Firefox vs. Safari

Info Tech

Apple - Safari 3 Public Beta - Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is much more than a web browser — its a platform. Numerous applications run on Firefox’s XUL framework, mostly as plugins. This extensibility gives you greater control over how web pages appear by blocking ads, turning off automatic flash animations by default, and offering site-specific customizations for some of the most popular web apps. It also allows you to better process that information by integrating with social software, storing local copies of web pages, syncing data between computers, looking up words in foreign languages, and identifying semantic content embedded in many web pages.

In short, if you spend a significant amount of your life online you don’t just need any web browser, you need Firefox. But here is the problem, if you are a Mac user you’ve probably noticed that Safari is faster, more responsive, and less likely to hog your system’s memory. But switching to Safari means giving up those all-so-useful extensions. (The same is true of Camino, a streamlined version of Firefox for the Mac.) Fortunately, some clever coders have found ways to replicate the functionality of some of the most popular Firefox extensions in Safari. Below is a list of my favorite Firefox plugins and the closest replacement I could find for Safari. I’ve assigned each a rating according to how well they replicate the features I depend on in Firefox.

Found Replacements:

Still Looking:

Yes, I understand that if I didn’t have so many extensions installed Firefox would be faster, more responsive, and have less memory leaks. But some of these plugins, like 新同文堂, which allows me to make webpages from Mainland China load in complex characters, as well as SwitchProxy, which allows me to easily connect to my university proxy when doing online research, are indispensable. Others are just damn useful. What to do? For now, I’m just waiting for Firefox 3

UPDATE: Updated the list on 1/11/08. Found a few more possibilities, some still in development. My guess is that Firefox 3 will come out before these plugins are up to par. Still I’m going to give Safari a go. Lets’ see how long I last using Safari as my main browser, now that I have it all pimped-out.

UPDATE: Updated the list on 1/18/08. I’ve managed to go a whole week with Safari. Biggest downsides: AdBlock Plus doesn’t work so well. integration is not as nice either. And I really miss Switch Proxy when doing research. Also, no Zotero. The last two can be solved by switching to Firefox for academic research and using Safari the rest of the time. More serious is that some pages seem to not just crash Safari, but bring my whole system to a halt. Rare, but Firefox never affects my whole system in this way. Still, overall I have to say that I like the snappiness” of Safari better. Now that I’ve pimped it out with all these additions I can really switch between the two apps as I please and so I’m using Safari much more. We’ll see when Firefox 3 comes out if I don’t switch back …

UPDATE: Made lots of updates on 2/10

UPDATE: Added Evernote on 3/30