Monday, July 12, 2010

Revamping the web browsing experience

Firefox word mark. Correct clear space (1/3 he...Image via Wikipedia
The second Browser Wars has ignited a plethora of browser innovations. Perhaps the most outstanding one being Google's introduction of Chrome. Now, we have Mozilla releasing the first Beta release of what will eventually be known as Firefox 4.0 and it's quite the overhaul.

Tabbed browsing as popularised by Firefox 1.0 has become quite a problematic itself despite solving some usability problems. Various solutions were tried and Firefox 4.0 will feature a new Switch-to-tab feature as yet another attempt to resolve the problem of too many tabs. Placing Tabs on top in the default installation, while controversial, also helps (very little) in making more room for tabs, and makes more room for the web as well. It also makes browser resource management easier it seems, though I'm no expert on that.

In that vein, the new Firefox button replaces the traditional menu bar to help consolidate functionality and make yet more room for the web pages you're browsing. The most frequently used functions are available in the new button for easy access when needed, while infrequently used features are hidden or eliminated completely. On Windows XP the default is still to use the menu bar. Linux users will have to wait.

One thing I particularly like is the new Add-ons manager. Making use of all that space in a tab is a wonderful idea. Instead of a cramped window that gets lost like the browser windows of pre-1.0 web browsing, you get to manage your Add-ons the same way you do web pages.