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Internet Explorer The Internet

How to Build a Better Browser 492

TuringTest writes "Interface designer and IE ex-developer Scott Berkun writes an essay on basic principles of web browser design, moved by the recent presence of Firefox and Opera in the headlines. Gives plenty of design constraints and guidelines, some insightful, some debatable. Personally some features that I'd like to see in my browser include colaborative filtering (a.k.a. del.icio.us integration), a unified tool for history+bookmarks in a single list (filtered by keyword tags), and automatic generation of keywords for the bookmarked pages (something that Open Text Summarizer can do)."
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How to Build a Better Browser

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  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:01PM (#11081787)
    bookmarks, if they were searchable i think that would be a big improvement. i collect so many they get hard to manage.

    I think a better bookmark managment system needs to be implemented, especially when you move from office to home to mobile. possibly network storage system to publish your bookmarks so your browser can grab them automatically?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:04PM (#11081810)
      bookmarks, if they were searchable i think that would be a big improvement. i collect so many they get hard to manage.
      Firefox has this.
    • by kanweg ( 771128 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:04PM (#11081811)
      I use Safari, and my bookmarks are searchable. Nice.

      Bert
    • by eMartin ( 210973 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:06PM (#11081837)
      What browser are you using? With Firefox, you can search through bookmark names in the sidebar.

      What I would like to see is that integrated into the address bar's autocomplete, as well as searching by bookmark url. This is a feature that I miss from the Mac version of Internet Explorer.
      • you learn something new every day :o
      • Thing's I'd like to see for better bookmark handling:

        1. Duplicates handling. I have around 800 bookmarks and I may bookmark a page multiple times. Possibly some warning to let you know that the name or the URL you are giving the bookmark is the same as an existing one. At the moment I have a perl script I run to report on this, but that it is a hack.

        2. Decent sorting. Mozilla is actually better at this than firefox. Mozilla allows you to sort bookmarks by name, bringing the folders to the top. For some re
    • bookmarks, if they were searchable i think that would be a big improvement. i collect so many they get hard to manage.

      Personally what I'd like to see is something with no bloat. I don't need mouse gestures, tabbed windows, themes, skins, bookmarks, etc. What I need is a browser that displays images quickly, doesn't crash, isn't a haven for malware, looks identical to how IE renders pages, isn't by Microsoft or the Firefox team (as both browsers suck IMHO), and still lets me get what I need done 110% of
      • That, my friend, is called an (X/D)HTML renderer, not a browser.

        A web browser, by definition, helps you browse web sites, not only view HTML pages.

        Tabbed browsing, mouse gestures, themes and skins, etc., just make the whole browsing experience a lot more pleasurable.
      • Did you read the article? You are in the minority. You would be the person who writes their own browser for their own needs, and it would be unsuitable for almost everybody else on the planet.

        You are looking for a custom-fit in an off-the-shelf computer world. It is similar to demanding that your girlfriend be a rich, nymphomaniac supermodel who models lingerie in Paris and Milan during the week, but plays Doom3 and mods cases on the weekend. Doesn't exist.

        Look at your list: No tabs. This is considered by most to be basic functionality. No bookmarks! Come one here. Nobody is forcing you to use them, but bookmark code might take up 10K, if that. I would hardly consider bookmarks to be consideree bloat. The only solution for you is to become your own tailor. You will need to get down'n'dirty with a compiler and write your own (or hack something that already exists, but you don't like firefox, so I am assuming that anything Mozilla is out also).

        I can agree with you on themes, skins, and mouse gestures though.
      • and still lets me get what I need done 110% of the time.

        The problem is that what you need to get done doesn't always match what everyone else needs to get done. Tabbed windows and bookmarks are essential tools in my opinion.
      • isn't a haven for malware, looks identical to how IE renders pages,

        Right away, I can tell you that's not going to happen. IE's rendering engine is buggy, quirky, broken. Furthermore, the bugs, quirks, and breaks are often specific to each version of IE (5.0, 5.5, 0.0, 6.01, etc)

        Therefore you're not going to get anything that renders "identical to IE" unless you embed IE's rendering engine itself. Which is obviously do-able, but there goes your "isn't a haven for malware" requirement. Either you li
    • Recall Toolbar [recalltoolbar.com] for Internet Explorer is an even better idea. It lets you search in your browser history for web pages you know you've visited earlier. I believe that today searching a much more obvoius way of "remembering" and "navigating" favorite web sites than organizing bookmarks is.
      • they should be. Make "ranking" an option but record an index of ALL printed words (besides and, or stuff like that). Many times I've been searching for something and found something else not related but mildly interesting (or not obvious in its relation) and couldn't find it the next day save for maybe a topic or phrase that was unrelated to the original search.

