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Things holding me back - part 1
Today a poster at the iCab mailing list posted the following link:
More praise for iCab; & how to read Google News.

While I realy like iCab and use it over 90% of the time when I'm on my Mac at home I felt obliged to post the following:
  1. Almost all browsers nowadays feature an "open window in background" command. As far as I know iCab was the first to implement this though.
  2. Both Safari and loads of Mozilla clones allow the blocking of pop-ups that are not requested by the user nowaydays, again I believe iCab was the first browser to do this.
  3. There is now a plug-in for Mozilla Firebird that blocks banner ads, iCab's configuration is more flexible and also blocks iframes and allows one to set up filters for javascript and display options as well, but it does so at the cost of complexity. The plugin for Firebird renders pages much much nicer though, cleanly removing the offending images instead of leaving placeholders.
  4. The ability to switch on or off images in a webpage may be easier for iCab out of the box but again there is a plugin for Firebird that does this easily, it's in one of the webauthoring tools.
Don't get me wrong: iCab is still vastly superior, but most of it's good features are being copied over to other browsers, either built-in or as plug-ins. It's not the features alone that make iCab great, it's the combination of them all, along with the reliabilty and ease of use and the ease with which to switch iCab's behaviour (let's disregard the complexity of the filter manager because even without going deep into the filter manager you can achieve a lot). Coupled with it's integrated html error checking and standards compliance it is one awesome browser.

The fact that I would even post something like this illustrates a fairly significant point. I have long been an avid supporter of iCab as anyone who knows me will testify to and as a search on the iCab discussion group will testify to. However lately I've come to like another browser almost as much and this post show it. It's Mozilla Firebird.
The main reason I like it so much is the fact that it's by far the best browser available on the windows side of the world (I have to use windows at work) and it does almost everything iCab does for me on the mac side.

In and of itself Firebird wouldn't really interest me that much, it's not much better than Netscape 7 to tell you the truth, but through some innovative plug-ins it becomes much more. There's an adblock plugin, there are two different webauthoring plug-ins that complement each other nicely (though there's some overlap), there's a plug-in for viewing HTTP headers and then there is the fact that there's a plug-in that allows stylesheet switching.

With all these plug-ins Firebird is an awesome browser that not only equals iCab but bests it. Or does it?

Not quite. For one thing: iCab's filter management is vastly superior to the relatively simple adblocker in Firebird. After all: iCab filters not only ads, it also filters javascript, font and image display preferences, user-agents selection et al. on a site by site basis. iCab may not support too much of CSS right now but overal it's performance is better: it feels faster, it's user interface gets things right. It's a mac application and you know it. Things respond the way you expect them to, launching the app doesn't take half a minute, the bookmarks systems "just gets it", the interface doesn't get in your way or looks like a babboon on a hormone cure. You know what I mean.

All in all I feel that Firebird is getting there though and iCab had better improve it's CSS rendering soon. Which leads me nicely to chapter two of this article (tune in next week).

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