Firefox 57: new Photon design screenshots

The following article gives you a glimpse of the upcoming Photon design of the Firefox web browser which will come out later this year.

Mozilla plans to make Firefox 57 a milestone release. It is the version of Firefox in which the cut is made that leaves legacy add-ons behind, and also the Firefox version that will feature a design update.

This design update is called Photon, and we talked about this previously already here on Ghacks Technology News.

Mozilla released a batch of new mockup screenshots of the upcoming design in the past week. Sören Hentzschel was nice enough to collect those and publish them on his blog, so, thanks to him for making those available to a larger audience.

Note: The following design screenshots are mockups, and not necessarily the final product.

Firefox 57: new Photon design screenshots

firefox 57 photon design

We have talked about the new main menu of the Photon-enabled Firefox browser already. Mozilla moves away from the icon-focused menu to one that looks almost like a right-click context menu instead.

It features more options, some with, others without icons, and also a touch-variant that users may use when they work on touch-enabled devices.

The touch menu of Firefox Photon may look like the following one:

firefox 57 touch menu

The core change is that the space between menu items is larger for easier selection of options displayed in the menu.

The entries look identical right now, we will see if that will be the case when Photon is released in a future version of the Firefox web browser.

One new feature of Firefox 57 will be that you can display the browser's sidebar on the right side. Current versions of Firefox support it only on the left, but with the new version comes an option to display it on the right instead.

The following screenshot shows that, and the new design of the sidebar as well.

firefox 57 sidebar design

The three dots menu in the Firefox address bar is new as well. It lists several options in the mockups, among them options to copy the URL, send the URL to a device, take a screenshot, or to share the page.

This new share functionality taps right into the Share functionality of the operating systems if it ships with one. On Windows 10, selecting Share would open the operating system's Share window, and the same will happen on Mac OS X.

It is unclear how Share will look like on devices that run operating systems that don't come with native Share functionality.

firefox 57 share

The error pages that the browser displays are redesigned as well. The mockups released in the last week show a less flashy design with fewer colors.

Here are the error pages that highlight the changes:

firefox 57 error 5 firefox 57 error 5 firefox 57 error 5 firefox 57 error 5 firefox 57 error 5 firefox 57 error 5

Mozilla, on top of that, released mockups for various internal pages of the Firefox browser. This includes the private browsing start window, the page that comes up when Firefox blocks a web page, and the HTTPS error page.

private window firefox 57firefox 57 blocked website  https error firefox 57

Last but not least, some internal about pages may get redesigns as well when Firefox 57 hits. These are the pages about:credit, about:license, and about:rights.

about:credits firefox 57about:license firefox 57  about:rights firefox 57

Firefox Nightly users may do the following to enable some Photon design elements in the browser already. Please note that this is a work in progress, and that some things may not work as intended at that point in time.

  1. Type about:config in the browser's address bar and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard.
  2. Search for browser.photon.structure.enabled.
  3. Double-click the preference to set it to true, and enable the bits that are already in the browser.
  4. Restart the web browser.

Now You: What's your take on these new design mockups?

Article Name
Firefox 57: new Photon design screenshots
The following article gives you a glimpse of the upcoming Photon design of the Firefox web browser which will come out later this year.
Ghacks Technology News
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Responses to Firefox 57: new Photon design screenshots

  1. Saad May 14, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

    i don't like the more of noted changes.

  2. JB May 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    I've grown to like the theme more since I first saw the mockups several weeks back, but I think I'll miss the icon menu. My only other complaint is I don't see the point in the animals on the page no found, connection error, etc. Pages. It makes the browser feel childish in a way. I doubt it will really bother me when 57 is released though.

    • Jean May 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

      As long as there can be a dark theme and elements can still be rearranged or removed I'll be happy. I would appreciate "space" elements too, which can be added to create or remove space between different icons or the address bar.

      Ideally I would enjoy having a Tree Style Tab's style "tabs on the left" thing where the tabs pane can slide 100% out of view and reappear over content with transparency when you move the mouse close to the edge or some other user interaction. But at the moment, I don't think it's planned. I've been postponing asking for that feature on Bugzilla for months though, even though a Mozilla dev asked me to, so I have no one else to blame but myself.

  3. Jed May 14, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

    I'm really loving the look of these changes! Gonna be good to try them out.

  4. Appster May 14, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

    Get ready for ChromeFox! Yeah! Seriously, this is just a surrender before Google. They believe their own concept to have failed, hence why the only choice is to copy the competitor in every aspect. Worthless without proper add-ons. Some mistakes made with Australis were corrected though.

    • Earl May 14, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

      Looks more Edge-y to me, I mean, the fonts... the "squareness" of it all--looks like something from Microsoft... not that it matters to me anymore.

      • Appster May 14, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

        True, some Edge-like elements there as well. The menu is a copy of Chrome though, also the general structure of the browser. Looks like a Chrome-Edge hybrid. Own concepts? Nope.

