Why I stay with Firefox

The browser does one thing Chrome just can't do at all

Why I stay with Firefox

In a recent Network World column, guest author Susan Perschke discussed why she switched back to the Firefox browser, with its piddling low teens percentage of market share, from the dominant browser, Google Chrome.

Perschke illustrated many good reasons to use Firefox, all of them legitimate and valid, but I have two good reasons of my own. Firefox has two feature Chrome just doesn't have.

First is the URL bar. Its absence is what kept me away from Chrome in the first place. That and Chrome's constant failure to render certain HTML pages. I like being able to click the pulldown menu and see sites I visit infrequently but not enough to bookmark. My bookmarks are hard enough to manage without saving every page I visit.

That's minor. But the one feature I'm totally hooked on and keeps me with Firefox—because Chrome simply can't do it right—is vertical tab stacking. With horizontal tiling of tabs, you eventually reach a point where so many are open they are squeezed tight and you can't read them anymore. You have no idea what tab is what.

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With vertical stacking you can control the width, so the tab titles are always readable. You can have 40, 50 tabs open at once and all are easily readable. I use a widescreen 24-in. monitor, so the browser is windowed. There is plenty of room on both sides of the screen while leaving enough space to render web pages.

Chrome has plugins for vertical tab stacking, but they are nowhere near as good. The most popular extension, Tabs Outliner, floats outside the app and is clumsy. It doesn't have the simple elegance of Tree Style Tab in Firefox.

And the mighty Google itself has stopped trying to get vertical stacking to work. An engineer working on the Chromium browser said on a Chromium forum that the company has given up trying to implement it.

"After some experiments with vertical tabs in Chrome, we decided that most people who want vertical tabs really want tree-style tabs. However, the complexity of a tree-style interface in terms of usage is beyond what most users need or want, and in terms of implementation is more than passes the cost/benefit test for building into Chrome natively as an option," he wrote.

There is always the option of a third-party developer, including the developer of the Firefox tree tabs. It's the work of a single developer in Tokyo whose home page isn't terribly active, so it would appear he doesn't seem interested in porting to Chrome.

For me, Firefox does vertical tabbing far better than Chrome, and that is my primary reason for sticking with it. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, Chrome does an awful job of rendering some sites. City Data, for example, almost never renders right on the first load and a F5 refresh is needed.

So, for the foreseeable future, Firefox it is—tiny market share be damned. It does what I want, which should always be the basis for using a product, right?

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