Chad Perrin: SOB

18 September 2008

Web browsers suck.

Filed under: Geek,Mezilla — apotheon @ 01:12

Well . . . so much for my Flock experiment.

Tonight, Flock decided to develop a show-stopping bug. See, Flock suffers a segmentation fault every time I open a Webpage. It sometimes does so when I open History in the sidebar, or even just when I switch focus away from it and back to it.

Sounds like a real winner! Don’t you think so?

I’m back to using Firefox 3 now (and I turned off that asinine “smooth scrolling” crap in the tab bar, by setting toolkit.scrollbox.smoothScroll to “false” in about:config). A browser that never loads a Webpage is kind of useless to me. Bye-bye, Flock. Go flock yourself.

Let’s see, here . . . what browsers have I tried out that are at least nominally up to date? In no particular order:

  • Amaya sucks.

  • Avant sucks.

  • Camino sucks.

  • Chromium isn’t really in a release-worthy, usable form yet. If I had the C/C++ code-fu, you could bet your firstborn I’d be working on it, though.

  • Dillo sucks, except when I time-travel to 1995. Then it’s awesome.

  • Emacs/W3 sucks. What — you didn’t know Emacs has a Web browser?

  • Epiphany sucks.

  • Firefox (including Iceweasel and Swiftfox) sucks.

  • Flock sucks.

  • Galeon sucks.

  • Internet Explorer sucks.

  • Java-based browsers suck by definition.

  • Kazehakase sucks.

  • Konqueror sucks.

  • Lynx sucks (including all knock-offs I’ve seen, like Links and ELinks).

  • Maxthon sucks.

  • Mozilla suite sucks.

  • Netscape sucks.

  • Opera sucks.

  • Safari sucks.

  • Songbird sucks.

  • W3m sucks.

I really hope Chromium makes it into FreeBSD ports soon and doesn’t suck when it gets there. I’m tired of browsers that suck. I want a non-sucking browser.

Is that really so much to ask?

21 Comments

  1. That’s more browsers than I knew existed. Your browsing habits must far outstrip mine in complexity, because if I could load web pages in notepad I prrobably wouldn’t care too much about the reduced functionality. What is it that you’re looking for in a browser?

    Comment by Mina — 18 September 2008 @ 01:27

  2. I’m looking for:

    • stability

    • reasonable security

    • a configurable interface with easy keyboard shortcuts for common tasks

    • a design that doesn’t get in my way

    • reasonable standards compliance

    • reasonable performance and resource consumption

    • a good license

    . . . and maybe a couple other things that haven’t occurred to me just now. I like my extensions for firefox, too, but I’d be willing to give up most of the functionality I get out of them if I could have all of the above list items.

    Comment by apotheon — 18 September 2008 @ 02:23

  3. Alright, after digging around the Wikipedia I got to know what a segmentation fault is. For some reason it tends to remind me of my old experience with flock (and I’ll be quoting myself when I say “crashes… lot’s of crashes.”) On the other hand I’m a little confused with your reference to Firefox…

    I’m not a fanboy of the browser or anything like that (and I will not be unless I get paid a suitable amount of money), but would you please explain what’s that “asinine smooth scrolling crap” and in which way it increases the suckiness?

    Fred.

    Comment by the_blunderbuss — 18 September 2008 @ 07:05

  4. If you’re running Firefox 3, and haven’t changed the settings for “smooth scrolling”, you should try pointing your mouse pointer at the tab bar and spin your mouse wheel a little bit. What you’ll see is this simulated analog effect, where the tabs move as if they’re on a wheel or something like that; they start out slow, speed up a little, and slow down again to stop. This, of course, assumes you have enough tabs so that they don’t all fit in the tab bar at once (many people never have that many tabs open, which would mean they’ll never encounter the “smooth scrolling” effect).

    I basically never use the scroll wheel that way, but I do often move between tabs by hitting <Ctrl> + <Tab> to move to the right, or <Ctrl> + <Shift> + <Tab> to move to the left. When doing so moves to a tab that is currently “off-screen” (because I basically always have more tabs open than will fit in the tab bar at once), I get this “smooth scrolling” effect where the tabs move like they’re being dragged through molasses. If I’m at the right-hand end of the line of tabs and I hit <Ctrl> + <Tab>, it jumps to the first tab on the far left — but rather than just jumping there, it does this scrolling effect where it has to swoop through all the open tabs, which is ridiculous when I have more than seventy tabs open. I prefer the tabs to just suddenly be where I want them — not only because the “smooth scrolling” effect wastes resources for no good reason, but also because it’s distracting. As far as I’m concerned, the worst sin of interface design is an interface that gets in the user’s way just so it can have campy little unnecessary bells and whistles like this “smooth scrolling” nonsense.

