Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Firefox Mozilla News

Mozilla Ponders Major Firefox UI Refresh 282

CWmike writes "Mozilla is working on a revamp of Firefox to synchronize its various versions — desktop, tablet, phone and Windows 8 Metro — into a single visual style, according to documents posted by members of its user interface (UI) design team. The project, which does not have a name, and the earlier blending of Mozilla's mobile and desktop design groups, is meant to bring more coherence to the various versions of the open-source browser. 'One of our major goals for the year [is] getting Firefox to feel more like one product — more 'Firefoxy' — across all our platforms, desktop to tablet to phone,' Madhava Enro of the Mozilla UI design team, said in a post to his personal blog on Tuesday. Enro posted a slideshow he and others used the week before to present their proposals at a company get-together. According to the presentation, some UI elements will be shared across all Firefox editions, among them a lean toward 'softer texture' and smoother curves in the design."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mozilla Ponders Major Firefox UI Refresh

Comments Filter:
  • by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <VortexCortex&project-retrograde,com> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:12AM (#39877183)
    Thank the gods for Iceweasel.
  • finalized? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:12AM (#39877187) Homepage Journal

    When it's finalized THEN post it.

    Doing a story about "pondering" sounds like a MSN bullshit story. Even though it's more likely to happen, you might as well do a story title "moon may fall into Atlantic tomorrow."

    • Re:finalized? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrjatsun ( 543322 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:45AM (#39877347)

      > When it's finalized THEN post it.

      I think your missing the point of open development. Discussions like this happen all the time. A lot of proposals never see the light of day or have drastically changed when the source is finally pushed.

      • Discussions like this happen all the time. A lot of proposals never see the light of day or have drastically changed when the source is finally pushed.

        Exactly. So, this isn't really news for anyone except for someone on the UI team who missed the discussion - for the rest of us, this is "meh" and some filler until today's news cycle picks up (which, on /., means I'll finally figure out what happened Monday through Wednesday...of last week.)

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          On the other hand, if the core base of Firefox is also a group that's heavy into Slashdot, that could help direct development or to at least avoid having an equivalent of DOS 4...

          Granted, I have a buddy still on the FF 2.0 bandwagon because he doesn't like the changes made to 3.0+ and doesn't like the orphaned plugins, and I'm sure that there are plenty of others with similar positions, but finding out that the vast majority of commentary on an idea is negative will probably give one pause to further con
      • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

        Which is exactly why it's pointless to post it, as it may not even turn out to be real.

        • I dunno, posting speculative internal noodlings of the dev team of a popular and mildly controversial product has wonderful potential for NERRRRDRRRRAGE-powered page views and updates. From that perspective, it's absolutely the opposite of pointless. ("Pointy"? "Pointful"? "Poignant"? "On-point"?)
    • "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
      "I think so, Brain, but how will we get the pantyhose on the goat?"

  • DoNotWant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sdnoob ( 917382 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:18AM (#39877197)

    see subject

    • Somebody over there is feeling desperate to "Metro-ize" Firefox. Or something.

      Why can't there just be an interface for a 24" Desktop and a second for a Tablet? Is it suddenly that hard to maintain "two products"?

      • Re:DoNotWant (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Barefoot Monkey ( 1657313 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:55AM (#39877415)

        That's exactly what they're proposing. They have different layouts and designs for different environments. From the slideshow the different layouts seem quite distinct, but have a couple of things in common (new tab button, shape of tabs) to make them all recognisable as variations of the same product. The desktop UI is called Australis and it's fairly similar to what we've had since FF4 but with some changes I like and a few I don't. The only Metro-ized one is the Metro version, but I can't comment on that because my eyes refused to focus when I looked at it.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        not just metro-ize. but to unify it over ios, osx, desktop windows, metro-windows, unity and different android flavors! if you put it on paper like that you'd notice that it's a stupid, stupid, stupid idea to begin with, unless they just delete everything from the ui - which is actually what they've been up to. so everything is behind multiple clicks and you just have to "intuitively" know that, fucking vim and emacs heads if you ask me!