    • by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:24PM (#11082038) Journal
      That's already a solved problem. Check Furl, Spurl, del.icio.us (which have the further benefit of an emergent collaborative filtering system).

      Better bookmark managment systems need to be implemented indeed, but the problem is far deeper. I wouldn't be satisfied with less that what Integrated Back, History and Bookmarks [google.com] describes: most visited pages bookmarked automatically and shown in the history list, filtering by frequency of visits, thumbnails.

      I would implement that system myself as a Firefox extension, but sadly I lack the developing skill with the Mozilla base code.
    • Firefox has a great plugin (Bookmarks Synchronizer 1.0.1 [mozilla.org]) I use to save my bookmarks to my website; it uploads/downloads on exit/start so everything's current, but this takes a few seconds everytime you open or close the browser... a bit annoying, but very functional!
      • it uploads/downloads on exit/start so everything's current

        Hmmm.... I'm still waiting for the perfect solution. Or more acurately, I'm waiting till I figure out what I need so that I know a solution to my problem when I see one.

        My problem? I need to have FireFox open on multiple computers at once and still keep the bookmarks synched. Like many here, I have several computers (both at home and work) which may be on and using their browsers and adding bookmarks at any given moment.

        A normal situation is my d
    • "bookmarks, if they were searchable i think that would be a big improvement."
      Opera did that years ago, AFAIK. And recently, other browsers have picked up on it too.
    • Not only the bookmarks should be searchable, but also the pages they link too. I wish it would be possible to have full-text search across all webpages I ever visited, technically it shouldn't be much of a problem at all.

      Beside from that full-text search across whole websites, not just single pages would also be extremly usefull (ie. reading/browsing a latex2html converted document).
    • You publish your bookmarks.

      Then you run a program that compares your bookmarks to other people's bookmarks, and the closest 5 matches come up. Then you recieve the websites they have in their bookmarks. For the most part you may be getting nonsense, but maybe you'd find some links you'd be interested in.
  • I'm pretty thrilled with plugins for Firefox and the potential that exists there. As web applications grow in popularity, I'm hoping that software vendors will offer Firefox plugins alongside or instead of ActiveX components.
    • Plugins: Yuck. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Neil Watson ( 60859 )
      Plugins are the bain of the web. The web is about delivering content to the browser and enabling the user to view the content as desired. Plugins, are the realm of over zealous 'web designers' and marketing types who cloud content with branding dogma.
      • Re:Plugins: Yuck. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Justin205 ( 662116 )
        Some plugins are useful - stuff like video plugins aren't terrible. Flash has it's place too. Sometimes you actually want to watch those terribly stupidly funny Flash movies you find.

        Other plugins are just stupid though. Acrobat comes to mind... I like how OS X handles PDFs on the internet - download them to the download location, and open them (if you set it to auto-open files it deems "safe" - PDFs, disk images, documents, etc.). Much nicer, in my opinion, than the open-it-in-the-browser-window way.
  • Better links. (Score:3, Informative)

    by solidox ( 650158 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:04PM (#11081809) Homepage
    The links provided are very slow... here are normal ones.

    Scott Berkun [nyud.net]
    basic principles of web browser design [uiweb.com]
    del.icio.us integration [mozdev.org]
    unified tool [mozdev.org]
    Open Text Summarizer [sourceforge.net]
  • The article is a good primer for people who haven't done much research regarding browser feature development, but doesn't offer anything terribly insightful or innovative. Really nice photography though. :)
    • Re:Decent (Score:5, Informative)

      by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:21PM (#11082006) Homepage Journal
      Not terribly insightful or innovative? Coming from an ex-IE designer? Noooo. I don't believe it.

      IE are the guys who think tabbed browsing isn't useful or desired by users. Is that why AOL is making an IE with tabbed browsing? Is that why every other browser has tabbed browsing? I think it's pretty obvious who's incorrect.

