I’ve been curious about the Brave browser for a little while now, and I’ve switched to Brave for any Chromium-based browser stuff I do (testing, browsing on sites that don’t support Firefox, and so on).
Specifically, the study examined the browsers’ sending of data—including unique identifiers and details related to typed URLs—that could be used to track users over time. The findings put the browsers into three categories with Brave getting the highest ranking, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari receiving a medium ranking, and Edge and Yandex lagging behind the rest.
A few of my colleagues have been raving about the relatively new, Chromium-based Brave browser lately, so I decided to try it out.
I initially didn’t pay much attention because I’m pretty happy using Firefox as my primary browser. That said, I like a browser that blocks tracker crud on the Web, so I thought I’d try it out.
The biggest plus for me is that the browser blocks trackers out of the box. It’s one of the reasons I’m a big Firefox fan – pretty robust tracker blocking from the start.
Brave puts performance, and security at the forefront, literally, with indicators of how much the browser is blocking as you journey across the Web, and how much time it seems to be saving as your browse:
I haven’t really compared Brave’s blocking stats with Firefox’s (I’m not sure if I can really compare them directly given that I just see totals, not a breakdown), but it is gratifying to see that value go up.
In Firefox, I set my start page as about:protections so I see this data each time I start up my browser, too:
If anything, these values are great reminders of how much cruft is on the Web, degrading our browsing experience.
Another aspect of the Brave model is how it uses Basic Attention Tokens as a way to reward us consumers for visiting participating content creators’ sites.
If you spend a fair amount of your time in your browser’s page inspector examining and tweaking CSS, then you’ll probably find these two sets of features in the Firefox Page Inspector to be really helpful.
Track changes you make
Firefox Developer Tools offers a great way to track CSS changes we make while testing CSS solutions for users. Here’s a terrific video that explains how to use this awesome tool:
You can also find information about this in the MDN documentation, here.
Identify and understand inactive CSS
I came across another useful feature of the Firefox Page Inspector. From Firefox 70 (launched in the last few days), you can now see not only which CSS code is inactive, but also why. Here’s an example:
I haven’t encountered this in practice just yet, but I can already see the explanations to be enormously useful. The links in the pop-ups will take you to the excellent MDN web docs for more information.
As much as I enjoy using the Firefox browser inspector, I noticed a feature in the Chrome Dev Tools that I really like, and would love to see introduced to Firefox. It’s bit like a heads-up display that’s very helpful for seeing an element’s styles at a glance.
If I select an element in Firefox, I see fairly basic information about the element such as the element’s dimensions, and the type of element it is, like this:
On the other hand, when I select the same element using the Chrome browser inspector, I see more information about the element, like this:
Chrome provides not only information about the image’s dimensions, and the type of element it is, but also other useful information such as the font color, style, and margins (in this case).
Even though I can see all the details of the element in each browser’s inspector panel, this extra information when I select an element is a really nice touch.
I love using Firefox as my primary browser. I prefer using it for a variety of reasons. Lately, though, I’ve noticed that it’s become a bit of a resource hog, and I can’t work out why? I’ve disabled add-ons that I don’t need, and it still uses about 1.4GB of RAM at a minimum for pages that Chrome uses a quarter of RAM for.
Has something changed in Firefox’s architecture? One thought I had is that maybe this has to do with something like page pre-fetching (I think Firefox does that), or something along those lines. I want to sort this out. Chrome seems to be so much better at resource management at the moment.
Firefox 55 was released on the stable channel yesterday and it is also pretty snappy. Chrome is starting to feel a little sluggish by comparison (although it’s possible that I’m imagining it).
I found myself thinking back to the marketing campaign for Firefox 3 back in 2008 (I think). At the time, Firefox wasn’t on its current 6-8 week release cycle so developments took a bit longer.
For some reason, Firefox 3 was a big deal back then. I don’t remember why but I do have a vivid memory of the robot imagery that Mozilla used to publicise the release. I found this image on Flickr earlier this afternoon.
Almost a decade later, there is still something about this robot imagery that I love.
Firefox making moves on Chrome
If you’re curious about this “new” Firefox that people are talking about lately, you may find this article interesting:
It’s tempting to just dismiss this browser as a “has been” and stick with Chrome. Chrome is a great browser and dominates the Web. Still, I think having a spunky challenger with a strong focus on an inclusive and open Web is important.
Just as it successfully challenged Internet Explorer back in the day, Firefox could help keep Chrome in check where it counts.