        • You can't unify it on all platforms.
          Some have close/maximize/iconify buttons on the upper right corner, some on the left, so don't have any.
          Some have global menus, some don't.

          Developers aren't supposed to make it look the same on every OS, they should respect the OS's look and feel and UI guidelines.

      • Somebody over there is feeling desperate to "Metro-ize" Firefox. Or something.

        I think you just coined a term that we're going to be using quite a bit in the next few years...

  • I use Linux, and everything in Firefox is accessible mostly with a few choices at the top of the titlebar. On the rare occasion I need to boot back into Windows, the Firefox version now has one icon where most the features now live, so now you have to dig under multiple menus to find what you want.

    Get the Windows version back to the way it was, and stop expecting me to hunt through multiple menu layers to find what I want.

    • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:29AM (#39877263)

      You realize you can change the Windows version to behaving like it used to, by turning on the menu bar in the view options? And that you can get the Linux version to behave like the Windows version by turning off the menu bar and enabling a sidebar?

      • by bluescrn ( 2120492 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:37AM (#39877315)
        The menu bar rendering on Windows has been broken/fugly since FF4

        Looks seriously unprofessional and quite obviously broken, but as the menubar is off by default, nobody's bothered to fix it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Idbar ( 1034346 )
        Actually, if you are referring to the traditional menu bar in Windows, it just comes up when you use the key to access the traditional menu bar: Alt.

        Alt and let go.... or Alt-F for file or Alt-E for Edit, Alt-Spacebar for the window menu and so on. I don't know why all these hardcore geeks complain about something they don't see, when the command line is all about key combinations.
    • The linux version behaves the same as the windows version (I have windows shoved down my throat at work, so I can personally vouch for this).
      You probably have an older version on linux, or simply, a different configuration.

    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      That's actually what I like about the newer versions - the UI elements are reduced to about as minimal as possible. I don't really want skins & curves, I want as much as possible of my screen to be devoted to the pages I'm using & as little as necessary to the UI. If I were using the menu items all the time I'd re-enable the menu bar, but I'm happier with all the UI stuff in a little sliver at the top. Ctrl-P to print & I'm good.

  • Just for a change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:27AM (#39877247) Homepage

    Another day, another Firefox UI 'revamp'. And another major version number to go with it, no doubt.

    Meanwhile, if a download times out Firefox still reports it as having completed successfully. This has been the case since at least Phoenix 0.4, and presumably since it's conception. Yet it remains unfixed. Apparently in 11 major versions and 9 years, not to mention countless UI revamps it seems the FF team still haven't realised that an HTTP connection can fail.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      I've been following the Opera development team and they haven't changed the UI recently, so I think Firefox is safe for a while.
  • Please stop. Just stop. To re-purpose what I've written before: Stop turning my computer programs into children's toys.

    Stop taking away all my menu bars, tables, text boxes, whites spaces, status bars. Stop replacing them giant coloured icons and disappearing peelback tabs and menus. Am I expected to just intuitively "feel" where all the controls and options are now? I don't understand why you are doing this.

    This has to stop, as it's happening across the program spectrum. I blame the influence of smartphones and similar touch oriented devices.Speaking as someone who has never owed a smart phone I have always found them restrictive and confusing. Using one is like navigating a theme park without a map. Eventually you'll want to just find a place to sit down but you'll only get more lost among the theme rides and hot dog stands.

    The encroaching presence of fatuous smartphone UIs onto my desktop annoys and increasingly frustrates me, and has to stop. I never liked Macs, and Ubuntu's unity is driving me off the distro. I don't want this and I have trouble believing that most FF users do, or will ever. Stop shoving this down the throats of your misfortune users.

    Stop. Firefox does not need this. Its UI does not need to be "refreshed" or "toned down" or "streamlined" or even "supercharged". It is a good UI. Title bars and menubars are a desired and productive element of its interface. It's OK to have little icons, buttons, and text around the screen; I use a keyboard and mouse instead of fat fingers and caressing gestures. Stop assuming a smart-phone has been my primary computing device for the last five years.