      Taking hints from IE designers are like taking hints on car design from the designers of the Pinto. Sure, they might have gotten alot right, but there was that one problem...
  • by the talented rmg ( 812831 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:06PM (#11081845)
    It's disconcerting to see Microsoft paying attention to the sort of features available in Firefox and Opera. We all know what happens when Microsoft starts "addressing" the competition.

    Personally, I find Firefox's community oriented approach to extensions and plugins refreshing, but it's hard to compete with a paid team of guys who managed to pass Microsoft's crazy hiring tests. As a Linux user, I fear this will mean my web browsing experience will fall yet farther behind that of my friends and co-workers.

    Developers should see this as a call-to-arms. If Microsoft pursues feature extensions in earnest, it may well overrun open source efforts. That would be a disaster given the progress Firefox has made in terms of marketshare and acceptance so far.
    • Microsoft's crazy hiring tests

      If you're refering to the interesting puzzlers that were popular to discuss in the late 90's, they don't do that any more. There is much debate as to whether they were ever any good at all for selecting good people to hire.

  • Security? (Score:5, Funny)

    by shrapnull ( 780217 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:07PM (#11081849)
    You mean to tell me that the IE developers didn't focus on security???

    NOW you tell me !!!
  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:07PM (#11081850) Journal
    You mean like adhering to the W3C standards? You mean like not having your own proprietary code floating about?

    Start with those two issues then get back to me.
    • You mean like adhering to the W3C standards? You mean like not having your own proprietary code floating about?

      That's already done. It's called Firefox. But you miss the subject; it's not about system's design, is about interface (i.e. a useable tool) design.

      BTW, web standards didn't exist when this guy started working in Internet Explorer V1.0. That's right, the writer has been working that long in the IE development team. Given that IE is a somewhat useable piece of software, I would give him some cred
  • by CodeWanker ( 534624 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:07PM (#11081851) Journal
    Intelligent bookmark management: "Now your spouse can PROVE how much porn you look at."
    • Fun aside, that's a real problem with current interface designs. Online bookmark sites manage this by adding a "private" checkbox to entries, but I would like to see a more fine-grained publishing classification (i.e. personal, for friends, for work, for the world).
  • Anyone wanna post a link for people like myself who are behind corporate firewalls that wont allow access out on 8000whatever ports?
  • Cache search (Score:5, Interesting)

    by andrel ( 85594 ) <andrel@yahoo.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:08PM (#11081865) Journal
    I want to be able to search the browser cache, since that's where pages I've recently visited can be found. Sure, I can grep the directory, but this really should be integrated into the browser.
    • In Mozilla, I can go to about:cache and use Find in This Page... or the find-as-you-type feature. There also a request (bug 255544) to add sorting features to about:cache in Firefox.
  • a unified tool for history+bookmarks in a single list

    You mean like Safari? [augfrance.com]

  • Portable bookmarks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by uf22 ( 521280 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:09PM (#11081876) Homepage
    The problem with bookmarks is that they are tied down to one computer! I have to maintain two different lists at work and at home. Not to mention when I'm over at a friend's house and I'm trying to remember the url for one of them. I've found breasy.com [breasy.com] to be a good solution. Could this be done in a Firefox plugin somehow? I suppose you need a central db to make it happen. Will the tinfoil hat crowd shy away from this?
    • Safari. .Mac. iSync. Problem solved.
    • I never use the browser bookmarks: I just keep them in my gmail, so I can access them everywhere. You could even use your slashdot journal to put them in :-)
    • Straight from the front page, and complete with Firefox plugin and a nice api:
      del.icio.us [del.icio.us]
    • by rdc_uk ( 792215 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:31PM (#11082111)
      Better solution:

      Browser uses standard HTML/xhtml/xml format for its bookmarks.

      Browser is capable of using this file from anywhere, including through http, or from a local file.

      Bookmark management is still done through the browser interface, but the location of the bookmarks becomes browser independant.

      For the http version, you would want a simple server side script to handle through http requests all the bookmark management (edit/add/delete/move around etc). There is no reason for this to be a complex script; you could put it on your own site, or have it on a central site, it should be your choice. You can even SSL and/or password protect your bookmarks, should you need to.

      This simple system could even (gosh!) be cross browser and cross platform (its only an xml file, all it needs is a standard format, developed independant of each browser and then used by some or all)

      This would give you bookmarks that could be accessed from multiple machines no problem.

