Kotangent

Browser Wars: A New Hope

by Brian Koser

Firefox 1.5 is the first browser I specifically remember using (discounting AOL, which was a little more than a browser). Back then Firefox users were hip, the cutting edge. We’ve got tabs, man, so you can visit multiple web pages in one window! Eventually Firefox got bloated, taking up too much memory, and my brand loyalty only lasted until about six months after the release of Google Chrome.

A chubby prairie dog
The definition of bloated

Now Google Chrome is bloated. And ever since Google Reader was dropped, I’ve wondered if it’s wise to have all my eggs in one Google basket.

So I’m open to using another browser, but I do have some prerequisites for switching:

  1. Evergreen
    This should really go without saying, and all major browsers do fall into this category. Evergreen browsers update frequently & incrementally, instead waiting years in-between releases, and then needing to uninstall the old version and install the new version from scratch. Barbaric.
    An old photograph of two men talking
    “I installed the latest version of Netscape Navigator last fortnight!”
    With as quickly as things move in web land, we need browsers that stay up to date.
  2. Sync
    I want to use the same browser at home and at work. I want to bookmark an article at work and read it at home. I want to search my entire browsing history, not just my history in that location. And I don't want to install extensions separately on each different computer I use (although if I disable an addon I don’t want that synced; I don’t need my Chromecast extension at work for example). This leads right into…
  3. Mobile
    It makes sense to use the same browser on desktop and mobile, but I don’t have to, as long as I can still sync bookmarks between desktop and mobile. Right now I’m on Android, so it has to work well there.
  4. Dev tools
    On desktop I need web developer tools. Partly for work. Partly for developing personal sites, like this one. Partly for when I come across an interesting feature or font and want to look under the hood.
  5. Ad blocker
    I disable ad blocking for sites that I like, and that ask nicely. But for sites I don’t know, or don’t trust, or don’t like, or that don’t ask, ads are gonna be blocked.
  6. KeePass
    My one essential extension. KeePass is a password storage app that I love. However, I love it less each time I have to open the application, log in, search for the website, copy the username, paste it into the browser, copy the password, then paste it into the browser. Much nicer to have it automatically fill in credentials (chromeIPass). On mobile, it would be nice to remove as many of the above steps as possible (KeePass2Android + Google Chrome Mobile is currently the best solution on Android).
  7. Site search from the address bar
    I can’t remember the last time I had to use the old Google trick of prepending "site:" to a search to get results from a specific website. I love being able to search sites from the address bar.
    Searching Amazon.com for Richard Scarry
    It’s a busy world

I don’t think these are unreasonable requests. I’m willing to give everyone a shot, and see who meets all seven requirements. Except Safari for Windows. Not gonna do it. ∎