We’re Jamun!

13 May, 2013 § 6 Comments


Well, we were “jamun”. This past week we shut off the Jamun project branch of Australis and moved our focus to the UX branch.

What does all this mean?

In a nutshell, this means that the Australis customization rewrite has progressed enough to the point that we feel it is ready to start getting much broader testing. We’re in the final stretch of the project, and we want our changes to reach testers at a faster pace.

Here’s where we stand today:
* Most customization workflows are possible. Not all UI migrations are complete.
* Most polish on the edges isn’t there. It does however look pretty close on Windows and Mac now.
* Some final graphics are missing, but they’re not far away.

Wait, wait, what are we talking about here?

Ah, okay, I’ll take a step back. A while back, in fact, a looooong time ago… there was a presentation from the Firefox UX team about a new browser UI refresh and rewrite of our customization workflows. It turns out that many users don’t know that Firefox is customizable. Some users accidentally customize their browser and don’t know what went wrong. Then, there’s this super-tiny super-expert user group that has figured out how to customize Firefox and they *adore* it.

So, what are we doing about it?

Well, the first thing that we’re doing is making entering and exiting customization of Firefox much easier. No longer will a user have to right-click on a special portion of a toolbar and choose “Customize…”. This was way too hard to find for the vast majority of users. We’ve left that same entry point there, but we’ve also created a very visible “Customize” button.

Sounds good, where is this Customize button though?

Great question! Another goal of Australis is to unify the user experience between Windows, OS X, and Linux. On Windows and Linux, Firefox has an “Application Menu” in the top-left corner of the browser. We’ve moved this menu to the right-side of the navigation toolbar and it will now be visible on all three platforms. We’ve also been hard at work trying to make this menu easy to use and navigate. The Customize button is located at the bottom of this menu.

Another really cool thing about this menu is that it will be customizable. When you enter Customization mode, you’ll be able to add, remove, and rearrange items in the menu as well as items on the toolbars.

Here’s a screenshot of what the Customization mode looks like today on Windows:


As I mentioned earlier, all of this is still very much a “work-in-progress”, so it’s expected that people will find bugs and rough edges. If you’d like to play with it today, you can download the UX Nightly builds and give it a run. The UX Nightly builds will update daily with new changes to the customization.

Please let us know about any bugs that you find by filing a bug in Bugzilla in the Firefox::Theme or Firefox::Toolbars component (and mark the bug as blocking bug 770135). If you don’t feel comfortable doing the above, then just leave a comment on this blog post and I or someone else will file the bug for you.

Customization panel, where are you?

23 January, 2013 § 16 Comments

As a hat tip towards Matthew Noorenberghe who has been working on implementing the Australis tabs for Firefox, I decided it would be a good idea to give an update on the progress of the new customization panel for desktop Firefox.

Back in July 2012, Blair McBride starting working on the new customization panel in bug 770135. This task is a major rewrite of Firefox’ customization and application menu interaction. It is by no means a small feat. From July to today, Blair has made amazing progress on the customization panel.

Zhenshuo Fang and others on the Firefox UX team have put together an overview of the goals of the Australis Customization features if you would like to learn more background about them.

Blake Winton of the Firefox UX team has built an interactive mockup of the new menu and customization interactions that runs right in Firefox.

Last week Is started helping Blair bring the implementation of the new customization and menu to completion. Blair’s availability has been extremely limited for the past couple months, so it will be good to get some extra hands on deck.

I updated Blair’s patches to work against the latest mozilla-central code and have pushed them to the try server to get builds out to people that want to play with it. I only generated builds for Windows and Mac for this first pass.

Details on a couple Firefox GSoC projects

1 April, 2012 § 2 Comments

Felipe and I have been getting a lot of questions about the Fullscreen Mode and Silverfox projects for Google Summer of Code. This blog post should hopefully answer any questions that you have about the two projects. There are many more projects that are being offered by Mozilla. Please take some time to get to know the various projects and find one that interests you.

Fullscreen Mode

The picture on the right is a mockup of the Fullscreen Mode theme. This Google Summer of Code project is to implement the Australis theme for fullscreen browsing.

What is part of the project:

  • A curved and clipped back button that is the full height of the toolbar.
  • The forward button should slide behind the back button when it is disabled, similar to the current theme. This feature is called a “conditional forward button”.
  • The address bar should be a fixed width. The tabs should flex to fit the remaining space.
  • The mockup shows the overflowed address fading out. This would be a nice touch, but is not required.
  • The navigation elements (back, forward, address bar) should be on the same line as the tabs.
  • A button to access the Firefox menu is located at the end of the toolbar.
  • There should be a button after the Firefox menu to exit fullscreen mode.

What is not part of the project:

  • The curved tab design (Australis tabs) is not part of this project. Those may or not be complete in time for the project, and are part of the overall Australis theme work that is ongoing.
  • Completing the work for Windows, OS X, and Linux. We are only asking that a student work on one of the platforms for this project, although we only have mockups for Windows and OS X. I would prefer to find a student who wants to work on the Windows theme.
  • The web page below the toolbar (hopefully that was obvious :)).


Silverfox is the codename of a new feature meant to be an operation mode targeted to beginner users who are being guided on learning how to use the web. In this mode, most settings should be locked down, preventing the user from mistakenly tweaking settings or installing unwanted add-ons. It’s not meant to be a tightly controlled, irreversible-without-password setting, but rather a feature that will make it harder to accidentally break or deteriorate the Firefox experience.

This project will touch many parts of the Firefox codebase. For example, we’d like:

  • the ability to restrict installing, disabling, modifying add-ons
  • the ability to restrict adding, modifying, restoring preferences in about:config
  • the ability to block access to Preferences/Options, or possibly only showing a subset of less dangerous preferences
    • for example, when Silverfox mode is enabled, users shouldn’t be able to change proxy settings
  • and the ability to restrict customizing the toolbars.

Work for this project can be done in steps by approaching each of the aforementioned requirements one at a time. We’re not sure yet how Silverfox would get enabled on a user’s system, but we’re open to hear ideas.

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