What’s so tough about favicon.ico?

Saturday 15 March 2003

I currently use Phoenix as my browser. To tell you the truth, the reason I switched was that I got fed up with IE losing track of all the bookmark icons (you know, favicon.ico files). It seemed an especially cruel irony, since IE invented the things, and they claimed their “OS integration” would provide me with tons of benefits.

I love favicon.ico icons, because anything that distinguishes different sites helps me to keep them all straight. (As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like RSS because it homogenizes sites).

So I switched to Phoenix in the hopes that it would do a better job. For a while it did, but then it lost track of all the icons every once in a while too (maybe it was on system crashes, but it didn’t lose track of the bookmarks, so why should it lose track of the bookmark icons?) I still use it, because I like the tabs, and I like the ad and popup blocking, though the odd bookmark menu behavior (click click) is annoying.

I tried Mozilla, and it did a worse job. First: it seemed that it wouldn’t look up favicon.ico files at all, instead only following <link rel=’icon’ > links (which require me to add these links to all of my pages). Then, the icon only appears in the address bar, and not in the bookmarks! What’s the point? When I’m looking at the page, I don’t need the icon (because the whole page is there to remind me where I am). Apparently, the Mozilla team has gone back and forth on the whole favicon.ico issue (bug 113574, bug 143687, bug 116832), with reasons ranging from “they’re not standard” (this is a dumb reason, and seems not to be the current thinking) to “the quality isn’t there”, which gets me back to my original question:

Why are favicon.ico icons so hard? Every browser seems to have difficulty keeping track of them. What’s the big deal?

Also: if someone could point me to a favicon.ico-enabled bookmark manager, I’d be eternally grateful.

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