    Please stop this. Just stop. Someone, please tell them to stop.

    • Stop turning my computer programs into children's toys.

      A typical view of computer users is that they are children -- toddlers who need their hands held wherever they go.

    • No. Please Continue (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I blame the influence of smartphones and similar touch oriented devices.

      There's a pretty big reason why all these changes are being implemented; that's where a large portion of the users are at, and these devices are getting more popular. It only makes sense that people using your software across devices will at least want a consistent UI, and it should be accessible no matter what type of device you are using.

      That being said, looking over the Firefox designs, I see nothing that looks substantially different (or difficult) about how the new UI will be used.

      Stop turning my computer programs into children's toys.

      Conversely, I could s

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @09:07AM (#39877491) Homepage

        "that's where a large portion of the users are at,"

        Really? Got any evidence for that?

        "t only makes sense that people using your software across devices will at least want a consistent UI"

        No it doesn't. What works on a 4 inch screen doesn't necessarily work on a 19 inch monitor and vice verca.

        "because those are all a big distraction"

        Having a button for "back" or "reload" or a "Tools" menu is not a distraction. Unless you have some sort of dyslexia.

    • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @09:06AM (#39877479)

      Why don't you like my hammer? Can't you see how shiny it is? Every working man is getting one, clearly it is the tool of the future! You're just preducided against hammers because you don't appreciate how flexible and intuitive it is. It's so ergonomic, it fits the human hand so perfectly! Feel the weight of it, the balance. Don't you want one too? I bet you secretly do.

      Sure, some people might insist that those old-style hydraulic drop hammers gets more hammering done, but they're so... loud... and heavy. Not all portable, or shiny. Who would want to use something like that? You clearly don't understand the manifest benefits of a light-weight, hand-held, ergonomic implement that anyone can use! So pretty to look at too -- you can see that mine is chrome plated and comes with a doe-skin suede hip holster. It's the latest style. You'll love it, trust me.

      The market has clearly spoken: more people are purchasing shiny hand-held hammers than heavy and dull hydraulic drop hammers. You're just slow to get with the times. It's time for you to join the rest of us in the future.

    • I'd have modded you up if you weren't already at +5. This echoes my own feelings on the subject quite eloquently, although I have owned a smartphone, and browsed on it. IMO, the ONLY reason to browse on a smartphone is that you don't have a desktop available - it's a terrible experience all around; I'm glad that developers are trying to get all the functionality they can into mobile browsers, but when you throw a current mobile browser against a web site that's designed for a desktop PC, which have the ab

    • This has to stop, as it's happening across the program spectrum. I blame the influence of smartphones and similar touch oriented devices.Speaking as someone who has never owed a smart phone I have always found them restrictive and confusing. Using one is like navigating a theme park without a map. Eventually you'll want to just find a place to sit down but you'll only get more lost among the theme rides and hot dog stands.

      emphasis mine

      Welcome to Web 3.0. They're banking on it. The future is turning your computer into a money making machine for them. Google's doing it by turning your page views into dollars from advertisers. Other corporations are hoping you'll use their software, they'll peek and poke around your habits, churn information that is useful to them in the hopes that they can get you to stick around and give your money to them.

      The Hot Dog stands and amusement rides of today are applications like Angry Birds

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      I hear you. I switched to SeaMonkey long ago just because Firefox couldn't leave well enough alone. Yep, it is big, fat slow browser, but the interface rarely changes. And NoScript works with it. There is a candified interface skin I could use but I prefer the more traditional skin.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @08:32AM (#39877281)

    I may get accused of being a cranky old man but seriously, what I want from a browser UI is to access the functions of the browser like back/forward, refresh, an address bar that actually displays the address including the protocol, maybe start page button and bookmarks. What I don't need (and this apparently includes, from the mock-ups) is a "twitter" button.

    I'm starting to think the problem is that Mozilla is hiring a lot of people who then (naturally) feel obligated to "do something" and weird changes are the result. Also, why copy everyone else? Why not, ahem, think different for once? Not everyone wants a Chrome-style browser and those that do probably use Chrome (and they should, more power to them).

