Minority Status

November 13th, 2006  |  Published in etc

I was all set to plunge into life as a devoted and pleased OmniWeb user. Ever since I first switched to Macs, back when the best browser you could use on OS X was IE, I kept OmniWeb around, watching it get better. I plunked down for a license a few years ago, too. With the latest releases, universal binaries using a better core rendering engine, I was pretty pleased.

As usual, though, something happened … this time it wasn’t OmniGroup screwing up, it was the devs at Google tweaking Gmail just enough to screw up OmniWeb (and Safari).

Every time something like this happens, I get this uneasy feeling about the browser I’m using and I feel like I’m waiting around for the other shoe to drop: “Right now it’s gmail … maybe the calendar is next … or maybe Backpack will break … or whatever.

And at that point, it’s back to Firefox: I don’t really much care for the way features are added to Firefox’ core product … ever since v2.0 came out, I’ve been getting sporadic extension updates here and there. That process makes using the browser less like “enjoying a product with all the features I need” and more like “awaiting accretion of features I had that I traded away for other features I don’t want to give up to go back to the features I had.”

My inner commie wants to write some gusty recommendation that Firefox found an “add-on certification committee” that certifies add-ons as “Firefox Certified” and provides help for developers who just need to make little adjustments to get up to speed with the newest release and maybe drags the tardier developers out of their dorm rooms and into a big gym with nothing but desks and workstations and the occasional starchy meal. And then my inner commie suggests identifying some add-ons as “core” add-ons without which a Firefox release isn’t considered final and releasable. But at that point, you’re on the threshold of recreating the Debian project, only with a browser and its thousands of add-on developers as the multiple points of failure in the release process and that means boring tech reporters might be faced with going a year or more between horse-race stories about the next release and how this one will surely eradicate IE for all time. Whew … at that point, you’ve kinda recreated the entire desktop Linux experience, only in the confines of a single browser project.

But for all the complaining I can do about Firefox, it’s the browser most likely to succeed where Safari and OmniWeb fail. So I patiently file my bugs with OmniGroup, subscribe to their discussion threads, and fire Firefox back up.

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