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Firefox 29 Beta Arrives With UI Overhaul And CSS3 Variables 256

An anonymous reader writes "Following the release of Firefox 28 just two days ago, Mozilla today updated its Firefox Beta channel to version 29 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This is a massive release: Firefox Sync has been revamped and is now powered by Firefox Accounts, there's a new customization mode, and the major user interface overhaul Australis has finally arrived. Release notes are here: Desktop and Android." Of interest to developers: Firefox 29 will feature the first implementation of CSS3 variables. Yes, variables for CSS (15 years later).
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Firefox 29 Beta Arrives With UI Overhaul And CSS3 Variables

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  • New UI? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrYingster ( 594507 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:19PM (#46538331) Journal

    So... It looks like chrome now?

    Don't get me wrong... I like the look, but it seems somehow.... unfirefoxy...

    • Re:New UI? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SimonTheSoundMan ( 1012395 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:31PM (#46538427) Homepage

      Chrome looks like Firefox - Mozilla did the research for a new UI and UX, collected tons of data through Test Pilot project, released the data to the public, before Firefox 4 was released with the new UI, Google came out with Chrome that looked very similar to what Mozilla drew up in mock UI's. This just completes the overhaul of the UI. A little late as it was a low priority. Sad story, but true.

      • Wow. That's actually quite interesting! Thanks for enlightening me. Well, as superficial as it is, I'm glad the new UI is here. I like it when application refine things to make better use of space.
        • I like it when application refine things to make better use of space.

          For users on small screens, that might be an advantage, though I'm slightly wondering how many people use the default versions of things like tabs rather than a plug-in anyway.

          I hope they aren't doing it at the expense of stability in the UI, though. I use Firefox on big screens, so saving a few pixels here and there has little benefit to me, but moving everything around just because I "upgraded" is infuriating.

        • "Well, as superficial as it is, I'm glad the new UI is here. I like it when application refine things to make better use of space. Reply to This Share"

          It isn't "superficial" to me. I am very happy that they put the tabs right side up again. Putting them upside-down on top breaks the whole eye-brain-connection thing. (And I don't mean that subjectively, I mean from a human-computer interface standpoint.)

          Having said all that, I still think "flat" icons are dumb. Again from a human-computer interface standpoint, they give the eye and brain fewer cues about what means what.

      • Re:New UI? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TangoMargarine ( 1617195 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:58PM (#46538643) Journal

        The reason I use Firefox is because it DOESN'T have the horrible Chrome interface. I've run out of curse words to describe my anger at all the interface overhauls over the last few years. MS Office...Unity...Firefox...Windows 8...*cough* Slashdot...

        • Re:New UI? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dosius ( 230542 ) <> on Thursday March 20, 2014 @07:51PM (#46539509) Journal

          It's why I use Seamonkey, they don't change the UI willy-nilly, but it's Firefox under the hood.

          • Yeah with security holes and no updates I wont trust it.

            No I do nto mean this as flamebait seriously. But without a team and researchers I am weary of non supported browsers. Yes if you run Windows Russian hackers have all sorts of nasties.

            I had my cam get turned on a week ago after imaging my computer and running updates and just freaking opening an up to date Ie for the first time to download software. ... sigh I had to re-image afterwards.

        • by sootman ( 158191 )

          > *cough* Slashdot...

          I invented new curse words for Beta. DM me for a list...
          ... when Slashdot implements DMs. :-)

          • > *cough* Slashdot...

            I invented new curse words for Beta. DM me for a list... ... when Slashdot implements DMs. :-)

            You enter a room. There is a large, blue contraption that looks like a large rectangle with legs, but the top is rounded across one plane. ...wait, not that kind of DM?

            Also, my description of a US Post Box [] sucks.

        • Re:New UI? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @08:17PM (#46539655)

          The nice thing about Firefox is that even Nightly, after Australis has arrived, can be configured to look none-too-different than it did in Firefox 3.5.

          Chrome? Unity? Office? Windows 8? No real choice in the matter?

          Firefox? As you like it.

        • Try


      • This is interesting... link?
      • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

        Really? The Firefox 4 mockup page on their wiki contains some discussion on the Chrome UI, so it seems unlikely that Mozilla had developed something along the lines of the Chrome UI before Google did. Otherwise they could've just referred to their own designs rather than Google's. []

        Do you have any links to these pre-Chrome Firefox mockups?

      • So Microsoft also collected its data. We ended up with Metro.

        The issue is interpretation. With Windows 8 the fact that we used jumplists means we do not need colors anymore or skeumorphisms mean color and contasts so lets make office 2013 all blinding WHITE and have jumplists mean no jumplists with tiles that take up the whole screen etc.