    Having that ludicrous “smooth scrolling” effect running reminds me of some of the reasons I left MS Windows. Did you know that, by default, MS Windows has a delay in menu display configured? For instance, if you point at the All Programs entry in your Start Menu on XP, it intentionally hesitates for a moment before it pops up the All Programs menu. This behavior can be changed in the Registry — but I shouldn’t have to do that! It’s a ridiculous effect that just gets in the user’s way, I suppose for the purpose of providing the user with the reassuring feeling that (s)he is using some analog device that doesn’t move very quickly, to calm the frayed nerves of Luddites forced to work in the 21st Century.

    I guess, when users say MS Windows is “user friendly”, what they mean is that it’s designed to coddle Luddites at the expense of efficiency, security, stability, and anything else that might get in the way of making Luddites feel less panicky when confronted with modern technology.

    Well . . . I’m no Luddite, dammit.

    Comment by apotheon — 18 September 2008 @ 11:12

  5. As the saying goes, “beauty is in the eye of he beholder”. In my humble opinion, both Flock and Firefox meet “all of the above” expectations.

    I use Flock everyday for approximately 10 to 12 hours a day for my blogging activities. On very few occasions does it freezes or crashes; the same goes for Firefox.

    Could it be that you have a faulty version of Flock?

    Comment by Omar Upegui R. — 18 September 2008 @ 11:51

  6. “Very few occasions” is still too often.

    I don’t know why my Flock install broke. It worked fine for a while, then just grew this problem like a big fat tumor on its face.

    I wasn’t getting enough benefit out of using Flock instead of Firefox to bother screwing around with it to try to determine why it misbehaved. The benefits were marginal at best. I’ll just use Firefox now.

    Your mileage, of course, may vary.

    Comment by apotheon — 18 September 2008 @ 12:11

  7. I dont see links2 or elinks in the list. And indeed they suck less. Especially elinks

    Comment by Greg — 20 September 2008 @ 10:04

  8. ELinks looks good . . . in comparison to other text console based browsers. That ain’t saying much, though.

    It’s disgusting that support for CSS is a “killer feature” for a friggin’ browser.

    Comment by apotheon — 21 September 2008 @ 02:19

  9. Quote- “For instance, if you point at the All Programs entry in your Start Menu on XP, it intentionally hesitates for a moment before it pops up the All Programs menu. This behavior can be changed in the Registry — but I shouldn’t have to do that!”

    Is it possible for you to share how to change that in the registry? I find it ridiculous that the delay is intentional! I didn’t know that, I thought it was merely my computer lagging or something.

    Comment by Axeile — 29 September 2008 @ 03:02

  10. The Registry key you’re looking for is called MenuShowDelay. Its value is a number of milliseconds the system pauses before displaying a submenu in the Start Menu. It’s probably somewhere like HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, but I don’t really recall the specifics. It has been a couple years since I’ve had to deal with MS Windows enough to do any Registry hacking.

    When you have the Registry editor open (enter regedit in the “run box” from the Start menu, in case you’re not sure where to find it), you can use the F4 button to open a search dialog and enter the search string MenuShowDelay — that should take you right to it. The default, if I don’t misremember from a few years ago, is something like 400 milliseconds. Just set the number to 0 and you should get rid of that pesky delay.

    Comment by apotheon — 29 September 2008 @ 07:35

  11. Thank you! =)

    Comment by Axeile — 1 October 2008 @ 01:47

  12. Consarn it! I search Google for a “web browser that doesn’t suck” and I find this. I’ve tried most of the ones in your list; I agree and you have my sympathies.

    Comment by peets — 19 November 2008 @ 10:19

  13. Heh. Sorry I didn’t have good news for you, peets. Hopefully, if you discover the Web Browser of Awesomeness, you’ll let me know.

    Comment by apotheon — 20 November 2008 @ 12:04

  14. I have lower standards (I think). Software bugs bug me. I want a web browser without bugs. Okay, that’s probably not possible in a web browser because it’s so complicated, but I want a web browser that doesn’t have some glaring usability bug. I’m not talking about contrived corner cases, but relatively serious bugs I hit in day to day use. A lot of it seems to be that I like resizing my browser windows and text so that they’re easy to read (short lines, right text size, etc.)

    Firefox: Won’t rearrange my large collection of bookmarks. Chokes, crashes, dies, and … the bookmarks don’t move. And I’m not moving bookmarks one at a time. Also, the vertical scroll bar disappears. If you resize too small horizontally, the scroll bar disappears.

    Internet Explorer: Weird rendering glitch going to 75%, leaves the entire right vertical quarter unused for some bizarre reason. The text gets block instead of being smooth, like it’s doing a bitmap resizing rather than re-rendering (? Maybe that’s appropriate behavior, I don’t have this problem in other browsers.) It’s actually pretty good and low on the bugginess scale, comparatively speaking.

