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]
15 thoughts on “Changing My Default Web Browser to Something Else More Web 2.0”
I’m with you. I just started moving everything over from Opera to Firefox early this week. I have been using Opera for 2-3 years and one of their best advocates. But it is sort of falling behind in the Web 2.0 race. Perhaps version 9.0 will fill the gaps? I’m not sure as the Firefox extensions are getting much better (i.e. Performancing). Unless there is a way to port them into Opera, I am afraid there isn’t going to be the same community development spirit.
Hello Brad and welcome to elsua ! Indeed, I certainly agree with you. I have been an Opera fan for quite some time now but somehow I feel that in that same space of the Web 2.0 it is missing the battle big time, and not just with FireFox. I mean, right now there is a thriving community of folks who are constantly innovating in the Web 2.0 space for whatever the web browser. However, we haven’t seen (At least, I haven’t) seen much of that happening with Opera and given its market share I doubt release 9.0 would have that kind of impact. At least, nobody seems to be making a big noise about it and I fear that by now it may be a bit too late. We will just have to wait and see what happens.
And regarding your other comments about the community development it is also true that Opera’s community development may not have enough critical mass to give it the exposure that other popular web browsers have got. It would be interesting to see what would eventually be happening and hope for the best, but I am not so sure it would happen that close in time yet. At least, not now, as far as I can see.
Funny that in one place you mention…
“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,”
…and yet, you tell us you’ve installed 8 extensions into Flock plus one toolbar for blinklist. Aren’t you back to square one (or close to it) with all these add-ons, compared to Firefox?
Another thing, Flock only supports Yahoo properties for now (del.icio.us and Flickr), and no way to add additional social bookmarking or photo services for now – isn’t that odd, for a project that wants to be open and flexible?
Del.icio.us doesn’t support private bookmarks, so how will you make it your only browser, unless you’re willing to share your banking/other private bookmarks?
For me, Firefox remains the one, perhaps only because its development community is orders of magnitude larger and ensures us a steady supply of bug fixes *and* extensions/themes/plugins/other magic thingies we like so much.
Enjoy the week-end!
Hey, Jean-Francois !
Thanks a bunch for sharing your thoughts and for your feedback comments ! As usual, very valuable.
Not really, you cannot imagine how many FireFox extensions I had on my machine to be somehow productive for a second choice browser. 40 ! Yes, indeed, 40 extensions and I have got all of their URLs (Just in case I come back to it) if you want them. So to say that I have gone from 40 extensions to just 8 I think it is a great achievement. And two of those extensions are actually to access other applications, ChatZilla and FireFTP, so in reality it would be down to 6 extensions, which I think it is pretty good, since I can remember them all by heart without scratching my head too hard 😉
Flock has been supporting both of them way before they were acquired by Yahoo! and I would think that it would only show their commitment to products and offerings that would do have a strong presence in the Web 2.0 space. However, I am not sure I would be able to provide much more information than that. I would leave it to the powers that be to comment further if they wish. It may be odd, indeed, but I am sure there are good reasons for that and we will hear about them in its due time. One thing for sure is that I suspect they needed to make a choice from the myriad of social bookmarking and web photography services and they probably went for the two that at the time had the biggest impact on either area. So I wouldn’t think it was too bad, actually. But again I would leave it up to them to comment on this further.
del.icio.us does support private bookmarks although it has got some leaks, which obviously would indicate that it may not be secure enough. However, I can certainly tell you that my private bookmarks are not going anywhere else outside of my machine but BlinkList and through the usage of the toolbar, so as you can see I would have the best of both worlds: del.icio.us to store public bookmarks and then BlinkList to save the private ones. And since I can import the one from del.icio.us into BlinkList I can still keep everything under the same offering.
Certainly and that is a good thing, Jean-Francois. I believe, too, that is one the strengths of FF, the massive development community, but if you look into it I haven’t found many extensions that didn’t work well with Flock. So far that transition seems to have gone quite all right, and I am sure that as things move forward and Flock becomes a full production product that the development community would be large enough to allow for the application to develop further and provide a good quality set of features and not just related to nice-to-have ones 😉 Either way, we shall see what will happen but so far Flock hits the mark with me for the reasons I mentioned above and we will just have to see if they would sustain themselves for the next few months. So far the first month it has survived, which is more than what I could say about many other applications I have tried.
Thanks again for the feedback and have a good one !
40 extensions, wow! …Luis… I had no idea… ok, you win. 8 *is* much better 🙂
Yes, indeed, Jean-Francois, that is exactly what I meant. I was just getting overloaded with the huge amount of extensions I have tried out and it was about time to cut off on them since it was becoming unusable. That is one of the things that I have enjoyed from Flock during the last few weeks; that it has allowed me to increase my productivity with plenty of native features available where FF would be providing them only through extensions. That, to me, is a big winner, although I agree with you as well and see the value of having a good number of extensions to choose from. In the end it is just a matter of choice and see which one would meet your needs. For mine Flock would do the trick. FireFox didn’t.
OK — maybe I will try out Flock, on one condition. You have to point me to a screenshot. (Maybe I’m slow, but I couldn’t find a single picture of the application on that website.)
You show me a screenshot, and I’ll take the plunge and install it. 🙂
Hello Bill ! Thanks a lot for the feedback ! Indeed, the homepage does not seem to have too many pictures about the browser itself bit if you head over to Flickr you would be able to find plenty of them, like, for instance, this particular Flickr set, where it is actually showing 18 different screen shots of what the browser looks like and the different features worth while noting that it has. Really nice ! Have a look and see if those will do and if not I will go ahead and take some more myself and then share them over here as well. See what you think. Thanks again for the feedback and welcome to elsua !
I knew you would find some screenshots!
I’ll give it a shot, as promised. 😉
Sure thing, Bill ! I would be interested in finding out what you think about it, specially since you also have been blogging for a while and see how you like the experience. Thanks for replying back that you will try it out. Have a good one !
Another thing, Flock only supports Yahoo properties for now (del.icio.us and Flickr), and no way to add additional social bookmarking or photo services for now – isnâ€™t that odd, for a project that wants to be open and flexible?
That was just an implementation problem in 4.10. The devs just picked up the services they preferred (and at that time del.icio.us was not owned by Yahoo!)
A new version will be released very soon, and you can already download a nightly builds to try the new features. You will see that Flock already supports Shadows, a bookmark sharing site not affiliated to Yahoo! that supports privacy. You can also have local favorites if you don’t trust Shadows.
It’s already extensible to other services, all you have to do is to write an xpcom component. Not very well documented yet, I know. You need to search in Ian’s blog for the explainations.
The photo sharing module is also generic in recent builds, even if there is no other implementation that Flickr yet.
Hello Erwan and welcome to elsua ! Thanks very much for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts above ! This is some excellent stuff and something I will be looking forward to. I have just downloaded one of the latest daily builds and will be checking out those new options you mentioned, plus the one other feature you mentioned over at your weblog: Flock’s Mini Mapper. That one looks very good, too ! I hope I may be able to make some good use out of it. Thanks again for dropping by and for the feedback comments !