    • Anonymous May 15, 2017 at 12:51 am #

      People said the rounded tabs made it look chrome like, now going back to square tabs and people say it looks chrome like. The hamburger menu was first developed in Firefox, nobody complained when Chrome adopted it.

      Browsers tend to look like each other.

      Oh no! It has tabs! Copying Opera!

      • Appster May 15, 2017 at 9:15 am #

        Anonymous... Indeed, browsers look similar to each other. However, once there were quite different concepts on the market, believe it or not. Compare Firefox 3.6, Chrome, IE 9/10/11 and Opera 12 with one another and you will see that different concepts were quite visible. Today everyone is just copying Chrome. Pathetic. And no, the hamburger menu was in Chrome before it was in Firefox. In this case Mozilla is undeniably the copycat.

        By the way, the current tabs are a copy of Edge, not Chrome. They have close to nothing to do with the former square tabs in Firefox 28 and before. Have a look at the optics and you will agree. Those square tabs in the mokup can't even be placed below the address bar.

      • Ubik May 16, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

        Correction: the tabs first appeared in Firefox. That's what made the difference with Firefox from the start, the tabs. Opera did NOT have "tabs" back then, only that annoying windows-inside-windows design.

  5. James May 14, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

    All this animosity towards a company that is trying, and again with the critique of the animals as opposed to chrome's little furball thing when a site is blocked?!

    • rollie May 14, 2017 at 10:07 pm #

      They're asinine in both cases, and the fact that you're comparing it to Chrome is part of the problem isn't it?

  6. firefox sometimes May 14, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

    Looking good!

    I see that the pocket icon is still there in the URL field. Hopefully Mozilla will reach out to the community on where to go next with Pocket. I use Firefox on desktop/laptop and Chrome on mobile and use Pocket as a handy shared bookmarks feature between them. In mobile there is a pocket icon in the Chrome menu.

    I hope Mozilla improves that use case. Add a minimal mode to the mobile pocket app that only lists URLs and titles (no caching of content) and make it load really fast. Similarly add a clone of the bookmarks features in Firefox for displaying lists of pocket item (bookmarks bar, sidebar and so on). In short make Pocket a cross device bookmarks mananger.

  7. Anonymous May 14, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

    Design stealing bingo:
    Tabs − Edge.
    Address bar − Safari.
    Menu − Chrome.
    And those error pages... I think I might've liked it, back when I was 12.
    But since without proper extensions it will be a useless piece of trash anyway, who cares about these insignificant things? All hail Pale Moon and Waterfox developers for providing sane alternatives to this abomination.

    • Anonymous May 14, 2017 at 7:18 pm #

      >Address bar − Safari.
      GNOME Web

    • abominable snowfox May 14, 2017 at 10:39 pm #

      Good luck with that! Pale Moon/Waterfox will at most thin the Firefox userbase a bit, but will remain small enough to be several steps behind as the web and the world moves forward. The complainers do not help Firefox one bit. I'm sure people volunteering to add code to Firefox will not be more motivated to devote time and effort into the project when they get shit complaints similar to yours. If Firefox use declines the result will be that more sites won't bother to support nor optimize for it. That will in turn worsen browsing with PM/W too. But by all means keep muttering about "abominations".

      • Anonymous May 15, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

        >The complainers do not help Firefox one bit
        Neither do brown nosers.
        Firefox has been hacking away at their once core appeal: customizability
        remember back when you could add bars?
        Or choose were the tabs would go?
        Or place spaces between icons?
        Or, hell choose which page your new tabs would open to?
        All that had been relegated to addons and now they're removing THAT.
        Adding code to Firefox won't fix the change in direction they've done.
        Now, tell me again, why is Firefox even worth defending at this point?

      • Pants May 15, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

        > Now, tell me again, why is Firefox even worth defending at this point?

        Because if Firefox falls, then Chrome will grow even more and soon we will have Chrome at 80-85% market share and then we're all in the shit

        Firefox is worth defending for many reasons. Diversity in the market space, open source, privacy etc. Do you see anyone else building in anti-fingerprinting? Anyone else building in javascript timing attack mitigations? Anyone else building in a massive amount of customization (under the hood in about:config).

        You don't have to always like what they do, but are you really that informed of all the reasons why they do things. I know I'm not. Heck, I too think the removal of some functionality when 57 hits will suck - it would have been nice for replacement APIs to be there. Maybe some of it will come back. As for looks and tweaking the UI a little, shame, but not a deal breaker, IMO. I think the heads at Mozilla are better informed that we are (sure, we're allowed an opinion). I don't want to get into a fight, and I'm not qualified to talk about servo, rust, compatibility (I feel sorry for the FF addon devs with e10s and now WE, but overall it's good for the browser eco-system, and maybe FF will increase the FF only APIs, here's hoping). Personally I think the long term big picture meant this had to happen. I'm happy extension signing came. I'm glad e10s came. I'm glad sandboxing is coming. I'm glad for WE (opens up a wider base) but sad for the loss of some APIs. I actually excited by all the changes.

