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Thursday 18 December 2003

The best browser ever? [lurks]

I been around the houses with alternative web browsers in my time, the Amiga years ensured that. Yet for the longest time, I shoved my snout in the mass market trough of microsoft-spill that is Internet Explorer. Mostly because it just worked, it's what everyone was testing web sites with and I just didn't see any of the lame linux sandal-wearing arguments about bloat and disk space. We'd moved on from the 486 after all.
I tried Opera. I found the interface shit and it was broken on standard stuff like forms. Then, at some point, I tried Mozilla and began to like it. I liked it for three main reasons; tabbed browsing, respectable mail/news client and pop up blocking by default. I've used Moz for ages now and never saw a reason to move to Firebird because Moz never struck me as slow and I was using the extra bits anyway.
The thing is, a fair bit of stuff is still broken on Moz and one source of constant annoyance is the irritating behavior of the google plug-in which just isn't as good as the IE plug-in.
So I tried out this Avant Browser which is basically someone building a new application which sits on all the nuts and bolts bits of IE. It has pop-up blocking and most importantly of all it has tabbed browsing. It also has bookmark managing which just works better than Moz, Eg being able to right click on entries and draw stuff around just like in IE.
The preferences are clean and well laid out and of course it is basically compatible with everything because it's just IE. The very latest version even comes with the Google toolbar built in (the standard one wont install) and that behaves exactly like the proper IE one. I have, in short, discovered my ideal browser.
Of course many will crow about how is MS and still evil and how it doesn't adhere 100% correctly to the W3 Org's standards and all that shit but then those people don't use web browsers for actually doing work and hence complaining that something is broken is a luxury they have, when you just need to view the fucking site.
I like the way it sits in the task tray when it's not being used too. One simple click and bosh it's back with my tabs. It also enforces tabbed browsing in a way Moz doesn't do. So you wont end up with a few confusing instances of it. I think it's the nuts, basically. It's your old favorite but just better.
It's free but they're fishing for donations. Maybe some ways down the line if I'm still using it, I'll sling them some cash.
So what are you bastards using?


  1. mozilla on my PC's and mac's - for mail, browsing and the small bit of IRC I do :)

  2. Been using Avant Browser for a fair while now, and it rocks. As you say, it's IE with tabbed browsing and pop-up blocking. Can't go wrong really.
    Also, one thing I find really useful is the ability to quickly switch what proxy it connects to the web through... allows me to quickly switch to the Warwick proxy when I need to get to stuff on the uni network, and then switch back to a direct connection when I visit suprnova. In addition, it also has toolbar buttons to quickly toggle Flash anims and pictures on and off. Bonus.

  3. Firebird. Mozilla annoyed me on a few levels - mostly because it's a resource hog, and it leaks memory like crazy. Firebird is fast as hell, works with the vast majority of websites, blocks a lot of the annoying shit that web designers choose to inflict on us these days, and just generally works. I don't know how the hell I did anything in the days before tabbed browsing.
    I've found very few websites that are broken in the current version of the gecko renderer. I did try a tabbed version of IE - similar thing to Avant, called NetCaptor - and it still had a lot of the IE annoyances, like a tendancy to bring down Windows Explorer when it crashed.
    Firebird just works for me. Now if only I could convince mIRC to open URLs in it rather than starting up a fucking IE session...

  4. Actually, Avant doesn't do that for some reason. I've had it crash perhaps three times in the 3 months I've been using it, and it's just been a case of restarting the browser. mIRC opens URLs in Avant, too. :)

  5. This is going to sound so lame....
    I've got certain browser applications shortcut-ted on my desktop. One, the web-end of our Finance syste, only works with IE, all the others work on both. Is there a way to make a browser shortcut pick a certain browser?

  6. I'm back to firebird. Tried avant for a while and found it to be really buggy. Menus kept screwing up, little bits like that, dumped it.

  7. Interesting, I've not seen any bugs and haven't had it crash yet either. As opposed to Mozilla on this machine which is just exiting for some reason, with no warning or error - I assume that's some sort of crash. I tried Firebird again last week and found a bunch more vendor sites with fucked up menus, image maps that didn't work and form redirects not working as well. Same as Moz really, and running IE all the time just for those sites was getting real old.
    I wouldn't know about IE or Avant crashing Explorer because I have that peice of shit replaced by Directory Opus...

  8. Quietly surprised and pleased with Firebird after I realised I was no longer 'trying it out' but just using it daily. Bookmark management antique, its only on rare occasions that IE needs to be fired up.
    It was hard working on Voyager and its achievements are I suppose as irrelevant as they are unmemorable. Still, at the time, it made money.

  9. Firebird, it just works :)

  10. the trick with mozilla I find is to update it to the nightly builds once a week or so. Thats easier here on a mac where you drag and drop one file than on windows where you run a new installer and indeed the fact were on a phat pipe here too I suppose. But mozilla always works fine for me, even when it does crash, I find that big crashes are usually sorted within a short space of time!
    As with shinji I dont know what I did before tabbed browsing! the ability to open up 15 tabbed windows right there in the one window on our message board as the threads I have to respond to is great, or just flicking onto a story off goodle news :)

  11. Firebird 'just works' if you don't do much web browsing... I'm surprised that actually having a google toolbar which has hot clickable in-page searches on the toolbar has become so much of a make or break point for me. I wonder if someone has done a proper working moz google plug in yet?

  12. yea - there is one on sourceforge - I use it on mozilla

  13. I'll try out the Googlebar thing on mozdev, but I quite like the Firebird solution I've got. Google link in my toolbar with 'open in a sidebar' ticked, then I hammer in whatever I want to find and middle-click the relevant looking links to open them all in tabs. Bosh.
    It sounds like it's a specific group of sites that are giving you woe in Firebird, Mat, which is probably why many of us have less trouble. I browse a buttload of sites over the course of a day, but rarely are they vendor flash monstrosity style sites... A fair few of those break Gecko, so I can see how that's a nightmare for you.
    Other Firebird thing that rocks - Firebird Amazon Browser. Dump in a search string, get back a big fuck-off listbox of Amazon listings, select them to see all the details and the top five reader reviews. Really nicely implemented little plugin that, and responsible for a distressing number of impulse buys.

  14. I could definately deal with Firebird at home. The only site I tend to visit at home, which is broken on the moz rendering engine, is Dabs. Though there's something to be said for standardization. When I was using both side by side, I kept getting the 'open new tab' hot keys mixed up.
    That googlebar thing Vagga is talking about is the fucked one afaik. Doesn't give you in page search terms and randomly changes what's in the googlebar search box when you change tabs - which is really fucking annoying.

  15. Hey mat, I'm really liking this browser, but how do I get it to open up things like PDFs and Quicktime movies?
    I thought that since it uses IE for rendering, that all of that stuff would just work, but no joy. :/