Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Favourite browser features

Here's an overview of what I appreciate in a browser. This table only considers browsers available on Mac OS X, since that's my desktop environment. Note that most of this is very subjective, it's just my personal preferences.

In Firefox, I've installed the following add-ons:

  • Web Developer
  • Firebug
  • Google Page Speed
The bold items are my favourites.

Firefox 3.0Safari 4.0Opera 10 (beta)
Startup timePretty badVery goodVery good
Ability to immediately edit the address in the address bar after startupOKBad: there is a delayOK
Shows plain XML in a nice treeYesNo
Recognizes a port number, even when no protocol (e.g. "http") is specifiedYesYesYes
OS X look-and-feelNiceNiceNot very nice
New tab pageFast, but emptyTop sites: useful and very attractiveSpeed dial, quite nice
Search Google from address barYes
Find in pageToolbar at bottom is OK, but far from optimal
Result highlighting: very nice and polishedBad: separate dialog window
Progress of downloads visible in OS (e.g. in Stacks)NoYesNo
Web development toolsCombination of Firebug, Web Developer and Google Page Speed works like a charm"Inspect Element" is very nice and integrated
Developer tool is not very intuitive
Login form autocompletionExcellent, supporting multiple accountsOKOK
Browser can be configured to have just one window with tabs, even when a link is pressed in an external applicationYesYesYes
Link targets can show in a tooltip (e.g. at the window bottom, like Google Chrome) and do not require a status bar to displayNoNoNo
Activity monitor
Number of clicks in the address bar needed to select all textOneThreeOne
Prompt to store login detailsUnobtrusive and non-blocking bar at the topBlocking dialog window (very bad)Obtrusive dialog window, but non-blocking
Supported by XMarksYesOfficially only Safari 3 is supported, but in practice it works with version 4

Updated on June 9, 2009, for Safari 4 final release and Opera 10.00 beta. Updated and added criteria.

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