Results tagged “web browser” from kwc blog

Firefox Minefield

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I did a user test with Firefox Minefield while I was out getting my daily coffee (it helps living in Mountain View, home of Mozilla). The user test was trying out a new streamlined/combined location and search bar for Firefox. Before I get into that, I want to mention that I was impressed by the discussions I had with the people running the study.

One of the employees made the point that Mozilla isn't about making Firefox "win". It was pushing the Web towards standards, in other words, it's about not letting IE win. From their perspective, Chrome and Safari are fantastic -- as long as there's someone out there with 30% of the market share, we will not return to the days of "This site is built for Internet Explorer". It reminds me of John Nack's recent post, Adobe isn't in the Flash business. Actions are more important that mission statements, but it's a good start.

I also mentioned that I was excited by all the developer-focused technologies appearing in Chrome, only to have pointed out to me that technologies like WebGL were actually invented by Mozilla; they're just doing a bad job at promoting/pushing these technologies.

As for the user test, there was a little search engine selector in the bar you could click on to select different search engines on the fly (e.g. Google/Bing/Wikipedia/eBay). What was different was that this would appear when it detected you were doing a search task (e.g. visiting Google.com), but otherwise not be visible. The coolest addition was a little preview window that opened below the location bar, i.e. where you normally might see autocomplete suggestions. For example, if you were doing a Google Image search, it would show you images immediately below the location bar, instead of having to wait until you loaded the actual Web page. If you were doing a Wikipedia search, it would list the matching articles. It reminds me a bit of Yahoo's cool Instant Search, which Yahoo! has of course killed.

There were some rough edges as it is a prototype, but what I thought was novel was you could "detach" this little preview into its own window. You could then click on each search result and see it appear in the main window. What's often annoying is you do your search, then you go back and forth between the results page and each search result to find what you're looking for. Or you ctrl-click the results into a bunch of tabs and create a bunch of litter. This was a new tool for temporarily "saving" the search result and maintaining context.

In our post-user-test interview, I mentioned how I had switched to Chrome, partly because I prefer it's location bar, and even more specifically, how it integrates with my keyword bookmarks. If I type "goto ", the location bar immediately inserts a box that says "Search I'm Feeling Lucky..." to the left, which gives me confidence that I'm using my keyword. The little widget I was testing today is activated in the same manner, i.e. typing "g " activates the Google icon.

And yes, I downloaded Firefox 3.6 today (I've been using Chrome the past 2 months). They convinced me that they've started focusing on some of their performance issues (threading issues in the location bar, performance testing the top 100 plugins, changing the plugin API to get rid of common performance hits). It starts faster, we'll see if it can win me back.

Secondary browser switched to Safari

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Apple's release of Safari for Windows was most likely an iPhone-related play, but I'm appreciating it for a different reason: font smoothing. Sure, Windows does have ClearType, but it just never looks quite right to me -- the font weight is a bit to thin and fuzzy. So now, instead of firing up Internet Exploder to read my secondary GMail account or see the public view of my Flickr photostream, I can now view it with font-smoothing goodness in Safari