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Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Ways In Which Firefox Is Better than Chrome

For a few months now Google's Chrome has been my primary browser. I had been having problems with Firefox and wanted something that was faster and more stable. Chrome did seem a lot faster than Firefox and stability seemed better too. But then little things kept bugging me about it and I'd have to switch back to Firefox. Here are some of the items I've encountered..

Chrome doesn't display XML documents nearly as well as Firefox

Firefox uses a default stylesheet whenever it encounters an XML document. Here's an example (the server info document from the Wowza streaming server):

wowza firefox

Chrome, on the other hand, treats XML as HTML and does a horrible job displaying it...

wowza chrome

Firefox's rendering of the XML document is great - very readable and usable. In contrast, Chrome's rendering of XML aweful.

Chrome doesn't let you get the URL of an RSS feed

In Chrome, when you view an RSS feed it blanks out the URL. If you need the URL you can't get it. Here's an example in Chrome...

rss chrome

Notice there's no URL at the top. Now here's Firefox which makes it easy to get the URL...

rss firefox

Chrome doesn't display the page title clearly

This one is somewhat ironic. The most important element on any page - in order to get it to rank in Google, is the page title. Yet, Google doesn't clearly display the page title. They place the title in the tab at the top of the window. If your title is long, or you have many tabs open you don't see the entire title. You can get it if you hover over the tab, but it's not clearly displayed like it is in other browsers. Here is an example of the problem in Chrome. I've hovered over one of the tabs to see the title, but it takes a while for the hover text to show up - it's not easy to see.

And here is the title clearly shown in Firefox...

title firefox

While it may not seem important, if you're an SEO, it's VERY important.

Chrome's status bar just isn't as good or useful as Firefox's

Chrome tried to save vertical space. They don't show the page title (see above) and they don't really have much of a status bar at the bottom of the browser. In fact there is no status bar at all until you scroll over a link, then you get a small status bar that doesn't show the entire URL (though it expands after a few seconds of hovering).

status bar chrome

By contrast in firefox you not only get the entire URL, but you can have all sorts of helpful stuff at the bottom to give you other information about the page...

status bar firefox

As a web developer and SEO all the info is invaluable to me. Yes, there is an SEO plugin that you can use, but you have to click on something to see the information - it's not easy to see.

Chrome discontinued native support for H.264

Last year Google bought the company On2 and then proceded to give the crown jewel of the companyaway for free (the video codec VP8/WebM). While it was a nice move, they then discontinued support in Chrome for the most viable competing video codec - H.264 which is more widely used and preferred by many people. Yes, H.264 is still supportedin Chrome via Flash, but native HTML5 support is gone. While it's great that Google gave away VP8/WebM, it's a bit mercenary that they're trying to undermine H.264. All Google managed to do is extend the life of Flash and delay the adoption of native HTML5 video.

Chrome has problems with some PDFs

With Chrome I can't always download some PDFs. When I try to get a PDF statement on Chase's website something converts it to HTML, which defeats the purpose completely.

There are no ways in which Chrome is all that much better than Firefox

While I can name a bunch of ways Firefox is better than Chrome, after months of using Chrome as my primary browser I can't really think of any ways in which Chrome is better than Firefox. Yes, I had some stability and speed issues with Firefox, but I'm starting to see similar problems with Chrome. It won't always ask if I want to remember a password, and sometimes it forgets passwords. I think my primary problem with Firefox was that I was using a profile that had been upgraded since the days when Firefox and Thunderbird were merged and called Netscape Navigator. I think my user profile had become "dirty" and a clean install of Firefox will fix my problems.

Categories: Chrome, Firefox

10 Comments

  1. kronic Says:

    what versions are you comparing? Chrome 2 vs. Firefox 4? Nice try, but chrome is obviously better.

  2. Brian Says:

    Firefox has NEVER supported H.264 natively.

