Thoughts on the New Mozilla Firefox 29.0

Notice: This article is in no means a “total review” of the famed web browser. That is not my purpose for this article. Instead, I intend to write and speak my general opinion of the web browser. My first impressions and thoughts of the web browser. This article is mainly opinionated from the standpoint of someone who has used Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and back to Firefox. Again, this is just the thoughts of my own which may of course, change from time to time.

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On April 29, 2014, Mozilla Corporation has released a new version of Firefox that has totally revamped itself from its previous versions. This new version of Firefox brings itself a new look and a rearrangement of the location of the menu tab.

The new look of Mozilla Firefox 29.0

Immediate Impressions

Once I’ve opened up Firefox, I was immediately amazed by the new look. The new look for the tabs definitely remind me a bit of Google Chrome. Especially with a beautiful blue, frosted, and blurred backdrop behind the tabs. As much as it did remind me of Google Chrome’s main “blue” theme, I definitely didn’t mind looking at it. It wasn’t distracting but it wasn’t disgusting either. It was just, perfect.

As I skimmed around the interface of Firefox, I noticed that the orange tab that was located in the top left corner of previous versions of Firefox was gone. That tab has now completely disappeared and has been moved to a little icon on the far right of the Firefox interface. I’ll explain more of this later.

But one thing that I was definitely disappointed about was that Firefox has not yet switched over to the nice unibar that other browsers such as Google Chrome and Opera have used. If you don’t know what a unibar is, it’s basically the address and search bar combined. After using Google Chrome and Opera, I see no reason for keeping the address and search bar apart anymore. It just seems so much more functional to combine it together.

Another feature that seems to be missing is the bookmarks bar. Now by default, there is a bookmarks icon right next to the right of the search bar. However, I would still like to have my bookmarks bar there by default. Though this is a simple issue to fix (I’ll explain later), I still find it a bit odd that I have to go through the trouble of enabling this simple feature just so I can improve the functionality of my own experience.

After Some Exploration

The menu icon on the far right of the Firefox toolbar.

After noticing that the orange tab was gotten rid of, I was able to locate the new menu icon that would provide options to customize, install add-ons, and so forth. It’s located on the far right of the toolbar. You click on that, you’ll get a nice Google-looking style of options and add-ons in a grid format.

It provides some of the basic features of course. Such as zoom and copy & paste. While the rest of the options are placed as tiles in a grid format. These tiles include the print option, save page, and new window.

The customization “dashboard” in Mozilla Firefox 29.0

At the bottom of the menu pane, I found the option to customize my browser. Yay! When you click on that, your browser basically turns into a dashboard. You can drag additional tiles into the menu pane. But you can also drag the Google search bar out of the way. So now, you can finally have that unibar you’ve always wanted! Well… I wanted…

By the way, I was also able to bring back the bookmarks bar by clicking on the “Customize” button. Then, I selected the “Bookmarks Toolbar” by clicking on the “Show/Hide Toolbar” option at the bottom. You can of course, show the menu bar if you want.

But realistically, the former orange tab that was at the top-left corner of your web browser, is now an icon of stripes on the far right of the toolbar. When clicked upon, you’re presented with a grid of tiles giving you options and functionality. And of course, you have the option to customize the layout of the tiles and the toolbar with that nice “Customize” button at the bottom.

One interesting feature about the new menu pane that I must mention is the power button. All that it does is that it closes your web browser. That’s it. Honestly, I’ll just be quiet about this feature. It’s interesting, but why go through the trouble to put a power button to close the web browser when a close button is already available?

The “shutdown” icon in Mozilla Firefox 29.0

The Conclusion

After using the web browser for a while, there really is nothing for me to complain about that is that big of a deal. It’s a browser that works and serves well for its purposes. The only possible fallback for this web browser is the setup of no default bookmarks toolbar. As well as the interestingly odd power button to close the web browser.

But like I said earlier, it serves my purposes. I can surf the web with ease and enjoy my experience with great add-ons. If somebody were to ask me if they should give this browser a go, go for it! This web browser is definitely worth your time!

 

 

Thoughts on the Opera Web Browser

Nowadays, when people look for a browser (typically better than Internet Explorer), the two dominant stars of this show are Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. But unknown to most consumers, there is actually an underdog in this “friendly browser” competition. As you can tell by the title, I clearly refer to the Opera web browser.

Once you open Opera, the interface shouldn’t feel very unusual. The address and search bar are combined at the top much like Google Chrome. It also has a single menu tab in the top left corner of the browser much like Firefox. The Opera web browser also offers themes, and an extension store. Take note that because Opera isn’t a very well popularized web browser compared to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, therefore there won’t be much available in the themes and extension store.

One relatively unusual feature that I had trouble grasping to was the Speed Dial option. It appears as a button on the left side of your address bar and is also accessible when opening up a new tab. The Speed Dial is laid out much like the dial pad on your land line phone. But instead of numbers, it has tiles of websites that can also be put together in folders. At first I wonder, why would I need this when I can have a bookmarks bar? Turns out, there is a reasonable purpose behind this.

The purpose of the speed dial is to set a standard when web browsing. What I mean by this is that basically, the developers of Opera want this browser to be snappy and efficient by keeping the amount of pages you’d like to keep to a minimum. Or maybe that’s just how I feel.

As interesting as the feature and its purpose is, I don’t feel the need for it. It may sound ridiculous, but I don’t think there needs to be these medium-sized tiles waiting to be clicked on compared to my single, miniature, mouse pointer. I think the developers of Opera have an interesting concept behind this, but I feel like the design and use of the Speed Dial was improperly laid out. If anything, just bring back the bookmarks bar.

But then that brings me to another topic. I don’t understand why by default, Opera doesn’t launch with a bookmarks bar. It’s just the address bar and the Speed Dial button. I really don’t feel like I need to go through the trouble of finding out how to finally enable that feature by typing in “opera:flags” in my web browser and then scrolling down to enable that feature. I’m not sure if the bookmarks bar is going through beta right now, but I don’t see why there isn’t even one there by default. So Opera, I don’t know what you plan to do, but can you please enable the bookmarks bar by default? Please?

But regardless of these minor issues, the big reason why I really enjoy this browser is the lightness and efficiency it offers. I admit, I don’t have any specific data to prove this. But by user experience, I can tell you that this is the best experience I’ve ever had when surfing the web with a web browser. It is efficient, lightweight, and I’ve had little or no issues with it at all. It really makes me feel like I’m just flying and soaring through the internet so freely at times that I even forget how slow and clunky Firefox and Chrome can be.

Two other features I should mention are the Stash and Discover options. When you go to your Speed Dial or open up a new tab, you can also access the Stash and Discover page. The Stash page lists previews of pages that you “stashed” so you can view them later. Say you found an interesting article that you wanted to read later, just press the heart on the right side of the address bar and the web page will be sent to your Stash. Remember, the Stash page isn’t a bookmark alternative, it’s just another useful way to save your pages for later.

As for the Discover page, it’s basically like a magazine of the internet. What this page does is it takes news from the internet and just compiles it all together for you to view. You can select what categories of stories you would like to see as well as your country. Personally for me, this isn’t feature that I’ve chosen to use during my experience with Opera. However, it’s still a nice little gimmick worth keeping.

Though Opera isn’t a big mainstream browser out there, it doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t compete. Despite the minor falls of Opera from this near-useless Speed Dial to the mysterious disappearance of the bookmarks bar, it still gets the job done. Surfing through the internet is a breeze and without a doubt you’d run into little or no issues with this browser. For me personally, Opera would be a very nice switch if you’re looking for a fast, efficient, and minimal browser.