        Yeah be careful reading it

      • by Elbart ( 1233584 )
        Just shows the inefficiency of the whole organisation.
        Same thing with the downloadpanel mentioned below.
        First mockups in 2010, Safari released in in 2011, and it got added in Firefox sometime in 2013.
    • Funny non-sense with the back and forward buttons . The forward button appears or hides dynanimcally making the whole URL bar increase or decrease in length everytime you change between tabs that have forward history or not. Are these guys idiots?

      There is an extension which brings back the older theme, but it does something funky to the minimum tab width which makes the whole tab bar go jitter crazy the moment you have more tabs than can fit on the screen. Seems like Firefox tries to make a scroller, and th

  • Been doing that in SASS since 2007, browser support not required.
    • Re:CSS variables? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dingen ( 958134 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:47PM (#46538547)

      The very existence of SASS and LESS prove CSS needs to be fixed. Introducing variables in CSS is one step in the right direction of making SASS/LESS obsolete.

      • But since we need ALL browsers to support CSS variables, in the same manner, it means we won't be able to use that before around 2024 because of Microsoft.

      • The very existence of SASS and LESS prove CSS needs to be fixed.

        I'd rather say their creation proved that CSS needed to be fixed. They came along and fixed it reasonably well, at least in those respects where they were also evidence of a problem in the first place.

      • Personally, I found that dynamically generating my CSS from PHP is the solution. It's easy to understand, easy to write, cross platform, and (using the etag trick), has good performance and bandwidth use.

        So I have a bunch of rules like this:
        echo "body{ height:100%; background: $colour_body_bg; font-family: $fontface_body; color: $colour_body_text}\n";
        Even better, I can support slightly different versions of the stylesheet by linking to "style.php?style=theme_name".

        Then, to handle performance and bandwidth,

      • They had to go and make a whole new standard though right? They couldn't just implement LESS in the browser...

    • Re:CSS variables? (Score:4, Informative)

      by roca ( 43122 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:23PM (#46538861) Homepage

      CSS Variables are actually better described as CSS Custom Properties. They aren't just SASS-style global macros, they're far more powerful. Different elements can have different values for the same custom property, and custom property values set on an element are inherited by its descendants, respecting dynamic DOM changes etc. Custom property values can be set dynamically by scripts and those changes are of course automatically inherited.

  • by g4sy ( 694060 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:26PM (#46538379) Homepage
    personally i'm signing up for firefox accounts. yah, i trust them more than google. no, not because they run around yelling "we're not evil", but because i admire their mission statement and purpose and they have stayed true to it. unixy in a way. firefox is a jewel in the free software crown and for that i will trust them with my bookmarks.
    • by VVelox ( 819695 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:20PM (#46538829) Homepage

      Fuck 'em both. There really needs to be a method for syncing to a server of one's choice instead of relying on third parties.

      Self hosting FTW.

      • by Z-Ramm ( 1120645 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @07:06PM (#46539225)

        It sounds like you CAN host your own Firefox Sync server.

        "As with the previous version of Firefox sync, users still have the option to take their data with them and host their own sync service using the open source server-side software." []

        • Please mod parent up. Self-hosting is a very important point, it was the second part of my thinking in adopting the new firefox account last month, but I forgot to mention it in my earlier post. The other cool thing about self-hosting it is that organizations can perhaps have internal social bookmarking (which could be awesome for dev teams and ops teams). You'd just have to extend the firefox accounts server with the social features which would enhance colaboration

          Self hosting FTW :D I currently have all
          • Parallela looks great if you're a computer science student who wants to study supercomputers and many-core (Xeon Phi -like ) architectures, else I don'see the point to it. If you want a fast and small computer with limited connectivity and storage options why not look at an Intel NUC with Atom. ARM stuff will be better when it catches up to that.

      • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

        Thank you for saying this!! I just posted this in the OneNote discussion and nobody seemed to get it.

        If you want to synch data, use an existing protocol like FTP, SFTP, SCP, rsynch, etc. The application should prompt the user for URL + user name + password. Then it can synch to anything. One should not have to run special host software like a Firefox Sync server or Sharepoint in order to synch files.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:36PM (#46538473)

    Classic Theme Restorer will restore your sanity

    If we wanted an ugly version of Chrome, we'd use Chrome!

    Also recommended - Status-4-Evar extension (you need the dev version for FF 29)

  • In imperative programming languages, like Java, C++ or even JavaScript, the state can be tracked through the notion of variables. Variables are symbolic names associated with a given value, that can vary with the time. In a declarative language like CSS, time-changing values are not common and the concept of variables is pretty uncommon.

    Seems like people who confuse the notions of variables, mutable bindings and mutable values still haven't died out. OK, I'll wait another ten years...

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @05:48PM (#46538565)

    Why am I thinking of Terror Australis all of a sudden?

