So this is your idea of a great user interface, Mozilla?
I'm a Firefox user, have been for years and even the rise of Google Chrome did not change that fact. I like Mozilla a lot, how they have turned the browser around technology-wise, the organization's stance on privacy, and how everyone can chime in and help out, or voice concern.
The dark cloud of a Firefox redesign hung over the browser for several years, and while Mozilla designers did release mockups of how the new and improved version of Firefox could look like, everything remained relatively stable after Firefox 4.
Australis, the new Firefox theme,
will be launched when Firefox 25 comes along in October 2013. It is a major change and while some things are not yet decided upon, it is almost certain that Mozilla will change Firefox's interface radically.
Update: As it stands now, Australis has been postponed to at least Firefox 28.
If you download the latest Nightly UX version for example, you will notice the following in the browser''s interface (again, subject to change)
- The Firefox button is gone, replaced by a single Chrome-like settings button on the right.
- Tabs are on top and there is no option to change that anymore so that they are displayed on the bottom instead.
- The add-ons bar is removed and cannot be brought back.
- There is only one toolbar and it shares the search, navigational elements and all add-on icons.
- The search bar is no longer displayed, but can be added to that single toolbar as well.
- The menu bar and the bookmarks bar are hidden by default but can be displayed again.
- Curved tabs that look oh so pretty.
You are probably wondering what this looks like if you have a couple of add-ons installed. Take a look:
And that is with less than ten add-ons installed in the browser. The browser window takes up half of the screen on a 1920x1080 monitor. Imagine adding the search bar back to the interface, and maybe a couple of other extensions that you work with normally.
Does this look like something that you can work with?
I have several issues with the new interface, including that it is madness to force users to display all icons in the only toolbar left in the browser. It is taking up too much space that is then missing for other things there, for instance the full web address of the website you are connected to.
I probably can get used to tabs on tops, even though I dislike the fact that Mozilla is forcing users again into this.
What made Firefox great were two things: its customizations giving users the freedom to choose how they want to use the browser, and its extensions support.
Mozilla seems hellbent to take away one of those features that makes Firefox special in a world where browsers do not offer any customizations whatsoever, and that is a shame. I stuck my head out for Firefox when Chrome came along and kept using it despite its lacking performance in the beginning, but taking away one of the two features that sets the browser apart is just something that I cannot get my head around.
Addendum: Extensions that rely on placing icons and information in Firefox's add-on bar or another bar may stop working when Firefox 25 comes along because of that change. The majority of extension developers will probably fix the issue before that happens, but it is very likely that some won't.
Firefox 24 will be an extended support release, which means that you can theoretically use it for the next eight or so release cycles without having to deal with the interface changes in Firefox 25.
If this is getting implemented the way it looks like, then I'm considering moving to a different browser. This can be Seamonkey provided that it won't make the switch to Australis as well, another custom build of Firefox, or maybe even -yuck- back to Internet Explorer.Advertisement