I recently switched to Chrome as my primary web browser because I was becoming increasingly frustrated with how resource hungry Firefox is. FF would regularly consume more than 1GB of RAM and problems with one web page would occassionally take out the entire browser. Chrome’s unique process model ensures that this never happens, and it consumes considerably less RAM than Firefox.


That said, Chrome is feature-poor when compared to FF and it is not without its flaws. And so here I present a list of the things I miss most about Firefox:

  1. A wide selection of extensions/plugins. I rely heavily on Firefox plugins like FireBug, HttpFox, ElasticFox and S3Organiser for debugging websites and managing resources in the cloud. Chrome only introduced extensions at the end of last year and currently there are not many available, though thankfully this will change over time.
  2. RSS support. Chrome simply isn’t there yet. I was a bit surprised to learn that Chrome does not have a feature for auto-detecting and subscribing to RSS feeds, nor does it even display RSS content in an easily digestible format. It’s funny to think that Firefox is better integrated with Google Reader than Google’s own Chrome.
  3. A design consistent with Windows / manageable toolbars. Google has applied their own unchangeable design ethos to Chrome that is a departure from the typical Windows app. For one, tabs are where the title bar normally appears and there is no menu bar in Chrome. I can understand why Google did this, wanting to maximise space and put the most important information at the top, but I think this lack of consistency with other Windows apps makes Chrome appear a little cludgy and can lead to momentary confusion when working at rapid speed, switching through windows quickly. Ultimately, it would be nice to be able to customise the top-most toolbar area as you can with other browsers.
  4. Windows that size correctly. I’ve tried various fixes for this with no success under Windows 7. For the life of me I cannot get Chrome to open a new window in a maximised state after the initial start of Chrome. Instead, new windows after the first open at a greatly reduced width which results in me having to maximise them myself before any serious browsing.
  5. Comprehensive bookmark support. I am a serial bookmarker. I bookmark hundreds of web pages each month and thus require a fairly extensive system for managing them that consists of organising them into folders, tagging them and adding descriptions. Unfortunately Chrome at this point only allows you to organise bookmarks into folders, and this is going to make them difficult for me to recall in future. Particularly, I need tags so that I can apply more than one nested dimension of categorisation to my bookmarks. It would also help if Chrome’s Bookmark Manager had more sortable columns of data for bookmarks like FF does.

Firefox is clearly a much more mature browser and Chrome has a fair bit of catching up to do in terms of feature support, but Google is no doubt hard at work trying to pick up the slack. In the mean time, Chrome does perform infinitely better than FF and that is enough for me to continue to use it as my primary browser.

Written on February 23rd, 2010 , All, Tech

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