        There's always the option to switch to ESR to extend legacy addons for another 8? months (or whatever it is - sorry, haven't got the details handy). Personally, like anything in tech - just keep adapting or die. Every change, I simply adjust my workflow, or methods. I've already disabled a bunch of CTR options and found workarounds in advance (bye bye status bar, no problem). I've already replaced a few addons, in advance.

        And as for people still harping on about Australis and ChromeClone - seriously guys (and gals) .. let it go .. let it go..

        And lastly. If you see the glass as half full, you're an optimist. But if you see it through glasses you proscribed yourself, then you're an optometrist. :)

      • abominable snowfox May 16, 2017 at 10:34 am #

        Pants, couldn't agree more!

        Anonymous, sorry to see that you're unable to talk about a web browser without resorting to insults.

        I wish for more customizability. But I also understand the trade-offs and the challenges. If resources are strained and browser devs have to prioritize between retaining customization X or staying on top on security front Y then they should do the latter. I hope some of the customizations will make a comeback in a new form though. I've donated to Mozilla and I try to help out in some small ways - reporting bugs, helping out on support forums and so on. Anonymous, in what ways are you helping?

  8. Norm May 14, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    I don't see the "Get Firefox 57" icon in my system tray.

  9. slumberdude May 14, 2017 at 6:43 pm #

    For me, all of the things I liked about Firefox seem to be going. And I don't like the square tabs at all. I'll keep using Firefox just as I have for years but if something I miss annoys me too much I'll just switch to Vivaldi. Firefox devs seem to be taking it from a power browser to another dumbed-down Chrome clone.

    • Anonymous May 15, 2017 at 12:53 am #

      I was told there will be an option to round the tabs through themes. Square tabs are the default because they are faster for the gpu to paint

  10. Nebulus May 14, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    I care more about lost functionality that stems from the move to WebExtensions and less about the new look.

  11. Cosme Fulanitus May 14, 2017 at 7:23 pm #

    This looks terrible, flat design in general is cancer. Time to switch to Chromium, I guess.

  12. grauenwölfe May 14, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    Are they seriously just outright removing and restricting the user's ability to have Bookmarks visible at all times? This is almost comparable to requiring two or three clicks to access the URL bar. Click, click, click, click, click, click... Currently the Bookmark Bar requires 30 px. of real estate, what's the sidebar going to eat up? 400, 500 px.? They've probably removed any options to adjust the width too. I can't fathom these kind of decisions and then to take it a step further, removing even a simple option for us to have it. I feel like we're in the midst of an absolutely horrid era in interface design, the worst. Navigating and trying to use websites and Apps has never been more difficult and irritating. Everything feels like it's the developer's personal art project with no thought to functionality. Endless clicking, constant "Load More" buttons... ugh.

    Sorry, I'm done. Someone tell me if I've jumped the gun and there will be a way to customize our F*UCKING TOOLBAR.

    • David May 15, 2017 at 8:59 am #

      This is the default. The default doesn't have a bookmarks toolbar visible (not surprising, considering most people's poor organizational habits). Doesn't mean you don't have a bookmarks toolbar. It's just a context menu click away.

      The bookmark sidebar is something that already exists, and some people use it. (And more like 250px, not 500px.) It has advantages and disadvantages compared to the normal bookmarks menu, and with widescreen monitors and web pages that are still designed for relatively narrow screens, it's not like you're losing much in the way of important real estate, especially not compared to the vertical space used up by the toolbar.

      So overall, your complaint isn't really valid.

  13. MarcoNorman May 14, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    Even worse than Australis.

    • May 19, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

      Well we could always go back to ugly, crude and primitive IE6, now can't we...

  14. kubrick May 14, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

    Im getting tired of people complaining and saying its a chrome clone.So the settings menu gets moved,but i can think of half a dozen other browsers which do the same,are they clones also.?

    If you dont like the square tabs then change it to something you do like,its that simple.
    Vivaldi is just garbage and its a dress covering for chromium,nothing more.I tried vivaldi myself and it offers absolutely nothing more which i cant get in firefox.

    • Kokenda May 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

      How about massive UI customization? Firefox 57 will offer nothing of that. That way, Vivaldi is WAY superior as compared with Firefox 57.

      But granted, Vivaldi is garbage if you compare it with Firefox 28 and lower.

    • abominable snowfox May 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

      I very much agree kubrick. I even think Ghacks should rethink its approach to comments/moderation when it comes to Firefox posts. The number of lazy, unconstructive and pure toxic complaint comments is a drag on the site quality. I for one appreciated how Sören used (?) to engage in the comments here with further background on Firefox topics, but it seems he does not do that anymore. Not surprising given how toxic this comment section has become.

      The most disturbing thing is how clueless the complainers are.

      Fact: most web browser users are not power users and do not customize a lot nor use a lot of addons.

      Fact: the job of keeping a browser up to date in terms of security hardering and excellent support for new web technologies is very hard and very costly work. Doing that at the same pace as Google, one of the richests and mightiest corporations in the world, is extremely hard.