      For those who don't want http bookmarks, its just an xml file; put it on a floppy disk, USB flash drive or even your bluetooth mobile phone and take your bookmarks with you when you travel.

      By default the browser just uses a local file in its app directory, so no visible change for those who _don't_ want common bookmarks.

      All common sense.
      All great for the end user.
      Will never get implemented by ANY browser ever, I'll bet you :(
  • by isolationism ( 782170 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:10PM (#11081888) Homepage
    ... Something that IE trounces the rest of them with. It's undoubtedly been the greatest frustration of using it for my wife and I after switching from using IE for so many years -- IE was very stable. Firefox, on the other hand, runs into problems with specific pages (usually ones that are badly written/formed). The article lists stability as a "red herring" and that it is of "limited value" but allow me to differ in opinion.

    While I'm actually relatively indifferent if someone's site uses Javascript or DHTML that Firefox doesn't support, it is aggravating to have a single, badly-coded web page take out that browser window and everything else I was tabbing to at that moment, especially if I hadn't bookmarked what I was looking at. In this sense, Firefox has unwittingly upped the ante on application crashes, since you're more likely to have more pages browsed to at any given moment than with MSIE.

    Don't get me wrong: I love Firefox and I have no plans to switch back to MSIE. But I would definitely suggest one of Firefox's greatest weaknesses would be the stability issue. At this point, anything to prevent the browser from utterly disappearing when it hits a malformed (or whatever) page would be a welcome addition to the code.

    • I wonder if FireFox' crashes have to do with stupid web pages with embedded active X controls, dumb implementations of Java because they have been DESIGNED to be used on IE. Don't you just LOVE when you get those web pages that say you MUST use IE to view this webpage?

      I will take FireFox' instability(FOR NOW), tabbed browsing, and speed, over the insecure, slow IE any day.
      • I wonder if FireFox' crashes have to do with stupid web pages with embedded active X controls, dumb implementations of Java because they have been DESIGNED to be used on IE.

        On the contrary. It is perfectly acceptable (in a theoretical sense, although your users might disagree) for Firefox to fail to render some pages. It is likewise admissable for them to poorly render a page that is poorly structured.

        Crashing, no matter what the input to a program, is an unacceptable outcome. Or at least it should be
      • You know I haven't seen those MUST you IE to view this webpage in MANY YEARS! There were a couple of spots it says to use this plugin you must have Windows Installed.
      • As I already mentioned, I have continued using Firefox despite this and other shortcomings. I think I made it perfectly clear that I do not mind if the page is coded badly, if it includes ActiveX plugins, or if it is specifically designed for IE (or whatever else) and, as a result, does not display/operate properly in Firefox or other browsers. If I actually care about the site or its contents, I'm more than happy to email the webmaster and let them know that I won't be visiting their site, buying their pro
    • firefox needs to handle bad pages a bit more gracefully, when i open PDF's up in FF, it locks up almost every time.

      also i have seen FF is a memory WHORE, browsing with it open for a few hours leaves you with 100's of MB of memory usage, that is bad
    • by erikharrison ( 633719 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:28PM (#11082080)
      I think you misunderstand the author when he calls security and stability "red herrings". We're speaking theoretically on web browser design - the author basically claims that if security and stability ever become major marketing points, then the whole market has failed to meet minimal standards. "security and stability" are basically a given once you are talking about UI design.

      The fact that Firefox can gain ground on IE based on security (spyware, exploits) shows that IE isn't meeting basic software quality control. The fact that Gecko still has rendering issue is the same. The fact that both MS and Mozilla.org think of these things as advocacy issues (Make spyware illegal! Stomp out IE specific pages!) only ignores the problem.
    • The other advantage that IE has in this area is that it can be run as multiple concurrent processes. Even if one crashes, the others survive. Mozilla Suite -> Firefox + Thunderbird + etc is a _vast_ improvement, but with the advent of tabbed browsing, there is unfortunately a diminishing return to allowing multiple instances of Firefox.
    • Firefox as far as I have seen and seen from others using is rock solid if you do a couple of things:

      - If you used any pre-release version, uninstall the previous version. Key/value pair settings can and do change causing erronious behavior. This can get goofy on Linux but you can minimize the goofiness by hanging onto backups of the ".mozilla" directory and carefully pushing in stuff you need. Of course my preference is to export the booksmarks and start over.

