Like with operating systems, we’re in a good situation now with web browsers.  A few years ago it was Windows XP and Apple’s Mac OSX, and Internet Explorer and Firefox.  Today we’ve got Windows 7, still Mac OSX, and Ubuntu, all great operating systems.  (I’d use Windows 7 more if I could figure out the damn DRM; I have a valid license but can’t figure out how to download it to install.)  With browsers, the development of WebKit has been especially noteworthy; not just for Safari but Google Chrome and all the other derivatives, plus a much-improved MS Internet Explorer, still Firefox, Opera, and all the others.  They’re all great, especially compared to the even recent past.

I’m using Google Chrome (Chromium, actually) these days more than Firefox; it’s fast and slick. There are a couple of things that still bug me, though.

One is bug #6459, in which Chrome opens a new tab in the foreground, i.e., in focus, after you right-click and ‘search [search engine] for [topic].’ That is, if I’m reading an article on Tyrolean winemaking and highlight the word ‘saltner’ and then right-click to ‘search Google for saltern’, the search tab come up with focus. I’m used to Firefox, which has the same functionality but which opens the search tab without focus, i.e., in the background.

The other is Live Bookmarks, a Firefox feature that let’s you read RSS feeds as bookmarks. I got so used to this in my browser that I was astonished that Chrome doesn’t have it natively. There are a couple of extensions that do it, but the one I prefer, Foxish Live RSS, has some bugs itself, including performance issues. Live Bookmarks always just worked and I still occasionally go back to Firefox just for this feature.

These issues make you realize how difficult the job of designing general-purpose software really is; I have what is apparently a distinctive way of using my browser although it seems perfectly natural and normal to me.  I must highlight/right-click/search Google dozens of times a day; I thought that was the usual way to do it, a kind of makeshift Xanadu, but that’s apparently not the case.