May 092008

I have a dark, dirty little secret.  For the first year I worked at Mozilla, I did nearly all of my editing of Mozilla Developer Center documentation using… Safari.

I wasn’t proud of it.  In fact, whenever I was visiting coworkers, I would bravely do my work in Firefox.

But it wasn’t easy.  Firefox 2 had some really frustrating text layout issues that made heavy editing like what I do on a daily basis nearly impossible.  The worst problem was that as I typed, the typing caret would drift, winding up farther and farther out of alignment with where the text insertion point really was.  Eventually, editing became impossible just because I had no idea where I was actually typing.  It looked a lot like this much of the time:

See how the word “with” is cut off, with only part of the “h” drawn?  That’s a result of the insertion point slowly sliding its way to the left as I type.  It got worse and worse the more I typed, until finally the edit box was so messed up I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

With the new Cairo rendering engine used in Firefox 3, all those problems are gone.  Text is crisp and clear, and the strange problems with text overlapping or the typing caret being in the wrong place are all fixed.

For a guy that lives and dies in text editing fields, that’s a huge, huge deal.

 Posted by at 9:00 AM

  8 Responses to “Firefox 3: Why do I love thee? The third way.”

  1. Strange, I never had such problems in Fx 2… :)

  2. Yeah, most people never had that problem, but I could always repeat it 100% of the time on every computer I used. It was really weird.

  3. Using ViewSourceWith to edit textboxes?? ;)

  4. I heartily recommend ViewSourceWith. Firefox’s textbox isn’t bad, but it’s no Emacs.

  5. The bug was caused by certain non-Apple (usually Windows) TrueType fonts, which is why most people never had the problem. The font rewrite was long-overdue, and it’s definitely nice to be rid of font code that dated back to Mac OS 8 :P and all the random, bizarre bugs it caused.

  6. I’ve installed ViewSourceWith… I’ll have to experiment with it for a while to see what I think of it.

  7. Curious about this Fx2 issue. Which platform does it occur on? The screenshot is from Mac so I’m led to believe it’s a Mac-only issue. Is that correct?

    I was working on a site that had an opacity fade in of some text and we noticed a nasty issue in Internet Explorer 6 on Windows. Whenever ClearType was turned on, the text would be illegible unless the opacity was set to 1. Basically as soon as it started fading (even if the opacity is set to 0.99) it would appear as though the text were printed multiple times on top of itself at a slight offset. Absolutely unreadable and not at all the desired “clean fade” effect we were going for!

  8. Yes, it was a Mac-only bug.