      Fact: doing that job without recurringly breaking support for old addons or deprecating old functionalities is near impossible.

      Fact: without a fairly broad Firefox userbase all Firefox derivative browsers would work worse and worse since they're such a small sliver of the total browser user base that it is irrational for most websites to spend time and money to be optimize for them or even care if the site works with those browsers at all.

      I know that most reading this are power users. The important thing to realize is that we are statistically atypical. If you want power user features then be realistic about it and do what you can to positively and constructively support such features (no, nagging does not help).

      Martin/Ghacks, I wish you did a post that cleared the air on this and talked realistically about possible paths forward for Firefox. If Firefox is to retain this or that power feature used by only a small portion of the userbase, who is going to spend time and effort to code and secure it? Where will the funding for that come from? What other work will have to be given less priority as a result?

      • foolishgrunt May 15, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

        While you're at it, let's include an IQ test that you have to pass above a certain level before the system will allow you to comment!


        Sorry. But I don't think the way to encourage intelligent comments is to moderate more strictly. The internet is the internet, and internet articles get internet comments. I would rather see the GHacks staff continue working on articles, it seems like that's a better way to educate their readers/commenters.

      • Ascaris May 16, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

        If the comment section about Firefox topics has become toxic to Mozilla devs, it ought to tell them something. It's not "stop listening to the fans and pretend you don't hear them."

        If we had the current crop of Moz devs during the early days of Firefox, we'd have seen discussions of how IE6 had 95% of the market, so that must mean that IE6 is what people want... and so they'd have taken out the tabs, removed the customizability, and deleted everything else that made Firefox better than IE, in the hope that making something just as mediocre as IE would somehow make people migrate.

        Why should Firefox even bother with the non power-users as a target market? The basic users are using Chrome on their PCs (if they even use PCs at all anymore), and no matter how much like Chrome they make Firefox, those users are not going to suddenly start clamoring to switch browsers. They already have a minimalist, simple browser with little customizability; why would they bother changing to Firefox to get the same thing they already have? Chrome is already designed for them!

        Worrying about market share and statistically profiling which features to remove isn't serving Firefox well. They're stuck in a pattern of falling market share that matches up pretty well with their efforts to make Firefox more like Chrome, and the answer always seems to be to do more of the same to try to turn it around.

        Mozilla should not worry about how much of the user base is going to use this feature or that. Maybe only 5% will use any one given feature; delete that and you will annoy 5% of your users. The thing is, they didn't just delete just one feature... they've done it too many times to count, and there's no end in sight. They've done it so many times that most Firefox users have felt the pain at some point, and the worst offense hasn't even come yet. Screwing up the UI even more than Australis already did, and at the same time making the addons that could have fixed it obsolete, is going to be a deal breaker for a very large percentage of FF's users.

        Every feature removed could be the one thing that is the reason a certain number of people use FF, and if you keep killing sacred cows, there may not be many users left eventually. Even with the market share of FF showing that this is indeed happening, they just keep doing it.

        Without the robust XUL addons to fix Mozilla's growing list of blunders, Firefox is just... awful, like all the other popular browsers out there, as it has been since Australis. Properly modded Firefox is the last remaining decent browser (out of the popular browsers) for the desktop PC, but that's all on the chopping block now. It makes me wonder whether the FF devs really want to be FF devs... it really seems that they're trying to kill Firefox off. Quite effectively, I might add.

        As for the telemetry that tells Mozilla that people hardly use addons... you know, the same thing told Microsoft that no one uses the Start button anymore, and look how that turned out. The people who just install FF and go don't turn telemetry off, but the power users who install a lot of addons and tweak the prefs to get everything just right do tend to turn off the telemetry as part of that process (I had it off too, but I put the basic level ON so I can be counted as someone who uses a lot of UI-related addons that cannot be done with the new addon system). Mozilla is not getting a representative sample from telemetry.

        A lot of what Moz missed from telemetry is coming to them via discussions like this, but are they listening to us, the users, or are they instead trying to tell us what we want, or what we should want? If I wanted to be told what I should want, I'd be using Chrome. Google's already got the "we know the right way of doing things, and if you disagree, it's because you're wrong, and we're not going to listen to people who are wrong" thing down to perfection.

      • abominable snowfox May 17, 2017 at 7:46 pm #


        "Why should Firefox even bother with the non power-users as a target market? The basic users are using Chrome on their PCs"

        Most current Firefox users are not power users.

        "Worrying about market share and statistically profiling which features to remove isn't serving Firefox well."

        Compared to what though? I think Firefox (like all other browsers) was bound to lose users to Chrome. Google simply has much more dev resources and actively promotes Chrome on its own services that everyone uses.

        The question is: would Firefox have lost more or less users with other priorities?

        In answering that we have to be realistic about trade-offs between keeping up with new web technologies, staying secure on the one hand and maintaining support for complex/powerful add-ons on the other.

        One thing to consider: if the demand for power user features was so great and underestimated by Mozilla (disabled telemetrics) then shouldn't users by now have switched to Firefox alternatives like Pale Moon in enough number for that alternative to show up with at least 1% in the stats?

