Firefox 4 User Interface Update

23 December 2009

While actively developing Firefox 3, and beta updates are knocking on our doors, the Mozilla team released some alpha UI concepts.

As noted on the 3.0 Windows Default Theme Issues Wikipage, Firefox feels dated and behind on Windows. Especially Vista and Windows 7. These issues include absence of Glass, anemic purple toolbar color on Vista, tall and bulky UI footprint, element overload, inconsistent toolbar icon usage/style, lack of a tactile look & feel and perhaps too great of a divergence between the look on XP and Vista/7.


Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menubar has been systematically removed from Windows applications built by Microsoft and other vendors. It has been replaced with alternatives like the Windows Explorer contextual strip or the Ribbon found in Office 2007. The Ribbon UI is now also used in Paint and Wordpad for Windows 7. Many apps still retain the menubar as an option to be pinned or to be shown briefly by holding the Alt key.

Firefox isn’t the type of application that necessarily has contextual actions in the same way Windows Explorer does. So how to handle the functionality of the menubar if it is hidden? Chrome and Safari (and to a lesser extent IE7 & 8) have solved this by sorting, trimming and collecting the menubar functionality into two separate buttons. One of these buttons has items that apply to the webpage and another to the application itself. Now they don’t always agree on which item should go in which menu, but the general principal is sound. This is a good solution.

The menubar as a UI is pretty good at one thing: hiding complexity. The general purpose of the menubar is to contain all of the things that you want your program to do but you can’t(or shouldn’t) cram into the main UI. So the menubar generally ends up with a lot of stuff that isn’t used very often, if at all, and yet is reproduced on every window and takes up a significant amount of real estate. It also has the tendency to become a dumping ground for new or hardly used features. This experience can be made worse with sub-menus, or even sub-sub-menus, which are hard to find and hard to target.

A progress bar can make waiting seem slightly less painful and let you know if something might be hung-up or not. It won’t actually make things faster, but it might make them feel faster.

Instead of the indeterminate progress indicator in use now, we would like add a progress “line” under the location bar on the active tab and at the top of each background tab. This will let people know about how much longer their background tabs have until they load and it also looks cool.

Several variations of the App Button have been explored. Various factors of consideration include what color to make it, whether or not to have an icon, just an icon, icon and text, part of the tab bar, a separate button or attached to the top of the window.

Presently it is orange and attached to the top of the menu simply labeled “Firefox”. The color plays off of the Firefox icon and is noticeable. The placement attaches the button to the top of the window and suggests that its items apply to the whole menu. It also corresponds to the area of the window where someone would look for the menu bar. Using text only is reminiscent of a menu item.

Want some Linux flavour?

Go here. Or here.


Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Firefox: A Comparison

4 September 2009

I found an interesting comparison between the market-leading browsers. Here it is.

image.1 image.2 image.3

Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 Coming November 11

7 November 2008

The next big release from Mozilla – Firefox 3.1 is getting a little bit closer to release.  According to the latest update from Mozilla, a code freeze for Firefox 3.1 is now set for Nov 4-6 with release builds expected to be available on November 11th.

I’m looking forward to it as the Beta 1 doesn’t support the extensions I’m using for developing sites and browsing the web. However, I believe the extension authors have already started upgrading based on changes in Beta 1. The end result won’t be that different.

Fennec (Mobile Firefox) Alpha 1 Released

18 October 2008

Fennec (Mobile Firefox) has reached milestone 9, which is also our first alpha! We’re calling this release the User Experience alpha. The last eight milestones were building up to getting a stable browser with an easy to use interface. We really want to get Fennec in front of as many people as possible and get feedback.

As with the previous milestones, M9 is targeted at the Nokia N800/N810 (Maemo) Internet tablet. Yes, we have made great progress on Windows Mobile, but no milestone releases yet. However, in addition to the native Maemo release, we are also releasing desktop versions of Fennec. That’s right, you can install Fennec on your Windows, OS X or release notes have information on a quick start, how to install, what’s new, known issues and how to provide feedback. So if you’re interested in getting involved with Mozilla Mobile, install Fennec and tell us what you think.

  • Video walk through: Link
  • Source: Link
  • Related blog post: Link
  • Release notes: Link

Firefox 3 Record

28 June 2008

I’ve heard that Mozilla is trying to break a record with the Firefox 3 downloads. I read that they had over 8,000,000 downloads in 24 hours! That’s great as Firefox is my favourite web browser.

It’s faster than Firefox 2, and now it supports one of my favourite extensions, the Page Saver. This tool is very useful as I use it to capture screens for my WordPress themes. What’s best is that it can capture the active screen or the entire web page, even it it not entirely visible.

Anyway, back to Firefox 3, I had no problem so far, I have antivirus integration, compatible Firebug and integrated tab saving.