The Firefox 3 Visual Refresh: System Integration

As we get closer to moving Firefox 3 from the alpha stage to the beta stage, testers of Minefield (our nightly builds), and people who follow the user experience team’s mockups on bugzilla and forums like dev.apps.firefox are starting to see some glimpses of what Firefox 3 may look like. Since I haven’t posted to my blog yet about our strategy for the visual refresh, I figured I am long due for a post about what we are trying to accomplish, why, and when it is going to land.

Visual Integration with the Platform

Several weeks ago a mockup of the new places organizer hit digg, and public reaction was essentially “Looks nice for Vista users but what about OS X…

Placesorganizer

This was subsequently followed by a mockup of Firefox 3 on OS X hitting digg, and comments once again started flying: “Yay now it matches…” The Firefox 3 theme for OS X is being developed by the immensely talented contributers Stephen Horlander and Kevin Gerich. We are also receiving a lot of feedback and advice from Aronnax of GrApple fame.

Osxtheme

You may be detecting a trend. Visual integration with Windows and OS X is our primary objective for the Firefox 3 refresh.

Fitting in to the visual appearance of the native operating system may seem like a reasonably obvious decision, but it certainly isn’t one that every cross-platform application or windowing toolkit makes. For instance RealPlayer (image) uses a custom appearance across operating systems, as do applications built using Java’s Swing windowing toolkit (image). Personally I think a unified cross platform UI results in applications that at best feel foreign everywhere, and at worst don’t even feel like real applications. Making XUL appear truly native means we have to do some extra work when new operating systems are released, like Vista and Leopard, but I think this work clearly results in a superior user experience.

With this release of Firefox we are trying to achieve an even closer level of visual integration than we have had in previous releases. For instance, we are planning on having two different sets of icons for Windows: a set for Windows XP that uses the XP color palette, and will have the correct plastic reflectance, and a set for Windows Vista that will use a larger color pallet for objects, a smaller color pallet for glyphs, and the icons will be appropriately shiny. For Firefox 2 we weren’t able to ship two icon sets, so we literally averaged the two different aesthetics and created a theme that looked sort of right on each platform. If you are interested in the design guidelines for Windows icons, they are available for XP and Vista, and here are the guidelines for different visual variables I’ve set up based on these documents for the new Firefox icons.

[Update: I made the unfortunate mistake of not mentioning Linux when first posting because we still aren't sure what the best way to visually integrate with Linux is, given the number of different distributions. Mozilla's lead Firefox engineer Mike Connor and our user experience lead Mike Beltzner have both written followup posts about this. Some links to how you can join the discussion about visual integration on Linux appear below].

For OS X we are following the new unified style that is used consistently throughout all applications on Leopard. Firefox will look the same on 10.4 as it does on 10.5, similar to iTunes, and iLife 08. We are also looking into a variety of other little touches to visually integrate on the Mac, like the correct appearance of source lists (we call them sidebars), a cover flow-esque styling in the add-ons manager, and transparent panel styling (sometimes called HUD window styling) for the places drop down and the new identity button in the location bar (mockup coming soon).

One reason we want to focus to this level of detail on visual integration with various platforms is because the Web browser is an incredibly central piece of the user’s operating system, and we don’t want the user’s initial reaction to be that they have modified their computer to add some type of strange, foreign application. For instance, after you install Firefox on a completely fresh installation of Windows, we want you to feel like Firefox is a very carefully crafted part of your OS. This is particularly important on the Mac, since brand new computers only contain software that has been designed by Apple. Also, since Apple does a great job of including all of the applications that regular consumers commonly need for interacting with their computer, Firefox is in many cases the only third party application users install on OS X.

Visual design also goes beyond the user’s first reaction to the software application. As you move between performing tasks on the Web and interacting with the rest of your system, we don’t want the experience to be jarring. We view visual design as a part of interactive design, in that we want Firefox to blend into the rest of your system. Not in the sense that users no longer remember that their computer didn’t initially come with Firefox, but in the sense that the visual integration aids in achieving flow.

Mozilla’s user experience team literally wants to do a better job of visually integrating with Windows than IE, and a better job of visually integrating with OS X than Safari. I don’t know if we will be able to pull that off, but that’s the goal.

Maintaining Firefox’s Identity

One of the biggest challenges with this design direction will be achieving visual integration while still making sure that Firefox maintains a unique brand and identity. Traditionally we have had nearly the same user interface on every platform, so regardless of what operating system you are looking at, you can easily recognize Firefox. Correctly matching the color and reflectance (metal, plastic, glass) of each platform is going to diminish that effect. However, we can still leverage shape for cross platform consistency. For instance, we could come up with a unique shape for how the back and forward buttons integrate with each other, and style this form to match each operating system. The layout of controls will also likely still remain consistent between platforms. We of course also still have a very recognizable application icon.

Overall however, I personally think Firefox has in the past established its identity through interactions as opposed to the visual design of the interface itself. When users described switching to Firefox 1.0, they often talked about tabs (even though the icons were fantastic). I may have a skewed perspective on this because I’m far more of an interaction designer than a visual designer.

To give a specific example of how I see the next release of Firefox establishing its identity through interactions: Firefox 3 is going to include an incredibly useful feature where you can quickly navigate to a bookmark or history item by typing part of its name, or part of the URL (like the start and the end, which seems to be the only parts we remember anyway). Ideally (Seth is still working on this), the suggestions will learn and adapt based on the results you choose, so the interface will become even more streamlined over time:

Locationbarsearch

This is the kind of feature that once you start to rely on it, you quickly think to yourself “how did I ever get by without this?” When you think about the difference between Firefox 2 and 3, or the difference between Firefox and other Web browsers, I think it is streamlined interactions like this, or one click bookmarking, that are likely to spring to mind, as opposed to the application’s unique visual style.

