Things That Dont Belong in Browsers

I still have a soft spot in my heart for Firefox, but it’s not my primary browser. I use Safari for just about everything, except the rare occasion when I need flash, then I use Chrome. Firefox is only used in the even rarer occasion that I need to use a site that Safari doesn’t support properly. Since I use all three browsers, I keep an eye on new features and development, wondering if something new from Firefox will draw me away from Safari.

I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Firefox released version 34 yesterday, which included a handful of fixes and improvements, but also included these two new features:

  • New - Firefox Hello real-time communication client
  • Developer - WebIDE: Create, edit, and test a new Web application from your browser

This isn’t the first time a Mozilla browser included a “real-time communications client” as part of the browser. Feature blot that leads to including features that would be better suited as separate applications is one of the reasons Firefox was initially split from the Mozilla browser to begin with, as this quote from the release notes of Phoenix 0.1 highlight:

Third, “Mozilla” is not the name of an application; it is the name of a monolithic suite containing a browser, a mail client, an irc client, and an indoor skating rink (we hear that’s coming, anyways.) Even if we did decide to call this browser Mozilla, we’d still have to call the standalone mail client (see below) something else. We also believe Mozilla, in general, is going in the wrong direction in terms of bloat and UI, and see no reason for our releases to carry those connotations.

To come full circle, Firefox now includes a browser, a video chat client, and an integrated development environment in addition to the indoor skating rink. Firefox was amazing because it was super fast, and it attributed much of that speed to being very focused on the browsing experience. Mozilla has seen fit to morph Firefox over the years into a platform, one that is ill suited for most users everyday needs.

The tools and features that Mozilla builds into Firefox are high quality, especially the developer tools, but they would benefit far more from being separate applications.