  • Remember back when there was an iron grip on how menus were laid out? Remember when it frustrated us all that we had to use the same keyboard shortcuts to reach simliar functions? I miss those days. From the current nightmare that is Microsoft Office, where it took me twenty minutes to find the print command for the first time. To drilling down through three menus to find my bookmarks!

    While you're at it, knock off that rapid release cycle! Version 12 looks just like Version 3, except that I had to comp

    • I'm a Firefox user too, but if something like that happened to me I would switch to Chromium and do something else with my evening.

  • Well' I'm still waiting for tabs in the title bar on linux/gtk :-/

  • and their GD box of unity/gnome3/metro8 crayons away from my web browser, email, and desktop GUI!

  • ... as long as it's not the broken, mis-designed (assuming it has been designed and not just the result of a failed Rohrschach test) and for a desktop utterly unusable "Metro" look ...

  • Don't take away the separate search bar. It's one thing I like about Firefox is that it's not sending all my keystrokes in the URL bar to Google. Looks like they're now gonna take that away (from the screenshot).
  • Opera makes a fine browser choice. They are not constantly trying to fix something that's not broken, and updates are released more infrequently. Plus it comes with things like tabs-on-left and plugin blocker out of the box.
  • who was boasting about how great it was to have 4(!) versions of FireFox under development at the same time, not to mention all the different platform flavours.

    Sadly, it turns out that it's a different clown, so there are at least two of them at Mozilla. I has a sad.

  • So long as they don't called it "Mozzarella Foxfire", I'm good.

  • NOOOOO! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ukemike ( 956477 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @09:37AM (#39877627) Homepage
    Do I use finger to poke, swipe, and pinch when I am on my desktop? Do I use a mouse to point and click when I use my phone? Is my desktop screen 3" x 2"? Is my phone screen 24" x 12"? No. No. No. No. These are two totally different operating environments with totally different requirements and limitations. They each need different interfaces. Besides who uses Firefox on their phone? It's all about Dolphin baby.

    Why are all the software producers abandoning 30 years of desktop user interface improvements to make it more like mobile interfaces which are new and still developing, and by needs totally different. Just when they get it right and are just in need of the slightest refinements, they think it's time to make radical changes. Is this about improving the product or is it about keeping programers employed?

    MOZILLA LISTEN!!! A browser should be so easy to use that it almost becomes transparent. It becomes that way by maintaining a nice user interface for a long time so use of the features becomes deeply ingrained habit. STOP CHANGING THINGS AROUND! PLEEEAAASE!!!
  • For my personal usage, the only reason I still use it is at work it's nice to have Live Bookmarks. Seeing the RSS feed titles without having to use yet another service to manage is great. But I'd have switched completely to Chrome earlier if it wasn't for this. Now all my installs and managed pc's run Chrome. It's just so much easier and simpler, esp when the client is already in the Google domain.
  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @09:56AM (#39877779)

    The Version number doubles every 18 months

  • by Zorque ( 894011 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:00AM (#39877813)
    We all know complaining on message boards never does anything, so tell them directly what you think of their ideas: []
  • by water-and-sewer ( 612923 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:10AM (#39877865) Homepage

    How's the view from the bike shed, guys? Figure out which color to paint it today? Screw the UI overhaul, some of the engine needs overhauling too, but that's no fun. We'd rather bicker endlessly over how curvy to make the soft curves, while the memory leaks and weird crashes go on, unabated.

    The important stuff is hard to fix, and no one wants to do that stuff. Arguing over UI rehashes is more fun, and "feels" productive whether or not it actually is.

    How about inventing mechanism so themes and plugins don't need constant updating and are so frequently uninstallable because of version issues? Wouldn't that be more useful - and thus attract more users - than a sexy new bit of graphics?

    But don't mind me, I'll be over here using Opera, which I find more useful, and Chrome, which is way faster.

    You know what color would be good for your bike shed? Fail-Red, with nice, soft curves...

  • I find it hard to imagine that a unified look and feel will be equally useful. The software is used on a very wide variety of devices with wildly different screen sizes, aspect ratios, and input devices. I don't WANT the same control scheme on my smartphone as my desktop!