    Opera: Rendering and UI glitches. Many times when I bring a window up that’s been minimized for a while, there’s no menu bar. Strange effects with colors on slashdot headlines. Overall, it’s one of the best I’ve used, probably because it’s ported to so many platforms and even embedded spaces. Considering how many features they load into it, I’m surprised it works as well as it does. It’s the one I use.

    A lot of alternative browsers have crap UIs and poor documentation. (The prolific IE shells), and so they don’t get up to the point of being disqualified for bugs for me.

    It’s amazing what a vast pool of suckitude web browsers are.

    Comment by Adam Fabian — 25 December 2008 @ 01:01

  15. […] don’t like Opera as a browser. I pointed this out, very briefly, in Web browsers suck. I was recently asked in another venue why I don’t like Opera, though, and felt like it would be a […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » Opera Sucks — 6 June 2009 @ 04:21

  16. Agreed. All browsers suck. In fact all software sucks. And all OS’s suck too.
    The list could go on but I’ll stop there.

    I’d be curious to know HOW links and elinks suck.

    Perhaps we shouldn’t be talking about “browsers”. Maybe we should be talking about spiders. Who can build the best spider?

    Lots of programs that can send and retrieve data. Look in the FreeBSD ports tree. HTTP is not difficult to understand, nor is socket programming.

    I think RTMP needs to be understood in the same way. I see few people get it, outside the companies looking to cash in. The desire to collect data on people’s viewing habits and control distribution of content is I think going to make the browser situation even worse.

    Maybe we need more text parsers for the web. And not necessarily built with perl, python, ruby, etc. (often because people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, sed and awk) and not which involve tokenizing and more markup (because we can presume how people process information, or because it’s “the new thing”). What happened to plain old text?

    Maybe we need to go back to basics. Maybe one of the reasons browsers suck is because we’ve added complexity to the web that’s not needed, just to create hype and the illusion of cutting-edge progress.

    Do we really need statefulness in everything? Must we tag everything, presuming we know how others will think? Sometimes I think statefulness was motivated by people envisioning the web as a commercial marketplace.

    I can do just fine without it.

    Comment by argv — 17 July 2009 @ 05:40

  17. I’d be curious to know HOW links and elinks suck.

    The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that navigating through links on a page is time consuming and cumbersome.

    Maybe we need more text parsers for the web. And not necessarily built with perl, python, ruby, etc. (often because people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, sed and awk) and not which involve tokenizing and more markup (because we can presume how people process information, or because it’s “the new thing”). What happened to plain old text?

    Aside from not understanding what you have against Perl, Python, and Ruby, I agree — a more text-oriented Web would be great (as would a more text-oriented Web interface application, as long as one doesn’t sacrifice useful functionality and decent interface design in the process).

    Maybe one of the reasons browsers suck is because we’ve added complexity to the web that’s not needed, just to create hype and the illusion of cutting-edge progress.

    Yeah, I think that’s the case.

    Must we tag everything, presuming we know how others will think?

    “Tagging” is a concept that can be quite useful, within limits. Unfortunately, the limits were thrown away almost from the moment the idea was formalized in an application for the first time, and the only really useful implementation of tagging functionality I’ve seen is that used in wmii in place of a more traditional “workspaces” approach to organizing windows.

    Sometimes I think statefulness was motivated by people envisioning the web as a commercial marketplace.

    I think that statefulness can definitely be useful, but it gets abused quite obnoxiously.

    Comment by apotheon — 18 July 2009 @ 04:05

  18. I think if the webpages were programmed in a universal binary (cross OS/Processor comptaible) the web issue would solve its self. its the fact that xhtml can be interpredited so diffrently from browser to browser is one of the main issues with the web. XML was developed when transfering small amounts of data was slow, now with all people at 56Kbps and most at around 5-10Mbps having a small compiled program for a webpage would save headaches/.

    Comment by troooildo — 4 September 2009 @ 12:46

  19. Perhaps so. Then again, getting all browsers to use the same “universal binary” format would probably be about as likely to happen as getting all browsers to interpret markup the same way, I think.

    Comment by apotheon — 4 September 2009 @ 05:59

  20. Explain why the browser you listed sucks, if you are capable of doing that. Why don’t you make you make a web browser that doesn’t suck?

    Comment by usfsdjoifjsdf — 9 November 2011 @ 03:46

  21. […] xxxterm: When I first discovered the Phoenix browser, it was like an amazing revelation. It was a browser that was so much better than the competition that it boggled the mind. In time, the name was changed to Firebird due to a conflict with other software with the Phoenix name. It kept getting better. Around the time it reached v1.0 release status, and the name was changed once again so that it became the Firefox browser, something else changed as well. Instead of getting better as the developers continued to work on it, the browser got worse with every new release. For the last half-decade, I have suffered increasingly at the hands of the perversely guided browser project that has abandoned all the principles that originally made it great, and have found myself essentially unable to use any competing browser in its place because (of course) all web browsers sucked. […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » Software List — 6 February 2012 @ 12:04

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