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Mozilla Dev on How to Convert Chrome User to Firefox

By - Source: Mozilla | B 60 comments

A Firefox developer discusses the hurdles Firefox faces.

To survive the battle with IE and Chrome, Mozilla will have to find more compelling reasons for people to use Firefox - or reasons to draw people back to Firefox. Nicholas Nethercote, who works on memory improvements in Firefox, described why getting users back from Chrome may nearly be impossible, and the reason why casual users may steer clear of Firefox.

Nethercote stressed that Firefox does not offer the importing of bookmarks from Chrome. As long as there are just a handful of bookmarks, users may be willing to accept a manual install of bookmarks in Firefox, but if the transfer of bookmarks includes potentially hundreds of bookmarks, the lack of bookmark import may actually kill the deal for Mozilla. Nethercote stated that Mozilla needs such a feature badly.

He also stumbled over "awful" third-party add-ons in the Windows version of Firefox, which resembles the experience of crapware. On the positive side, he noticed that Mozilla's position as a non-profit organization resonates well and AdBlock Plus is a tool Mozilla needs to promote much more [Ed. note: Hopefully the target is people who don't know that similar software exists for Chrome].  Somewhat surprisingly, none of the features that Mozilla promoted in the recent past appear to have been convincing reasons for a switch. The problems may be that simple and basic issues that have been overlooked: Nethercote found that it took the experience of an expert user to install and configure Firefox. For casual users, Firefox may be too difficult to set up.

Read about his full process here.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    egmccann , November 4, 2011 4:23 PM
    ... too difficult to set up?

    I seem to recall my experience being "Download. Install. Next, next, next, done." Perhaps they need to drop a "Next" from it? Honestly, I don't see most (average) users going from Chrome -> Firefox. It's still mostly IE they're moving from.

    Frankly, I think Mozilla's biggest problem is getting people to pronounce their name correctly. I talk to people all day who mention they're running Mozarella, Foxfire, Flamefox and other interesting variations.
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , November 4, 2011 4:59 PM
    Adblock in Chrome is not the exact same as the one in Firefox. The Chrome version is unable to block certain ads, particularly within flash embeds, because of the Chrome extension API. This is likely to never change so the Adblock in Chrome will forever be inadequate.

    http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=35897
  • 14 Hide
    de5_Roy , November 4, 2011 4:24 PM
    reduce memory leaks, better sync, introduce tab isolation or sandboxing or virtualization, lose the !@#$ing numbering and get the old version numbering back, better enterprise support.
    chrome users might not start using ff but there are always ie users to take away. :) 
Other Comments
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 4, 2011 4:17 PM
    For casual users downloading Firefox is too complicating
  • 24 Hide
    egmccann , November 4, 2011 4:23 PM
    ... too difficult to set up?

    I seem to recall my experience being "Download. Install. Next, next, next, done." Perhaps they need to drop a "Next" from it? Honestly, I don't see most (average) users going from Chrome -> Firefox. It's still mostly IE they're moving from.

    Frankly, I think Mozilla's biggest problem is getting people to pronounce their name correctly. I talk to people all day who mention they're running Mozarella, Foxfire, Flamefox and other interesting variations.
  • 14 Hide
    de5_Roy , November 4, 2011 4:24 PM
    reduce memory leaks, better sync, introduce tab isolation or sandboxing or virtualization, lose the !@#$ing numbering and get the old version numbering back, better enterprise support.
    chrome users might not start using ff but there are always ie users to take away. :) 
  • 7 Hide
    southernshark , November 4, 2011 4:31 PM
    I very rarely have crashes with Firefox. Does it ever happen? Sure, but no more than any other program.
  • 12 Hide
    LORD_ORION , November 4, 2011 4:37 PM
    They should pick the best plugins and offer a ready to go package for the best web browsing experience.
  • 9 Hide
    LORD_ORION , November 4, 2011 4:39 PM
    de5_royreduce memory leaks, better sync, introduce tab isolation or sandboxing or virtualization, lose the !@#$ing numbering and get the old version numbering back, better enterprise support. chrome users might not start using ff but there are always ie users to take away.


    It is painful to watch an average person try and install the flash plugin on firefox.
  • -3 Hide
    LORD_ORION , November 4, 2011 4:40 PM
    Oh FFS I hate tom's post system, that quote was meant for egmccann and his "easy to click next next next" post.
  • -7 Hide
    bigdragon , November 4, 2011 4:41 PM
    Firefox still uses too much memory. This is why I use Chrome all the time now. Mozilla still doesn't get it. I'm no longer coding pages with the annoying moz- CSS commands either.
  • 5 Hide
    icepick314 , November 4, 2011 4:42 PM
    greghomeHow to do it?Make Firefox less heavy on any system and bring out the 64 bit version if you can't kill the memory addiction of Firefox


    this is it...

    push for 64bit version and fix the memory leak when using Flash...

    as long as most of online videos including Youtube, Netflix, and Amazon use flash as their video codec, then the memory leak is definitely a negative...
  • -3 Hide
    jivdis1x , November 4, 2011 4:43 PM
    I get the pesty, can't open firefox; another instance is already running error. Had to ctrl-alt-delete and end progress on firefox.exe. It still does it for the newest version of FF.

