Why to Use Firebird

By Deane Barker on February 1, 2004

Mozilla Firebird Primer for Windows Users: A great article that explains why Firebird is a better browser than Internet Explorer. However, at one point, the author says this:

I definitely do not recommend using Firebird for any actual work, since it’s still in pre-release, and stability is obviously not guaranteed. I recommend MSIE for anything work-related, and switch to Firebird for casual browsing.

Personally, that’s garbage. I’ve been using Firebird exclusively for months, switching to IE only for Web site compatibility testing. I have yet to have a problem. (The same, however, cannot be said of Firebird’s email client cousin, Thunderbird. That app is still a little rough around the edges.)



  1. Just curious – what problems have you had with Thunderbird? Pre 0.3, sure I found it pretty iffy too. But after the 0.4 milestone, I’m finding it to be pretty solid, so I’m curious as to what problems you may be having not to recommend it, yet.

  2. 0.4 is better, but I still have problems sometimes with emails not deleting.

    And the junk email filters only run when you open a folder the first time after an email is delivered, so if I’m in my “Unknown Senders” folder when an email comes in, I can’t get junk filtering to run on it.

  3. I’m getting kind of bothered by the inundation of “Firebird is better” messages I’m getting from the techie community. Sure, it’s competent in CSS, it’s free, development is in progress, and it has tabbed browser support, but nobody’s really said anything about script support. I don’t care how standardaized it is, the object model that it’s using is really very bad in comparison to IE.

    What do I care if my pages render like the specs say if they don’t do what they’re supposed to do after they’re rendered?

    I think it’s weird that tech people are willing to recommend a complete switch from a reliable application (in the sense that it does what one expects after having used it for many years) to something that’s beta open source and isn’t nearly polished enough for the average consumer tastes, who are the majority of our market.

  4. I love Firebird, but why does it render fonts and graphics so poorly? Most pages that look great in IE or its variants like NetCaptor or Avant truly suck in Firebird. Even basic news sites look completely different. For that reason alone, I still haven’t switched to Firebird.

  5. I can’t believe that someone’s bashing Firebird’s object model vs. IE.

    The only reason that some pages work only in IE is that some designers have used IE-only extensions that MS has added to intentionally break the W3C specs. By and large, most designers have gotten the message. There are very few pages anymore that don’t work in Firebird.

    If designers use the standardized object model that’s supported by all compliant browsers, even very complex scripts, like HTMLarea, can work in both IE and the Gecko based engines like Firebird. Add to that the fact that IE’s CSS support is horrifiically broken, plus the extra features like tabbed browsing, and Firebird comes out as the better browser.

    As a web developer, I find that if I code for IE, then tweak pages to work in Firebird, I’m in for a tough job. But if I code for Firebird, then tweak things to get around the bugs in IE, things are much easier and the page will work everywhere (Safari, Konqueror, Opera, etc).

  6. I’m using Firebird since two months ago and it works fine even for personal work. Somethimes you’ll find bad html code in some sites, but for that I recomend the “View this page in IE” extension. Firebird rules!

  7. — “I think it’s weird that tech people are willing to recommend a complete switch from a reliable application (in the sense that it does what one expects after having used it for many years)..”

    If we take this tactic, we essentially surrender everything to Microsoft. This is exactly the attitude they want people to take, nicely bending over to their strategy of Embrace, Extend, and Eliminate.

    If everyone adopts this plan you’ve tacitly endorsed, it’ll be an awfully crappy software market in about five years.

  8. As far as developing standards-based sites go, it’s true that IE does do exactly what I expect it to do. I just expect it to suck and need a bunch of lousy hacks.

    If you’re trying to tweak things for IE, BTW, a great way to do it is the ‘conditional comments’ feature. Search MSDN for ‘Conditional Comments’. Extremely handy.

  9. “…IE-only extensions that MS has added to intentionally break the W3C specs.” I wonder what proof exists that MS is deliberately sabotaging the work of standards organizations.

    If anything, the more talented and innovative developers that MS has been clever to hire on have developed a successful object-driven model for page composition that is intelligent and as parallel to real OOP as a web script language can get. I suggest that Linux junkies have gotten all bent because IE is not open source, is tight with the OS (right, like Konqueror isn’t, too), doesn’t kneel before their shoddy standards, and beat the living tar out of non-innovator Netscape. Just because it doesn’t support the standards to the letter doesn’t mean it isn’t actually as good.

    Sure, it’s more difficult to built in IE and tweak for other browsers, because you end up using the IE-only features. The main question a developer with an interest in the evolution of his art and language has to ask is why these precious standards don’t include these IE features towrad which developers gravitate naturally. If the standards were so great, you would code to the standards (which apparently IE supports at least well enough to build for Firebird to IE) when you built for IE.

    I ask, What’s wrong with our “surrender [of] everything to Microsoft”? If they do it well, why not support their feature set as standard? At the release of IE 6.0, there was no browser that could touch it technically. Firebird still has some distance to cover in this regard. I’m willing to see Firebird gaining the ground of the superior browser before Longhorn is available, but I’m unwilling as yet to submit to this hawking of betaware as the Real Deal.

    Microsoft isn’t without reproach: They dropped the ball when they disbanded the IE development team at 6.1, and the current concerns of having to pay for the browser with the OS are somewhat alarming. Had they continued making improvements to IE – like better CSS support and tabbed browsing – would Firebird still be on the lips of every enthusiast?

  10. Could be that all these new-fangled systems are good; however, I find IE is still better than FireFox. My email choices are yahoo.com and FASTMAIL.FM even with its few quirks.

Comments are closed. If you have something you really want to say, tweet @gadgetopia.