Browser Showdown Pt. 3

15 01 2010

Here we are. This is my third and final post in my Browser Showdown series. So, where do we stand. Well, in my first post, we found that Google Chrome is, by far, the fastest browser. In my second post there was no real clear winner, since it was mostly a matter of what you needed from the browser. Today, I’m hoping to have a clear winner again. So, without further delay, here it is:

Going first today, we’ll have Safari. Safari is the browser that I have the least experience with, as I’ve said, so I can’t attest to much personally, but it is a very minimalistic browser, which keeps it very easy to use for new users. I have a friend that has assured me that Safari is extremely easy to use. He didn’t really have a reason, but I’m sure that due to it’s minimalism it’s very easy to use. On a scale of 1 to 10, I think Safari would score an 8, although I can’t say for sure, since I don’t use it that often.

Next we’ll take a look at Firefox. I recently found an article that rants on Firefox’s accessibility. It’s main point is that if you take an option off the menu that you don’t need for now, you can’t put it back on without the help of an IT expert. However, this applies to many things in Firefox. It’s built for the more advanced user, and if you’re just starting out you might have a really tough time figuring out anything for Firefox besides the basic functions. On a scale of 1 to 10, I think Firefox would probably come out at about a 4.

Now Google Chrome. This is another very minimalistic browser, but it has some extra features that explain what things will do. For example, when you first turn on the browser, it comes up to a page explaining about the things that make Chrome unique, and has a link to the themes gallery. Also, the new tab page makes it much easier to find where you are trying to go, assuming you go there fairly often, because your most visited sites are all right there. The special URL / search bar also makes for less confusion at the top of the browser. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give Chrome a 9.

Last, but not least, is IE. It’s not particularly minimalistic, however, it has some features that make it easier to use, such as it’s accelerators. However, most of this is balanced out by the fact that it takes a while to be able to figure out your way around the clunky user interface with ease. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give IE about a 6 I think.

Anyway, where does that leave us? Well, it would seem that Chrome has won, being the fastest and most user-friendly browser, with a lot of useful features. Safari is pretty close behind, also very fast and easy to use, but without as many features. Then there’s Firefox. It was fast, but not quite as fast as Safari or Chrome, and had a lot of features, but was very user-unfriendly. And pulling up last is IE. While still a pretty good browser, it’s extremely slow compared to the other browsers today, and takes a while to get used to, although it does have a lot of features and is compatible with most things on the web. Speed — or lack thereof — is what killed IE in this contest.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this helped. That concludes this series of blog posts


Browser Showdown Pt. 2

11 01 2010

Welcome to part two of our Browser Showdown! Today, we’re going to take a look at a very important factor in browsers: Features. Keep in mind that we’re comparing the newest versions of these browsers. Also, since this is a much less technical aspect of the browsers, I’ll be working mostly from personal experience here. Please bear with me.

First out of the starting block will be Internet Explorer. This browser clearly lost last time in terms of speed, but will it make a comeback today? Let’s see. For further reading besides, check out the official Microsoft site. Anyway, on to the main event. What is so great about IE? Well, I would say the most attractive feature of this browser is something Microsoft calls “accelerators”. It’s this nifty tab that pops up when you highlight text, that lets you quickly do things like search for the highlighted text, E-Mail it to a friend, even translate it into a different language! And if the feature you’re looking for isn’t already installed, then there’s a gallery of downloadable accelerators. Also, there’s a new feature with IE8 called Web Slices. It’s basically a quick way to get RSS feeds from a website (if you don’t know what an RSS feed is, read this), arrange them in a toolbar, and get updates when something new appears. There’s also the issue of compatibility. Most things that you find on the web will work with IE without a hitch. This is because it’s still probably one of the most popular browsers out there. Finally, IE has updated it’s address bar to search through history, favorites and RSS feeds when you start to type in it. Saves a lot of time, especially if you have a lot of favorites. There are many other features besides, but these are the ones most worth noting.

