Firefox vs Chromium


Recently I read some reviews saying the Google Chrome uses a lot of RAM, and some even prefer Firefox on Android rather than Google Chrome. Nonetheless, recently I am using Chromium for browsing more frequently than Firefox. Then I found there are a lot of differences which make me feel that each of them has its uniqueness and advantage. Depending on the users need, each browser can do the things that are totally different.

 

Bookmarks

Both browsers have bookmarks. Both browsers allow to sync the bookmarks to each server. However, Firefox has the tags for the bookmarks. This makes the bookmarks have extra labels that can be searched. It is very convenient and useful for the users to understand what the page is about. Chromium previously did not have this feature. But with the recent updates, Chromium bookmark manager has “Auto Folders”.

Previously I used Xmarks to sync between the web browsers, however, because of this difference, Xmarks sometimes produce a lot of conflicts and at the end messed up my bookmarks. At the end, I give up using Xmarks on Chromium, but only on Firefox.

 

Addons and Extensions

Firefox has a lot of addons, and they are mostly browser specific to enhance the browsing experience, especially those downloader related addons, such as DownThemAll, FlashGot, and Video DownloadHelper.

Both Firefox and Chromium has the extensions such as FoxyProxy, uBlock, AdBlock Plus, Greasemonkey for Firefox and Tampermonkey for Google Chrome, WOT, Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere, etc (these are my favourites). But in Chromium, the extensions such as DownThemAll, FlashGot, and Video DownloadHelper are hardly found.

Google Chrome’s Web Store, is just like a web version Play Store, which contains various extensions covering productivity and entertainment. And some of the extensions are almost useless (to me). Because some of the extensions just links to the other websites.

In fact, because of the Firefox OS, Firefox Marketplace also provides similar feature like Web Store. Luckily, The Addons repository and Marketplace are separated, which the Addons are more useful to enhance the browsing experience.

 

Development

During the development, I found that Firefox and Chromium sometimes have minor differences, such as tab key problem in the HTML form of Chromium, or the CSS media style problem. Besides that, there is a very drastic difference between Firefox and Chromium, that is “View Page Source”. In Firefox, when “View Page Source”, it does not “re-visit” the page, but Chromium does “re-visit” the page. As a result, if it is a form, Chromium will “re-submit” the form and may produce a new output.

However, I admit the Chromium layout engine, WebKit, is really good for the developers. It is ported to GTK+ and Qt. This allows Linux developers to integrate web browsing to a native software using GTK+ or Qt.

On the other hand, Firefox uses Gecko layout engine. The user is able to use it to build a desktop application also, not porting to other GUI widget libraries, but XUL instead. However, XUL is not a common GUI widget library like Qt or GTK+. That is why, not many applications are written in XUL. My favourite application that uses XUL is Zotero Standalone.

 

Resources

I am not sure whether Google Chrome is RAM exhaustive, but I really feels that surfing with Chromium is smoother than surfing with Firefox. In my computer, Firefox frequently produces high CPU usage, which slows down the browsing especially browsing some websites that have video/audio streaming, or even social networking websites. I have the similar experience using Chromium previously, but I found it it performs very well recently.

 

Private Browsing

Both browsers allow private browsing. When using Firefox for private browsing, all the addons are still functioning; Chromium will disable all the extensions by default. However, Chromium users can also enable the extensions for private browsing.

 

Others

One of the very nice features about Chromium is that, if the website is capturing audio or video, or playing audio (or video), there is an icon appears on the tab to indicate the status. It is very nice because the users can aware the unnecessary recording or disturbing noise from a tab. Firefox does show some status for audio/video capturing, but does not show the status of audio/video playing.

To manage the permissions of a site, Chromium is easier because it can access it by clicking the icon at the URL, such as notifications in GMail. Firefox is less user friendly to manage the site permissions, and it does not show the notifications like Chromium.

Besides that, multi-touch screen support has a little different between the browsers. I have tested on a Dell touch screen monitor with this website, it was found that Google Chrome received the multi-touch as the touch input, yet Firefox received the touch as mouse click.

Other than that, Firefox in Linux does not hide the title bar by default. It has to be tweaked in order to do so. Yet, Chromium does not have the title bar by default.

However, Firefox is able to “Group your tabs”, “Share this page” (paper airplane icon), and “Start a conversation”. These features may be useful, especially group the tabs and share the page. Though share the page can also be done by using AddThis or ShareThis bookmarklets. So far, I never use “Start a conversation”.

 

Lastly, the following is the summary of the comparison,

Firefox Chromium
Bookmarks
Addons and extensions
Development
Resources
Tab status
Permissions
Notification
Multi-touch
Interface (title bar)
Group tabs
Share page

A tick means better. Ticks for both columns indicates each browser has its own advantages.

 

P/S: I just figure out that, Chromium does not support Java Applet because it does not support NPAPI anymore. Therefore, if you have to use Java Applet, then Firefox is a better solution.

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Text editors with window splitting


Using a good text editor during development is very important, as it can ease the job. There are two powerful and old text editor: Vim and Emacs. They can handle large files, split window, indent smartly, highlight syntax, work in console (without GUI). However, both text editors have steep learning curve. Users have to memorize a lot of hotkeys if possible.

My primary text editor is jEdit. It also provides approximately unlimited window splitting. jEdit can also installed with multiple plugins. Users can also create their own macro script using Java language. And it is cross platform. Similar to jEdit, Kate also works with window splitting.

Recently there are a lot modern text editors: Sublime Text, Lime, Atom, Brackets, Light Table, etc. Among these editors, I found that Atom is the one that can split the window. Atom is very interesting that it provides API for the developers to create the Atom packages. There are a lot of packages available in the repository. It is based on Chromium and using CoffeScript (which is similar to JavaScript). Therefore, the installation of the packages is just like installing extensions to Chromium. Creating packages using CoffeeScript is just like writing the user script in Chromium with JavaScript.

Atom seems like a very promising text editor. However, the current stage has a limitation. Atom now cannot handle session. It does not reopen all the files opened in the previous session. There are some packages related to the session, yet none of them works. Besides that, open recent file is available only through the packages.

Hopefully Atom will keep improving. It is full of potentiality.