Behdad Esfahbod's daily notes on GNOME, Pango, Fedora, Persian Computing, Bob Dylan, and Dan Bern!

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McEs, A Hacker Life
Thursday, June 16, 2005
 Why Epiphany?

hub: I second you that the tabs bug in Epiphany is quite annoying, but I like Epiphany more, because here in 2005, browsers still crash, once a week maybe, but they do. And I hate losing all my open tabs. That's why Epiphany has a crash recovery that "Just Works." I'm sure there are extensions for Firefox that do that, but following the GNOME philosophy, I'm really busier with my stuff than going finding extensions for my web browsers to make it just work. The crash recovery is pretty handy even if browsers do not crash. When I'm running out of office, I lock my screen, and I know that if I come back tomorrow I see my session killed, but that really doesn't matter anymore, Epiphany keeps track of where I was.

There's another reason that I like Epiphany, it has better Persian support, thanks to Pango and Gtk+. Namely, it handles right-to-left tooltips pretty nice.

You're right - there is an extension that enables firefox to behave that way; it's called session save oddly enough.

I use firefox though - not because of any of the reasons you or hub list; I use it because I can just sync my settings (modulo extensions) between different platforms, wich brings me to a bit of a rant. Why, o why, can't (at least) the mozilla based browsers share profile data (such as passwords, bookmarks, cookies - you name it)? They all seem to use xml for the storage. Sure, most of the applications have different needs and different sorts of metadata - but this is XML after all - you can filter out the data you aren't interrested in.

I know - there probably are som subtle differences in how things are stored in different applications. This, however, should not be impossible differenses to irion out with a bit of healthy discussion. This could be a really useful thing to have under the fd.o umbrella.
Don't forget the clever tab-close confirmation which only appears when there are unsubmitted form changes. I have not seen this feature in any other browser before and it's a great example for just doing the right thing by default.
Or take the popup blocking, instead of managing an annoying whitelist, you simply toggle a menuitem which is saved on a per-site basis. Perfect! The same goes for font sizes, which is such an obvious feature that it hurts.

There are many more reasons why I enjoy Epiphany, in fact there is hardly any pixel on it which I don't prefer over Firefox. I don't understand why Ubuntu and others take the hype and inertia around Firefox as a reason to favor it over Epiphany. Firefox will always be available on almost every platform and almost everybody knows and/or uses it already. Epiphany has the potential to be a selling point for the platform, just like Safari for OS X.
I would use Epiphany if it got two things that are essential to my browsing. Firstly, it needs popup blocking, and secondly ad blocking.
Ad blocking is planned for the next version, 1.8. (I believe I saw this on the roadmap. It's available as an extension (like FF) but it is to be integrated into the main codebase.) Popup blocking is already implemented.

Most of the usability things are GTK problems, not Epiphany problems. (Focus not going to the location bar, tabs not shrinking.)

I love Epiphany. But even so I can understand why distros would go with Firefox; it's a momentum issue. Firefox can gain momentum more quickly since it runs on Windows. Epiphany requires GNOME to take off before it can really gain momentum. (10x10!!! Yeah!)
I'm sure there are extensions for Firefox that do that, but following the GNOME philosophy, I'm really busier with my stuff than going finding extensions for my web browsers to make it just work.

Well, like most geeks I spend an inordinate amount of time futzing with my computer, so it'd be pretty funny if I claimed that adding an extension really impacted my productivity. I suspect this is also true for you and everyone else reading this. :) A much better argument is that 99% of users, the "normal users" we should be targeting, are never going to install a single extension. So important functionality should never be optional.

Still, that's the great thing about extension frameworks. They provide a testing ground where new ideas - some brilliant, some interesting, some oddball, some just plain awful - can be put through their paces without disrupting those same normal users. And once all the kinks are worked out, the best ideas can be integrated into the main program ready-to-use instead of half-baked.
You can always use your /etc/hosts file with the list compiled at ( That is untill they have added an ad blocking feature in to epiphany. You can all so use the list with many proxy servers, dns servers and many other options.
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