Firefox 3 – Initial Impressions

I haven’t come across anything truly groundbreaking in Firefox 3, possibly because I’ve become accustomed to much of the feature set through the Betas and RCs, but there are one or two improvements that are quite useful (as well as a couple of regressions unfortunately).

Wee Niggles

First the bad. When you view Page Info from the context menu it doesn’t give a link to the CSS file in the Media tab any more. I was sure it was there in 2 and a quick google confirmed this. This really sucks – I can’t see why they’ve taken it out.

Secondly, when I was looking through the options to try and return the aforementioned CSS links, I discovered Firefox had decided it was going to automatically download any future updates when they were discovered (I promptly switched the option to “Ask me…”). Bad Firefox.

Magic Address Bar

The good is good though. It doesn’t seem like it at first, but to my mind the biggest improvement of all is the address bar. Sure they’ve added a “Most Visited” folder to your bookmarks toolbar which (shockingly, given the title) contains a list of the sites you visit most frequently, but the address bar has some great, if not immediately obvious, usability improvements.

Non-secure site. Favicon shown on grey background.
Secure Site. Favicon background turns blue.
Secure Site with Extended Validation. Favicon background is green; name and country code of organisation is displayed.

Firstly there’s support for Extended Validation certificates. These are new forms of SSL certificates being issued (mostly to big companies due to their expense) and are used by IE7 too. A normal SSL certificate will turn the background of your favicon section (far left of the address bar) a bluey colour. An extended validation certificate turns it green and displays the name and country of the organisation. The aim is to tackle phishing, but that only works if people know what the colours are for – so consider the above publicity my good deed for the day.

The best feature by far though (IMHO) is that you can now search your history just by typing in the address bar. So if you’ve been looking at sites about the Maze stadium just type Maze and it brings up a drop-down list of all the sites you’ve visited with the word Maze in the domain or the title.

Illustration of Firefox 3 address bar search. The word maze returns all the sites that have

Better still it works on multiple words. So to find wikipedia articles you’ve looked at recently containing the word maze, just type “maze wiki” (no quote marks) and voila!

Illustration of address bar search in Firefox 3. Typing the words

Overall it’s definitely worth upgrading.

Aside from the address bar search there’s nothing that’s really, really impressed me (although I’ve been told the bookmarks management dialogue has been improved too) but it’s a step in the right direction and there’s nothing showstoppingly bad.

Oh yes, and they are claiming success for Download Day’s record attempt with figures quoted as 8 million.

Author: nerd.

An experienced IT professional, I used to run a number of small websites and spend a lot of time tinkering with my sites or my PC - back when I had free time.

1 thought on “Firefox 3 – Initial Impressions”

  1. Once I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any method you possibly can remove me from that service? Thanks!

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