Specific Tasks for the Visual Refresh

Mac OS X:

  • Design a new icon set for OS X (bug 399398)
  • Implement unified toolbar (bug 303110)
  • Implement a new theme for OS X (bug 397723)

Windows:

  • Design two new icon sets for Windows (bug 399398)
  • Tweak existing Windows theme (bug 399399)

[Update: Linux Distributions:

The implementation work for OS X is already well underway. The refreshed icons will start to be dropped into nightly builds of OS X and Windows as we have them. [Update: The same will go for Linux icons once we decide on the correct direction for visual integration. ]

Firefox Icon Inventory

Firefox 3 will have about 120 different icons, appearing at a variety of different resolutions. To track all of the work we need to do for this visual refresh I’ve set up an inventory of all of the icons we need. The Web application being used to display this data is Exhibit 2.0 created by the SIMILE research group at MIT. In addition to sorting different columns and filtering search, you can also use the controls on the far right side of the window to perform faceted browsing:

Exhibit

For instance, how many high visibility icons are being introduced for the first time in Firefox 3, have a resolution of 16×16 pixels, and have myself as the user experience contact? 3! This is really a useful way to browse data across a variety of dimensions. I was planning on setting up an exhibit view of the Firefox 3 Products Requirements Document, but Mike Connor beat me to it. In both cases the data itself is stored in a Google spreadsheet, which gets syndicated to a JSON RSS Feed, and the Web app immediately reflects changes people make to the spreadsheet. You can learn more about Exhibit from this tutorial about setting one up, and this tutorial about linking one to a Google spreadsheet.

How to Contribute

Things are now underway with the new OS X theme and producing icons. If you are interested in getting involved, there are two areas where we would love for people to contribute:

1) General Feedback on both the design direction and actual work (either below or in the relevant bugs)
2) Specific ideas for theme tweaks to help Firefox fit in on various platforms. For instance, this blog post about tweaking the Firefox theme for Vista is exactly the kind of ideas we are looking for.

116 comments

  1. “The various platforms”? I only see 2 platforms mentioned here. What about Linux, Unix, BSD, and other open-source systems? I know there is a much larger variety of themes in these systems, but at least telling us how you plan to handle that would be useful.

  2. So, you excellently address Windows and OS X in this post, but what about Linux? I just know that all the Linux users (including myself) want to know what Firefox 3 will look like on their machines. In the past, Linux has taken on the form of winstripe (the Windows theme), but with the breaking of XP and Vista, this probably won’t work well with Linux. Also, I doubt people would want Firefox 3 on Linux to look like a Windows application. So, what are the plans for Linux?

  3. I love how Mozilla keeps forgetting Linux. Everytime I see something like this, I am glad I use Epiphany.

  4. A visual refresh for Linux has not been scoped nor added to the PRD, and like previous incarnations, it will likely pick up the Windows XP theme. I don’t think this is a disaster for a few reasons:

    – Many Linux OSes redistribute Firefox, and at that point, they can (and should!) be applying a theme to be as consistent as possible with their HIGs

    – In terms of relative effort, it’s not worth the time and investment cost for us to do this.

    – While our system requirements say that we test on FC4, we don’t really have (afaik, could be wrong here) an official Linux window manager. So it would be impossible to create a single theme that would fit on all Linicies.

  5. I notice you don’t mention Linux once. How about an official svg tango icon set that integrates with gnome?

  6. Hi Alex,
    What is the impact of platform specific L&F on the extensions?

  7. Sorry to join my voice to the Linux crowd, but… Practically, what’s going to happen for the default theme on Linux?

    Not trying to integrate visually is one thing (and understandable), but I hope Linux users are not going to get a big Vista theme by default. That would really suck.

    I think I remember that Mozilla on Linux is trying to stay close to Gnome HIG, which is good. This is why it’s following the Gnome GTK theme, and we have OK/Cancel button in an order inverted compared to Windows.

    So the least you could do for Linux users is to keep the current “native” look (as it is on trunk), the best would be a set of icons that matches the Tango palette and style. But please don’t make just inherit the Windows theme!

  8. Nice write up Alex. I have not been checking out the nightlies so seeing what is planned for the visual refresh is definitely interesting. I was a bit surprised to see any lack of Linux plans though. I can understand how Desktop Linux’s current market penetration might make Linux seem “not worth the time and investment cost” but doesn’t Linux’s future make it more important? Seems to me the future of Firefox will be closely tied to that of Linux.

  9. I must admit the “help, what about Linux” comments confuse me greatly. The Windows and Mac themes for Firefox 2 generated complaints, and Stephen Horlander and Kevin Gerich kept alive the old winstripe theme. As far as I know nobody has bothered with that for Linux. So clearly people are OK with it. And if they’re not, they’re free to file bugs and do patches (where suitability for release of course is still in the hands of the release drivers).

    And to look at this from a different point of view – have you ever tried to use an originally Linux/GTK2 app (say, the GIMP, or OO.org) on Windows or Mac? It looks horrific (though admittedly OO.org is now better on Win32 than it used to be). And that’s probably not going to get fixed Real Soon Now. So please shut up about Firefox’s “responsibility” to Linux – if the Linux users care so much, they can go ahead and take responsibility for Firefox. The “we accept patches” attitude is an open source concept I thought they especially should be familiar with.

    (Note that I’m not representing Mozilla in any way, so any complaints about the above attitude should be directed to me, not to Alex or Mo(F|C)o)

  10. Gijs, your comment is exactly what is wrong with Mozilla today. If there were another browser for Windows that I could recommend (a good Open Source one), I would recommend it in a heartbeat. Why? Because Mozilla does not give a crap about Linux and devotes almost no resources to caring about it.

  11. I’m just going to add myself to the chorus of disappointed Linux users. Is it really that much trouble to give us a default Firefox theme that conforms with the default GTK theme and includes Tango icons?

  12. What I really care about for Linux (and OS X) is HTML forms. If HTML forms will continue to look like something created with Motif in the previous century it really doesn’t matter how sexy the new themes are.

  13. Mike, I only take offense because of the “In terms of relative effort, it’s not worth the time and investment cost for us to do this” sentence because it looks unfounded to me. On all the public systems where I have access to the stats the number of users using Firefox on Linux is higher than that of users using Firefox on Mac OS X. So I really can’t share your “it’s not worth the time and investment” view.

