Pale Moon Survey 2017In Feb/March 2017, we opened a usage survey for anyone to fill out, which was a public request to users, past and present alike, to indicate which parts of Pale Moon should have focus, and to decide in part on development direction. This was done in the spirit of "Your Browser, Your Way"™ -- you, the user, should have a say in what your browser will be shaped like!
This page provides an analysis of the results, and provides our (dev) response to some of the comments our survey respondents left.
Total survey validityDespite clear indicators of what would be considered a valid survey response, no less than 8% of the respondents still saw it necessary to provide duplicate responses, use anonymizers, use throwaway e-mail addresses and other behavior that invalidated their response.
Sorry folks, but we've been very clear about this in the survey: any responses that were either clearly made to skew the result, troll the developers or otherwise can't be verified were removed from the survey. The results of those entries did not count, and comments attached to such responses have been discarded.
Operating system distribution
Among our users responding to the survey, we've seen a very big percentage of people primarily using Linux. This may be a sign of the general shift in our population, or an indicator of more people starting to use Linux overall. At any rate, it will mean that we will most definitely provide ample focus on Linux-specific improvements going forward.
Primary browser distribution
Among our users responding to the survey, the main reasons for not using Pale Moon as their primary browser have been:
Importance of browser technologies and components
Most of these graphs will speak for themselves, so they won't have any additonal comments and will just serve as a general guideline for development and what we'll give more priority.
We will soon extend our already broad image format support with JPEG-XR (Extended Range JPEG), an ISO-standardized image format with JPEG-alike compression but support for more features like alpha transparency.
We already support WebP images (and have so for quite a long time).
This in addition to the standard image formats supported by the Mozilla platform: GIF, (A)PNG, ICO, BMP, JPG.
As part of our work on the media back-end, we are giving audio formats plenty of attention. Our support for audio formats is already broad and should cover all commonly-used formats on the web.
Depending on adoption on the web, we may add more formats in the future seeing as this is considered an important feature.
Video playback is one of our main development focus points at the moment. We are working on improving general parsing and handling of both normally-served and streamed video; be aware however that this is a complex task and a large amount of work and as such will take time - expect gradual improvements here, though!
A slight surprise here, considering people regularly asked for ways to synchronize bookmarks and tabs in the survey comments. Pale Moon Sync is available exactly for that purpose!
At the same time, a lot of people found it not important at all to have, as the graph shows...
A very clear result: plugin support is considered essential by a vast majority of our users. It is still surprising that the mainstream browsers are insisting on removing support for plug-ins when there are so many uses for them, beyond Flash (the most well-known one): e.g. authentication plug-ins, control plug-ins for hardware, banking/card reader, etc.
Pale Moon as such will continue to support NPAPI plug-ins.
Pretty much a unanimous vote here (even among the 20% who don't use Pale Moon as their main browser) that extensions are essential to the browser. Totally expected, and maybe Mozilla can draw a lesson from this.
This also underwrites the need for what we've been working on to restore: as much compatibility with Jetpack-style extensions as possible through PMkit.
And last but not least in this section, as expected, people find the ability to use a gamepad to control/interface with the browser absolutely not useful or desired. As a result, we'll be removing this feature from Pale Moon.
Of note, it's decisions like these that lower our "score" in things like HTML5 tests. That doesn't mean we don't properly support the standard, but rather that "gadgeteer use" of the browser is kept under control. It's part of the standard, but it's not useful for our audience and eveything like this added to the browser makes the code more complex and potentially more vulnerable to attack. For example: CVE-2014-1543
What if: media sites use restrictive methods for media playback?What if your favorite Media Streaming site would stop working completely with Pale Moon, because they require their preferred DRM to be baked into any browser?
The message here is clear: users have no issue using a different browser to get their media just from that website (and probably would be just as happy with a desktop application specifically for the streaming site IF executed properly).
Of note: a good 1/3rd of our users would stop using the Media Streaming site altogether if it's not kept open/accessible. I hope site owners become aware of these numbers and act accordingly if they don't want to lose their customers.
What if: extensions start using incompatible technologies?Your favorite browser extensions decide they are going to switch to a different technology not supported by Pale Moon. You have the choice to keep using an older version of the extension, or to switch browser. What do you do?
This one speaks for itself, really. With a percentage of people willing to fork extensions (if allowed) and others clearly in favor of staying with Pale Moon despite the extension being unmaintianed or unsupported by its author, there's a good base to continue growing our Pale Moon extensions ecosystem. As such we'll make sure to make it easier for extension developers to distribute extensions compatible with us.
What if: web sites no longer work?What if your favorite websites or social media sites completely stop working in Pale Moon, because the webmasters decide they want to use a very specific combination of (non-standard) features that are only supported by 2 or 3 browsers they specifically wrote for, instead of making their site broadly-accessible?
No less than 30% would solidly choose to stop using the website and move to alternatives that provide similar features or content. So, webmasters, beware: making your site less accessible to an audience choosing a non-mainstram (one may say; non-commercial) web browser will make people leave for greener (more open) pastures! It's better to focus on being broadly accessible than having the latest "shiny features". Even among those that would stay loyal to the site or can't live without its functionality, people would rather use a dedicated browser for it than abandoning Pale Moon. A very positive approach from our users - thank you!
Of course we will continue to be reactive to demand and implement features as-needed, but since it relies very much on the involvement of community members (unfortunately only a very small percentage wants to get actually involved according to the survey) some of these may take a long time before they make it into the browser. Getting involved in our development is essential to make the browser work long-term for everyone.
Our audienceSince more than 95% of our respondents chose to tell us these optional things, we have some idea of our general browser audience, which, in short, amounts to experienced to very advanced computer users from all ages, but mainly over 20 (millennials seem to prefer different browsers), with a large percentage using the browser for a (very) large part of their day.
The charts with details:
Selected comment responses
All comments submitted (in valid responses) have been read and taken
along in our evaluation of this survey. We thank everyone for taking
the time to write down and submit their thoughts and comments; of
course it's not possible to provide a response to all of them, but
responding to a few comments and concerns here:
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