  • After seeing the slideshows, all I see is lots of rounded borders (including window borders, which the WM should handle), and less desktop integration:
      - It's own decoration instead of the OS's
      - It's own widget styles
      - It's own titlebars

    Do we really want a product that looks the same everywhere regardless of the OS and theming settings we've configured on it?
    Or did we choose+configure our OS for a reason?

  • so they spent the last few years making each version look different ("native"), and now they want to make them all look the same again? great. how about: 1) the crashes and memleaks that are still there. firefox is currently using 2.3GB RAM on my Mint11 system and it's only been running a few hours since it last crashed. 2) the horrendously inefficient database format used for local storage. anyone tried using FF over NFS? it takes twice as long to start as opera, and about 5x as long as Chromium. Now i
  • I don't like the concept of unifying the UI across platforms, and I don't like the idea of Firefox being more identifiably "Firefoxy". If you ask me, one of the strengths of Firefox is that it does a passably good job of appearing to be native on each platform.

    When I'm on a Mac, I want my browser to appear "Mac-y". When I'm on Windows, I want my browser to appear "Windows-y". When I'm on Linux, I want it to be "Linux-y". The browser should be inconspicuous, and it should blend into the platform that yo

  • You mean more Chromy, don't you? Firefox hasn't looked like FF for a long while.

  • It's a shame, but the folks at Firefox have gone off the rails in just about every way. First Gnome goes off the rails, now Firefox. We are living in troubled times my friends.
  • by Arrogant-Bastard ( 141720 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:03PM (#39881007)
    As someone who has been using web browsers since before some of you were born, I'd like to make a few comments on this latest foray into copying either Chrome or that spawn-of-evil, Metro.

    Alright, one comment. A very brief comment.


    Firefox does not need its UI endlessly tweaked by a circle jerk of self-congratulatory programmers who rejoice at every spline and every pixel-level change. Firefox needs the following:

    1. Bug fixes. There are a lot of them pending. Have you noticed? I have. It's not nearly as much as fun as playing with the UI, but it needs to be done. (Yes, I've helped. But I'm getting damn tired of writing extremely detailed, carefully researched bug reports that sit in the queue indefinitely.)

    2. Security and privacy improvements. A substantial subset of the functionality of NoScript, AdBlock Plus, Better Privacy, Beef TACO, Disconnect, BlockSite, BugMeNot, ShareMeNot and oh yes, HTTPS Everywhere, needs to be IN THE BROWSER. Not an add-on. IN THE BROWSER. Hell, you have a budget: buy the technology if you have to, but get it in. Security and privacy are NOT add-ons, they're core functions. Make it happen.

    3. Resource usage. Not everyone on this planet is wealthy enough to afford a new laptop every two years just to run a web browser. And make it possible for users to clamp memory footprint, CPU utilization, and other resources so that they don't find their web browser eating their system alive.

    4. Standards compliance. I don't care if you think some of the standards suck -- I think they do too. Do it anyway.

    5. Stop dumbing it down. THAT function should be in an add-on, call it "Training Wheels for Firefox".

    6. If anyone suggests adding "social network" functions, please give my earnest sympathies to their surviving friends and family.

    7. Respect Mah Authoritah! No automatic updates, no automatic checking for updates, nothing. (Why? Think about browser fingerprinting techniques and add-ons, and why some people really, REALLY don't want their browser to provide any clues to those who are doing DPI on the network they're connected through at the moment.)

    8. Every icon in every panel needs to be set up as (a) icon only (b) text only or (c) icon and text. All of them. Because i'm getting damn tired of squinting at my 7" netbook screen trying to figure out WTF some squiggle means.

    9. Get off my lawn!

    10. Stop trying to out-Opera Opera, out-Chrome Chrome, and REALLY stop trying to out-IE IE. You have...had...a vision of a pretty good piece of software and somewhere around Firefox 4, you lost it. Stop. Go find it. Pick it up, dust it off, and tack it on the wall. Then pay attention to it.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"