  14. >> search ‘linux’ in article…
    returned 0 results

    I’m disappointed to see visual refresh on linux platform was declined for fx3 as much effort was put on gecko back end to integrate with linux gtk widgets.

    Nikolai: html forms in fx3 are skinned using gtk theme, that bug has been fixed.

  15. Same comments as other… where are plan for GNU/Linux and BSD ? You ONLY talking about proprietary system.

    You said “In terms of relative effort, it’s not worth the time and investment cost for us…”

    Let me say that it’a dangerous point of view. May be next time for Firefox 4 you will say “No version for Linux guy it’s a worth the time and investment cost for us to do”.

    Frankly I ask myself sometimes if Mozilla is still an open-source minded “company”. Did you forget the time before firefox, when “nobody” was using Mozilla ? When 95% of code contributor, bug reporter and user were Linux user ???

    Firefox’s “responsibility” to Linux is a really. If not, Mozilla is just a selfish company, who care about market % and not making the web a better place for everybody. Think about it.

  16. Hrm. How do I make this comment stand out from all the linux winery.

    MAC BASHING!

    I’d like to comment in the Firefox identity theme that Alex pointed at. To me, Mac’s are still (and will likely remain, IMHO) early-adopter tech sexy machines, and used by such people. You know, I ;-). In other words, great multiplicators. Errr, make that “in a spreadfirefox sense”.
    Making the visual difference between the app on windows and on mac bigger is going to increase the loss rate between those that see “cool guy with cool browser there” and the amount of folks that actually install Firefox on their own machine.

    Increase is meant in a totally mathematical sense here, it’s gonna be bigger.

    I do expect that a real Mac theme is going to appeal to those that had Macs before the iPod, I’m just not sure how much it’s going to matter to the majority of the mac folks. I would expect that behavioral integration is ranking much higher on the wishlist than visual integration. I know that we’re improving there, too, just saying.

  17. I’m not surprised by the lack of consideration for Linux, this has already been the case for quite some time.

    A simple example is the correct use of GTK+ to render widgets inside forms. Firefox has been using the native XP theme for a long time, Linux users are still waiting for it (I know it’s /finally/ part of Firefox 3).

    As a Linux user, I feel like Firefox has greatly profited from the open-source community which mainly exists thanks to Linux/BSD/… Now that Firefox is known and used by a large part of Windows’ users, it seems like open-source systems are no longer useful for the devs.

    I wouldn’t even be surprised if one day Linux support was dropped because “it’s not worth the time and investment cost”.

  18. Disappointing. What about Linux?

    Like someone already pointed out, the userbase on Linux is likely quite a bit larger than it is on Mac (and no wonder).

    It is also very sad to see a great open source project prioritizing the closed source and vendor lock-in platforms at all turns and at all costs.

    What about Linux. No really, what about Linux?

  19. Do you know why I use Konqueror as my default browser and not Firefox? There is only one reason: All applications I use look the same – even if it is a Gnome application. There is only one application which does not confirm: Mozilla Firefox.
    I don’t want it to look different to all other application, so I use a different one. Firefox appears to be very ugly in KDE. Different dialogs and all that stuff, it’s just not nice.

  20. Like many others, I am also a bit disappointed when I consider how the support for Linux has been slowly decreasing in Firefox/Mozilla: version 1.5 was still OK, but version 2 switched to a more Windows-like look that looked foreign in any desktop (GNOME or KDE). But I have been using the Tango icon theme for Firefox since several months, and I am happy with the results. Now Firefox looks a bit more integrated in my desktop.

    All Linux users who would like to have a better version of Firefox 3 should contribute patches to:
    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=381206

  21. Another linux user here.

    Sad to hear we’re not even considered as a worth to mention plataform.

    Perhaps I’ll take another look at epiphany.

  22. The thing most people here are forgetting, and I am not entirely alright with saying this, is that the Mozilla Corporation which makes Firefox now is a business. A business is an entity that is in the world to spend money to make money (emphasis on the making money part). If a business doesn’t see an advantage into spending some money on some product, they won’t bother with it. Now, Firefox is a cross-platform browser, it is available free of charge to the public…so how does it make money? Well advertisement is it’s main revenue. Now, advertising works on products that are worth some money or very popular, Windows is very popular; and Mac OS X is also becoming very popular. Linux is where it starts to become confusing, it is free (most of the times) and it works particularly good, but the problem with it is compatibility, that is why it is not mainly used (I myself must resort to using Windows a lot). So why would MoCo put more money into the theme of a platform that has so many problems with compatibility? Especially since it wouldn’t amount to any revenue? I think not. And I am in agreeance with this move and also of that the different distros that build different Linux are the one responsible for the theme of Firefox. By the way, my main thought here is, it’s a theme…it is changeable…it doesn’t make the software work differently…it is just a nice gui that we see so we can use the software. I am not saying that a bad theme is acceptable, all I am saying is the Winstripe on Linux is good enough…if I want another one, I change it. OOOH HAA!

  23. So on Windows 2000 it will still look foreign? Imitating a fixed set of platforms isn’t integration.

    Never mind, I never use Firefox’s look out of the box anyway, I won’t use a new Fisher-Price look either. ;)

  24. For those who have complained about the look of HTML form widgets on Linux, worry no more! Nightly builds already render HTML form widgets natively on Linux. No more ugly Windows 9x look.

    However, there is an issue that continues to bug me, but the problem isn’t specific to Firefox. In themes with rounded input fields and buttons, Firefox will usually render a solid backdrop behind the widget rather than having it transparent. This appears to be a limitation of the theme engines and not Firefox’s implementation, but I’d really like it to be fixed by whoever can fix it.

    As for the Linux icon themes, I too am disappointed that we’ll have to stick with the XP theme by default, but I also understand the reasons. There’s no cross-distro standard default theme. Neither Ubuntu nor Fedora uses pure Tango as its default theme. Still, I’d imagine it wouldn’t take much extra work to simply include the stock Tango icons as the default theme on Linux and leave it up to the distros to change the defaults if they want.

