New in Firefox Nightly: In-content Preferences

18 May, 2014 § 46 Comments

I’m happy to announce that starting today, the new in-content preferences are enabled by default in Firefox Nightly.

Preferences

This project was started by a group of students at Michigan State University and was mentored by Blair McBride and myself. Since its start, it has continued to get a ton of attention from contributors world-wide.

This is a list of people who have contributed patches to the in-content preferences as of this posting:

  • Ally Naaktgeboren
  • Andres Hernandez
  • Andrew Hurle
  • Benjamin Peterson
  • Benjamin Smedberg
  • Brendan Dahl
  • Brian R. Bondy
  • Brian Smith
  • Carsten “Tomcat” Book
  • Chris Mahoney
  • Chris Peterson
  • Christian Ascheberg
  • Christian Sonne
  • Devan Sayles
  • Dão Gottwald
  • Ed Morley
  • Ehsan Akhgari
  • Florian Quèze
  • Gervase Markham
  • Gijs Kruitbosch
  • Gregory Szorc
  • Honza Bambas
  • Jan de Mooij
  • Jan Varga
  • Jared Wein
  • Javi Rueda
  • Jeff Walden
  • John Schoenick
  • Jon Rietveld
  • Jonathan Mayer
  • Josh Matthews
  • JosiahOne
  • Kyle Machulis
  • Mahdi Dibaiee
  • Manish Goregaokar
  • Manish Goregaokar
  • Mark Hammond
  • Martin Stransky
  • Matthew Noorenberghe
  • Michael Harrison
  • Mike Connor
  • Mike Hommey
  • Ms2ger
  • Nicholas Nethercote
  • Nick Alexander
  • Owen Carpenter
  • Paolo Amadini
  • Phil Ringnalda
  • Richard Marti
  • Richard Newman
  • rsx11m
  • Ryan VanderMeulen
  • Sebastian Hengst
  • Sid Stamm
  • Ted Mielczarek
  • Theo Chevalier
  • Tim Taubert
  • Yosy
  • Zuhao (Joe) Chen

There is still a lot of work to be done before shipping the new in-content preferences out to people on the release builds of Firefox. That also means that this long list of contributors doesn’t have to stay at 59 people, it can keep growing :)

We have a list of bugs that we need to fix before we can call version 1 of this project complete. The easiest way for someone new to help out is to download Firefox Nightly and help test that the new preferences work just as well as the old preferences. If you find an issue and see that it hasn’t already been reported, please file a new bug in Bugzilla and leave a comment on this blog post with a link to the bug that you filed.

In-Content Preferences

Refinements to the Linux theme in the new Firefox

30 April, 2014 § 1 Comment

Firefox on GTK Linux now matches the look of Firefox on Windows and Mac OS X. The new Firefox brings interactions and visual designs that were present previously only on Windows and Mac OS X to Linux to provide a more familiar user experience to Firefox users regardless of platform.

Keyhole on Linux

Firefox on Linux with forward button

Firefox on Linux now has the familiar “keyhole” design. This design is an immediately recognizable feature of Firefox, and is shown by the shape of the back button connected to the forward button and location bar.

Many brands have identifiable shapes such as the Mickey Mouse ears that Disney uses, and the curvy bottle shape of Coke. These shapes are immediately recognizable as part of their respective brands, and bringing Linux in to the mix is something that has been on the Firefox front-end team’s backlog for a while now.

I’m really happy to see the keyhole shape now present on all of our tier-1 platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, and now Linux (GTK).

Icons on LinuxAnother large refinement that has been brought to Linux is new toolbar icons for buttons such as the Home, Back/Forward, and tab close buttons. The iconography of our Linux version now matches that of Windows and Mac OS X.

These changes help unify the experience of Firefox users independent of platform, while also allowing for a faster pace of development for the people working on making Firefox.

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.

The fresh and furiously fast Firefox

29 April, 2014 § 4 Comments

One of the less covered parts of this week’s Firefox release is high attention that was placed on the performance of the redesign of the tab shape.

The new Firefox introduces a new tab shape that is consistent with Firefox for Android, FirefoxOS, Thunderbird, as well as the web properties of Mozilla.

Firefox for Android

Firefox for Android


Firefox on desktop PCs

Firefox

As the Firefox team was implementing this new design, performance was a key metric that was measured and focused on. We wanted to not only bring a beautiful design to users, but one that matched the new sleek shape with an equally speedy outcome.

Each time a change was made to our source control repository, a fresh build of the browser was created and run against a suite of automated tests that measure the performance of the build. These results are then compared against the results of prior builds, allowing the team to track improvements and regressions.

One such test that was used is called TART, short for Tab Animation Regression Test. The test works by opening and closing tabs and measuring the amount of time needed to paint each frame of the animation. Normally Firefox only attempts to paint one frame every 16ms (equivalent to 60fps) but during TART that limit is disabled.

Users of Firefox can have infinite variations of hardware setup, some of which are much slower than our testing infrastructure. By trying to paint as fast as possible, we can get a number that will represent the maximum bound for our graphics performance on our fixed-setup testing infrastructure. By tracking this number, we project that the full Firefox user-base will on average see proportional performance gains.

Now to the numbers

Tab OpeningTab closingIn the previous version of Firefox on Windows 7, Firefox took an average of 3.52ms to paint each frame of the tab opening animation [1]. With the new version of Firefox, we have gotten this number down to 2.81ms, which is a 20% speed up!

When it comes to closing tabs, we saw a shift from 2.72ms to 1.88ms [2], an amazing 31% speed up!

Gains like the above only happen when a solid testing framework is in place and an equally solid team keeps performance as a top priority. Cheers to everyone that has helped make the new release of Firefox the fastest yet.

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.

[1] icon-open-DPI1.all.TART (Fx28 1b8f6597b67f vs Fx29 f1c211a4714d)
[2] icon-close-DPI1.all.TART (Fx28 1b8f6597b67f vs Fx29 f1c211a4714d)

Fast fox

[Update: Thank you to Benedikt who in the comments below corrected a math error that I made with the percentage of improvements]

Customization in the new Firefox

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.

Moving the Save Page button to the toolbar

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.

Search in the 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.

Customize Firefox

Our new customization mode even supports touch-sensitive screens, bringing customization “to your fingertips”:

Touch-based customization

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.

Bookmarking in the new Firefox

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.

Bookmarks Button

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.

Edit This Bookmark

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.

Bookmarks context menu

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.

Bookmarks in the new Firefox menu

Clicking on the Bookmarks button in the Firefox menu will show the following view:

Bookmarks subview in the new Firefox menu

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.

Australis-Styled Widgets Presentation

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.

Video

You can view the source code for the Weather widget and the Bugzilla widget online.

Download a Holly nightly today

4 December, 2013 § 1 Comment

Continuing with the Australis work that much of the Firefox front-end team has been laser-focused on recently, we now have automatically updating nightly builds of Holly (Windows, OS X, Linux).

Firefox Holly

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.

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