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Poll Results: Browser Choice Sans Developer Tools

Published by Chris Coyier

Yes, all the major browsers have development tools now, but I think most people are in agreement that you just can't beat Firebug and the slew of other development-specific addons for Firefox. Outside of these tools, I often hear people complain about Firefox being slow, memory hungry, or crashy. I thought it would be interesting to ask about people's browser choice if these development tools were not a factor, so just judging by UI and speed and features and such.

1 Firefox (56%, 4,615 Votes)
2 Safari (17%, 1,443 Votes)
3 Chrome (16%, 1,310 Votes)
4 Opera (6%, 542 Votes)
5 Internet Explorer (4%, 324 Votes)
6 Other (1%, 61 Votes)

Firefox topped the polls, showing that you guys still like the browsing experience on Firefox best even without fancy tools. Personally I like Firefox OK, but I have some crashing issues and I would definitely be a Safari man if mostly just used browsers for browsing. I think WebKit is the best rendering engine, and Safari 4 is just smoking fast all the way around. The web inspector with Safari is also fairly nice, it's definitely second to Firebug, it just needs the "inspect" feature of Firebug (mousing around to drill down to the exact element) to really be of great general use. If there was a final version of Chrome for Mac I could even seeing going that route, since I really dig how it localizes each tab so you can't crash the whole browser. Safari and Chrome were neck and neck for second, but ultimately Safari took it.

Opera took fourth, happily beating out Internet Explorer, which was in last place other than the Other category. I'm sure some of the "Others" were specially purposed browsers like Flock, built around social networking.

I'll leave this up for most of the day probably. I have a new Poll idea I'll put up and post about tomorrow. As a heads up, Friday is the 2nd anniversary of CSS-Tricks, so definitely pop back over that day if you are only an infrequent reader!


  1. Exactly what I had expected. I don’t know about other people, but I always feel as though I’m in “developer” mode one way or another.

  2. LuK
    Permalink to comment#

    I really used Firefox for a very long time and it did a very good job, also because of all the addons around in the net, this is the major plus of FF, then chrome came out, I never installed it because of the whole ID and google-data-octopus thing but I wanted to test this browser and so I found “Iron” (, it’s a chrome but without the crappy spy stuff and since then I mostly use Iron, it’s lightning fast, lightweight and very modern, means it supports much of the css3 stuff and so on, it has not the richness of features like FireFox but for daily surfing and testing websites (does it look alright in chrome…) it’s great, but as developer I think you need every browser you want to support with your websites on your pc installed…or is there a way around =)…ok, for the whole crappy IE series, there are online services which make screenshots of different IE versions but for Safari, Opera, Chrome/Iron and so on there’s nothing like that, or I don’t know it yet =)…

  3. Cheryl
    Permalink to comment#

    Wonder what identifying OS would get you, stat-wise. At office job it’s FF but for my own business I’m on Macs so it’s Safari. (v. 4 has been a treat)
    But I tell you a secret: if Opera was fashioned so that the 1Password folks ( ) could program for it, I’d probably use it at least as much as Safari. It’s super fast and has great features.
    By the way, I’m one of the few who actually paid for OmniWeb which I enjoyed mightily back a few years ago, but most of its key cool features have been adopted by the biggies.

  4. I’m actually quite surprised at this, I would have thought that Chrome would have won. I agree with all you said about firefox, too often I get crash reports when closing, at it eats up memory like a horse with polos. Maybe Chrome just hasn’t been out long enough yet.

    I especially think it is interesting since FireFox is only with 3.5 implementing some stuff that other browsers have had for a while; private browsing, whole page zoom etc.

    • They are implementing more than that like open video and audio, a lot more css selectors, more CSS3 features, some JS and DOM improvements, and a whole lot more. It’s also so fast, in fact faster than Chrome or Safari 4 which I myself was surprised at. Chrome has pretty much no features so I don’t know why you would think it’d win, I always get errors with it which is usually an “uknown error” with some comical message by Google.

      By the way, Firefox had whole page zoom for a while now, it’s not new? Also private browsing isn’t a very useful features, there are just some moments for it that you might need it but the same functionality was available by clearing browser data.

      Addons are what mostly make Firefox not only a great developer tool but for browsing as well. If one browser got a cool feature, Firefox can have it too without waiting for it to be implemented in the core installation.

  5. Safari’s Web Inspector *does* let you control- or right-click on any item in the page and choose “Inspect Element” from the contextual menu. What it *doesn’t* have, as far as I can tell, is the ability to let you change the CSS rules on the fly.

    I’ve always loved browsing with Safari, but I’ll have to stick with Firefox and Firebug (and YSlow, and Page Speed) for dev work. Hope Mozilla de-crashifies it sooner rather than later!

