Mozilla plans tour to guide Firefox users when Australis comes around

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 26, 2013


The Firefox Australis re-design will land on April 29th in the stable channel of the web browser if last-minute bugs do not prevent this from happening.

No matter how you feel about it, it is clear that Mozilla will go forward with it. What may happen along the way is that Mozilla will make adjustments to it, depending on user feedback.

Australis is a major redesign of the browser. It is only natural that some users will feel lost after their version has been updated to the browser. Some will have troubles finding specific menu entries or features that they have used for years, while others may want a general explanation as to what just happened.

Basic things, like the moving of the reload button or the removal of the Firefox menu, may leave users of the browser puzzled.

While tech-savvy users may already know all about Australis, and may even have installed the tools in their browser to undo the Firefox redesign, or created an exit-strategy to move to a Firefox-based browser such as Pale Moon, others may not be that well prepared.

That's the main reason why Mozilla is creating a guided tour for the Australis launch to inform Firefox users who are updated to the version about the changes introduced in it.

Note: Everything discussed here is subject to change.

When users start the updated version of Firefox for the first time, they receive an overlay notification that is welcoming them to the new Firefox. This notification highlights the new menu button of the browser, and that the Firefox Menu has been moved there.

Options are displayed to continue the tour from here, or skip it for the time being. The tour itself divides the screen into two areas. The lower half on a white background explaining a new feature, and the upper half which is highlighting it in the interface.

How Mozilla envisions this is explained in a video that has been uploaded to YouTube. It offers several peaks of the guided tour, and also insight into the minds of the designers who created it for the community.

The goal is to help users adapt to the Firefox redesign, and to highlight new and existing cool features of the web browser. Users may pause the tour at any time and get back to it whenever they feel like it.

Here is a second video that talks about the guided tour as well and why Mozilla decided to implement it the way it did.

What the tour tells you:

  1. There is a new menu panel for efficient browsing.
  2. There is an easier way to customize the browser.
  3. Better Bookmarking.
  4. Beautiful browsing starts now, highlighting several things in succession.

Closing Words

A tour is definitely something that will help users understand what just happened when they start Firefox for the first time after the Australis update. (via Sören)

Now Read: Firefox's Holly version, a temporary Australis escape


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  1. Beerpatzer said on December 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Bye-bye, Firefox! Nice knowing you! Why would i want an inferior imitation of Chrome, when I can get the real thing for free??? The only reason I’m using Firefox isn’t the stupid and annoying security features, but the extensions… With Australis, these extensions will be either obsolete or very very hard to use…

  2. Anon said on November 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Not a FF user, but one suffering a somewhat similar grief sustained from Opera.
    I honestly am waiting for someone to barge in, and announce a new, secure, open-source, crowd-supported browser to please the true power-users. One that blows up this browser-crippling cartel (just read back even on this site, the report on how much money the big g poured into FF to make them sell their souls – perma g search, reporting home, maybe even this skinjob – a strikingly similar MO that they might have pulled with Opera to bleed that one out too).

    This ideal browser might maybe come from a pissed-off former technician/programmer(-group) from either Opera of FF – anecdotically like what Mr. Torvalds pulled when the versioning system housing the Linux kernel were threatened and he kicked their a**es with Git.

    Fingers crossed!

    1. Anon said on November 27, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Addition: Or similarly what The Document Foundation did when Oracle messed with OOo and forked it into LibreOffice.

  3. WandersFar said on November 26, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Mozilla just needs to incorporate Classic Theme Restorer into Firefox.

    They can keep their new UI. Whatever. But they ought to give users the ability to opt out without having to install a separate addon or write a lengthy userChrome. (I’ve had to do both to get back where I was pre-Australis.)

    Just create a new boolean switch:
    Australis.UI true/false

    They can leave Australis as default, and the noobs won’t even know it’s there. But for everyone else who’s taken the time to customize their browser, this would be a relatively painless way to keep what they already have.

    They get to save face (by not openly admitting Australis was a waste of time and resources) and we get to save our browser.

    1. Jay said on November 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      The only problem with this is will our favorite addons still work regardless of a UI on/off switch.

      1. WandersFar said on November 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm

        AFAIK Australis doesn’t actually break any addons, it just makes them more annoying to access. (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.)

        You’re forced to place all your addon icons on either the navigation or tab bar, which can result in a cluttered interface if you have a lot of extensions installed.

