Tag Archive for 'UI'

Flock is a flop

I installed Flock, the “social” browser yesterday and set it as my default web application. Less than 24 hours later I’ve reverted back to a pimped-up Safari.

Flock is a nice idea, nicely done, but somewhat lacking. The built-in blog editor is nice, but primitive in its capabilities. Far more useful is the shelf feature and the ability to drag and drop HTML snippets and images. These are valuable but not the main purpose of a web browser.

On the Mac OS, WebKit browsers are, inevitably, faster than Gecko ones. That’s not a simple trade-off as Gecko is arguably the better rendering engine. I keep Camino as a backup browser to Safari precisely for those web pages that don’t work correctly in WebKit. Unfortunately Flock suffers doubly in the performance stakes. Not only is the Gecko engine slower but so is the UI – and that’s where the difference is really felt.

Flock is basically a bunch of bundled themes and extensions over Firefox with its XUL interface. XUL is all very well but its not the native API for Mac OS, or indeed any other platform. So it’s a hodgepodge that kind of looks okay but is a bit sluggish and quirky to boot. I can tolerate the non-standard widgets. But what I can’t stand is the slow response to key presses and mouse-clicks. I end up penta-clicking in the search bar in an effort to “select all”. (It’s only a triple-click in just about any other Windows or Mac app.)

I’ve not tried Firefox on a Mac but on Windows the UI is just about bearable. With Flock on Mac OS I found it just too irritating to use. It’s not that the UI is badly designed: it’s quite smart actually. But all that XUL results in an unpolished finish that wouldn’t be out of place on a Linux desktop. If I was happy with that I wouldn’t be using Mac OS.