What Changed This Time

I have been using Firefox since the Phoenix days and before that, Netscape. Ever since version 4 Firefox developers have been frustrating users. I keep using Firefox because of the extension support.

Extension support is now changing. Only signed extensions will be allowed. Since the announcement I had not been looking forward to version 42.0, now moved to 44.0. I would lose three add-ons. One is supposed to be signed (neo diggler) but the Firefox Add-on page reports otherwise.

The other two add-ons have provided me simple usability tweaks that I enjoy. One clears the search bar when I press the Enter key to perform the search. The other provides a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+;) to focus the cursor into the first text field box. As I do not like auto focusing of the cursor, I will be at a loss without that shortcut.

Neither add-on has been updated in years but they are simple and continue to function fine in recent versions of Firefox.

If I still had those add-ons I would be more content but the relentless 6 week Firefox release cycle is exhausting. With each release I sigh, rhetorically ask myself, “What changed this time?” and begin scouring the web to learn what new user prefs to add to my user.js file to defeat the new default preferences of the developers. Default preferences that often conflict with privacy.

I have been able to keep Firefox functioning and looking the way I prefer rather than the way developers prefer. With version 44.0 that changes.

ESR versions only delay the inevitable for the “What changed this time?” game.

There are other web browsers but none that are as configurable as Firefox. The related Seamonkey lacks the same ecosystem. I do not want an Internet suite. I want a web browser. The Seamonkey developers have moved to the same exhausting 6 week cycle too.

If knowledgeable technical users struggle with Firefox, and for most of Firefox’s history they have been the primary users, how do non technical users survive? They don’t. They use other browsers.

Despite all of the irritating decisions made the past few years by Firefox developers, Firefox remains a better option. I do not trust proprietary browsers. That includes Chrome, which is controlled by the Google folks, which is an advertising company zealously focused on data mining and tracking users. Other free/libre browsers are affected by the “designed by geeks” syndrome and do not have the features or extension support of Firefox.

Yeah, I know — Firefox is free, so quit complaining. The thrill is gone.

Posted: Category: Commentary, Usability Tagged: Firefox, General

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