    • You can edit the CSS in Safari 4. Just double click on the css property, though you still can’t add new properties like with firebug.

    • AC
      Permalink to comment#

      You can add new properties. At the end of one that’s already there, just type out the property you want, end it with a semicolon, and when you hit return, it’ll appear as the last element. You cannot export or save the added code, but if you just want to tinker to see what needs to be done, you can do this in Safari’s Web Inspector.

    • Thanks so much, Sai-Kit Hui and AC! You made my day!

    • The same problem on Chrome (my favorite)

      by the way, on firefox I use WebDeveloper Toolbar to edit the css…it’s amazing!

    • In addition to right- or control-clicking and selecting “Inspect Element,” if you just go to the Web Inspector (command+option+i) you just click on the magnifying glass on the bottom left, basically the same as clicking “inspect” in Firebug. Mouse over the page and the different areas and objects highlight, click and it selects the line in the Inspector.

      And AC already mentioned, you can edit the CSS too.

  6. Kay
    Permalink to comment#

    I’m a new convert from Firefox to Chrome. I love the speed and the automatic “start page”.

    I like Chome’s “Inspect Element” better than Firebug. But, I miss some of the other developer tools.

    • I don’t see a different in speed or the inspect element stuff.

      The start page can be gained from an addon or by installing Google’s new toolbar.

  7. Are there any benchmarks tests comparing Safari 4 and Firefox 3.5 out there yet ?

  8. John S.
    Permalink to comment#

    Sorry I missed this poll. I would have been another vote in the Safari column. As much as I love Firefox for developer work, Safari is just faster for me for everyday browsing. It launches faster. It loads pages faster. It’s less crash-prone.

    The new Inspector capabilities in Safari 4 are promising. They don’t recreate the incredible power of the Web Developer Toolbar and Firebug, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. If Safari could replicate those functionalities, I’d dump Firefox in a heartbeat.

  9. I’ve recently switched from Firefox to Chrome for everyday browsing – Firefox is still vital for its plugins, such as Delicious and Firebug but I have found Chrome to be much faster.

    Using FF 3.5 may change mind mind however.

  10. LuK
    Permalink to comment#

    don’t you worry about big brother google when you use the normal chrome??? can’t understand this^^…

  11. emonweb
    Permalink to comment#

    we can easily turn firefox into a full featured IDE + TESTING + PUBLISHING tool even more with the help of plugins.

    • You probably use a set of other tools regularly to getting things done. you may wander firefox addon repository most possibly have a plugin to do that inside it. form taking snapshot to edit, listen music to organize to torrent down, read to write, sleep to weak up, … …. …. other browsers needs a lot to go to bid firefox. and the final words are firefox is not where it was and will change and become more smart day by day.

    • Totally agree, Firefox I believe has no competition and is the fastest growing browser out there. It is also very excepting of what IS wrong with it and bugs are constantly fixed with the numerous updates. I also haven’t had a crash in weeks now.

  12. I have a strong belief, from my practical testing, that the Safari Webkit engine is not at all perfect.
    My opinion is that the Mozilla engine is the best one.
    (And I hate Opera’s bugs. )

  13. Have you guys tested FF 3.5 !!!
    It’s super fast. And full of new features.

  14. I personally swear by CSSEdit…

  15. ”I think most people are in agreement that you just can’t beat Firebug“ — I don’t think so. IE8 devtools are sometimes better.

  16. On my Mac I love iCab :)
    Since years.
    Did anybody vote for that? Just nosy 8-)

    But for daily use Safari 4.

    Kind regards

  17. I think you should poll firefox users to see how many of them have tried other browsers. I would think a good deal of them feel they have the best browser, so they’ll not even bother.

  18. It’s really good achievement for Chrome to get third position which is a new launched browser.

  19. Yes its really nice listing. Firefox comes to top and internet explore moves to fifth position…!

  20. ric

    I’d swap Firefox & Safari, but otherwise it’s pretty much as I would have expected.

    IE’s 5th position just goes to show that our little niche group of pixel enthusiasts are fairly far removed from the mainstream. If only every interwebs pole showed the same result!!

  21. Jackson
    Permalink to comment#

    I was playing around with Chrome’s web inspector — and I swear it looks like they completely used Safari’s Web Inspector. The nomenclature, the layout, the graphics, EVERYTHING is identical to Safari’s Web Inspector. It’s quite creepy. But, I can’t complain. I think Safari 4’s Web Inspector is flat-out amazing. I just wish it had the ruler/dimensions feature from Firebug, which lets you visualize sizes better. It’s feature for viewing dimensions/padding/width/margins isn’t as nice as Firebug’s.

    Over and out.

  22. Mike
    Permalink to comment#

    What shocks me is there were 324 people out there that actually use IE to develop.

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