16 January 2010

I like Conkeror but I'm switching

I like the Conkeror web browser. I like the idea of it. It's based on the emacs model, making all the control details accessible to the user. Or perhaps I should say, the user/programmer. Conkeror not only lets you bind new keys and write new commands, it wants you to.

And I like the feel of it. It uses the familiar emacs keybindings. Its commands tend to be powerful ones like emacs. It provides apropos. Its treatment of links, frames, and images is very nice.

So why am I switching if I like it so much? Because nobody else does. Oh, I'm not such a crowd-follower that I'd give up a browser I like just to be part of the crowd. Far from it. But all its wonderful, open programmability isn't being used. Almost nobody is programming it. So Conkeror lacks many features that I am used to using in other browsers.

For instance, managing your bookmarks. It doesn't quite do that. You can create bookmarks, and that's about it. You can't edit them or delete them or organize them. You can't even get into a text file and edit them manually, because they're all kept in a database file (Apparently XULrunner's design decision, not Conkeror's)

I could write the bookmark functionality, and if it was the only thing that was missing that's what I'd do. But it's not. There are other common features that never got written. Form-filling jumps to mind, and password-remembering. Conkeror seems to have just never reached critical mass. More's the pity.

So today I downloaded Google Chrome and tried it out. I miss the power and the programmability. I don't like Chrome's windows that want to put 3 bars up at the top, taking up more screen real estate. But Chrome has the features that I keep wanting to use, and Conkeror doesn't.

So adios, Conkeror. You will be missed.

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