    I have stop recommending FF to my friends.
  • 2 Hide
    Anomalyx , November 4, 2011 4:44 PM
    Quote:
    [Ed. note: Hopefully the target is people who don't know that similar software exists for Chrome]

    Similar? I think you meant to say "exact same". I'm pretty sure it's the same developer even.
  • 3 Hide
    zanny , November 4, 2011 4:54 PM
    I run Firefox Nightly, and I still believe it has the most potential out of all the browsers to maintain an open web.

    The problem with chrome is that like Android, even though they open source most of it, average joe OSS programmer will never get a commit into the main branch because everything is done by google folks. It is much easier to get going on firefox development.

    Having the source and having the browser be a community project are very different things. The problem with Firefox is they need to be more open - there is a magical threshold, that the Linux Kernel has shown us (since Android uses it) that you can have a fully open and community driven project that given enough attraction of OSS developers will overwhelm any enterprise option - it just requires extreme openness to development.

    Firefox is pretty much in that spot. It stands to say that anyone who complains about anything wrong with Firefox can go and try to fix it - but you do run into the same problem any new dev on the project runs into with things like the kernel or libre office or rails - the code base by this point is gargantuan and the documentation is often fragmented because so many people worked on different things. This means you have no idea how they, for example, implemented the tab rendering that resizes tabs as you add more, and don't know it any external variables are lingering around messing that up, or where the coloration of text is, or how the default text engine works, without going through thousands of lines of code.

    And that is too much commitment for someone to do in their free time. I think fixing up the documentation in firefox might go a long way to getting more freelance developers working on it again, and if you had a good 100 or so devs consistently spending a few hours a week trying to optimize the code, it would only be a few releases before most of the memory holes go away.

    But #1 problem with web browsers going forward is all of them perfecting sandboxing. Sandbox plugins, web pages, and addons, and making all those sandboxes work flawlessly, will be the real win in the end for whoever pulls it off best - perfect sandboxing means a user doesnt know the difference between a local or remote app, and a crashed web page, or addon, or plugin, doesn't affect the browser itself in any really negligible way.
  • 16 Hide
    Anonymous , November 4, 2011 4:59 PM
    Adblock in Chrome is not the exact same as the one in Firefox. The Chrome version is unable to block certain ads, particularly within flash embeds, because of the Chrome extension API. This is likely to never change so the Adblock in Chrome will forever be inadequate.

    http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=35897
  • 6 Hide
    bmouring , November 4, 2011 5:02 PM
    I use 64-bit nightly on both Linux and Windows, and o both platforms they've made huge strides in terms of memory consumption (the issue that most see is due to poorly-written extensions, a double-edged sword) while on Linux, Chromium is a crash-prone joke. It's nice to have choices, so to each his or her own.
  • -6 Hide
    greenspoon , November 4, 2011 5:13 PM
    This will get downvoted, but the simple fact that Firefox is not made by Microsoft or Google is enough for me.
  • 4 Hide
    aevm , November 4, 2011 5:19 PM
    You can export your bookmarks from Chrome to a HTML file. Then open FireFox (7.0.1), click Bookmarks, Show all bookmarks, import that HTML, done.

    I find it funny that "Nicholas Nethercote, who works on memory improvements in Firefox" "stressed that Firefox does not offer the importing of bookmarks from Chrome" when in fact it does and it took me only two minutes to find out how.

    In fact, it took me more time to figure out how to add a bookmark in Chrome (Hint: click the star icon in the URL box. Right-clicking offers commands like "inspect this element" which 99.99% of users don't need, but it doesn't offer "bookmark this page", LOL)

    Personally, I will keep using FireFox. It has useful add-ons like AdBlock, FlashBlock, NoScript, FireBug, SQLite Manager, Web Developer, EPUB reader, etc. Lots of extra value there. Besides, I'm not getting any crashes from FireFox, on either XP-32 or XP-64. The people who are getting all these crashes should try getting rid of all their add-ons and then putting them back one at a time.
  • -6 Hide
    of the way , November 4, 2011 5:20 PM
    stoofThe Chrome version is unable to block certain ads, particularly within flash embeds, because of the Chrome extension API.


    That may be true, but for the average person, it works well enough.
  • 4 Hide
    gm0n3y , November 4, 2011 5:21 PM
    While the memory leak in FF is really annoying, I find that Chrome is just as bad. I currently have 4 tabs open is each browser (no flash in either) and chrome has 6 threads running totalling 447MB of RAM, Firefox has one thread using 220MB of RAM. Sure, FF can start to grow a lot when using Flash, but Chrome is just bad all the time.

    EDIT: Also, whenever Chrome crashes, it takes down all of my tabs. If I have to end the task it closes all of them. So there is no real isolation of threads in Chrome at least when it comes to crashes (for me anyways). My Chrome crashes about as frequently as FF. I use them pretty equally.
  • -4 Hide
    sergeyn , November 4, 2011 5:28 PM
    I switched to chrome because it takes insanely long for the right-click context menu to popup.
  • 0 Hide
    sergeyn , November 4, 2011 5:30 PM
    FF devs - just make it fast and responsive, and I switch back!
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