  • This isn't progress. This is a designer taking over for UX. Bad bad bad.
  • The Australis link crashed my plugin-stuffed Mint 16 Firefox 28 shebang twice in a row. I got a good laugh. No problems recently, until this link.

  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <oarigogirdor>> on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:27PM (#46538907) Homepage

    These days, interface designers think a HIG [] should be printed on toilet paper. Browsers now always look "alien" to whatever environment where they're run. Here's a tip, you dolts: cut this "too cool for rules" bullshit. Each system gives you standard windows, standard buttons, standard decorations, standard everything -- use them, always! Regard the HIG as a holy bible! Make the program belong with the system!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:35PM (#46538993)

      Tell that to Mozilla, who have been working ceaselessly to get Firefox to behave more like OSX users expect it should behave for years now, not to mention porting it to GTK3 and QT, and slowly trying to use what time they have to improve the Android and Windows 7 releases. They even made a Metro interface that was pretty excellent compared to Chrome just taking over and turning it into ChromeOS.

      Some things just don't happen as easily as you'd like. Browsers aren't simple programs, they have their own UI that doesn't fit cleanly into every OS's HIG guidelines. Yes, there are a thousand papercuts left to fix, but don't try to tell me that Mozilla isn't working hard to fix them because I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary. What? You don't like the new tab bar? Then install a skin like the rest of us. Or will you also complain about having to customize Firefox to work exactly the way you want it to?

      • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

        You don't like the new tab bar? Then install a skin like the rest of us.

        Here is a revolutionary idea: do the Mozilla developers want a revamped UI? Then they are free to install the skin that does that!

        And make it default only when significant part of users does the same. Until then don't force it down our throat.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      Its a big problem in general. I work for a large company with a massive usability and creative department.

      Yet, the usability people, who spend weeks after weeks doing studies after studies with focus groups, still end up with justifications such as "Well, I personally think this is easier" and "I think this is ugly, lets do it another way".

      Then the creative people just ignore every rules, guidelines, and standards, and we end up with applications where every screen looks different, just so it can be pretty.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      It's not just browsers, lots of apps have been doing it for years. iTunes on Windows has to look exactly like the Mac version, right down to including a port of the MacOS font rendering engine because the Windows one is slightly different. Even on MacOS it had a very non-standard UI at first, although I think newer versions are more normal looking.

      Microsoft has for years been using custom toolkits for Office and Visual Studio that don't quite match the standard Windows GUI. Most anti-virus programs feel the

  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:32PM (#46538943)

    For the past couple of years the Mozilla developers have been hard at work removing features from Firefox and making it less and less useful. We've been able to (mostly) work around these stupid, pointless changes with the use of additional extensions. Having to add extensions to bring back features that have been removed is stupid, but it works.

    Now, with the new "Australis" design they take things to a whole new level. Australis completely destroys almost everything that made Firefox popular in the first place. An enormous amount of flexibility and customizability has been removed. But not just removed. Completely ripped out in such a way that getting it back through extensions (which are just bits of Javascript and CSS) will be difficult, if not impossible. Extensions such as "Classic Theme Restorer" [] attempt to undo some of the damage, but are only able to do so in a very limited way.

    Firefox, as we know it, will soon be gone. What a bunch of assholes.

    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      Yeah. I dunno who developed that Classic Theme Restorer, but good luck to 'em. They'll need it. I gave up on FF and switched to SeaMonkey's browser ages ago because that addon is basically having to overhaul the entire UI to restore what was there before - the UX people don't give a shit about what long-term users want, or customizability. If the developer of that addon wants to plow their life into maintaining it through all the constant changes that Firefox gets, against the will of the Firefox UX peo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Holy. I might actually change back to Firefox just to spite you selfish idiots on principle. It's easy to call Mozilla assholes and ignore how much of an asshole you're being yourself. I've been monitoring this "discussion" about Australis for months now, and have learned a lot about it just by osmosis. Now I just tried it out, and I have to say: stop being such a prissy little drama queen.

      Australis isn't "changing everything". Firefox was never popular because of it's ancient-looking UI. It won't be imposs

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I've been a Fx user since it was Phoenix and it's astonishing to me how incompetent the changes have been. They take out features that are actually quite useful, like the ability to have smart bookmarks and AFAIK, that is only available via an extension. They changed the versioning system so that most plugins wouldn't work when they made a minor update to the browser software because Google does it.

        The browser used to be good, but rather than improving what was working, they've decided they need to radicall

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )
      Well, no matter what change happens to Firefox, somebody will be unhappy.

      Don't get me wrong though, I loved the classic UI, the fact that buttons, etc. looks like other buttons on my OS.
      But these days, no matter where I go, gnome-shell, unity, windows 8, office 2007, the UI is messed up. Everybody thinks they need to reinvent their own theme and UI concept, as if an application was a website.

