E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Changing My Default Web Browser to Something Else More Web 2.0

Earlier on today I created a weblog post in my Intranet weblog where I was making a little bit of an announcement that I knew quite a few people were quite happy to read about. For the last few years I have been using Opera as my default web browser for 99% of my Internet surfing and so far I have been quite happy and content with, to me, one of the most innovative web browsers to date.

However, for one reason or another over the last few weeks I have felt how more and more Opera is starting to lack behind other web browsers who have been innovating all the way through till today, and still going strong. Specially in the area of the so-called Web 2.0 space. And since I have got an additional interest in pursuing further how social networking, amongst other things, will evolve I thought it was a good time to make a switch and try other web browsers as my default web browser. And after having looked for quite some time I have found one with which I am quite happy at the moment and which has substituted, as we speak, Opera in my work computer as my primary browser.

To get things straight I want to mention up front that my new default browser is not FireFox, just in case you were wondering. There are a number of issues that I have been having with FF as a second choice browser which will not make it go up the ladder. At least, not this time around. A couple of those issues are related to the well known memory leaks (I think it is incredibly bad that leaving it unattended for an extended period of time can take the memory usage to over 250MB. That is way too much !) or the limited functionality of the browser as an Internet suite (I want to have something more than just a web browser, which is the main reason why Opera used to be my default browser and is now my second choice). So what were the options out there? Considering that I wanted to perhaps start using what I think would be the next generation of browsers I decided to jump into Flock and take it for a spin.

I know that lot of people have been writing about it. Some positive, some negative. I even have weblogged about it a couple of times already here in elsua. Thus after some little thought I decided to try it out for a few weeks and see if it would be able to make it into the top of my list of browsers I use on a regular basis. And I must say that despite all the negative comments about it but thanks to the hourly builds put together (Where there some significant improvements) I am now using Flock as my default browser. Yes, indeed, I am flocking away !

You may be wondering what was it that made me move to Flock as opposed to stick with Opera in my work computer, right ? Well, here you have an excerpt of what I published earlier on in my Intranet weblog about the main five reasons why I really enjoy the Flock experience so far so that you have an idea where I am coming from and where I am hopefully heading to:

  • A Web 2.0 browser: If we are to take Web 2.0 seriously (And I think it is time we all do) current browsers do not provide that cutting edge innovation to come closer to Web 2.0 in a seamless way. I know people would say that FireFox could behave very well as a Web 2.0 application but I do have some reservations on it since for that to happen I always need to install something else separately, as opposed to Flock that comes already packed up with a whole bunch of web collaborative options missing from other web browsers.
  • Integration with del.icio.us: This has been in my top priority list for quite some time now. Since I would want not to depend on a machine to access my favourite links I wanted to make use of a social bookmarking tool that would be able to gather all of those links. And Flock’s integration with del.icio.us is just perfect although it may not be my favourite choice. Yes, my favourite choices are Dogear (IBM internal’s option towards social bookmarking for the enterprise) and externally BlinkList. Why BlinkList? Simply because I can import bookmarks from quite a few options, including del.icio.us, and has been quite reliable most of the time (I wish I could say the same thing for other services, which, at this point in time, they seem to be continuously down. I know it may be temporary but it is quite upsetting knowing your bookmarks are there but you cannot access them). Thus now I carry my bookmarks with me using Flock to then export them into BlinkList but because that is just not possible at the moment I just installed its toolbar for Flock and off I go. Back to work.
  • Flock’s weblogging component: Indeed, this, along one other thing I will mention later on, is what have convinced me to move towards Flock. Now that I try to maintain three different weblogs, one internal and two external, I wanted to have a seamless experience in order to be able to share content when I most need it: while surfing the web. And having Flock’s weblogging component available is a very good option. Yes, I know you are going to say that there is also Performancing for FireFox 1.1 as an extension for FireFox but then we bumped into one of the other issues I have with FF, the fact that just to get some very basic web browsing functionality I need to install a whole bunch of extensions, which will make it rather difficult for me to manage at the same time that it would far too complicated when using other machines or migrating from one to the other. As I said, I want to make use of an Internet Web Browser Suite and not just a regular browser bloated with a whole bunch of extensions to make it work just the way I want for some basic functionality.However, even if you would rather prefer to use Performancing, did you know that it has been compatible with Flock for a few weeks already? Indeed, I got it installed myself and I have been sharing a number of weblog posts already with it and it works rather well. So now you can choose between one or the other without having to have multiple weblogging tools installed separately to perform different tasks.
  • Integration with Flickr: Another of the main reasons why I moved over to Flock. I just love Flickr. I seriously do ! I think it is one of the best Web 2.0 offerings currently available out there and the fact I can access my favourite pictures in a nick of time is priceless. It just cannot get better than this and if you are a Flickr user yourself you would agree with me. I am sure.
  • Its extensibility: Yes, indeed, despite what I mentioned above about the dangers of having to install too many extensions to get some basic features I still think it is a wonderful option if you can extend your experience to the maximum you may want to. However, the big difference between FireFox and Flock that I see is that quite a few of the extensions FF uses to provide some basic web browsing features are actually native features to Flock. Thus no need to install anything else in order to provide you with some solid basic web surfing functionality. This, to me, has been a big plus as well.Thus I headed over to AdminID’s Collection of Flock Extensions and just had to install a couple of them I wanted to make use of and which I find really useful to improve that Internet Web browser experience: BugMeNot, ChatZilla, FireFTP, Greasemonkey, IE Tab and a couple of other extensions for web development purposes (Platypus and Web Developer) and I am ready to enjoy my web experience at the same level, if not higher than with Opera.

And that would be it, folks. Those are some of the reasons why from now on Flock will remain as my default web browser in my work computer. If you decide to give it a try I would suggest you actually try to download any of the latest hourly builds which will provide you a much better experience than the currently version available for download at the development site. Oh, and one final thought the memory leaks are by far not as serious as the ones with FireFox even though this browser is still a beta in development and the hourly builds would probably not be the most reliable. In this case they are, at least, much more than FF. If you would want to check when Flock will be making into a production environment take a look into its roadmap. Things are looking good, indeed.

Thus there you go, now you can hit me with your comments and see if I have made the right choice or not. What do you think ?

[tags]Flock, Flock+Extensions, FireFox, Opera, del.icio.us, Flickr, Performancing, BlinkList, Web2.0[/tags]