Australis landing plans

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.

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§ 38 Responses to Australis landing plans

  • Firanolfind says:

    At first, thank you for pushing Australis branch!
    But, I didnt get:
    – So will Australis be supported?
    – Will it be in Mozilla Firefox, or it will still be experimental project?

  • Zlip says:

    Does Holly branch nightly will also get updates daily like other branch or we have to update manually?

  • Your screenshot of the menu does not look like what is currently in the fx-branch at all, why is that so?

  • JoeG says:

    When and where is it foreseen that Holly will be available?

    By the way, I certainly hope Holly will be available om a zip version.



  • I love the desigh of Australis, but with small-icon mode, customized toobar and so many other things gone how could you say it provides improved customization capabilities? Simplified is not improved.

    I really hate the you-can-make-an-addon attitude of mozilla whenever anyone complains about their ever-going effort to ruin firefox with Australis. Every long-time firefox user I know have told me that they will switch to chrome the second Australis lands.

    • msujaws says:

      It is true that small icons mode has been removed, but I’m not sure what you mean about the removal of customized toolbars? We’ve been working on improving the experience of customizing toolbars, and the Firefox menu is now customizable as well.

      As to the response of “you-can-make-an-addon”, it may at first sound like a terse and short response to someone when they are upset about a change, but it really shows off one of the best assets of Firefox. Not many other browsers can claim provide such strong and versatile add-on APIs.

  • Daniel Lauber says:

    I hope you have the wisdom to recognize that what might work well and look good on a phone or for touch, may not work well or look good on a computer screen that people actually use for work — namely not a touch screen. Don’t screw up a good thing with FireFox. Don’t blow it — because you will lose a lot of us loyal users who actually use a keyboard and complex bookmarks.

    • msujaws says:

      This is indeed a fine line to walk, but we feel that we have not tarnished the mouse/keyboard experience in favor of touch users. One of the nice benefits of using larger buttons in the Firefox menu is that they are now larger targets for mouse users, and the larger icons make it easier for partially sighted people.

  • Kraftczyk says:

    Just a note: The +/- zoom button positions should be flipped, to better match user expectation coming from other zoom buttons, volume controls, etc.: left is smaller, right is bigger.

    • msujaws says:

      You’ve got good eyes! I hadn’t noticed that in the mockup yet, but it indeed shouldn’t be presented that way. If you download the current builds you’ll see that the zoom button positions are in the order that you have described they should be in.

  • stef says:

    Please don’t mess Firefox GUI up any further. Firefox users don’t like that. The ‘improvements’ made since version 3.6 require users to spend a lot of time to fix Firefox and make it a usable browser.


    P.S.: Have you ever reasoned about the fact that good old menues have their items arranged linearly? I think it might have something to do with usability.

    • msujaws says:

      Linearly arranging items does provide a nice way to visually scan the menu list. However, this also makes it very easy to skip over results in the middle. If you look at eye tracking research, you’ll see that many users focus more time on the first and last couple items in a vertical list, leaving less time to those in the middle. By switching to a grid-like menu, this should intentionally slow down the scanning and provide people more time to notice the items “in the middle.”

  • neandrG√ľnter says:

    Will Australis have an Add-on bar? Currently we can enable it, but using DOMi I don’t see any ‘hidden’ thing

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