Australis is certainly the big upcoming change next month, but it is not the only modification that Mozilla plans to implement in future versions of the web browser.
One of the design philosophies of late seems to be to get rid of windowed controls. The download dialog for instance was changed recently, and moved from a separate window in which downloads were listed to an icon in the browser interface that display downloads when clicked on.
There are still several dialogs that spawn a window in Firefox. This includes the options menu for example but also the bookmarks manager or the browsing history.
Mozilla has been working on a tab-based preferences dialog for a long, long time. I first reviewed the new option on May 11, 2012 when it was first launched in the Nightly version of the browser.
The organization has modernized the original design, which you can already test if you are running Firefox Nightly (currently version 31).
All you need to do is type about:preferences in the browser's address bar to display the new in-tab preferences of the browser.
Mozilla uses large fonts and buttons here, most likely to improve the usability for users who work on touch-based displays.
A major difference to the design is the static sidebar that displays all relevant menu items so that you do not have to go back to make another selection anymore.
It is interesting to note that some buttons still spawn windows here. If you click on view certificates or security_devices for instance under Advanced > Certificates. Both menus open in separate windows on the screen.
The new preferences dialog can be accessed alongside the old window-based options menu of the Firefox web browser.
The new dialog has no ok or close button anymore. All changes that you make are instantly applied and active.
Make it the default
If you like the new dialog and do not want to wait until Mozilla makes it the default option, then do the following to make it the default one when you open the options in the Firefox browser:
- Type about:config in the browser's address bar and hit enter.
- Confirm you will be careful.
- Search for browser.preferences.inContent and double-click it to set it to true.
The preference browser.preferences.inContent makes the new in-content options the default, which means that any click on options in Firefox will spawn them in a tab in the browser and not in a window.
You can repeat the steps to return to the old preferences window as the default options menu.
When will it be launched?
There is no date or Firefox version yet when the new tab-based preferences design will be launched. What is certain though is that it will replace the old window-based options menu.
Another thing that is not clear right now is whether Mozilla will keep the old preferences window option, or rely on add-on authors to implement it and offer it to Firefox users who prefer the window-based menu over the tab-based one.
As always, we will keep you informed so that you know well in advanced. (thanks Sören Hentzschel)