        I’ve been using Australis since it premiered on Nightly, and I haven’t experienced any problems with extensions not working. I just find the new UI to be a poor use of space (especially vertical space, which is more precious than horizontal space), and I HATE that I had to install a new extension just to combine my tab and URL bars again. I don’t use a lot of icons since I prefer hotkeys to the mouse, so that aspect hasn’t really affected me.

    2. Xmetalfanx said on November 27, 2013 at 4:52 am

      That sounds like a good idea. I am not sure about the code (if alot of its the same) where they could make a big option for the user (that can be changed easily to go back and forth anyway) to pick “Holly” (Nightly build I am typing this one and found out about thanks to here) or Australis . … Even if they (i am saying this off the top of my head) added 4 or 5 more MB to the installer. They (assuming they skip my idea of a choice during the first run after an installation) can even keep Australis as default as you said. use a setting in the menus OR as you said something in about:config … to me I would not only applaud that, I would give Mozilla full credit for doing such a great move.

      I still (maybe Martin could look into this too) am not sure about Cyberfox and Pale Moon (I have both by the way) and how they are going to be effected. Will they keep the newest security updates with the “pre-Australis ” GUI? or will they be “forced” to change too, due to the code?…. You’d think Mozilla would reach out to those Cyberfox or Pale Moon developers (if they do have “unAustralis ” versions and say “Hey … we are going all-Australis, though since you are already making what turns out to be versions without Australis, would you be willing to stop your projects? (in Fork-name alone) and do the same thing … your doing now and we will release that as (what is now Holly), as a sort of dual-release”. That way software portals have the “official” release (Australis ) and those that want it can have a fully updated non-Australis version without time being spent by the (existing) Mozilla Team.

      I am just throwing out ideas, lol … I am no Australis fan though not counting Pale Moon or Cyberfox .. I am NOT a fan of any other browser enough to make a switch to that either.


      1. WandersFar said on November 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm

        I think Mozilla is unlikely to give users a choice on first-run, as that would be like admitting defeat.

        We’ve spent three years developing a new interface that everyone hates! Do you want to validate our efforts or further shame us with your rejection?
        • Okay, I guess…
        • No!

        Burying a switch in about:config is something only motivated users will stumble across and will allow Mozilla to claim victory over the majority of users who can’t be bothered or just don’t care.

  4. Dave said on November 26, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I am another Firefox fan who will be jumping ship when this Australis nonsense arrives, i have used Firefox from version 1.5 but have sadly gotten more and more fed up of the direction the browser has been going in over this last few years because of their changes i have around 20 add-ons enabled on my profile, 7 of them are purely installed to replace Firefox functions that have been removed. The firefox team keep telling us that memory leaks are virtually all down to add-ons yet they keep removing features and telling people if they want them back to install add-ons how stupid is that?
    I haven’t made up my mind yet weather to go with Palemoon, Cyberfox or just stick with the last Firefox version without Australis, but one thing i do know is i won’t be updating to a version with this Australis nonsense which will remove my add-on bar, remove the custom toolbar i use and put icons in positions that i don’t want them in. The arrogance and ego of the Firefox developers needs taken down a peg or two.

    1. GiddyUpGo said on November 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Dave, I could not have said it better. I will not be updating too. Your feelings are the same as mine. I too have been with Firefox since the beginning, but now I am looking at Palemoon, and maybe Internet Explorer….Anything but for this mess!

  5. Blue said on November 26, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Overall the look looks suspiciously like a Chrome copy, and I was shocked to find the majority of the project members in the first video use MACs. Just because they give it a new name, it doesn’t really make it different than the menu button in Chrome. Same 3 lines stacked (door hanger as they call it), and it opens a drop down menu to access everything normally in the Orange menu button only with a major redesign.

    The only real way to tell it’s still Firefox from a glance instead of Chrome is the back / forward button incorporated into the URL bar design, otherwise it practically looks the same. Odd for them to go this direction. The Orange button was a redesign from a previous GUI and that took a lot of people to get used to and when they are just accepting it… BAM it gets changed again to a Chrome copy… ???

    Is mimicking someone else’s design a form of flattery still, or it is stealing someone elses ideas?

    1. a guy said on November 28, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      >The Orange button was a redesign from a previous GUI
      Which they took from Opera. Now i was fine with this, mostly because Opera had a lot of pretty cool ideas in it. Taking things from Chrome though, i cant really understand.

  6. XenoSilvano said on November 26, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    It makes you wanna slap the ########! What will it take for Mozilla to understand.

  7. A&L said on November 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I’ll stick with cyberfox

  8. Oxa said on November 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Form over function and never admitting you’re wrong is a recipe for failure. The future brings nothing but more loss of market share for Mozilla.

