I am constantly torn back and forth by the infinite question of “Which browser should I use?!” Yea I know you’re saying “Well, duh, ofcourse you should use browser ‘x’” because you lack any bias ofcourse.. ;) Though seriously, I give each browser my 100% commitment and see how long it lasts, but most importantly how well it scales. Scalability is huge for me, because while I may only use 7-30 tabs at any given point, at the drop of a hat that number may scale into hundreds, over the course of days and not just minutes.
Here is the fundamental breakdown of what I was able to determine based upon currently released browsers and my utilization habits. Feel free to call me out on any of this, but I’ll reference and cite as much as I possibly can – if you want to reproduce it, go ahead!
Using the following browsers:
I opened up tabs to the following locations:
And in short order the results I obtained from a memory, and cputime perspective were:
So, looking at this by face value alone, you might rate these by various chunking orders such as memory usage, CPUtime usage, or even a combination of the two – Though face value does not determine scalability over the long term usage of the application in question. Given the figures above, the order I’d place them in would be Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
I’ve been using Safari full-time since the release of Safari 4.0, and it’s been a great trip, it works very nicely, has an ‘alright’ rendering quality, and has a great UI experience for a number of activities. It’s short-comings are pretty obvious above, it uses a fair amount of memory but it’s CPUtime utilization is through the roof and this app alone can bring a machine to its knees from inactive browsing activities, let alone regular active time spent on the browser. Today will by my last day of using Safari full-time.
The recent tests like this one alone here has been encouraged by the preview of IE9 in it’s ultra alpha/beta state, and I would absolutely love to use IE8 as my active browser today (even took steps to do that recently!) As you can see it’s ability to leverage CPUtime and level it off is rather stable albeit higher than some of the others. IE8 does allow one to scale though not without suffering a memory window to account for, and not to mention when tabs crash they only crash within the crash and not the entire browser as the other 3 browsers suffer from. Unfortunately the memory consumption is too high for my average use, and I’ll have to put myself in the place of a beta instead of a stable release as this is. Though don’t get me wrong, When IE9 hits a beta I can get my hands on, it’s rendering engine alone will shatter that of the other browsers and likely will be what I switch to then :)
I used Google Chrome pretty actively for 2 full years, and it looks like it is the champion in a number of ways – almost lowest memory, definitely lowest CPUtime, though one of the things people don’t know about Google Chrome is the fact that it doesn’t scale, the more you use it. Infact, the longer you use Chrome the more often it just ‘forgets’ your credentials forcing you to retype them, or when you click from tab to tab and wait and wait and wait for it to render the current tab, like it decided to forget the ‘state’ of it and have to reference it entirely. Not to mention one other little thing whereby I’m no longer able to login to ONE of my gmail accounts using Chrome because it’s trying to “protect me from myself”. So, the longevity and scalability challenges of Chrome which I know so well will be yet another set of reasons I’ll be unable to use it.
Leaving me with falling back on Firefox. Yes, I know you FF Zealots who will say “We told you so!@!@!” I already get a flood of those on my facebook ;) For what it’s worth, I’d much rather use one of the other browsers, because while Firefox is nice and does scale extremely well, not to mention taking advantage of the memory and somewhat decently in the CPUtime space, there are just some fundamental challenges with Firefox which leave me wanting for more. (A number of IE, Chrome and even Safari features would make Firefox a greater champion) but unfortunately the Firefox stable is to ‘go get yourself a million plugins, kthxbye’ instead of building a far better browser out the gate (Perhaps that is an excuse for scalability issues in the others, though that’s not the cause for Chrome’s problems :))
So, there is no doubt about just how fickle I am when it comes to browsers and my ability to do my work, personal and interactive activities in a constant motion – Feel free to call me out on any of this, and your thoughts on any and all of this, not to mention your preferred plug-ins across the board. I’m game, and I’m not entirely biased which is why I explain just how I feel about these bits and pieces intimately here :) See you at the next browser launch :)