        "but are they listening to us, the users"

        I'm also a user and I prefer a more secure brower with the newest web techs over a browser with more add-ons etc and the old UI. Mozilla have made a lot of progress on web techs and security. Having it all would be best of course. But I doubt enough devs and resources are available for that.

      • Ascaris May 18, 2017 at 12:07 am #

        Abominable Snowfox,

        I don't know how it is possible to know that most Firefox users are or are not power users. Even if telemetry were not disproportionately disabled by more knowledgeable users, there's still no set definition of what a power user is. I know several people who use few addons, but who would otherwise appear to be power users.

        I fear we're missing the point somewhat in trying to divide features into "power user" features that are okay to remove and "mainstream" features that are not. They're all features that some percentage of the user base wants, and the more stuff Mozilla removes, the more people they're going to anger. There's no such thing as a "power user" feature or a "mainstream" feature... they're features, and cutting features out of a product is always going to anger the people who use those features-- particularly if those features are not available elsewhere, and are the only reason the person has been sticking with the product in the first place.

        Firefox has always been about catering to the user. It may not always have every feature you want out of the box, but its robust addon system meant you could have those features. That's been Firefox's claim to fame from the very beginning.

        Chrome, on the other hand, was designed from the start to be a minimalist, simple-to-use browser that had few configuration options, but was fast, stable, and safe under the hood. Users who don't care about configurability and powerful addons have a great choice that was designed from the ground up to be what they want in a browser. Or two choices, if they use Windows 10.

        Mozilla seems hellbent now on abandoning what Firefox has always been about, what its loyal fans have always loved about it, in favor of trying to compete with two corporate giants with limitless resources for the beginner market.

        With the minimalist approach, If you're the kind of person who happens to want exactly what you're offered, you're in luck... but if you want something else, you're just out of luck. One size does not fit all! While the norm seems to be to consider a great deal of customization options as a "power user" feature, it's really a feature for everyone who has an opinion about how their electronic tools should look and act. Even if you find the way that your minimalist browser functions to be peachy right now, how do you know that the creators of that browser won't decide to take it in some different direction a year or two down the road?

        Firefox has had several such moments like that, major and minor. The removal of the status bar was a minor one. Australis was a big one. There are tons more. The difference was that Firefox was/is not a minimalist browser with few configuration options. XUL addons meant that Firefox was the best in the business if you want to customize. That's always been at the heart of what Firefox was about.

        Like it or not, Chrome is the de facto standard today, so any choice of browser is going to start with "why should I leave Chrome for this alternative browser?" Right now, I have a good answer for that... in a year, I won't. I'd rather use Chrome than the childish, ugly Edge-looking thing in the pictures above. I haven't used anything other than Firefox since there was a Firefox (for actual browsing; I've tested a few more), but if Mozilla strips everything out that makes Firefox what it is, there's nothing left.

        As far as your question about underestimated demand for power-user features in FF and how they should be causing Pale Moon to appear in the Statcounter numbers... No, I don't think so. I use Firefox, not Pale Moon (yet), and I certainly would be in the power user group, and I am far from alone in that. Since Firefox still does everything I require from a browser, I am still using it. Additionally, I believe Pale Moon defaults to a Firefox user-agent for compatibility, so people using PM will mostly appear as Firefox users on Statcounter.

        I also do not agree that we need a critical mass to keep the web devs developing pages for Firefox. We already fought (and won) that battle against IE and Microsoft! The age of developing pages for a specific browser should be well behind us. Useragent sniffing is bad! Develop browsers and web pages for standards compliance. Use feature detection and graceful degradation if certain features are not available.

        Even with limited resources, Mozilla should not be looking to throw out the one defining feature of Firefox since its inception. I realize the technical difficulties of moving Firefox toward a fully multiprocess, sandboxed future, and that the depth that the XUL addons insert themselves into the FF UI makes every possible change break those addons. Well, yes, but what else is new?

        It may make things more difficult to keep the XUL addons, but who said the right path forward was gonna be easy? Killing off the defining feature of Firefox ought to be off the table.

      • Anonymous May 18, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

        "I know that most reading this are power users. The important thing to realize is that we are statistically atypical."
        and probably suffering from aspergers, thus unable to cope with the idea that not everyone thinks alike.

      • Ascaris May 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

        Anonymous writes,
        "and probably suffering from aspergers, thus unable to cope with the idea that not everyone thinks alike."

        On the contrary. Those of us who disagree with the direction Mozilla has taken in the last few years (culminating with the removal of the one advantage Firefox has left-- its powerful addon library) have asked for greater configurability and customizability, like we've had with Firefox since the beginning. Keeping the powerful addons is the key to this customizability, a feature that is necessary if you recognize that (as I've said repeatedly) "one size does not fit all."

