My Polygamous Relationship with Browsers

I’m an idealist. I want the one perfect browser as my mate. Regrettably, Safari has gone quirky on me, and so I’ve jilted her. Nowadays, I live the life of a browser polygamist.

For the longest of time, I used Apple’s Safari exclusively. I thought Opera had too small a market share to invest in, and I didn’t like the looks of Firefox. What about Chrome? Not really, because my attitude has changed about Google, and I had an uncomfortable user experience the last time I installed it.

Safari is built into the infrastructure of OS X, and Apple has a lot at stake with its own branded browser, so I figured it would be safer to stay with Safari.

I was looking forward to Safari 5.1 because it, like Chrome, introduces a much needed sandbox for security. However, after I upgraded my iMac to Lion and Safari 5.1, I found that my personal home page, which is an HTML table, took forever to load, if at all. (Later, I found that if I clicked another tab and came back, there it was!)

Wondering what might cause this problem, I started looking at add-ons: I deleted all Internet Plug-ins (/Library/Internet Plug-ins) and Safari extensions (~Library/Safari/Extensions) and couldn’t find a culprit. Interestingly, I had no such problem on the new MacBook Air with Lion. WTF?

Then I heard about Safari’s tendency to do an unrequested screen refresh. That’s because the Safari core and its extensions run in different threads. When an add-on crashes its thread, Safari keeps on running, but the tab is auto-refreshed. (Thanks to Ted Landau for the explanation.) This can and will wipe out an article that’s being composed in our TMO  publishing engine. Trust is gone.

So I’ve jilted Safari. Maybe someday when Safari behaves better, I’ll go back to her.

Do You Come Here Often?

Frustrated with Safari, and having recently done a major review of Opera 11.x, I decided to retry Opera for awhile. I really, really like Opera, and I would happily be its slave forever, but it has one fatal defect that affects my own workflow. When I see an article I like for Particle Debris, I drag the URL from the address bar to a special folder. Unfortunately, what I get with Opera for a .webloc file is the URL string itself, not the page title. So it’s hard to instantly size up the contents of that special folder. I’ve pressured Opera for, at least, an option for either method — with no effect.

That left me with Firefox 6, which I’ve started to really like. It has some really nice add-ons, and when I drag a URL from the address bar, like Safari, I get the name of the page. Plus, it has some really nice security options.

Firefox security

My Firefox Add-ons

Finally, I like to keep all my TMO publishing pages and some other key reference pages collected together without having to pin the tabs. (That makes the tab too small.) However, when I also browse with that browser, the tab line gets more and more cluttered, and I’m not enthusiastic about Opera tab groups as a solution there — although it’s a generally neat feature. I like my publishing configuration static. As a result, I compose my articles in Opera, as a dedicated publishing browser and do all my other browsing in Firefox 6, my new default browser.

I’ll admit it. I’m living a duplicitous, polygamous life with two browsers. But I’m a happier man.