefox 1.5 beta 2 about an hour or two ago. It's very nice. Except for one problem. One problem that has plagued Firefox since forever. Perhaps you can tell what it is:

A Fatal Flaw

What do you mean "That's the way it's supposed to look!"? It's missing something. Something vital. See if you can spot it in this "corrected" version i made:

A Flaw Corrected (By Shapeshifter)

See it? Firefox needs--and has needed, as i noted, since forever--the ability to add an action from that dialog. I don't care if the adding is a bit advanced. It's gotta be there.

One bug that has plagued Firefox--at least, for me--is that when you click the "Always perform this action" option on the save options dialog (which, as i understand it, should add an action to the dialog i'm complaining about) it doesn't always work right. That's actually the real problem, but lacking an "add action" button also breaks the interface's intuitiveness: you have to go find a file to download to add an action, but you have to open up the dialog to remove or change one; these are two sides of the same coin and really, IMO, should be findable in the same window at least somewhere inside the browser.

So it's broken. It can't be that hard to fix (both making sure that "always" means "always" and also keeping the interface congruent) but nobody has done it.

There's another problem, although i fear i'm getting into the Holy Wars with this one, in the new save/open file dialog. Or at least there is in Linux. Actually, the problem is the dialog. They switched it from the one i like (the old Firefox) to the one i absolutely abhor (the new Firefox). For comparison:

The good dialog...
The Good Dialog

The stupid dialog...
The Stupid Dialog

Of course, the real difference between the two--or rather, the part in the so-called "stupid dialog" that i really detest--can't be seen. And, i must add, other than this one fatal flaw i really do like the stupid one better. It's just that this one flaw is a dealbreaker.

In the good dialog box i can type in whatever i want to find and it'll try to find a file in the current directory that has a name fitting that. For someone like me (i have over 200 files in my "home" directory) that is vital. Without that i end up scrolling through absolutely tons of files. I know i could organize my stuff more strictly, but there's really no sensible hierarchy that sticks out and so they all sort of get thrown together. It works when i can search it quickly by filename--like i can in the good dialog box--but does not work so much when i have to scroll through a list and manually pick out the one i want.

In other words: it takes a long time to do something really simple. Even with reasonably-sized directories it still takes me a significant amount of time more to work with them when i can't type things.

Now, there's probably more to this than i realize (and i don't just mean the justification for switching) but--here's the real thing--i don't really care. You see: i like the first dialog because it's easy to do stuff. I dislike the second because it isn't. The advantages of the second aren't precisely apparent to me because i don't use programs that use that dialog.

Okay? Well, sometimes i do. But the vast majority of the programs i use have the sane dialog. The others are either used only occassionally or do not really need a save/open dialog that often. Seriously. If i see that dialog, or others like it (hello, Qt) it's a mark against the program. Firefox, however, i use a lot. A whole freakin' lot, in fact. So the prospect of having to scroll through all those files a lot is really, really unappealing.

"So fix your directories, already!"

Here's the problem: it is easier for me to scroll through the list than it is to keep the directories clean. So, although i complain, i scroll. But for lack of a very obvious option i scroll. I say to you: is that right?

Anyway, wrapping it up:

I like Firefox 1.5, barring a couple issues (the pretty serious save/open dialog change, and of course the still-non-existent "add action" option in the download action dialog primarily) and crashes you expect out of a beta (the "sanitize personal data" thing, while cool, segfaults Fireox for me) but i'm reluctant to give it a ringing endorsement as an upgrade right now. Sure, new XML stuff and some CSS3 support is nice. Important, even. But when we're getting something like that--which is, let's face it, pretty optional at this point--over seriously obvious stuff...

Oh yeah, and did i mention the new save dialog interferes with the "add action" issue even more?

Here's hoping for the final version!


Blogger Mr. Natural said...

I am with you on your Firefox rants. There are just a couple things that keep me from USING it. What you say AND it seems to think it knows MORE about my "favorites" and how to organise them and bring it to me than I do. So Firefox sits unused somewhere deep inside this HP...

9:38 PM  
Blogger Winter said...

Well... Despite all my complaining about it i'm still using Beta2 at the moment.

I just wish a couple things would be changed.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous sap support pack said...

I love FF's mechanical procedures as well. It's a wonderful browser and have seriously helped me get rid of viruses around my laptop - it's funny, but I just connect to it's defense system much better.

12:51 PM  

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