    An even better solution, though, would be to follow the FreeDesktop standard and use the icons of the user’s current icon theme. Surely some volunteer can program that support into Firefox.

  25. Linux is not considered a platform because it’s not even one. It’s not the fault of Mozilla’s guys that nobody can’t reach an agreement on anything on Linuxland.

  26. Mike Connor, lead of Firefox, just posted to his blog about the visual refresh and Linux. It’s worth checking out! http://steelgryphon.com/blog/?p=108

    If you are able and have the time, please get involved and help out with a better (non-Windows) Linux theme for Firefox 3. :)

  27. I find your lack of faith Linux support disturbing.

  28. “In both cases the data itself is stored in a Google spreadsheet, which gets syndicated to a JSON RSS Feed, and the Web app immediately reflects changes people make to the spreadsheet.”

    I love it! That’s how you build an awesome tool — I love working on things like this.

    On a side note to the many questions about Linux, I am a Linux user myself on my Desktop box and much like Gijs, I am kind of disappointed with the way many users treat an Open Source project. Thanks for linking to the appropriate bug 381206, Raphael. That the UI on Linux needs improvement is really no reason to bash Faaborg for posting about Win and Mac improvements. I don’t mind the Firefox UI on Linux much, but I wonder why the people who complain the most do not once implement an alternative theme and upload it on AMO, and why do they not file bugs and supply patches for UI annoyances they mind the most?

  29. Jeeez… horrible whining from the users of the main development platform! I say Alex and the rest of the visuals team is doing a fantastic job and I can’t wait to see the end results.

    On the Linux support issue, the only reason Firefox doesn’t look better on Linux (thought I think it looks fine on Gnome) is because so little artistic talent is committed to the Linux platform and few coders (apparently) care so deeply about looks.

    The corporations focus on Windows is quite sensible. Losing 10 % of the non-coding user base on Linux has no real impact, losing the same amount on Windows would be a real loss. …prioritizing OS X doesn’t seem to be equally well founded. OS X’s user base is small and firmly in Apples pocket. I guess supporting OSX is a fashion statement :/

  30. This is very bad news, and I hope that Epiphany’s WebKit backend gets better soon. At least Epiphany ATM looks nice (apart from forms, but that’s Mozilla’s fault).

    I find it odd that you’ve decided to forget your FOSS heritage, and treat us like second-class citizens. It seems so wrong, as we were probably your strongest supporters, and now, you are just ignoring us.

    I knew the “Mozilla Corporation” was bad news.

  31. My work and home has always been a mix of Windows and Linux. At home we also added a MacBook Pro to the family. Overall, I’m operating system neutral and can recognize the value each OS brings to the table.

    I like the visual for Vista but I’m not so certain about the Mac. Then again, I’m not all that fond of me the Mac desktop, but that’s just me.

    I have to agree with many of those commenting, there is definitely a perception that Mozilla is not giving Linux it’s due and it’s an observation made by someone who is writing this on a Vista box.

    My first browser was Mosaic and eventually Netscape 0.X versions on HPUX. Firefox’s roots are just as much with *NIX as it is with Windows. While current Mozilla defenders may try the easy route and place some of the blame on the Linux community, don’t you think Mozilla could be doing so much more to foster, support, and be an advocate for the Linux OS? Is Mozilla required to be better supporter of Linux? No, but we all know that it’s the right thing for them to do.

  32. Just make the Gecko engine available to Linux. The community can pick up the interface, like it is already doing with Epiphany, and maybe someone can come up with a Qt interface for KDE using Gecko engine too.

    One note: keep ignoring Linux users and you will get out of the business soon. Apple is already kicking you out with Safari, and Microsoft is improving Internet Explorer a lot.

    Thanks for the love MoCo!

  33. Thanks for commenting about support for Linux as part of our visual integration strategy.  I clearly dropped the ball.  I made the unfortunate mistake of not mentioning Linux when first posting because we still aren’t sure what the best way is to visually integrate with Linux is, given the number of different distributions. Mozilla’s lead Firefox engineer Mike Connor and our user experience lead Mike Beltzner have both written followup posts about this:

    http://steelgryphon.com/blog/?p=108
    http://www.beltzner.ca/mike/archives/2007/10/11/giving_the_penguin_a_makeover.html

    I’ve also added some updates to this post.

    If you would like to join the discussion of how you think we should design our Linux icon set, we have a thread on dev.apps.firefox, and a bug in bugzilla to track this:

    http://groups.google.com/group/mozilla.dev.apps.firefox/browse_thread/thread/286d69093f0cdc01/#
    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=381206

    On a more personal note, I want to add that shortly after comments started to appear we quickly held a meeting with our vice president of engineering, lead firefox engineer, user experience lead, creative director, and the guy who forgot to mention Linux in his post (that would be me).  Also, this isn’t really about people in the mozilla project versus linux users, because a lot of us at mozilla are linux users.  I’ve had a few people at mozilla contact me on irc to tell me what they thought of forgetting to mention linux, sent an email, or given me a nasty look in person.

    So again, we going to get started working on visual integration on Linux, and please accept my apology for failing to mention Linux in the original post.

    -Alex

  34. I actually don’t think the solution for Linux should be a Mozilla-provided icon theme. Firefox should actually respect whatever icon theme is currently in use on the user’s desktop, like every other GTK app. Firefox currently uses the moz-icon: protocol to get the native theme icon for a particular filetype. Couldn’t you do something similar for toolbar icons? (it’s just the /actions directory instead of /mimetypes).

    Of course, the main problem then would be dealing with hover highlights and disabled effects. I’ve never actually written a GTK app, so I can’t offer a solution here. But I think *respect the native theme* is the direction the Firefox developers should take it on Linux.

  35. “To give a specific example of how I see the next release of Firefox establishing its identity through interactions: Firefox 3 is going to include an incredibly useful feature where you can quickly navigate to a bookmark or history item by typing part of its name, or part of the URL”

    It is interesting, that one can see exactly this feature in the new Opera alpha builds.

  36. ppk, Firefox 3 alphas actually had that feature long before Opera.

