29 April, 2014 § 5 Comments
Customization has always been a strong point for Firefox. From installing add-ons and themes to rearranging the controls in the toolbars, Firefox leads the pack in providing the best customization capabilities of any browser out there.
Providing user choice is central to Mozilla, and that is reflected strongly in Firefox. With our new and improved customization mode, users can now change what widgets will appear in their Firefox toolbar as well as the Firefox menu.
For example, users that often click on the “Save Page” button now have the ability to move the button to their toolbar in only two clicks of the mouse.
Conversely, users who sparingly use the Search box can now move it to the Firefox menu or remove it entirely. If you used Ctrl+K (Cmd+K on Mac) as a shortcut to access the Search box before, Firefox will still react to the shortcut even if the Search box has been moved to the Firefox menu.
Firefox offers two easy ways to customize the browser. Simple customizations such as moving an item between the toolbar and the menu can be made by right-clicking on the widget that you wish to move. Deeper customizations can be made by entering the customization mode, accessible through the Customization button in the Firefox menu.
Our new customization mode even supports touch-sensitive screens, bringing customization “to your fingertips”:
With the new Firefox, you can now customize your toolbar and menu to make Firefox yours. If you’re already running Firefox, it will automatically update to the latest version. If not, you can download Firefox now, always free and always open.
28 April, 2014 § 3 Comments
This week’s release of Firefox brings an improved bookmarking experience, tightening the relationship between adding a bookmark and retrieving it.
The traditional bookmark star has been moved out of the location bar and in to a new Bookmark Star + Bookmarks Menu widget. When a bookmark is added, a new animation shows the Bookmark Star filling in and bouncing over to the Bookmarks Menu.
A second click on the Bookmark Star allows you to tweak the bookmark name, folder, and tags. By default, bookmarks are placed in the Unsorted Bookmarks folder, which can be viewed by clicking on the Bookmarks Menu.
This new bookmarking widget doesn’t have to stay on your Firefox toolbar either. Firefox offers the best customization capabilities of all browsers, and this means that you can quickly move the widget to the new Firefox menu or hide it entirely.
This can be done quickly and effortlessly, by right-clicking on the Bookmarks widget and selecting either “Move to Menu” or “Remove from Toolbar”. You can also reposition the widget through the all-new customization mode that is accessible by clicking on the “Customize” button in the Firefox menu.
Clicking on the Bookmarks button in the Firefox menu will show the following view:
If you’re already running Firefox, it will automatically update to the latest version. If not, you can download Firefox now, always free and always open.
4 December, 2013 § 3 Comments
I’ve been pretty quiet this semester about the work that a team of students have been focused on. However, don’t let my quietness be a representation of how hard they have worked.
We’re now reaching the end of the semester and the students have put together a video of their work throughout the semester. The students were tasked with creating three add-ons for the upcoming Australis version of Firefox.
The goal of the project was to get feedback on the new Australis add-on APIs before it became too late to make significant changes. Through the process some bugs were filed, but none that caused us to have to go back and rethink our initial direction.
The three add-ons that the students were asked to create were a weather add-on, music add-on, and Bugzilla add-on. Please watch the video below to get an overview of their capabilities.
4 December, 2013 § 1 Comment
Holly is the version of Nightly that doesn’t include the Australis changes. We are running this special “backout” branch of Nightly because Australis won’t be ready to make the move to Firefox Aurora by the December 9th merge date.
We will continue to work on Australis in the Nightly 29 train, with the goal of Australis merging to Firefox Aurora 29. In the meantime, the Holly branch is what will be merged to Firefox Aurora 28.
It is very important that we have nightly testers who use Holly to help the Firefox community make sure that we have good code coverage over the changes that will be making their way to our Aurora population.
If you’d like to help test out the Holly branch, you can now download an auto-updating nightly build of Holly (Windows, OS X, Linux). Again, these will be very similar to the official Firefox Nightly builds with the exception that they don’t include the Australis user interface changes.