      - Plug-ins are "the heel" for any browers i
    • Do you have some examples of sites which crash firefox? I keep firefox open all day every day at work and browse many sites, i now have 20+ tabs open with different sites and i never encounter a crash..
      I can't speak for IE tho, i've never used it as a primary browser.
    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:39PM (#11082204)
      In this sense, Firefox has unwittingly upped the ante on application crashes, since you're more likely to have more pages browsed to at any given moment than with MSIE.

      There are a few things that are keeping me on Opera. One of them is the ability to resume where you left off after a crash. Seeing that Opera crashes on occasion, this is a necessary thing. If you have 6 tabs open when it crashes, when you restart it you can choose to have it "continue from last time" and it will re-open all of those tabs.

      Other things keeping Opera as my primary browser:

      Mouse gestures - they just aren't as polished in Mozilla/Firefox.

      Being able to close all tabs and not close the browser. I hate accidentally closing the last tab in Firefox and having the browser close.

      Ability to identify itself as another browser - really only helpful from some asinine IE-only pages.

      Configurability - I like the way in which Opera allows you to configure things.

      Pop-ups. I like the way Opera does it better than Moz/Firefox.

      Some things that Opera needs to work on:

      Stability - still too many crashes. And it can freak out and eat all my CPU, and I have to kill it.

      I do like the "line tracing" ability for Moz/Firefox mouse gestures. It is reinforcing to see them, so you don't get sloppy in using them.

      Gripes for both:

      Why did you move "Preferences" from under "Edit" to "Tools"? That is something that always bugged me about IE, now everyone does it. Arghh.

    • Session Saving (Score:3, Informative)

      by Saeger ( 456549 )
      Firefox (or the OS) crashing wouldn't be such a big deal if it could save and restore sessions out-of-the-box. This is one of the big reasons I still use Opera: it's session management is perfect.

      There is an extension for Firefox called Session Saver [mozdev.org] which was hacked to allow for better session restoration, but it's still too buggy to rely on. e.g. If you crash while a popup window with no chrome is active, you'll have a screwed up UI on restart; have to go digging through configfiles to fix it.


  • I can't look at the article because:

    Access Denied by SmartFilter: Forbidden, this page (http://www.uiweb.com.nyud.net:8090/about.htm) is categorized as: Anonymizer/Translator.

    I love my job.

  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:11PM (#11081896) Homepage
    This Bookmarks Synchronizer [mozilla.org] alone makes a switch to FF worthwile. You can sync regardless of OS you are using.

  • Ummm... do you mean to say that developing IE drove him out of software development altogether?
  • Web annotation with Wikalong [phunnel.org]. shameless plug
  • Tabbed browsing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 ( 718736 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:14PM (#11081930)
    is the best thing since sliced bread. That's what really got me to abandon IE altogether (well that and the security issues). What I would like to see is a Graphical History, with the ability to track links you follow from searches.

    For example, If I do a search for 802.11g router reviews, go to smallnetbuilder.com, then go to say Netgear and back then go to another generalized info site, the history would show from the google search which links I followed to info, as opposed to commercial sites, as opposed to junk. Hell, it doesn't even need to be graphical. It could even prioritize by something like time spent there, or depth of links followed.

  • Let's get our priorities straight here! I NEED a browser that will cover the tracks of my pornsurfing with just the press off a button. Just a big red panic button that will wipe out all cookies, history, pic cache related to smut. What browser developer can deliver this!? I must know!
    • http://www.squarefree.com/pornzilla/

      Its a bunch of extensions for firefox. Includes 'x':

      x provides a toolbar button (which you can place wherever you wish via View > Toolbars > Customize... - it's labelled "Paranoia") from which you can quickly clear privacy sensitive data, specifically: history, form info, saved passwords, download history, cookies, and the cache (both disk and in memory cache).

      Of course its indiscriminate and will hence wipe out all your non-pron data too. So do all your pron s
  • by vivin ( 671928 ) <vivin@paliath.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:15PM (#11081946) Homepage Journal
    It's a funny thing: any web programmer sees any web browser as a programming platform, not an app. But at the same time the rest of the planet sees the web browser, and most web sites, as just another kind of application. The conflict makes browser design tough: it's impossible to invest in the end-user experience and the developer experience to everyone's satisfaction (a burden consumer OS developers have). Hell, even if you were only trying to do one of those two things, you still wouldn't be able to do it to everyone's satisfaction.