        Another way of saying "one size does not fit all" would be "not everyone thinks alike." Removing the customization options so that there is only one possible general UI configuration only makes sense if you think all your users DO think alike-- which is why I oppose it. I'm not one saying that those who disagree with me are a statistical or neurological anomaly that should be ignored in favor of the alleged majority of "normal" users. But, then, I recognize that people all think differently, which is why it's important to have a robust, powerful addon system to give users the configurability to make Firefox into what _they_ want instead of what some other person wants.

      • abominable snowfox May 18, 2017 at 10:52 pm #


        One stat from last year shows that 40% of Firefox users don't use add-ons

        Granted 60% remains. But I'd guess that group contains a gradient from less to more advanced users. A big chunk that maybe uses only one or two add-ons and nothing particularly advanced. And so on. Followed by a long thinning tail of more and more "extreme" users. (Nothing negative meant by that, I'm in that tail myself.)

        Granted also that some stat adjustment is needed for the telemetrics thing you mention. But then again do we have reliable statistics on just how much more likely power users are to disable telemetrics? I know power users that disable them. But I also know power users that insist on keeping them on to help Mozilla. Hard to say more without hard numbers.

        "They're all features that some percentage of the user base wants, and the more stuff Mozilla removes, the more people they're going to anger."

        Yeah, but users can get angry on a lot of other things too. Too many features/options can confuse and anger. Security vulnerabilities and new web techs notworking will darn sure anger users who are harmed or who cannot do what they want on websites. And if some addon causes trouble some users will blame the whole browser and switch.

        It is very common for software users to say "why not just add/keep feature X - those who don't want X can just not use it". But in practice every feature has a cost. There is a useful term for the problem here, featuritis. As the web changes faster and faster browsers have to keep up. The more features you have to carry the harder it is to move forward quickly. Today there is a big shift toward streamlining and less features for browsers and also many other applications. One reason is code maintainance costs. Another is support costs. More features increases both those costs.

        "As far as your question about underestimated demand for power-user features in FF and how they should be causing Pale Moon to appear in the Statcounter numbers... No, I don't think so. I use Firefox, not Pale Moon (yet)"

        Ok but the thing is people have been saying things similar to what you're now saying since way before the Australis event. To put it bluntly, stuff like: This is the last straw! Firefox has abandoned its roots! Power users will jump ship to Pale Moon now! But maybe this time is different. Then again maybe not.

        "It may make things more difficult to keep the XUL addons, but who said the right path forward was gonna be easy?"

        But you have to boil that down to resources and people. Who is going to do that? How much extra full time work for how many people? Funded how?

        In the end I share your frustration to some extent. I miss some addons that are now gone. I hope Firefox continues to be browser with most addon power. But I do think realistically that there is no going back and that for some time we'll have to accept weaker addons. I have myself over time shifted from using Firefox add-ons to more and more use other scripts and tools (python, curl, aria, ...) to do some advanced things I used to do with addons. So that is always an alternative.

        I don't have much more to add. Thank you for discussing! I hope Firefox devs surprises us both in a positive way :)

      • Ascaris May 19, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

        Abominable Snowfox,

        The robust and powerful addon system of Firefox was meant to be a solution to featuritis! Less-used features were to be made into extensions, while the most-used ones remained as part of the core package. The whole genesis of Firefox (as Phoenix) was to cut back the bloat on the Mozilla Suite browser and make it "lean and mean," yet fully capable of taking on any browser in existence in feature set with the right addons. Lately, though, that's not been what Mozilla has been delivering. We've had all sorts of features that few (if any) people asked for made into part of the main package, often to just be removed again some time later (like Tab Groups).

        Pocket, Reader Mode, that chat client... all things that would fit perfectly as addons, but they were added as part of the core package (and often removed just as quickly... assuring that they not only annoyed the people who dislike the bloat, but also those who had appreciated the new features). Then there's the extensive developer console built into every Firefox installation, which is really ridiculous, especially when you consider that there is already a Firefox developer edition! Why does this huge, heavyweight set of dev tools have to be in every user's Firefox implementation-- do they think every FF user has a web developer friend who is going to suddenly get the urge to start debugging Javascript during a friendly visit? I can't tell you the number of times I have accidentally hit F12 when I meant to hit F11 for fullscreen mode. Not only is the dev console in every FF installation, it also is bound to one of the most prominent F-keys on the whole keyboard.

        Australis was another thing that should have been made optional in Firefox. The feedback while Australis was in Aurora and Beta channels was clear-- it was hated by a pretty large group of users, while appreciated by others. Things that controversial or unpopular in an established product should not be made mandatory; the devs must realize that every one of their users became a user with the old stuff (UI, in this case) in place, and that should carry more weight.

        At least we had the extension system to mitigate Australis... and soon we had Classic Theme Restorer, which soon became one of the most poipular addons for FF. I hope the Moz devs have taken to heart the lesson in this, but I fear they have not.