21 November, 2013 § 3 Comments
As mentioned in an earlier post, we are running a special branch of Firefox that is made of the Nightly (
mozilla-central) trunk minus the Australis changes. This branch will be the source of our Aurora (
mozilla-aurora) builds in a few weeks.
As we were planning this work, we found that there weren’t many resources on the internet that described how to do what we wanted.
Basically, we have our trunk that will have a large and invasive feature being built on it. However, we also want to have a branch that doesn’t include this work.
To get started, we created a separate repository (
holly) that was cloned from
mozilla-central prior to the feature branch being merged in to
mozilla-central. When the feature branch was merged in to
mozilla-central, we merged over
holly again. At this point we ran a reverse diff of this merge (which only consisted of the feature branch changes). This reverse diff was then applied and committed to essentially back out all of the feature branch on this new
Getting started was the easy part. Of course, software is never finished and we needed to figure out how to handle future changes to the feature.
We kicked around many ideas as we were trying to figure out how we wanted to run the backout branch, and I feel that we have settled on a pretty simple route that so far has worked smoothly.
Each time that we want to merge from
holly we do the following:
hg pull -u
hg pull -u
hg pull /mozilla-central -r mozillaCentralChangeset
- if the set of changes between
hollytip and mozillaCentralChangeset include changes that need to be backed out:
hg up -r mozillaCentralChangeset
- to switch heads to the mozilla-central-based head
hg qbackout -r rev1+rev2+rev3
- from oldest to newest, where rev* are the revisions that need to be backed out)
hg qfin -a
hg up -r hollyTipChangeset
- to switch heads back to the holly-based head
hg commit -m "merge mozilla-central to holly"
qbackout is a Mercurial extension written by some Mozillians to make backing changesets out much easier. It uses Mercurial Queues and generates reverse diffs instead of creating a full backout branch like hg backout does. I highly recommend it.
I hope this post will help others who want to do something similar.
8 November, 2013 § 38 Comments
The team working on the new Australis version of Firefox (myself included) is starting to get close to merging to mozilla-central. We’re too far from being able to say exactly when this code will merge, but I want to go over our backout plan for Australis.
As you may or may not know, Australis is a project to provide an updated visual design, streamlined tab strip, new Firefox menu and improved customization capabilities.
Due to its large scope, Australis couldn’t be implemented with the ability to toggle its presence via an about:config preference. This unfortunately carries with it a more burdensome plan to undo the changes should there be issues that lead us to delay the release of Australis.
When Australis (currently located on the UX branch) merges to mozilla-central, the Australis team will manage a special project branch that mirrors mozilla-central but excludes the Australis changes. This branch is located in the temporary Holly project.
In the likely chance that we choose to hold Australis on the Nightly train for an extra release cycle, we will use Holly to merge to mozilla-aurora. This will allow the mozilla-central changes not related to Australis to continue moving along with the release trains.
This also presents an issue in that the code that reaches Aurora will have a tiny fraction of the testing hours on it compared to the Nightly builds. To work around this, I’m asking that users who aren’t interested in Australis use the Holly branch for their Nightly builds. This will help spread out some of the testing hours and make sure to catch any potential merge bustage faster. I’ll be posting a link to download Holly nightlies once we merge from UX to mozilla-central.
In the meantime, if you are looking to help test Australis you can download a build from the UX branch.
29 October, 2013 § 6 Comments
I haven’t written up one of these blog posts in a while. The previous one was in August 2012 for Firefox 15. Coincidentally, that post mentioned a subtle change to the site identity area of the web browser.
In today’s release of Firefox, there is another subtle change to the site identity area of the browser. Pages that are a part of Firefox itself, whether it be the built-in home page (about:home), our troubleshooting page (about:support), or others now sport a special Firefox branding within the location bar. The goal of this branding is to increase awareness and trust with these pages.
Clicking on the Firefox name or the two-tone Firefox logo next to the name will show a popup notification that explains that this is a secure Firefox page.