Browsers found to be made from china

A suspicion has arisen that all standard browsers are made of china*. Bone china. I.e. as fragile as Wedgwood tea service.

The evidence is that it seems impossible to click on any given link without one browser or another falling over.

Each browser self-destructs in its own way. Each has its own list of unfavourites, with its own set of rules about the sticking point at which it will no longer follow a hyperlink.

I must have misunderstood Tim Berners-Lee’s original scheme, but I had the idea that displaying pages and following hyperlinks to open URLs were the whole points of a browser. I don’t care what else they can do. Using Netscape 0.0001 (or something like that) on dial-up would be more effective than using FF (latest update), IE (I admit to still having IE6), Chrome and Opera.

FF swallows memory as if it is running the space shuttle on the side. Ok, I had a few plugins but I’ve disabled them all and it’s actually got markedly touchier rather than more accommodating. It will die instantly if it doesn’t like a page. It makes sure it takes every open tab with it. At its most petulant, it takes the whole operating system. It then offers to reopen the tabs when you try to restart it. Naturally, it tries to open the murderous tab and dies again.

IE6 doesn’t top itself as readily but it can barely display any sites without spilling the main content down to its own new div at the bottom of the page. It has a highly developed aesthetic sense and often decides that some stylesheets are just too ugly, so it just won’t use them. It has serious attachment issues – it will often refuse to release memory, no matter how impeccable the shut down process has been.

Installing Chrome was shooting myself in the foot, in browser format. I stupidly let it nominate itself as default. That means, any link I click on opens Chrome. I don’t like its hairtrigger nature. A millisecond pause as the mouse passes over a hyperlink and its opened the page. I don’t like the open and close tabs buttons. I have yet to close a tab without accidentally opening half a dozen tabs each offering a “Most visited” that shows mini screenshots of sites that I have visited once – by accident (ref: the hair trigger bit, above) and which come back to haunt me forever.

Opera is the Gap browser (reference to Piers Anthony.) I forget its existence until I’ve already got frustrated enough to do impromptu impressions of someone with a terminal case of Tourette’s. (Terminal, geddit… Sorry) Then I have no passwords stored anywhere so I can’t actually get into anything I have any login privileges to. So I might as well not bother.

These browsers are studded with so many updates, extra features and dial-home-devices that I am seemingly operating an unpaid outpost of Mozilla, Google and Microsoft. And running the space shuttle.

Right, browsers, pay attention. I’ve had it up to here with you. Just open links when i click on them. Is that too much to ask?

*(That’s made “of” china, not made “in” China. I wasn’t suggesting that browsers might be forged or contaminated with melamine.)

7 thoughts on “Browsers found to be made from china

  1. I have IE8 and it dies on every fourth or fifth link. Opening a link in a new tab is routinely fatal.

    FF crashes every single time I try to close it. Every time. No matter what I do. Around 1 in eight links kill it for no apparent reason.

    I have safari – which doesn’t so much crash as just be erratic. Sometimes it displays pages, sometimes it doesnt. Sometimes it uses the stylesheet, sometimes it doesnt.

    Opera is the most stable but it is a brutal memory hog. It is no longer the sleek, fast, lightweight brower of yesteryear. Now it uses more system resources than IE.

    I have opera on my phone. It is terrible. It displays pages in a weird way – fitting the height rather than the width, so the text is about 1/100000th of a point and not readable. Zooming improves things but is still a PITA.

    Chrome isn’t bad. It is fast and doesn’t eat ram. It does try to “help” to much though. I haven’t used it enough to say much more though.

  2. I like Chrome as a default browser: I don’t want to load a massive application every time I click a link, because that’s infuriating. Chrome is pleasingly fast at that.

    It does somewhat astonish me that nobody has yet managed to write a good browser, though. Chrome seems to be the closest attempt so far in terms of not trying to do too much besides browsing (especially if you turn off the ‘new tab’ page) but it’s too young yet.

  3. I use Safari for most things, and rarely have issues with it. I have to use Firefix to grade my students work, as the program is built on Firefix, but it hasn’t caused too many problems for me (now, for the Windows computers….a bit). IE has been buggy for some many years I refuse to use it unless I have to, and if I run into a site that requires it, I leave. If the owners of the site don’t want me there, I’m not going to waste my time.

  4. I can’t say i’ve had your level of crash experiences – ff regularly runs all day at work (dozens of tabs open) or for weeks at home (gnu). The only plugin i use is flashblock though.

    “I must have misunderstood Tim Berners-Lee’s original scheme, but I had the idea that displaying pages and following hyperlinks to open URLs were the whole points of a browser. I don’t care what else they can do.”

    Actually you do care – for example you complain that ie6 doesn’t implement style-sheets properly. 😉 Style sheets contain no information, merely presentation … (although often they are important to making the information readable).

    Unfortunately, rendering the web `properly’ has become an almost impossible task. The original semantic content idea was hijacked by designers and artists as soon as there was money to be made. So a ‘web browser’ went from being an information navigation device to including complex type-setting and layout systems. Add in some scripting system and now you’ve got what amounts to a whole virtual operating system running in a window, with a compositing graphics engine, typesetting system, animation system and widget library all sitting on top (along with persistent data storage, network access layer, security and authentication subsystem, customisation, etc etc). And all of these standards are in constant revision and expansion and subject to mis-implementation which needs to be copied if the competition did it first.

    Even just displaying a simple line of text requires a staggering amount of code – xml/html parsing to unicode, unicode character to glyph conversion, basic layout and justification based on glyph metrics, font outline renderers, anti-aliasing and compositing into the displayed graphic.

    And they can’t even agree on something as well specified as unicode – windows-based editors often use the wrong character set so quotes are encoded incorrectly.

    And then on-top of the basic difficulty of the problem in the first place, add on the intentional incompatibilities added by a certain vendor to try to control the market (“see, you can’t use mozilla, it doesn’t show this page properly”), and it’s a wonder they manage to get anything to work at all.

  5. So, you’re problem with Opera is that you don’t remember your passwords? Darn, I can see that my favorite browser isn’t perfect after all. :p

    BTW, no memory problems here. And I can keep Opera with 20+ tabs on overnight. 🙂

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