One of the problems with Mozilla’s plan to hide Firefox version numbers is that the replacement of “You’re running the latest version” only succeeds if people have confidence that the check is working. Speaking for myself, the last time I checked About:Firefox, I was convinced that it was broken until I verified that the update I was expecting was Mac-only, which was why it wasn’t showing up on Windows.
The biggest, of course, is breaking deeply ingrained user expectations (where to find the version number) for no real discernible benefit.
If you’ve been following the Firefox 4 betas, you’ve probably noticed that they’re dumping the status bar. OK, a lot of people didn’t use it, but here’s the thing:
When you hover over a link, the status bar tells you where it will take you.
This is important (especially for security) — important enough that they’ve moved the functionality elsewhere…but in a broken manner. They’ve put it into the location bar — you know, the field where you type in a URL, or look to see where you are.
The problem is that there isn’t room in the location bar to show the full URL of a hovered link except for very short links. The status bar has the entire width of the browser. The location bar has to share that space with the navigation buttons, the search box, the feedback button (during the beta), any custom toolbar buttons, the site name on secure websites, etc.
Just about every link I hover over ends up with critical information cut off in the “…” between the start of the hostname and the parameters at the end. That’s almost useless. (Almost, because at least the hostname is visibla, but it would help to see the page name as well.)
Displaying the target URL in some way is core functionality for a web browser, and you shouldn’t remove or break core functionality. In some ways this is worse than the proposal a few years ago to remove “View Source,” because that at least isn’t core functionality for a browser (though it is core functionality for the web, because it encourages people to explore and tinker and learn how to make their own websites — which is exactly why that was put back in). It’s crazy that I need to install an add-on to get back something as basic as a working preview for links.
Edit: Not a link, but I should mention: between a bug in Akismet and me not having time to go through it, I ended up with more than 2,000 comments in the spam folder just from the last 3 weeks. I don’t have time to look through that many items for false positives, so I just cleared it all out. If you left a legitimate comment that hasn’t shown up on the site, I apologize.
It’s not a huge surprise, with all the major web browsers adding their own bookmark sync services, but Xmarks (formerly Foxmarks) is shutting down in January.
I figure I’ll just use Firefox Sync, Chrome sync, Opera Link, etc. to share bookmarks between the desktop and laptop, but what I really liked Xmarks for was its ability to sync different browsers together. I’m always switching between Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari (and occasionally IE when I’m on a Windows box) and it’s nice to have them all on the same set of bookmarks.
I guess it’s back to periodically exporting from my main browser and importing in the secondary ones, unless I find a tool or find the time to read up on the bookmarks formats and write one.
Firefox has been testing a new release that detects and closes crashed plugins (instead of letting them crash Firefox entirely) for several months, carefully making sure everything was working before they released Firefox 3.6.4 last week.
Within days, they released an update. I couldn’t imagine what they might have missed in all the beta testing. Katie wondered if the beta testers hadn’t been testing the limits.
You want to know what convinced Mozilla to issue an update so quickly?
Apparently Firefox was detecting Farmville as frozen and closing it. It turns out that on many computers, Farmville regularly freezes up the browser for longer than 10 seconds, and its players just deal with it and wait for it to come back. Mozilla decided that the simplest thing to do would be to increase the time limit.
What this tells me is that the type of person willing to beta-test a web browser these days is not likely to be playing Farmville — or if they are, it’s likely to be on a bleeding-edge computer that can handle it without 10-second freezes.
In more practical terms: Mozilla needs to convince a wider variety of users to help test their software!