My opinion on FF Quantum

Nov 17, 17 - 19:40pm, 7 months and 2 days ago

So Mozilla have been leading up to releasing their new browser for a while now - and today I decided to check it out.

I can’t help but feel like, even with this new technology, they’ve still dropped the ball. Sure, the new FF looks nice and is somewhat faster, but it feels like too little, too late. Firefox has been slow for years now and most of the old userbase has moved onto Chrome/others (6% approx. browser share as of 2017),.

Given the decreasing userbase, it seems Mozilla is going for a last-ditch effort to try and regain some new ground in the browser market share by seriously hitting home how “super duper mega fast” Quantum is, unfortunately, it’s coming off the same way when Microsoft released Spartan (now Edge). We get it, it’s fast, but it becomes obnoxious after a while, and after seeing Mozilla’s own footage of a speed test between Chrome/Firefox, it doesn’t really shout-out performance. However, it’s still a massive improvement over FF <56, tab switching is smooth, and the browser loads marginally faster than before.

What really doesn’t make sense to me is the depreciation of their addon system - there are probably good reasons behind the change, but I think backwards compatibility is so incredibly important in such programs - developers generally dislike breaking changes to API’s and so do users - WebExtensions breaks almost all add-ons. This choice has probably upset a lot of long-time users who’ve come to rely on Mozilla for their specific workflow and set of add-ons - after all, Mozilla marketed Firefox for “power users” and on its wide range of add-ons so it makes little sense to me why they’d decide to pull the plug on most of them. I’m kind of pissed that Stylish has been gimped so that you can’t edit the UI CSS and that setting a custom new tab (to a start-page or something similar) has been removed.

Another thing that irks me is that Mozilla still hasn’t learnt that people just also don’t want Pocket, I’ve been a FF user for several years and still have no idea what that piece of shit bloatware is - luckily it can be disabled from :config, but that’s beside the point, it just shouldn’t be there. Chrome doesn’t have any of this stuff on from the get-go so it’s annoying that Mozilla still persists with trying to get Pocket adopted.

Quantum has some new gimmicks like WebVR (which only 0.2% of people actually care about) and a pointless screenshot tool (which has been present in the debugging tools for ages [there are better desktop tools]). Yet they still haven’t integrated MIDI interfaces, actual decent smooth scrolling, insane memory leaks, little/no GPU acceleration on Linux systems and others.

On my computer, with 4 tabs open on there is about 492MB of RAM and 25% CPU usage, compared with FF56’s 722MB RAM and 30% CPU usage, another improvement.

All in all, Quantum is somewhat of an improvement, technical debt has mostly been eliminated (at the cost of addons), but there are still a lot of issues hanging around, maybe this will bring FF back from the dead, I doubt it though.


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