Firefox Almost Ready for Prime Time

Posted January 3rd, 2005 by kyle

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 is a great browser, with lots of reviews and endorsements available for it. Some of the touted features like tabbed browsing (it feels so 90s, like the MDI interface; fortunately, Firefox operates in “IE mode” [separate windows instead of tabs] by default) and popup blocking (I’ve used Proxomitron for years, which provides more comprehensive blocking and filtering) don’t mean much to me. But it’s very fast, provides lots of keyboard shortcuts which are similar to IE’s, and Find As You Type is a real boon for those who like to avoid taking their hands away from the keyboard.

However, the one missing feature that has kept me from making it my default browser is the fact that it doesn’t include the source URL when copying-and-pasting or dragging-and-dropping selected HTML from the browser into another application. This prevents applications like Ultra Recall from capturing the source URL and images and links in the selected HTML when importing parts of a web page, which is something I do quite often. Internet Explorer has had this capability for several versions (although it’s not documented very well for developers; the only Microsoft article I could find documents the older 0.9 format and only mentions the source URL value [included in the 1.0 format] in passing).

For a while, I tried using the IE View extension to open the page in IE when necessary, but I found it too cumbersome. The Copy URL extension would be just the ticket if only it included HTML Format on the clipboard.

Recently, I stumbled on this thread on mozillaZine, an online forum for Mozilla/Firefox users. One of the posts mentioned the above problem, which led me to this Bugzilla bug report which addressed the limitation. Since December 8, 2004, the fix has been incorporated into the Firefox main source code trunk. But there hasn’t been an official release since then, so the only way to get it is to use a nightly build. The disadvantage of this is that some extensions and plugins (like RoboForm‘s) don’t yet work with post-1.0 builds. Hopefully they’ll stick to their schedule and 1.1 will be available in March 2005.

Incidentally, here are some instructions for speeding up Firefox even more if you have a broadband internet connection. If you’re really daring, this site provides custom builds of Firefox that are optimized for specific processor types and may provide a substantial performance boost.

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