Now for Firefox. I have a bit less experience with this browser, although I do use it fairly often. To see all the features of Firefox 3.5, check out the Mozilla page (they make Firefox). Now, right off the bat be have a similar feature. That is the address bar, which does much the same thing as IE’s. The major difference, it seems, is that Firefox’s doesn’t just search the addresses, it will look at the name (and perhaps the content, I’m slightly unsure) of the site as well, so you don’t even have to type an address if you don’t want to. However, that’s not the main draw of Firefox (in terms of features). The main draw is that is uses add ons — little programs made for Firefox, mostly by third parties — to help customize your browser. It claims to feature “over 6,000 Firefox add-ons”, so I assume you could get pretty much whatever you needed. There’s even a web app, namely Fashion Your Firefox that helps you find just the add-ons for the way you like to browse. A really good idea, in my opinion.

Next I’ll get onto Google Chrome. The official page is right here. Now, the first thing we notice about chrome when we open it is the new tab page. It’s a really useful page that displays your nine most visited websites, recently closed tabs, and some other useful information. Then you see the address bar. It works like the others, searching your history, favorites, etc., but it does something else too. It automatically searches Google for whatever you start typing in, quickly displaying top results. This, in my opinion, makes the address bar in Chrome at least three times as useful as the ones in the other browsers. And to add onto all of this, we have the extensions gallery, which is almost exactly like the add-on gallery for Firefox. In fact, a lot of people who made apps for Firefox then went on to make apps for Chrome. The only drawback here is that some versions of Chrome currently don’t support extensions (the Mac version, for example). However, perhaps the biggest advantage to Chrome is something that most end-users will never see. It’s the fact that Chrome is made completely open-source, with completely open-source software, allowing future browser developers to build off of the innovations chrome has made.

And now for Safari. Here is the link. Now the website claims to have 150 features, but really I think that most of them are things you would expect from a browser anyway, like the ability to zoom the page. However, there are a few unique features worth note. One of them is the fact that it integrates with Mac computers (since they’re both by Apple). This is really only useful if you use a Mac though, otherwise it’s useless. It does have Windows integration, but it doesn’t do nearly as much, and if you run Linux (or another open-source OS), you’re still fresh out of luck. Another that I found interesting was SnapBack, a button that brings you right back to the original results of your search, and very useful if you tend to get lost in the maze of web pages. Finally, like the other browsers, it runs a smart address bar. The smart address bar in Safari seems to work just like the one in IE though.

Also, on a slightly related note, I found another great blog entry comparing IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox. I agree with almost everything written here. Check it out!

That’s all for today. I know it’s a long post, but if you managed to stick through it, I hope you found it useful. Anyway, check back later when I conclude this series of posts with user friendliness (ease of use). Thanks!

Browser Showdown Pt. 1

6 01 2010

As the first of my blog posts, I plan on doing a short series that will compare some of today’s leading browsers to each other, in an attempt to determine the “best” browser. The browsers we are comparing are: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome. Each day I will compare them in one of these categories:

  • Speed
  • Features
  • User friendliness

So today, we’re starting with speed. I found a great site that was done by a man named John Resig, for a purpose completely besides what we are doing now (he was comparing browsers now to the upcoming TraceMonkey system for Firefox, if you care), so it should be a good, unbiased source of information. Here’s a link to the original site if anyone wants to follow-up on this.

Now, I’ll be using the first of his tests for our purposes here, as it covers all the browsers I’m comparing.

Please note that the test is testing the speed of the JavaScript (which is the most widely used scripting language on the web) in the browser, and so should give a good representation of the actual speed that web pages load.

Now, starting with IE (the newest version). It scored somewhere between 8500 – 9500ms. This means that it took IE that much time to complete the test. This may seem fast, but wait until you see the rest of the browsers before you pass judgement.

The other three browsers all came in about the same on the graph, although there is a slight difference between them. They all scored between about 3000 – 4000 ms, over two times as fast as Internet Explorer! Here is the final order:

In first place by just a hair, we have Google Chrome! It is followed closely by Safari, with the newest version of Firefox hot on its heels. Trailing behind the pack is Internet Explorer, at less than half of the speed of the other three browsers. So, our winner for the first round is Google Chrome.

I would like to point out that in a later test, Google Chrome is shown to have a much higher speed of iteration. The more iterations you have, the faster. This means that, while in the first test Chrome only won by a hair, in the later test it was 5 or 6 times better than the second place browser (which was Safari by the way). Internet Explorer wasn’t included in the later test.

That’s all I have to say for now. Check back later. My next edition will be about features, which is a very important category. Also, please vote in the poll. Tell us which browser is your favorite.