    1. Alex Klymov said on November 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Hear, hear.
      Ivory tower grew too high all of a sudden – no way to hear what are these small people down there shouting about – never mind that there are lot of them

  9. RN said on November 26, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    I’m a Mac user myself and looked into Pale Moon. It is only available for Windows so perhaps these UX people think that Firefox users don’t, won’t, or can’t switch.

    I watched another video from that team. None of the developers inspire any confidence. It looks like Mozilla has been taken over by business school graduates with all of the associated doubletalk and spinmongering.

  10. Alex Klymov said on November 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I don’t understand whats wrong with these people – users said “No go” why exactly they are still going ahead with it?
    Firefox popularity and Mozilla positions are directly dependent on user acceptance – if everybody will start dropping Firefox for pale moon or Opera for example what would Mozilla do – start crying “Oh please come back, we’ll change everything just the way you liked it” ? It’s going to be too late by then.
    Unless of course Mozilla pursues some hidden agenda we don’t really know about.

    1. kalmly said on November 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      No, you can’t switch to Opera, either. It is going the way of Chrome also. I’ll be uninstalling next month. I’ll have to try Pale Moon.

  11. insanelyapple said on November 26, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I know it’s too early to say such things but i think It feels like they’re going by Microsoft way – can’t accept and admit that they screwed things up, they don’t even think about lately received feedback but instead, they’re forcing the idea and adding some “tutorial” and PR mumbling that doesn’t solve anything.

    1. Olivia said on November 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      That’s more Google’s way than Microsoft’s to be fair. Microsoft is a huge pile of nonsense itself, but history proved that sometimes they were capable of backtracking on some stuff (that WGA uninstaller thingy comes to mind). Google however? From Gmail to Youtube to pretty much every single one of their services, it’s been “we’re forcing you and we don’t care because you’re still using our services anyway” central for the past few years. The only thing I remember them backtracking on was the Buzz fiasco.

  12. clas said on November 26, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    ah, that explains it…its now a chinese browser.

  13. hum said on November 26, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Here’s a link they could add to the tour:

    PS: All of them are using OSX. Have they actually ever checked to see how the new design looks on other OS? Or if the redesign is actually fitting into the graphical schemes of other OS?

    1. John said on November 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      I reacted to all the apple laptops in the shot too. The new design seems tailored for Macs. Oh well, as long as they support Userstyles and Greasemonkey we can change the UI to fit our needs. So no worries.

    2. Shino said on November 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      The tour for each major browser sans IE MUST be accurate to the current user’s OS. And Firefox should also include in their upcoming tour what’s changed with Australis in more detailed form.

      However, hum, the link contains screenshots of Chrome (the desktop version)… in Windows 7.

  14. Uhtred said on November 26, 2013 at 10:43 am

    video tour of new update experience is basically saying configured so everyone has to view it, straightaway or over time. wow.

    Sadly NO MENTiON of how buried in menu bookmarks are going to slow my workflow out and about on trackpad machine, instead of accessing one click from bookmarks bar. Nor about how much screen space I will lose.

    interesting the designers in vids appear to represent quite a young cohort, is this why their design process going in its current reinventing the wheel direction I wonder?… I hope their “testing” team is more representative of user age ranges.

    1. Gonzo said on November 26, 2013 at 10:26 pm

      The Firefox browser has appealed to the above average user since it debuted. However, Firefox OS needs to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

      These are conflicting ideals and it’s pretty clear that Mozilla has less interest in the former. It’s less clear as to whether a market for Firefox OS exists.

      Those videos make me question leadership. I wouldn’t have released either of them.

      Edit – I didn’t mean to reply to you Uhtred. I hit the wrong button ;p

  15. JohnP said on November 26, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Idon’t know…
    Anyone see what’s wrong with this picture of australis with a handful of addons installed?

    I hope there are enough angry users when australis lands that let Mozilla know that they’ve been wasting time and developer resources since 2011 with this nonsense.

    1. Oxa said on November 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      JohnP – What addons produced that FF configuration?

    2. John said on November 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Only anger does not move things forward. Get active in the community instead. Make a userstyle for stylish that modifies the UI to look like you want. If people love it they will use it, and if many use it the Firefox team will listen and adapt. The problem with “this is bad” reactions is that all the angry people may have wildly different ideas of what would be better.

      1. Allen said on November 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm

        I see no reason to believe that the Firefox UI team has any intention of listening to the community at this point.

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