  37. I have been a Firefox user right from version 1.x and I am really glad with its performance. Last year I switched to Linux, which made me like Firefox even more. I am quite excited about Fx 3, and a nice visual change will also be refreshing.

  38. Integration isn’t just about looking the same!

    When will I be able to use KDE Wallet with Firefox? When will I be able to use the KDE filepicker with Firefox? When will Firefox’s menubar appear in KDE’s menubar when it’s enabled, Mac OS X style?

    Firefox seems to care a lot more about proprietary closed source operating systems than FLOSS ones.

  39. Hey, I have an idea for Firefox 4. When building Firefox4, there should be a pole of some sort where people and or developers and or something in that manner, are aloud to vote on different aspects of the browser.

  40. This is one of those features that is impossible to live without now. Sadly, this is not Firefox’s innovation. And yet somehow, I think that Firefox will try to write this feature off as its own idea, like they have from every other idea Mozilla has scraped from Opera.

  41. I am yet another Linux user disappointed by this post. But at the same time, I acknowledge Linux is not a “platform”, as neither *BSD or Solaris are, GNOME and KDE are platforms and those should be targeted instead.

    I, as a GNOME on Linux user, *expect* for my *default* browser to use my current GTK+ theme and the stock icons from the current theme. Anything else is suboptimal.

    And a final thought about Mozilla Corporation ignoring Linux users: we may be a minority, but in many cases we decide or at least influence what a lot more Windows users use as their browser, both in setting our corporate policy in the work place and recommending to our relatives at home.

  42. I for myself am not talking about the icon set. It’s pretty irrelevant. I bug that I REALLY want to be fixed ist this: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=284217
    It looks simply disturbing, especially in Thunderbird. FIX THIS!

  43. This sounds and looks great! I’d love to have a Firefox that better integrates with Mac OS X.

    I’d suggest that you also consider improving the behavioral integration with the platform. I’m thinking in particular of keyboard shortcuts. I’m not suggesting that you change the current ones, which provide Firefox with a valuable cross-platform consistency, but rather add new ones appropriate to the platform. On the Mac, I’d love to see Command-Alt-F focus the search box (bug #348472) and Command-{ and Command-} switch between tabs (bug #352143). I’m sure there are also other small changes that would make Firefox feel – not just look – like an integrated part of the platform.

    In any case, I’m looking forward to trying Firefox 3.0. You might even get me to switch back from Safari.

  44. What annoys me most about Firefox on Mac OS X is the keystrokes. On single text lines, in pretty much ever Mac app, hitting the up and down arrows will being you to the beginning or end of the line, and work holding Shift for selections, too. This doesn’t work in Firefox. Also, double-clicking on text to highlight a word or a whole line often takes many clicks, since it just doesn’t seem to register, or drops down the autocomplete menu or something like that. It’s these types of things that really annoy me. I’m fine with the GrApple theme, though the one in this post looks very nice and I would prefer it.

  45. Personally, I would love to see an Internet application that could be “boxed”. Meaning in one screen instead of having one website I could run gmail, facebook, cnn, etc. A way where you could move from screen to screen or window to window seemlessly. I would say its something like having four firefox apps open on four seperate-linked screens. Just do this in a way were it could be encomapssed within one firefox app. To be honest I am not sure if this exists or if it is even feasible, but i know Reuter’s alows you to do something like this.
    Sorry for the terrible explaination/description hope you understand what i mean.

    Just a suggestion. Good look, and look forward to Firefox 3.

  46. This is too bad. I think the fact that Firefox has a consistent cross-platform appearance is one of it’s strongest attributes.

    Going between XP, Vista, OSX and Redhat, I know that Firefox will be the same.

    Sad news.

  47. I don’t understand why you guys keep saying “distros”. I don’t see how visual integration for eg Fedora is different from SUSE. Rather, you want two themes: GNOME and KDE. (Maybe, if I’m really luck, XFCE, as that’s what I use.) If some distro wants to ship with a radically different visual identity (such as Ubuntu’s “human” theme in the first few releases), then seriously, it’s up to them to write their own Firefox theme, not you. Supporting distros instead of desktop environments is a can of worms; it’s more work for Mozilla, and will always leave people who use something else unhappy (eg, what about users of ArchLinux, Gentoo, SourceMage, heck, LFS?)

  48. i’m worried about page element positioning; it’s hard enough designing page sizes to allow for things like resolutions, or taskbars locked or hidden, it’s going to be more annoying adding to browser-specific code with platform-specific code. If the default shipping is for elements to be a different size on each platform, that’s a big pain.

  49. For Apple OSX, the frames should have a brushed metal appearance, rather than boring grey. In Safari for Windows, the frames appear as grey, which looks really drab and awful. Safari in OSX has the brushed metal texture, and so should FF3 for OSX. Overall, it looks great.

  50. Everyone is still stuck in the paradigm of a “home page”. Rather, we should think of home-sets-of-pages. For instance, for reading news, I want half a dozen favorite news sites. For work, I want several most-used websites to appear. For home admin, I want a range of most-used sites. In FF2, it allows a “homepage” that comprises multiple sites, but FF3 should go further. It should allow the creation of several home-sets. e.g. a homeset for most-used sites for home, work, news, hobbies etc.

    e.g. a home-set for a photo enthusiast would be all his favorite photo websites. That same user would have a different homeset for his work-related favorite websites.

  51. A comment to all you Linux users: the Ubuntu shell looks UUUUGLY. If Ubuntu took time, like the Firefox team, to make it look artistic at a world-class level, then Linux has a chance of getting onto the desktops of mainstream users like me, not just techies and geeks.

  52. Mozilla really dropped the ball with Thunderbird email.

    Thunderbird would have been a huge hit if:

    1) it was bundled with FF

    2) it was mentioned on the download page of FF, rather than hidden away in some menu item.

    3) mentioned on a FF menu which says “other FF products”.

    4) If it was called Firefox Mail, rather than Thunderbird. i.e. capitalize on the Firefox name.

    I guess you all were so fixated on the browser that you didn’t see what a great email client you had. Possibly, it was due to internal politics that Thunderbird got thrown away (spun out).