        Computers are complex things, and even though many companies have tried to make them easy, the fact is that they're not. You can simplify a complex system only to a certain point; beyond that, it stops being simple and starts being simplistic. That's the state of iOS at present... it's simplified to the point that the entire file system is completely hidden from the user, and even the most rudimentary administrative tasks are impossible (by design). Some people want that kind of thing, and for them, iOS is perfect. Many of those who thought they liked iOS, though, find that it seriously cramps their style once they gain some experience and begin to realize just how walled the garden truly is.

        That's one of the issues of trying to make a complex system (which requires learning to use well) simple enough for the relatively uninitiated to use. Microsoft introduced user access control with Windows Vista, in an effort to try to mitigate some of the security risks they'd brought about with their "user always has admin privileges" model used in Windows XP.

        The problem is, though, that the average user is not knowledgeable enough to understand what is going on with a UAC prompt. It's been demonstrated that to the average user, all security popups of any kind boil down to "What you were trying to do has stopped, for some reason. You must hit the button below to get things going again." Even people aware enough of the existence of malware to go buy a security suite will then proceed to completely ignore everything it says and click Allow or Ok on everything to get it out of their way.

        No security solution for a user like that is going to help unless it does everything for him without asking (which presents a while other set of problems). He's going to allow everything because he does not have a security mindset, and he just wants to get back to what he was doing when he was so rudely interrupted. He's never going to stop and think about what triggered the prompt; that's so far above his awareness level that it doesn't even occur to him.

        Some things in browsers are like that too. Anyone can browse from an iPad and be pretty safe in the bubble-wrapped iOS world, but it's very limiting. PCs (whether Mac, Windows, or Linux) are not as limited, and Windows users in particular have to be careful. Not because Windows is some nightmarish, insecure piece of garbage; I don't think that at all. I think that Linux would be as insecure as Windows, more or less, if it had as much attention focused upon it as Windows does. That's the world we're in, though, and we can either deal with it as it is or pretend it's not so and hope to get lucky.

        UI design can play a big role in whether a feature-rich piece of software angers users by confusing them too much. One particular culprit in this is the hamburger menu-- something Firefox inflicted upon its users with Australis. The trend has been to try to hide the horizontal menu bar, but that just requires the options to be buried more than they would have been-- and more drilling and hunting means more frustrated users, leading some devs to believe that they have to reduce the features available to reduce user frustration, when the real issue is that the UI is poorly designed.

        I used to think the hamburger menu was a necessary evil to make mobile devices useful. Mobiles have small screens, and the fingers that tap the UI elements are huge relative to the screen size. If mobes had all the options that desktops did on screen, there would be no room for content... so hiding the menu behind the three horizontal lines seemed to be the best of a series of compromises, and indeed, it has spread like wildfire.

        Recent research has shown, though, that even on mobiles, the hamburger menu is a terrible bit of UI design. It can be summed up as "out of sight, out of mind." In order for a user to find the option or information he is looking for quickly, easily, and without frustration, there has to be cues as to where the option would be. If you want to save something, the "File" option at the top of the screen strongly hints that this is where you'd find it. If you want to change the way the content is presented, you'd immediately be drawn to "View," and so on.

        The problem with the hamburger is that it's a junk drawer of UI design. Three lines doesn't suggest to the user that this is where the save option lives... or the settings, or anything else, really. It's just counter-intuitive, to the point that web sites that have removed the horizontal options bar in favor of a hamburger menu find 90% decreases in traffic to the stuff now hidden behind that menu. Even after using a site for a long time, people often don't realize that the same options they used to use are still there, just under the hamburger button.

        What this means is that even on small-screened mobiles, the hamburger button is not a good idea for a top-level menu toggle. It may be useful within a horizontal, always on screen menu bar to denote more options; that makes more sense as it is already listed in sequence with the more common options, so it has greater "information scent" indicating to the user that what he wants may be this way.

        So if the hamburger is so bad even on the mobiles that it was meant to empower, what on earth is it doing in desktop Firefox?

        Your guess is as good as mine. If the resources of the Firefox devs are so limited that working on continuing to enable XUL addons puts security updates and other needed things at risk, why are they working so hard to make the interface demonstrably worse, while loading it up with unnecessary features like Pocket that no one ever asked for?

        There is an unfortunate desire for software devs to always make it seem like they're on the cutting edge. Not only must the wheel be reinvented, but it must be reinvented repeatedly and continuously. What I now refer to as the traditional UI design was once revolutionary... the simplicity and intuitiveness of a title bar that described what was in the window, a menu bar that showed the categories of pulldown menus that were available within, a button bar with some of the most-used options available, a content pane, and a status bar giving more useful info evolved that way for a reason. In the context of a mouse-driven UI on a fixed, non-handheld, reasonably large screen, it simply is the most intuitive and effective setup we've come up with.

        The problem is that it's not new and exciting anymore, and software devs want to be part of something like designing the new '57 Chevy Bel Air, with massive fins and chrome everywhere. If it's new and different, it must be better, because new and different makes people talk about what you're doing and how innovative it is. When Firefox was challenging IE6 in the XP days, FF had tabs along with a traditional horizontal menu bar, so naturally Microsoft had to one-up them and bring in tabs and a new UI that did away with the menubar by default, instead moving the options to a bar on the right side of the screen, just above the content window. The stop and reload button was moved from where it had always been into the location bar, and you only saw one of the buttons at a time.

