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Firefox Interrupted

Posted by kito75 on March 2, 2006 at 12:45 PM PST

Like many Java developers (and an increasing number of web users in general), I have been a big Firefox supporter ever since I switched from Mozilla quite some time ago. The development plugins make it great for building web applications, tab browsing is cool, and it's a snappy little browser.

Or at least it used to be snappy. Lately, especially with version 1.5, it seems to gobble up tons of RAM and CPU. And since I use a laptop and Windows XP, I'm always conscious of how much of my 1GB of RAM is in use (not to mention the CPU). In short, Firefox has been getting on my nerves.

I was discussing this issue with my wife (who is also a developer that has become somewhat frustrated with Firefox), and she said some people were using Opera instead. I've always downloaded Opera just to see how some of my applications look, but I've never tried seriously using it -- that is, until now.

The latest release version (8.5) has full support for tabbed browsing and all of the hip standards (such as the XMLHttpRequest object), as well as integrated voice support and several other goodies. What about skins, plugins, and the large community around Firefox? Well, Opera has skins, and the next version will have widgets, which are equivalent to Firefox plugins.

But, more importantly, it doesn't eat up a ton of RAM or CPU. I can happily have dozens of tabs open and still fire up the latest version JBuilder or Eclipse and several other tools, which is a Good Thing.

So, am I switching from Firefox permanently? No. I think Firefox has a lot going for it, and I think the Mozilla foundation will address its current issues. Also, XUL is extremely powerful (not to mention compatible with JSF), and Opera doesn't appear to have an equivalent (please correct me if I'm wrong). So, I look at this as a break from Firefox, and a chance to try something different. And I'm enjoying it, too :-).

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