iRider is a new browser that I’ve been playing around with for the past couple of hours, and that I wanted to share with you guys. I know some of you have hopped on to the Mozilla Firefox bandwagon, and I’ll admit that I was pretty impressed with its features when it was in early beta, but I was expecting a bit more from a community-supported project, and it just hasn’t delivered. Needless to say, when I stumbled upon iRider last night, after reading a very positive writeup by John C. Dvorak, I couldn’t help but think, “Damn, this is what Firefox should have been like.”
iRider hasn’t actually done anything revolutionary with its interface and approach to browsing, but it did improve on certain concepts in ways that no other browser has. Here’s a brief list:
Tabbed Browsing … only better
One of my favorite Firefox features was the ability to open an unlimited number of tabbed pages within one parent window. It even had a feature where you could visit all of the links in a particular Favorites folder simultaneously, which really helps a lot when I’m looking for news or interesting content. The problem is, each of my Favorites folders have anywhere between 15 and 40 different links in them, and when they all load up, sorting through dozens of tabbed pages can be really confusing.
iRider’s approach is a lot more intuitive, although it takes up quite a bit more space. What it does is it has a sidebar which contain thumbnail views of each of the pages you have loaded. This helps remind you what the pages contain, especially if you have as bad a memory for URLs as I do. You can even “pin” the cached pages so that iRider will retain them even after you’ve closed the browser, which is helpful if you’re following multiple forum threads or if you’re waiting for new nudies to pop up in our galleries.
You can even scroll really fast over the cached pages by dragging your mouse over the thumbnails … iRider’s page-renderer is that good.
The Right-Click Revolution
The one thing that iRider does really differently is that they’ve changed what right-click does. Instead of popping up a context-menu, it loads the link you clicked on in the background. You can navigate to it by pressing F4, or the asterisk on your NumPad, or just clicking on its thumbnail in the sidebar. To get the old-fashioned context-menu, you have to hold the right-click for about a second before it will appear.
(Folks with a more modern mouse can bind the “background-loading” command to the middle mouse button instead.)
Select Multiple Links Simlutaneously
This is one of those “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that”-type features, in that it’s so bleedin’ obvious, but nobody has ever bothered to implement it. iRider allows you to select a whole bunch of links, and right-click to load them all simultaneously. I’m sure that not all of us have a need for this particular feature, but let me tell you, this feature by itself convinced me to try iRider. Why? Because I always find myself at link-dump sites and photo galleries that have masses and masses of links, and I have to right-click-then-click-”open in new window” dozens of times to view them all.
With iRider, I just select the entire group, right-click, then go and make myself a cup of coffee. By the time I sit down again, I’ve got 30 new pages waiting to be viewed, each with its own explanatory thumbnail. No fuss, no clutter.
No Importing Favorites
This is one of the things I hate most about Firefox, and is the primary reason I gave up using it. Why the hell does it need to import favorites from IE? Is it so difficult to just share the default My Favorites folder? It’s just text for goodness’ sake.
It’s too much work to have to maintain two sets of Favorites, and the people at iRider understood that, and fixed the problem.
Apart from all these features, iRider also has a tiny hard-disk footprint: it’s only 3.7mb to download, half of what Firefox’s installation file currently weighs. Keep in mind though that the currently available version is a beta build only, and will probably have a few bugs here and there which I have not come across yet.
And now, for the bad news.
iRider is not a free product the way Firefox is, but if you’re of the notion that good work deserves equivalent compensation then you may not find that too disagreeable. They do let you try it out for free for 3 weeks though, which should be long enough for you to decide if you want to shell out for it or not. The price is $29.95, which is about right for an application of this size, and is a hell of a lot less than I’d be willing to pay, personally. When you consider that Trillian, which is little more than a graphical front-end for multiple IM apps, is already $25, it kind of puts this cost into perspective.