When Chrome was first released, there was a huge amount to like about it - it was incredibly fast, extensions were much simpler to make than Firefox, and it was based on some already good work from the webkit that Apple had been working on, and the UI was full of lovely little touches, like putting tabs on the top of the browser's chrome to save space, or the clever little bookmark bar that only appeared on when opening a blank window, that really showed that the people building it cared about the details.
Firefox by comparison with each version seemed to get slower and more cumbersome, but the sheer utility of Firebug kept it in the typical web developer's toolbox, until Chrome's own developer tools reached the point where Firebug was no longer needed.
And about a year ago, it did seem like Firefox was starting to lose the plot - they had announced an incredibly aggressive 3 month release cycle that forced people to actively redownload the app all the time, breaking all their plugins each time, the shockingly talented Asa Raskin left the organisation, and in general, it became harder and harder to find reasons to click on the that Firefox logo when Chrome did the same job so much faster, and without forcing you to jump through endless upgrade hoops.
That said, there was a lot to like about Mozilla's labs projects. Weave felt years ahead of it's time, Prism, was handy and quite clever and Tab Candy (now Panorama) as a concept was ingenious enough to have me using crashy as hell alpha builds just to be able to use the feature, and the when I first came across it WebGL work totally blew me away.
Last week, I met @cyberdees at the fantastic MonkiGras, and after talking to him, I figured it was worth trying out Firefox again, I switched back yesterday, and on the whole, I'm really impressed. It's feels about as fast as Chrome does now, and I find the combination of App Tabs, Panorama, and the way Firefox will make it easy to select an existing tab rather than open yet another browser tab pointing at the same gmail account or the same page in github is exactly the kind of flourish that made me enjoy using Chrome when it was first released.
Giving it a week
I'll be using Firefox for browsing at home, and as my main browser for development this week.
After watching this new demo of their new dev tools that are built in:
I think it's safe to say the gap with Chrome has closed again, and I'm really looking forward to using them in anger this week.
For the benefit of other possible switchers, I'll write a short post this weekend, reviewing the coming days of Firefox based web development again.