  53. I’m not a programmer, but I CAN tell the difference between the way IE works on my machine and the way Firefox works. Firefox is definitely sleeker, faster (even though it’s become more sluggish at loading than after its first intro), it just looks and feels better than IE. Making it look MORE like IE would be an immediate turn-off for me. Also: Mess with my Google theme and weep! Or my existing Firefox plug-ins…or the look and feel of Firefox 2.0.0.8…In fact, hey guys, can we have the speed and sleekness back and NOT have to put up with more superficial retooling? Add funtionality…think outside the box…it’s what made Firefox scare the wits out of Microsoft. Tweaking it to look different on my PC than it does on my neighbour’s Mac is going to be really annoying. REALLY annoying.

    I think I’ll go check out Opera for Windows…..

  54. One question: what about Windows 2000 users, and those XP users who prefer the ‘Classic’ Win2000 look? If FF3 uses the XP colours and look, they’ll be the ones left with a browser that doesn’t integrate nicely into the UI.
    Unless FF3 is going to be XP and Vista only on the Windows side?

  55. Looks fantastic! As part of this, are there any plans to allow searching of Fx History and Bokkmarks from the Vista Start Menu?

  56. I’ve been using an older version of Firefox because when I go to the update, there’s a direct conflict with Yahoo Messenger. In Messenger, the scrolling function in the text box disappears if I use 2.0.0.6 combined with Mac OSX 10.4.9. So, I dump the upgrade and all works well. Has this been pointed out before, and if so, has it been rectified? I can’t upgrade until I know they will both work.
    Thankyou.

  57. Hi, I konw that blog isn’t place to say that but I think in the next update of FF, you should get favorite manager better, there’s lot of bugs and things that doesn’t make any sense, you can add a favorite of a site and if do it again with same page it will be added, it wont be replace or something like that.
    enjoying helping see ya!

  58. Just one thing, because so far I’m not sure I like the different looks for different operating systems thing. Would it be possible to give users a choice of what they want it to look like? Maybe a vista user likes the mac one better, or linux guy likes mac look better.

  59. Will there be a way to switch native themes? I use XP but with a Vista theme. And I know there’s a lot of people out there that spend a lot of time making Windows look like OS X.

  60. I also quite dislike the OS X theme. It looks TOO Apple and makes it hard to differentiate between it and Safari. Firefox needs to keep its own character.

  61. I’m using Bono Echo on my Vista Business X64, will you have 64bit FF 3.0?

  62. Am I the only one who thinks the mockup looks like WMP11 in Library mode. Im not trolling, but that is the impression I get from it.

  63. Firefox is nice, but the main reason to use Camino is its integration with OSX keychain.

  64. Visual integration sounds nice, but what about further OS integration? I mean, can we expect Firefox to eventually become as integrated with OS X as Camino is now?

  65. Just a comment on the mockups so far…

    The back/forward buttons, along with the commonly used buttons such as refresh and home, are far too small.

    These cannot be implementations of general-purpose toolbars, they need to be far larger (more in line with the sizing we have now!). I’m all for visual integration, but sacrificing the sizing of those icons shouldn’t be something we do.

  66. Great that Firefox 3 will *look* more like an OS X app. But would be much better if it also *played* like an OS X app. Look forward to things like Keychain integration appearing in … Version 4?

  67. Aside from the ‘visual integration’ theme for each OS, will Firefox 3.0 ship with a ‘platform neutral’ theme? The current default theme would be fine.

    Like one of the earlier commenters, I use FFX on both Windows and OS X- Win2K at work and Tiger (soon Leopard, perhaps) at home. In addition to having the same theme on both platforms, I maintain the same bookmarks and plugins; the net effect is that I never have to think about where I am- FFX always looks – and works – as I expect it. As someone who uses both OSes every day, consistency across platforms is the single most import feature of any cross-platform application.

    While there will doubtless be many themes contributed by FFX3.0 users, having a sensible platform-neutral theme always available (even if not the default) is preferable.

  68. What about underneath integration? my main interest is about keychain access, Camino does it right and uses the system keychain, while firefox actually uses it’s own, where implemented (actually on osx and linux,don’t know about windows) will be used? or this thing will be still cross platform (maybe has sense having both)

  69. Jesus christ Linux users a whiny. S/He forgot. There’s no reason to throw a huge fit.

  70. “If there were another browser for Windows that I could recommend (a good Open Source one), I would recommend it in a heartbeat. Why? Because Mozilla does not give a crap about Linux and devotes almost no resources to caring about it.”

    So, you’d reccomend a different Windows browser because Mozilla doesn’t support Linux? Why the hell should I care?

    I’ll stop now, it’s just that this particular comment stood out as a shining example of stupidity.

  71. With a move towards making Firefox the best it can be on each platform, might this mean hope that Firefox will sync bookmarks with Tiger/Leopard Sync Services in 3.x on Mac?

  72. I know the questions have been asked before, but will there be an option to switch between OS-native themes, or select a neutral theme that doesn’t reflect any OS?

  73. I like the idea of fitting Firefox more into the OS. My biggest gripe when I first started using Fx months back was the difference in menu speed and interaction/design, they just don’t resemble that of my other Vista Windows.

    Though, I’m interested to see how this will work for those of us still using “Windows Classic” on Vista :)

  74. Have you considered that there are people (like me) who are on a Windows platform but find it hideous?

    We find every way we can to modify and customize the interface. If Firefox 3 comes out looking back like WinXP or Vista it would be the end of the world for us.

    2 suggestions; how about shipping a neutral theme with F3 or allowing users to choose between the different XP/Vista/OSX/Linux themes?

  75. I only hope there will be option to turn it off, and revert to normal style ( menu/toolbar/render area/status-bar ), just like it is now in FireFox 2.0.

  76. As much as I can’t live without my Mac, and as much as I can’t live without having Firefox on my Mac (the extensibility is a Safari-killer and Opera is just not an enjoyable experience for me), I hate how it looks. The fact that you are making it look even more ‘Mac’ concerns me, because I feel the best-looking version of Firefox is the XP/Vista manifestation. I even went to the lengths of installing a theme to make my Mac Firefox look like Windows Firefox (how’s that for backwardness?).