      Having used FF nightly for a while though, I must say that Australis isn't that revolutionary. It does look a li
    • Firefox 3.6 was irritating but I still used it. IE 8 loaded quicker surprisingly but of course I would not use it as my main setc.

      FF 4.0 did really support HTML 5 but it was sooo horrible. It was a shitty browser. IE 9 came out at the same time in 2011 and won reward. It was a better browser. Chrome soon followed.

      I switched to Chrome by summer 2011 after going back and forth with IE 9 and FF 5.0.

      It is time to move on. IE once was the best browser too. Remember those days? Times change and t

  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @08:17PM (#46539663) Homepage Journal

    Here's a list of all the new UI features I've enjoyed that have come along in browsers since I first used Netscape 2, 18 years ago:
    - tabs
    - URL autocomplete/history search
    - built-in search box (NEXT TO the location box, thankyouverymuch)
    - being able to resize a <textarea>
    - download manager
    ... and I think that's about it.

    Dear UX/UI "experts" everywhere: the next best thing to an "intuitive" UI is a FAMILIAR one. If you're working on an established product, whenever possible, simply LEAVE THINGS WHERE THE FUCK THEY ARE.

    Ask yourself this: if a study was done and it found that 51% of the time that people use sinks, it was right-handed people wanting to turn on the hot water spigot, would that mean that we should start making sinks with the hot water tap on the right? NO! Because 1) we've spent a LONG ASS TIME with this convention, and 2) there would be a LONG ASS TRANSITION PERIOD where people would have to deal with BOTH systems, which would SUCK INFINITELY.

    You know the old Abe Lincoln adage, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt?" Well, it's better to leave good things alone and have people thing you're not much of a designer, than to fix it until it breaks and remove all doubt. The best designers (and this goes for many other fields, including I.T. and stage crews) are the ones you don't know are there. Shit should JUST WORK. And then CONTINUE to work.

    • An extra box for searching just makes it harder to jump to that box (now you need to remember two hotkeys), and takes up space that could be showing the full url (or a lot more of the url, anyway).

      I bet your real complaint is browser that don't separate the concept of searching vs. typing a url, so that if they occupy the same box there's a chance you'll get the one you didn't want. This can be solved by having some idiom that switches the context. For instance, a long time ago Firefox added "quick bookma

  • by FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @10:32PM (#46540279)

    Seriously, EVERYTHING is going to shit so that "UX designers" (if ever there was a more bullshit term, I haven't heard of it) can get their rocks off and jizz their fucking pants.

    Meanwhile, everything is becoming unusable. You know why it's supposed to be the user INTERFACE? Because the USER is supposed to INTERFACE with it, IT IS NOT A FUCKING "EXPERIENCE".

    I'm so fucking tired of this form-over-function bullshit being fucking everywhere. Soon, we're going to have to just randomly fucking guess and flail around aimlessly just to use a computer.

    Do you know why Firefox's UI peaked at around version 3? Because it did exactly what it needed to. Menu bar, toolbar, address/search, tabs, page, done. Now everything is everywhere and nothing is consistent. All of these little bullshit buttons machine gunned all over the fucking place. I'm using a mouse to click these, not a fucking sniper rifle with telescopic targeting scope. Now it's following this god awful flat, squared-off, non-isolated, who-the-fuck-knows-what-does-what, pastel UX bullshit.

    We are going to design ourselves out of productivity and end up fucking around with needless bullshit all day long.

    When did we stop thinking of the users and put them below some designer's precious snowflake ego?

    • Yet another case of somebody trying to dumb things down for newbs when the majority are just fine.

    • by labnet ( 457441 )

      Yes this. Even GMAIL sucks more every year.
      Best ms office. 2003.
      Best gmail. 2 years ago.
      Best windows. 7
      Best firefox. Around 10.

      Note all the underlying systems are get betting, its just the ui's sucking more.

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      Seriously, EVERYTHING is going to shit so that "UX designers" ... I'm so fucking tired of this form-over-function bullshit

      Blame marketing, not UX designers. Some companies have UI design done by marketing, and others have it done by technical staff. Both are wrong.

      A UX designer would not favor form over function. A UX designer is responsible for implementing best practices, assigning a consistent look-and-feel, and gathering data to ensure that the "user experience" is a good one. That means measuring productivity. They should be drawing from knowledge in graphic design, psychology, statistics, and engineering. Contrast

  • Tired of the pace of upgrades that Mozilla (and Ubuntu) forces on you?

    Well then, install the Firefox ESR on Linux [], and stay for a year without changes ...

  • So I have to have an account with Mozilla to use the 'free' Firefox browser now?

    No thankyou.

    I don't want a new UI either.

    FTR I don't have a Google account either, I get my Android apps from Amazon

I've got a bad feeling about this.