    Native support for Ogg Theora, WebM, or H.264 is offered as part of the HTML5 specification, but no one browser supports all formats, and no one format is supported in all browsers. Firefox does not support H.264 for the same reason as Chrome — it is strictly Proprietary, requiring massive licensing fees, and is not compatible with open source licenses. As of Firefox 4.0, both Chrome and Firefox support WebM.

    Naturally, all browsers have the capability support H.264 video (non-natively) through the Flash plugin.

    Both browsers are highly capable, both provide cutting edge features and support. They are intrinsically different, which is why, as a professional web developer, I find them both tremendously useful on a daily basis.

    IE is generally worthless (except for those few archaic sites that still require it), while Safari and Opera are merely fun toys.

  3. Tiago Says:

    Chrome is worse in terms of usability, Chrome is worse in terms of standard support, Chrome is not open source, Chrome is less secure (let’s just say I can still ALL your data as long as I am in the same network as you), Chrome is not as pretty, Chrome is heavier, Chrome is less customizable, Chrome doesn’t have nearly as good a gallery of extensions, Chrome doesn’t support as many operating systems as Firefox, and Chrome doesn’t feel as snappy when scrolling pages, specially with smooth scrolling enabled.

    What’s Chrome got going for it, huh? Fake speed in fake benchmarks? Being light only when you only have one open tab? Or is the marketing? I think it’s just the marketing…

    So, yeah, Chrome is obviously better because their marketing department rocks your socks. I think we’ve reached a verdict.

  4. Randall (SWCast.net) Says:

    You also forgot one of the most obvious: Chrome doesn’t let you view image properties which to my knowledge EVERY other graphical Web browser since the earliest Netscape Navigator has natively supported. If you’re a Web developer and graphic designer, this is a huge oversight.

  5. Vernessa Taylor Says:

    Hi

    I do try to get people to switch from IE to Firefox or Chrome and, until recently, pushed them more towards Chrome because Firefox had become slow and prone to frequent crashes.

    But your points about Chrome are well taken. In fact, I am here today because of the annoying fact that Chrome has left out RSS support — and continues to ignore it. Having reinstalled Chrome (after an OS upgrade), I’d forgotten about that and came searching for the solution.

    Just for the record, everything you mentioned (except the HTML5/Video issue) has been an annoyance for me in using Chrome. Firefox definitely has the upper hand in those areas.

  6. Dan Says:

    kronic, where’s YOUR evidence?

  7. MillerTime Says:

    I agree with this totally. And to the previous poster, these are all valid points in the latest versions as well. The one thing you left out is the biggest concern for me with Chrome, its download manager. Ever tried to just view a document on without downloading it? You can in Firefox (any version). But in Chrome, it has to be downloaded to view, no matter what. Even when using incognito mode, there are all the documents you viewed, right in your download folder and recent history folder.

    There is also the quality/feel of the two. Firefox feels more polished. Look at extensions, it’s the same. Chrome has a lot of useful extensions to be sure, but they do not feel finished, or are not as integrated as I would like. Compare Mozilla’s new F1 sharing addon to to the best that Google has to offer, Shareaholic. There is simply no comparison.

  8. Otsego Says:

    I can’t stand Chrome. I HATE that it has that damn apps page when I open a new tab. I HATE that it closes(without warning)the browser when I x out of the last tab.(it should open a new tab on my homepage). I HATE that they removed the go button.(if I copy and paste something into the address bar I should be able to click a go button instead of having to hit enter.)Finally, I hate that Google does not allow you to customize how everything works and behaves without resorting to add ons. I’ll stick with Firefox.

  9. anonymous Says:

    Yeah, I moved from firefox, to chrome for about a year. Now I’m moving back, because there are certain issues that just drive me insane with chrome. I simply want something to work, and am not as concerned with speed as I thought I’d be. Also, there’s something to be said about supporting competition…haha google is a great company I’m sure, but I’d rather the software running on my machine comes from a diverse set of entities rather than just one…

  10. Jeremy Says:

    Firefox 9 is much better and faster than Chrome.

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