    I understand my preferences are of those in the minority, at best. I just hate the appearance of the tabs in OS X. My feeling can be best summarized using the term ‘clunky'; there’s so much dead space in the tabs, and I can’t handle it. There’s something that’s more visually pleasing with the red square ‘x’ than the round circular one.

    Why not leave the appearance of the browser up to the user (i.e., keep things the way they are now)? If you want to work on OS integration, fine, great, wonderful. The majority of users, I’m sure, will love it. But please let the few oddballs like myself choose whether we want our browser to look Windows-y, OS X-y, or Linux-y. Just a request.

  77. a little suggestion for a plan:
    there should be a default look for all platforms.

    develop support for the native GUI in specific platforms so that firefox would be able to use current native theme on supported platforms.

    unsupported platforms will use the default look.

    develop support for these major desktop environments (alphabetical order):
    Apple OS X 10.4
    Apple OS X 10.5 (future release)
    GNOME 2.x
    KDE 3.5.x
    KDE 4 (future release)
    Microsoft Windows Vista
    Microsoft Windows XP

    it may be that the list of actual desktop environments you’d have to support is actually smaller, depending on technical things I don’t understand.

    this means not every look has to have a clone, so I don’t need a Firefox-specific theme for windows classic if that’s what I want on my desktop.

  78. Don’t forget to make the arrow keys in a text field work like they do everywhere else on a Mac. Up should move the cursor to the very left of the text, down goes all the way to the right.

  79. Not Fourteen Years Old

    When did Linux users turn into a bunch of whiney cry babies? Let me call the whambulance for you guys, maybe they’ll give you a bandaid to help cover up the hurt feeling–boo-hoo.

  80. Correction on your Swing Comment. Swing easily and frequently matches the OS look and feel. It is a choice that the developer can make and it amounts to a single line of code to call. Most successful Java Desktop applications use OS look and feel integration.

  81. There is something that I just didn’t get..
    Will I be able to use the style that wasn’t designed for my platform??
    It would be actually really coll!!!

  82. Better performance for OS X!!!! Please!!!!!!

  83. Therum wrote:
    > So, you’d reccomend a different
    > Windows browser because Mozilla
    > doesn’t support Linux? Why the
    > hell should I care?

    I care because I use and love Linux and I often have to recommend people which Windows browser to use.
    I also care because my job is as sysadmin, taking care of both Windows and Linux systems.

  84. Hi,

    I apologize in advance for placing this query among these comments, but I do not know where to look for help.
    The last half an hour I tried to find solution to my problem using google, various online groups and Mozilla’s Support section, and only succeeded to come more close to the nervous breakdown. There ain’t no thread that address the problem I encountered and there is no email where I can write for help.

    My problem is following:
    Whenever I tried to go back on a previous page on the websites which I am logged in I got nag pop up window:
    “The page you are trying to view contains POSTDATA that has expired from cache. If you resend the data, any action from the form carried out (such as a search or online purchase) will be repeated. To resend the data, click OK. Otherwise, click Cancel.”
    Is there a way to avoid that nag pop up window? It happened only occasionally on earlier version of Firefox. Now that I installed (yesterday) most up to date version, it happened 100 times a day. I am at the verge of destroying my PC.
    I read somewhere it is designed for the people who are ordering items online and to avoid that the same order be placed several times etc etc.

    I am not an PC engineer nor computer wizard. I do not order Porches online.
    I only want to disable that window. That’s all I ask.
    Is there a way to do it SIMPLY, by unchecking something or disabling something else. I hope I was clear.

    Any help would be HIGHLY appreciated.
    tinostorage@yahoo.com
    p.s. this is my second attempt to post this query. A minute ago I tried to do it on Mozilla support pages only to get this message

    “Sorry, but your comment has been flagged by the spam filter running on this blog: this might be an error, in which case all apologies. Your comment will be presented to the blog admin who will be able to restore it immediately.
    You may want to contact the blog admin via e-mail to notify him.”
    You can imagine how I felt.

  85. The partially-typed URL recognizer you mention is incredibly useful. OmniWeb has this on the mac and the freedom to type in the parts of the URL you can remember and see what addresses match reduces friction considerably.

    You might want to consider adding the Google/search engine summaries for the pages the suggester offers. Inquisitor (for safari) provides a two-line summary of the page when searching. This little feature makes it easier to choose between the sites you’re looking for.

    In relation to Prism: Web View in OS X has provided the ability to make an app out of a website. Essentially it’s a browser without browser controls. This has been taken further in Safari for Leopard, which now lets you make “widgets” of pages as desired.

    Is it possible – and in your view feasible –  to make Prism apps out of _parts_ websites?

  86. Shut your mouthes you shitty linux users. Mozilla is doing an awesome job for everyone: Themes are customizable.

    Linux is not only one thing, there are dozens and dozens of distribution. They can’t just hire 20ppl for each distribution of linux.

    And I say that because I have Ubuntu running on an older machine and firefox looks better than in Windows.

  87. For Firefox 3’s release on vista, personally more than anything I’d like to see the ability for themes to be able to extend dwm glass into the client area.
    I’m not saying make Firefox like ie7 at all. I hate ie7. I just want the ability to extend glass into Firefox. More specifically extend glass to the address bar.

  88. I have posted this in the bug as well but I believe the theme prototype is broken in the most recent nightly Minefield builds since the checkin of the new “Go” button patch. Could anyone else confirm this for me? Thanks

  89. Um yea, let me break this down for folks here at Mozilla.

    While “In terms of relative effort, it’s not worth the time and investment cost for us to do this” might seem sensible it really goes something like this.

    I am one of those IT folks that are disproportianately resposible for getting users on to your platform, and I do that _because of_ the strength of your support for the Linux platform.

    More importantly I do it in preparation for switching folks _to the Linux platform_ ya getting that?

    Without outstanding Linux support _Firefox is no longer the right tool for the job_ ergo a decrease in Windows Firefox users.

