Just Browsing

I’m kind of picky about my browsers.

Alright, that might be an understatement…

I’m a browser whore.

I use three different browsers every day at work, and several others at home. Two of them are beta versions. Even though I use Firefox at home and at work, I have completely different addons for each install. And I use different browsers on my iPhone and my iPad.

I’ve probably used about two dozen unique browsers in my life to date.

That’s not even the worst of it.

I’m also a browserphile.

I’ve memorized the market share of all major browsers, just because I hear the numbers so often. I’ve been following the progress of the HTML5 spec for about six years. I’ve installed (and used) nightlies.

I can tell you exactly which CSS attributes and selectors are supported by every version of Internet Explorer since IE4.

How did I get like this?

I blame my condition on a few factors.

First and foremost, I was a Mac user for much of my learning-about-computers days. This was long before Safari was an A-list browser. You just got to know about the Shiiras and the Caminos. The features varied so wildly that it really encouraged experimentation. That part just stuck with me.

Then there’s the internet/computer synonymy. I don’t really remember what computers were like before the internet, because I was in grade school when the web started to take off. To me, a browser has always been an essential part of a computer.

Finally, I do a lot of web development. Knowing what each major browser can handle is practically a job requirement for me, and if I have to have them all installed for testing anyway, I’m going to find things I like that are unique to each one.

Here’s what I use at work.

My primary browser is Firefox. I need this for Firebug, and a handful of other useful web-development extensions (Fireshot, Tamper Data, Window Resizer, and FireQuery, which is actually an extension for Firebug). I’m also a huge fan of app tabs, because Chrome got me enthralled with that feature, and I’ve experimented with some tab-bar modifications here and there, but not found a working combination that I like just yet.

The half-dozen pages I keep open all the time are app-tabbed, and other than that Firefox is used for relatively-persistent browsing; stuff I’ll want to keep open for a little while.

Chrome is my secondary browser, and I use it for more instantaneous needs — like when I can’t remember jquery syntax, or looking up spelling, or when I need to grab a url for an obligatory xkcd reference. This is because Chrome is extremely fast, especially compared to Firefox with 18 tabs open, half of which are running AJAX in the background. Chrome fires up instantly, I punch in whatever query I have, and moments later I have my result and close the window.

I also use Internet Explorer at work, because our archaic timesheet software only renders properly in IE (I know, right?). Right now I’m running the IE9 beta, so that I have an excuse to play with SVG in all its GPU-accelerated glory.

At home is a different story.

I’m actually pretty good about sticking to one browser on my desktop machine. It’s been Firefox for quite a while now, ever since the novelty of Chrome wore off, and I’m currently running the latest FF4 beta release. Unfortunately, that disables most of my plugins, but with built-in app tab support I’m not too broken up about it. Also, when I experiment with Opera/Flock/anything else, this is the machine I use.

In the mobile world, I’m still using Safari for iPhone. I find that with the screen being so small, there’s not much room for fancy features, and they’re all webkit anyway so there’s little reason to stray from the default.

My iPad is a different story, though. One of the first apps I downloaded was Life, a browser with some neat multi-tab features. It’s non-free ($3), but I like it quite a bit. Besides, how many people do you know that have actually paid for a browser?

Why am I telling you all this?

Honestly? I don’t have an answer. Some days you just feel like writing about what you love, and you’re not going to let the fact that it’s a total rant that doesn’t really go anywhere stop you.

Am I the only self-confessed browser-nut out there? Or are you passionate about something completely different?

I’m here to listen, too.

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3 Responses to “Just Browsing”

  1. John Says:

    woah woah woah … safari is an “A-list” browser now :D

  2. dan Says:

    I did have to think twice about that one :)

    In the end I decided it is A-list because it’s too big to ignore. If you’re building a web application and it doesn’t work in Safari, you’ve just lost most Mac users and almost all iOS users. That’s a big hit, so it’s still important to keep Safari around for testing.

    Of course, up until about a year ago, IE6 also matched those criteria. So maybe A-list isn’t exactly the best term :p

  3. dan-menard.com» Blog Archive » aaand crash. Says:

    [...] aren’t as excited about this as I am. That’s just me, I’m a self-confessed browser geek. Still, I really felt special being at a keynote where a new version of a major browser was [...]

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