    This dichotomy exists, but does it necessarily mean that you cannot incorporate the two? "Programming Features" can be made transparent to the user -- only web programmers need to be familiar with them. The user doesn't care what browser or document properties you can access... all they want to see is content. So let's say you had a really good developer engine in the background - the user doesn't need to see that.

    Furthermore in today's web-browsing experience you cannot divorce one from the other. A web browser HAS to be a programming platform if it needs to support things like DHTML or run Javascript. Saying that it's difficult to do, is no excuse.

    Or maybe I'm reading this wrong.
  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:17PM (#11081961)
    The one thing I'd like to see is a spelchkr and grammer checkar build right into the browser.

    Wooden that be kool?

  • One thing I would like is a better way to store those bookmarks that I use frequently and those that I stored as a temporary marker to a page I found interesting for a while and then never visited again. Currenly I have a scratch folder for these items, but I don't see why all bookmarks need to be euqaul - why couldn't we have tags for bookmarks so I could amrk soem as IMPORTANT - KEEP FOREVER and some as TEMP which could then be hidden once I hadn't used them for a certain time and only caled up again when
  • Multihead friendly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As someone with a multihead setup, I can tell you the number one thing I would like to see:


    Kindly allow me to run more than one copy of the browser, please!


    I have three screens, each with its own root window. Mozilla will only allow me to run one copy, and is only smart enough to attach to one root window. Thus I can only have browser windows on one screen at a time.

  • A standardized rendering engine. Its not like different browsers need to render pages differently. Wouldn't it be smart to just make all browsers render things in exactly the same manner? Wouldn't the best way to do this be the implementation of a standardized rendering engine?

    This is the kind of project that the W3C needs to take on right now, and then IE, Firefox, Opera, etc.. could all be on equal footing. Web designers/developers could sleep easier knowing that no matter what they do, its all goin
  • Features (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:19PM (#11081983)

    There are a number of features that have not made it into mainstream browsers yet. IE is obviously lacking in security due to its implementation, although the concept of different security levels that can be set on a site by site basis is a good one. Omniweb's ability to edit HTML files "in place" is incredibly useful for fixing broken sites on the fly when you really need to use something that is is served while non-functional. Several browsers have implemented a "right click to never see ads from here again" feature that is indispensable once you have used it. Mainly, however, what we need is a push for open standards so that all of the different browsers (coming soon to your phone, toothbrush, toaster, etc.) will all work on all sites. This last feature will only happen when IE is dethroned. Whether or not this will come to pass, is pretty uncertain at this point.

  • I took a look at his design wishlist, but how about the basics? Is it just assumed that these are required in any good browser?
    • Stability
    • Security, resistance to malice (especially remote)
    • Guarding privacy
    • Speed/performance

    I tend to think about software on a Maslow's hierarchy [wikipedia.org] model; you need those basics - so the software runs properly, and securely. Then work your way up to the nifty features.

    • Yeah, I want a browser that does one thing, and one thing well: browse the web. Extra features should be done with extensions and plugins.

  • For nerds only (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:21PM (#11082009) Homepage Journal
    Those features are nice. And I'm sure that most people on slashdot would benefit from them greatly. But for normal people, it wont help. My parents I switched to linux. And they enjoy the obvious benefits like not crashing and no spyware. And they've been using firefox even longer than they've been using linux. And they still dont' understand tabbed browsing, why its better. They don't organize bookmarks into folders. They really just don't care about efficient use of the computer. It takes me about 5 seconds to accomplish what it takes them an hour to do, and they don't care. They have the features and the power available to them to imporove their computing experience and do things faster and more efficiently. But they don't do it.

