by C.G. Lynch

Getting Bogged Down By Browsers: How Do You Manage Web Apps?

Nov 19, 20083 mins
Enterprise Applications

If you believe that the Web-browser has become more relevant to your daily work life than your computer’s operating system (as I do), then you have to take a hard look at what browsers like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome can do best.

The issue of browser management can be a rather complex one. It touches on core technology challenges, such as interoperability between Web applications, the ability to (quickly) process important programming languages such as javascript and, of course, my sanity — how many browsers and tabs do I want to have open at any one given time throughout the day?

While some are loyal to one browser, most of us suffer with compatibility issues that force us to use a few. I have split my time between three Web-browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, all of them serving different purposes.

A breakdown looks something like this:

Chrome: I run all my consumer and social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Pandora Radio and Gmail here. My reasoning behind this is pretty simple: Chrome is fast. It was designed with these types of apps in mind, as shown by its ability to run javascript and other types of programming languages inherent in Web 2.0 and social applications quickly and efficiently. My ability to toggle between these apps, and let them do things at the same time in different tabs, is far superior to any browser (available on a PC). Firefox and IE would frequently crash when I ran multiple apps.

Firefox: Customization is king here. I used to do all the aforementioned activities in Firefox, but since the launch of Chrome I’ve still used it for reading the news, bookmarking and getting my RSS feeds. The wonderful add-on directory in Firefox allows me to integrate social bookmarking systems (such as and stumble upon), while running really helpful RSS feeds that work on top of the browser. The result is a contextual experience for consuming content from my favorite sites and blogs.

Internet Explorer: My work stuff, such as our content management system, which works best on it. Other than that, I see very few redeeming merits for IE in my life, and no, this isn’t an Anyone But Microsoft argument. For me personally, it simply lacks the quickness of Chrome and the customization of Firefox, leaving it with little value for me.

Of course, this system of using browsers for different things isn’t perfect. For instance, if I find an article I like on a site running in Firefox, maybe I want to share the link on Twitter (which is open as a tab in Chrome). That requires a few extra clicks. There are tools that would allow me to do this fairly easily, such as Twitterfox (a nifty add-on that lets me updates Twitter from the Mozilla browser), but eventually if you add enough of this stuff your browser slows to a halt and you get the dreaded “this application isn’t responding” error message.

I also haven’t even touched on the issue of security (but don’t they all say they’re the most secure?).

So my question is simple. How do you all deal with your browsers and web apps? And do you segment things out as I do, or do you remain loyal to one?