Mozilla 1.0 Not Ready for Prime Time -- Close but No Cigar and No Brass Ring!
A Quick Look at Some Mozilla 1.0 Browser-Suite Annoyances, Bugs, And Issues
Mike Angelo -- 4 June 2002 (c) -- Page 2
A nice Mozilla 1.0 feature is that you can open files on your local hard drive or local network (File > Open File) and view them with Mozilla. Moreover, within a Mozilla session, Mozilla remembers the directory from which you opened a file last and goes right to that directory when you hit the Open File button a handy feature. Please see Figure 3 (on page 1).
However, Mozilla does not remember the directory from which you opened a file last if you close Mozilla and then re-open Mozilla at a later time. That's annoying.
In-program help is a very important component of today's software. It is particularly important for software that does not come in a shrink-wrapped box with a User's Guide and other such documentation.
The Mozilla browser-suite software does have in-program help. Some of it is very good. Some is a shambles. In some instances the problems emerge from the in-program help operation and functionality. In other instances the problems are a lack of help information (content) for various tasks.
For example, the Back and Forward buttons on the Mozilla in-program Help menu bar are not functional. That is very annoying. Please see Figure 5, below.
Another example -- please go to the Mozilla menu bar and click Edit > Preferences > Advanced > HTTP Networking. Then please notice that you have a choice of using HTTP 1.0 or HTTP 1.1 and you have a choice of enabling Persistent Connections and Pipelining. Please see Figure 4.
If you do not already know the difference between HTTP 1.0 and 1.1 or what enabling persistent connections and pipelining does, you just might want to go to the Mozilla in-program help to learn about these features. Try to do that.
What you will find when you do try to get in-program help for these items is, there is none. That is very annoying. Please see Figures 4 and 5.
Incidentally, Pipelining is a neat Mozilla 1.0 feature that can speed up Web page download times. But if you did not know that, you would not be able find that out from the Mozilla in-program help.
There is some temptation here to just let you hang and wonder about what this HTTP Networking stuff is just to let you feel the full frustrations of missing or incomplete in-program help - - - - - - Pause - - - - - -.
However, we will be kinder and gentler than the Mozilla people who were not concerned enough about making Mozilla easier to use by providing more complete in-program help. Interestingly, the Mozilla people do have some very good information about this stuff -- but they did not care enough about your user-experience to include it in the in-program help.. You can find the information about the HTTP Networking stuff in Darin Fisher's (netscape.com) HTTP/1.1 Pipelining FAQ. (Link in the Resources section.)
The as yet immature status of the Mozilla browser-suite software in-program help is just one of many reasons we consider the Mozilla 1.0 release to be premature at this time.
Here is another annoying issue we came across while using the Mozilla browser. At times we want to copy just a portion of a URL displayed in the Navigation Bar's address window.
If you highlight just a portion of such a URL, let's say just the file name (Figure 6a) and hit ctrl + c, and then paste the result, you get just the filename part of the URL. That's fine.
However, if instead of using ctrl + c let's say you alternate (right) click on the selected URL portion. That brings up a context menu. Please notice that as the context menu pops up, Mozilla causes the entire URL to be highlighted, not just the selected portion of the URL that you highlight. Please see Figure 6b.
Now if you click on copy in the context menu and then paste the result someplace, you will find that you have copied and pasted the entire URL -- not just the selected file name portion of the URL. That is annoying.
You ought to be able to use the mouse and context menu to copy and paste just a portion of a URL that originates in the Navigation Bar's address window. You can make some adjustment to this behavior by monkeying around with the prefs.js file or hacking the Mozilla user interface. However, one should not have to monkey around with the prefs.js file or hack the Mozilla user interface to get context menu behaviors working the way one wants them to work.
Hovering over bookmark names in the Mozilla Sidebar does not produce the full bookmark name and URL as does Microsoft Internet Explorer. That means that if you want to see the full names of longer bookmarks you have to expand the Sidebar width, thus losing real estate in the Web page display window -- unless you make the entire Mozilla window wider. Yet another Mozilla annoyance. Please see Figures 7 and 8.
We could not open sidebar bookmarks into a new tab using the context menu (Figure 9). In order to open a sidebar bookmark into a new tab we first had to open a new tab (by using ctrl + t for example) first and then click the sidebar bookmark. Another Mozilla annoyance.
However, you can open a hyperlink in the Web page display into a new tab using the context menu. Please see Figure 10.
Another bothersome Mozilla Sidebar bookmarks bug arises from dragging a URL from the location window on the navigation bar to the Sidebar. When you drag such a URL down into the Sidebar (by depressing the mouse button on the icon to the left of the URL and within the location window), often the newly dragged-in bookmark does not park itself where you release the mouse button. So, you have to hunt around to find where Mozilla placed the new bookmark and then try to drag that bookmark where you want it. Annoying!
This bug was fixed on the main Mozilla development-tree trunk a while ago. However, the fix was not checked-into the Mozilla 1.0 branch until a few days ago. Although that bug no longer seems to be an issue in the 31 May 02, Mozilla 1.0 test build for windows we tried, it still is an issue in the 29 May 2002, mozilla-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.gz build. At press time, that 29 May Linux build is the latest mozilla-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.gz Mozilla 1.0 test build.
For information and interesting insights about this bookmark drag and drop bug, please see bug 119879. Andreas Kunz' comment at bug 119879 (comment #6 there) is very enlightening. Links in the Resources section at the end of this article.
There are lots more bugs, annoyances, and issues in Mozilla 1.0. The ones discussed above are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Hopefully these bugs and issues will be resolved by the time you read this article.
None of the bugs discussed here are in themselves showstoppers. However, when you consider these bugs taken together with the many other bugs that are not showstoppers either, well -- it just leaves a very unfavorable impression of the Mozilla 1.0 browser suite.
It is not just one single bug, standing alone by itself, that leads us to not recommend that people switch from their current browser to Mozilla 1.0. It is the totality of annoyances, bugs, and issues in which Mozilla 1.0 is engulfed that leads us to that position.
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