Firefox should drop Sync, Panorama, the web console, and more
I was reading this interesting article from Leslie Michael Orchard today about some bugs being filed on b.m.o to remove some existing features from Firefox, such as Microsummaries, some features related to bookmarks, and Livemarks. The main reason mentioned for these removals was that these features are used by a very small percentage of Firefox users (based on which data?). If the number of users using such or such feature is the main reason to drop support for a feature, then I ask the removal of Sync (as most users will use Firefox from a single computer, or won’t bother sync their data when being on someone else’s computer, most of the time), Panorama (I still don’t understand why we have two icons, one to see all tabs, and one to group them. I don’t even understand how the UI works, so I gave up pretty quickly), and of course the web console (as most users aren’t web developers). It probably also makes sense to remove most of the API, as most users aren’t writing extensions or third-party tools.
The second reason mentioned in these bugs is that the code is mostly unmaintained, has performance issues, and makes things harder to further develop Firefox. Maybe that’s true, but moving the code into an extension isn’t going to make it faster, more maintainable or easier to keep compatible with future versions of Firefox. And users who use them daily, such as myself, will have to deal with the too numerous addons to find the one suitable for my purposes (and no, I have no fun going through this unusable addons.mozilla.org website to find the extension I need for my version of Firefox, which doesn’t suck because it freezes Firefox everytime it looks for new articles in the RSS feeds I have, which doesn’t add 3 icons here and there with no way to remove them, which doesn’t display a stupid popup every X minutes that there are 13 new articles, which isn’t disabled everytime there is a new release of Firefox because the addon author needs 6 months to update the max version, etc…).
So instead of a simple and clear UI like this:
I will have to either use Google Reader (no, I don’t need nor want Google to manage all my tasks. Google is not the Web, the Web is not Google), or try to find a suitable addon. I know so many people who have no idea what an addon is, that I think it’s inappropriate to put everything into extensions. If I want a browser with mostly no feature by default and no button and no toolbar of any kind, then I suppose I can use Lynx. And if the goal is to be as fast as Google Chrome at all cost and to have the same UI as Google Chrome, then I suggest to merge both projects. I don’t want a clone of Google Chrome, I want Firefox!