FireFox 3

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Technology

About last week I started getting these pop-up message prompting me to upgrade to FireFox 3. I’d heard some reports about people being annoyed with one particular new feature in FireFox 3 (some sort of upgrade to the address bar), but in general there didn’t seem to be any technical issues with the new version, so I went ahead and did it.

While for the most part FireFox 3 seems to use a lot less memory… I am just amazed at whoever thought this supposed upgrade to the address bar was a good idea. The only feature I want in an address bar is a basic auto-complete feature that will pick out the webpages I frequently visit from as few keystrokes as possible. FireFox 3 introduces this so-called “Awesome Bar” feature, which, from what I can tell, works exactly the opposite way. It seems to try to match the title of the webpage, which can lead to incredibly unintuitive behavior like typing in “t” to bring up Shamus’ site (“Twenty Sided”) instead of “sh” for www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/. Of course, it’s not even that good. I’ve typed in “t” and gotten results for sites with “The” in their name. Or worse, websites that don’t have a “T” anywhere in their name or address (Huh?!). The results are often totally inexplicable.

Some other comments from human beings who have been subjected to this torture:

I just downloaded the beta and started using version 3, and this new bar is the worst implementation imaginable of what might actually be a reasonable idea. (I would have to see a good implementation before I can decide on that last part.)

I type in “ne”, and it sorts “slashdot-NEws for NErds”, and “groklaw.NEt”, and a few other things, BEFORE “NEws.google.com”.

If I WANTED slashdot, I would have typed “sl”. If I WANTED groklaw, I would have typed “gr”.

That AWFULBAR is so unbelievably bad – this add on at least makes it look better; but the algorithm and arrogance of the developers made me revert back to FF2. I may dump Firefox altogether. I know that some people will like the new bar, but totally outrageous to stick it on everyone. There will be MANY MANY people who would otherwise use FF that will swear off it now – there will be many embarassing moments as this algorithm BOLDLY displays unexpected results/history in public/group presentations, family situations, etc. Mark my words – this new feature will be the single most important event in the downfall of Firefox/Mozilla.

I am really boggled by who thought this was a good idea. Even when I adjust FireFox 3 in about:config so that browser.urlbar.matchOnlyTyped is true, I still get these boggling results. I’ve at least installed the oldbar plugin and reduced the number of results I get to a reasonable number, so it’s under control. Still, this gives me a lot more impetus to check out Chrome…

One Response

  1. Unfortunately, Chrome’s address bar is probably even more useless than Firefox 3’s “awesomebar”, since it also offers up google search suggestions in the same list!

    I’ve used Firefox 3 for a couple of months and still can’t come to terms with the address bar behaviour. My “workaround” is to just type the whole url I want and skip the part where I try to guess what key combination is going to get me the dropdown item I’m looking for.

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