    So for nerds like you and me this stuff rules. But leave it to firefox extensions. If you put it in the base package it will only confuse normal folk. You have to stick to things that are obviously better and things that my parents will use. Like the google search box.
    • And they've been using firefox even longer than they've been using linux. And they still dont' understand tabbed browsing, why its better

      Maybe because it isn't better for them? Possibly because they use their computer for different tasks than you use yours for? Personally, I find that I can do rough systems design faster using a pen and paper than any electronic form. Does that mean that you should use the same system? Not at all.
  • It's been a long time since I really bothered with these things. Aroung 1996/7 I used to have an extensive collection of well organized bookmarks. Everybody did in those days - there were even lots of personal web sites that were basically bookmarks. I found I didn't use them very often (except maybe to show them to somebody else) and then address completion came along in the address bar. IIRC, Netscape had the simple version, IE had a full drop down with history. These days I just start typing and sel
  • Now, do you guys really use bookmarks? I mean - yeah - sometimes we all stumble on something cool but (after a couple approaches) I find it's more bother than use to try and keep them organized. I just keep half a dozen maybe on my toolbar and put temporary links there also. Bookmarks? I feel I can fish out a page faster using search engine(s). Also - bookmarks become obsolete, search engines generally find working pages.
  • Something is wrong if competition in any product line continually focuses on security and stability. These design attributes are basic requirements, not advanced features. You won't see advertisements for toaster ovens that say "Now, it explodes less often!"

    This is probably a very important quote, and is very true. Us geeks may rant about the security of Firefox compared to IE, its not whats going to help win over users. Its like Bush vs Kerry. Kerry would not win JUST because he was "anti-bush", because t

  • from the site: http://delicious.mozdev.org.nyud.net:8090/ [nyud.net] categorize those sites with keywords, and to share your collection not only between your own browsers and machines, but also with others.

    So something like http://stumbleupon.com/ [stumbleupon.com] ....

    http://shutterbug27.stumbleupon.com/ [stumbleupon.com]
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:35PM (#11082166) Homepage Journal
    I would like the "browser" to be decomposed into its simple components, which are available to any app. So the "HTTP" component is available (like wget) to any app that calls it, like fopen() now. And the "HTML" component is available, like htmlRenderer = new HTMLRenderer(htmlDocument). And the MIME lookup, JavaScript interpreter, and other components are all available via API to any calling program. Then we can not only get "innovative" new browers, with exciting or satisfying new features, but integrate them into our own apps.

    I know GNOME and KDE each have "get URL" and MIME management components. I also remember all that BS from Microsoft's Internet takeover about "IE is part of the OS". But the right way to include the Internet in a distributed platform would let me open an XML app definition, which would glue together whichever network/data, logic and presentation/GUI components were installed, into a task-specific application. If browser developers were contributing more to the platform infrastructure, rather than exclusively to their pet monolithic application, that day would be here sooner. And we'd all be able to build the real apps on that flexible, complete, and simply customizable platform.

    When you're done reading this book, think about what kind of project will be most productive when you contribute your code. Backfilling the holes in the Web platform left by the blind rush of the Web bubble is satisfying as a developer, and enables a better development and business environment. Change the world with gcc!
  • by Sophrosyne ( 630428 ) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @01:32PM (#11082702) Homepage
    First I cannot believe the author is advocating bloaty, useless things like side-bars?

    Sidebars are useless- why would you need to see a list of links permanently in the window you are browsing? The so-called theory this is based on is merely a bunch of assumptions that all lead to one simple solution... If you want to build a theory on navigation- go take some cognitive psychology courses, and do some real studies.
    Research & Annotations... How much more unnecessary can things get? Why not just create a bookmark folder and save the website, or if you are using OS X create a PDF of the page. I personally do not want to be switching constanly between my web-browser/organizer and a text editor while I'm writing an essay.
    RSS as an over-rated concept? I don't think so.
    This essay is just flat out wrong. You cannot improve the user experience of the WWW by adding stupid features like side-bars and research tools-- RSS may not be innovative alone, but how browsers and search engines are using RSS is innovative-- Safari RSS, and Firefox Live bookmarks are time-saving, useful features.
    The innovation will now come from the WWW itself. Google is a great attempt at centralizing information while making it easier to access, sites like Google and protocols like RSS will be the source of major usability innovations- not browsers.
    I think it's time the author gets his head out of the '90s and looks at the browser as a simple conduit to information, and not a tool for organizing the web.
  • by leoboiko ( 462141 ) <leoboiko@gmaCHICAGOil.com minus city> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @01:33PM (#11082706) Homepage
    Geez, just look at his HTML. If you're afraid, let the Validator look at it for you: plain results [w3.org] (4.01 Transitional), forcing charset [w3.org], forcing HTML 3.2 [w3.org].

    What are standards good for, anyway? Just use your monopoly to push your nonstandard browser and do it your way.

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