Improving <select> dropdowns

9 September, 2016 § 3 Comments

indexLast week marked the beginning of a new 12-week period of mentorship for myself. I’ll be working Mike Conley to share mentorship duties as we mentor a group of five Michigan State University students. The students are all seniors in the Computer Science program.

The MSU Capstone is a program that pairs industry companies with small student groups to give students access to real-world software development and the software development life cycle.

This semester, the five students will be working on improving the visual design of the <select> dropdown. The project has three main components:

  1. The <select> dropdown has two separate implementations: one for single-process Firefox (going away soon), and another for multi-process (e10s) Firefox (the new hotness). The old implementation should be removed, and single-process Firefox should use the implementation that was added as part of the e10s project.
  2. The default look and feel of the <select> dropdown is pretty packed. We want to give more space to the items in the popup to allow for improved readability, as well as making it look more “modern”.
  3. <select> dropdowns have pretty bad usability when the number of items gets very large. They’re also pretty hard to use on touch-screens. The dropdowns should have the ability to filter items and should have more padding when opened via a touch event. The increased padding is intended to make it easier to tap on the desired option as well as to make the options easier to read when they may have a finger hovering over them.
team-photo(left to right) Jared Beach, Fred Luo, Mark Golbeck,
Miguel Wright, Tyler Maklebust

Since the students were assigned to the project last week, they now have local builds up and running as well as Bugzilla accounts. We’ve been active on IRC and will have weekly check-in meetings over Vidyo.

I’ll have more to share in the coming weeks as the students begin ramping up on their work.

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