    Don’t get this wrong MoFo’s, strategically Linux is your _most important_ platform.

    I say this not just because of this transient theme issue but because there have been other areas where Firefox/Linux has lacked (which I will gladly enumerate upon request).

    All that said I have begun to see some of those issues disappear in recent builds which is encouraging.

  90. You bitch, if you’re going to ignore Linux, then we’ll ignore you. You’re not the only browser around here. Don’t start acting like Microsoft (or is it a disease you catch when you become popular ?) >:(

  91. Well i just installed the latest nightly of Minefield. And I have a few comments for its developers. It appears to look worse than the 2.x versions of Firefox on my Feisty (i use GNOME). The fonts render like blotted ink. And well, Unicode characters (Devanagari, that i use never rendered well in my fave browser; yeah that’s Firefox) but it didn’t render at all in Minefield. It only shows some crap in their place! Please do something about rendering Unicode characters and, well about this primitive look! Doesn’t look better than 2.x to me.. Yep, the new bookmark management thing is pretty good. I liked the smart bookmarks part. Really good idea. And yeah text-fields certainly look better than before, but buttons ain’t that much improved.
    And, well, what have you guys done to the poor tabs?? The animation for overflowing tabs is great but these tabs look really ugly!
    The tab-close button was better highlighted in red at least on mouse-over.
    Page scrolling had a nice slowing down effect while reaching the ends of a page in FF2, that seems to be missing in Minefield! Do you plan to remove that cool effect from FF3 final release? I didn’t like that idea.. Its really aesthetically pleasing to see things slow down before stopping.
    Well, what else can i say, i just installed it a few minutes ago.. Might come up with some more comments after using it for a while.. Right now, i really feel like opening my good old FF2. Well, i liked the address-bar bookmarking system. Pretty nice..Only that it shows the page titles in too large a size to fit in there.. Well, my screen resolution is 1024 X 768. Please make the titles smaller if possible.

  92. The Linux users were the tool to make firefox widespread. Once they made it, we aren’t necessary anymore.

    You didn’t mention Linux not even once until the user comments. I know you’re sorry, it was a mistake… whatever.

    If you cared about Linux users, you wouldn’t have forgotten about it.

    The problem is that the MC doesn’t give a damn.

    When I first heard about the fact that Debian can’t even package FF without changing its name, I thought we were heading here.

    Nice work. So good, I’m switching back to Konqueror.

  93. warner @91, please do enumerate these things. I’d be glad to take such a list into account and see what I can do.

  94. I really don’t care about the icons ( I change the theme anyways, just please do something for the awful looking radio buttons/fill in boxs and fonts.
    Also the worst thing, the file picker. It is terrible in KDE.

    Thank you.

  95. I know my opinion will probably not be heard but maybe you can convince the mozilla “build” team to provide something like:

    ./configure –prefix=/pkg/firefox

    _without_ relying on a .mozconfig file.

    I really need no fancy stuff at all, just the default, but .mozconfig is kinda difficult to cope with … I’d only need the above commandline which right now fails for me after a few hours of compiling it :(

  96. Type your comment here. well for one thing when is firefox 3 coming,and also on the browsers out ie,safari,and the best browser firefox.i tried all of them ie,slow,safari its faster,but firefox is i would sayfaster than the rest.and i enjoy being on the net since ive been using the fox,and by the way i like the name,firefox means business, its about time i got tired ie let someone else take over,ffirefox3,i think it will be a better one yet,i have dial up and its faster even on it ie forget it thats why i changed to the best browser,also i would like to thank the fox team for letting me enjoy the net,good luck i hope everything goes okay,ill be checking fire fox3 soon.

  97. Linux already has 3 browsers almost identical to firefox anyways…

  98. Hey, don’t make one person’s mistake a company’s mistake. Just because he forgot to mention about Linux in his personal blog doesn’t mean that the whole Mozilla company doesn’t care about Linux.

  99. Is there a difference betweend XP & Vista?

  100. I really like the new OS X look, though it’s still not perfect yet.
    But what i’d really appreciate is, if you put the tab-closing icons on the left hand side. I think this is much more intuitive for a mac user.

  101. i use this version and would like to teell, that it is amazing! i even downloaded some new screen topics and updates for it at http://loadingvault.com
    PS i use Windows XP

  102. Hopefully there’s some ping mechanism in place…

    The comment above mine, which should be the one from tatianahunt, looks an awful lot like spam. Can someone with control of the back-end nuke it?

  103. I love how Mozilla keeps forgetting Linux.

  104. VERY BEAUTIFUL TWEAK FOR 100% VISTA GUI INTEGRATION. PLEASE LOOK AT http://20boi-lee.spaces.live.com/

  105. Type your comment here.Why doesn.t fox fire 3 open on vista home addition. i downloaded it and it will not open, firefox 2 worked perfect.

  106. I to like Mozilla, but in the last version does not open some forums, writes from for safety. As be? Tnx

  107. The partially-typed URL recognizer you mention is incredibly useful. OmniWeb has this on the mac and the freedom to type in the parts of the URL you can remember and see what addresses match reduces friction considerably

  108. - Many Linux OSes redistribute Firefox, and at that point, they can (and should!) be applying a theme to be as consistent as possible with their HIGs

  109. Well this surely is important and sort of works already….

    However, why is it that it takes 100%CPU load of a gigahertz CPU just to MOVE the mouse over one of Firefox menus?

    If the Windows XP visual effects are switched OFF, the menus in Firefox are snappy.

    PLEASE FIX, or tell me what line to insert in about:config in order to rather NOT have native OS visual effects styling in Firefox!

    THANKS HEAPS already!

  110. So the least you could do for Linux users is to keep the current “native” look (as it is on trunk), the best would be a set of icons that matches the Tango palette and style. But please don’t make just inherit the Windows theme!

  111. PLEASE FIX, or tell me what line to insert in about:config in order to rather NOT have native OS visual effects styling in Firefox!

  112. People deserve wealthy life and loans or student loan can make it much better. Because people’s freedom depends on money.

  113. Any idea what changes Firefox will have in their version 4?