Dear Firefox 3 Lazy Web

I’ve been using Firefox 3 Beta 2 for weeks now, and it’s absolutely amazing. There’s not much else to say other than that. Just a few quick points, and then I have a gripe.

The Good

  • Memory consumption is so amazingly low compared to Firefox 2. I actually don’t find myself constantly killing my browser these days.

  • GNOME/GTK+ integration is finally up to par I think. Browser shell widgets look more native, web controls look native. Fantastic icon theme integration. Firefox finally feels like part of my desktop now. Kudos to all the great GNOME love. It’s about time!

  • The new location bar drop down is awesome.

  • There are subtle attempts of humor.

  • It’s been rock solid, more-so than Firefox 2 ever has been, barring the typical Adobe Flash freezes.

  • We have packages with proper distro-integration patches for openSUSE 10.3 (1click Install and yes, it will replace your Firefox 2. I live on the edge!)

The Gripe

I hate the new full page zoom! So many people rant and rave about how awesome this feature is. It’s horrible. It breaks usability and accessibility of web pages.

When reading a page in a properly designed web site (proper semantic markup and good CSS) in Firefox 2, text would re-flow properly when I zoomed. This allowed me to read a page with increased zoom without breaking the layout of the page, but also not causing it to scroll horizontally. In Firefox 3, everything zooms in, often causing me to have to scroll horizontally to read the page in question. Utterly bad.

The closest thing I’ve been able to do is set mousewheel.withcontrolkey.action to 3, causing text zoom to happen when I hold control and use the scroll wheel. The problem with this is that it’s hard to know how many levels you’ve zoomed (I have an insane scroll wheel with ball bearings… it’s very fast and sensitive) and there is no reset (like CTRL+0, traditionally). Also… I just like CTRL++, and CTRL+-.

Firefox 3 - about:config

So how can I completely disable the full page zoom and have my normal buttons behave like I’m used to?

This is the biggest downfall in Firefox 3, but on the whole, it’s awesome.

19 Replies to “Dear Firefox 3 Lazy Web”

  1. I have to disagree on few points, though I’m not exactly sure if I’m using the same build as you (I just installed a pre-built binary for my Gentoo for testing)

    > The new location bar drop down is awesome.

    This is completely untrue in my eyes. It’s too slow to pop up (for me on my computer at least). It apparently matches first in titles, which means that when I start to type an address (which is almost always) it usually shows me loads of hits but not for the url I’m typing. The drop-down looks messy too, but I haven’t pinpointed the real cause of this yet (probably I’m just looking for the urls, not for the titles).

    > It’s been rock solid, more-so than Firefox 2 ever has been, barring the typical Adobe Flash freezes.

    Crashes daily for me, usually when closing a gmail chat. I looked at it enough to guess that it has something to do with the audiodevice or so, but didn’t investigate further…

    But as said, it might just be a rotten build…

  2. I assume you have set a sane minimum font size? Since I did that, I’ve never had to resize again.
    And you probably filed a bug in Moyillas bugzilla?

  3. @Kalle: Well, like I said, I am using packages for openSUSE 10.3 with all the proper distribution integration patches applied. It’s rock solid, fast, and well integrated, so I’ll second it’s a problem with your build/package/distro/etc.

    @Benjamin: Of course I have a sane default font size. Often though I enjoy reading articles more comfortably on my laptop at night with it farther away from me, hence my need to increase the font size.

    No, I haven’t filed anything yet as I’d first like to see if there are indeed some known workarounds.

  4. Full page zoom is intended for people with stupidly high DPI screens and people with poor eyesight. For them, it works perfectly. For other people who _just_ want larger text, the old method is for them.

  5. I don’t know how the new page zoom feature in Firefox is implemented, but if it is anything like how Internet Explorer 7 does it, I agree that it’s utterly and completely useless. Check out how Opera does it instead, because it’s a combination of full-page-zoom and reflow of the content that works amazingly well on most layouts. Combined with Opera’s “Fit to width” feature, you can basically zoom every page to whatever percentage you want and still have zero horizontal scrolling.

    The better the site design (CSS based floating layouts), the better job Opera’s zoom does. Firefox should definately look to Opera in how to implement page zoom and not Internet Explorer, because it should be no doubt who has the best implementation of that feature.

  6. Gah, I didn’t know that they had sacrificed my precious text zooming at the altar of full-page zoom. There will be blood tonight!

  7. Use NoSquint when I get around to porting it to ff 3. It will do exactly what you want. :)

    (Sorry I can’t offer any advice that will work immediately. But do keep your eye on NoSquint.)

  8. @Kalle: Try setting browser.urlbar.richResults to false in about:config to get rid of all that crap :)

  9. You missed that … it compiles with GCC 4.3!

    Overall I’m very pleased with the progress so far, though I’m using Gentoo’s mozilla overlay so I’m not rebuilding it every day.

    Three things that I’m disappointed with from the top of my head:
    *The tab bar. Yes, it’s nice and integrated now, but mouse behaviour doesn’t match Gnome’s. The scroll button doesn’t switch tabs, it triggers this horridly slow animation.
    *Menu icons. I have icons disabled for Gnome. Firefox should follow suit. I find icons in menus incredibly distracting and very tacky. That being said, if menu icons are used in Gnome, Firefox should do the same; and
    *Menus don’t act as menus. IANAH but I’m guessing Firefox doesn’t give them the right GTK class. Try using Compiz – they’ll act as windows most of the time.

    But it is a /very/ much an improvement over 2.0.

  10. *Menus don’t act as menus. IANAH but I’m guessing Firefox doesn’t give them the right GTK class. Try using Compiz – they’ll act as windows most of the time.

    I am not a programmer, but is it even possible to give FF menus a GTK class? They are implemented in XUL, and I don’t know if it is possible to map across to GTK like that.

    I can’t understand why anyone would dislike the awesomebar. I think it is one of the greatest browser features I have ever seen. Now if only it would hurry up and get to SeaMonkey.

  11. [[ *Menus don’t act as menus. IANAH but I’m guessing Firefox doesn’t give them the right GTK class. Try using Compiz – they’ll act as windows most of the time. ]]

    Compiz has workarounds…

  12. Asbjørn: Firefox acts much more like Opera than IE7 when zooming. When you zoom in, we reflow the content to the narrower window width.

    I’m not sure which pages Aaron is seeing horizontal scrollbars on, but it’s probably some page that lays out to a fixed px width. A genuine fluid CSS layout should have no problems.

  13. Quote:
    ‘Compiz has workarounds…’

    It seems that the workaround does not work (in the way I expect it to).
    It doesn’t matter if the FF workaround checkbox is checked or not, menus in FF always behave like windows with regard to animation–and that looks funny and annoying.

    As a side note, is this window-like behavior introduced in beta 5? I never noticed this issue before that…

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