        People hadn't changed or evolved since MS did all the research on UI and how people process information while Win 95 was being developed. The UI didn't change because people had changed! No, what we were seeing was that IE6 (which looked like the rest of Windows XP) was being seen more and more as a lumbering dinosaur, so they had to give us a browser with "zazz." Of course, the new Windows with the same "zazz" was soon to be released as well-- Vista, which was supposed to serve the same purpose in terms of Windows itself.

        When UIs are designed to drum up sales like model year design changes in cars, it necessarily means that concerns for usability and user satisfaction are secondary concerns (if even that). The traditional desktop UI may not have excited anyone at that time, but it was still a lot more usable and intuitive than what followed. Fortunately, MS left it as an option to bring back the traditional menu bar, rather than simply removing it in order to reduce confusion over too many choices. It's an option I've always used in 7, and that I continue to use in 8.1 now (though now I need aftermarket programs to dispatch the ribbon in File Explorer and to bring back the traditional menu).

        Microsoft's implementation of the menubarless UI (IE7, IE8, Vista, 7) was better, at least, than Firefox's Australis. The titles MS chose for the menu headings at least gave some whiff of what was in them; the hamburger in FF didn't. Of course, Firefox also has the option to bring the menu bar back, and that's a very good thing. I fear, though, that it will be one of the casualties in the FF 57 UI described in the above article.

        I would love to see Mozilla surprise me, but unless I can get all of the UI customized to the way I want it without the XUL addons I need now to do that, it's probably not going to happen. I've tried a few of the browsers people mention as alternatives in threads like this.. Vivaldi, Brave, Opera to name a few, and they are all even worse than Firefox with Australis, which I don't care for either. It seems very fashionable and trendy to do things one way now, and everyone has to show how cool they are by getting on board (much like the fins of the 50s cars once again).

  15. Lsad May 14, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

    So why does the address bar not use the whole space? It doesn't make ANY sense.

    • Pants May 15, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

      It's just a mockup. I've seen others with that centered urlbar and gaps either side - they never eventuated. I wouldn't worry about it. No doubt the search bar will stay and every scrap of horizontal space will be used

  16. Ben May 14, 2017 at 8:16 pm #

    Oh the UI team is back trying to do something for their paycheck because otherwise management would see they are useless?
    Well either fire them or just pay them to do nothing at all - both is better than them bringing up new ideas.
    The first screenshot heavily reminds me of something, I just cannot pinpoint it. What might it be?

  17. John May 14, 2017 at 8:44 pm #

    In the past, if there was something we didn't like in the redesign, we could get an extension that "fixed" it. With the removal of legacy add-ons, the ability to make significant changes to the chrome is a thing of the past. So, if you don't like the redesign, too bad.

    • Me May 14, 2017 at 10:52 pm #

      It's not really the same, but at least the code is all free/libre/open so you *could* make a fork with different chrome still…

  18. Yuliya May 14, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

    > Gah. Your tab just crashed.
    What the hell is with these messages? How is this helping me in any way understand what exactly caused the crash?

    > Hmm. That address doesn't look right. (no, it looks left.. rolleyes)
    > Hmm. We're having trouble finding that site.
    > Hmm. We can't connect to that site.
    Which of those errors is because I mistyped bet instead of net TLD and which is because my laptop got disconnected from WLAN? Who are the people they target with these messages?

    Now let's compare with Chromium:
    > There is no Internet connection. ERR_INTERNET_DISCONNECTED
    > This site can’t be reached. ghacks_bet’s server DNS address could not be found. ERR_NAME_NOT_RESOLVED

    Great. Not only that it will have no addons, but v57 will also be completely useless at giving me any hint in regards to why I can't reach a web address. And Chromium was supposed to be the overly simplified browser, one of its key features. Now it's making FireFox look like an inferior and poorly engineered copy of itself. At least if Mozilla copied the good aspects of Google's browser. They only took what was bad about it, then somehow managed to make it even worse.

    • Fliperman May 14, 2017 at 11:25 pm #

      Some add on will work they will rebuild on WebExtensions so the Firefox will update to 57 version in November it's a long time and you never know what extension will be rebuild, why the rush ? we even don't know what they do to browser plus if they don't do change new users never come ,you know what they say right now !!! Firefox need a modern make up change the stile it's boring old like my dinosaurs grandpa if they keep the old look like 50 years old browser none new user and new age user will use it , i know the new look is bad but you need let them do something new , if you don't like it change the browser chrome is a spy heaven opera to ...

    • Jason May 15, 2017 at 12:01 am #

      Agree with everything you said, Yuliya. I also have to ask, who is "We"? (As in, "We can't connect to that site.") I see this kind of thing in a lot of software notifications, like, "Give us a moment to update your system", "We just need some information from you", etc. etc.

      Software is an inanimate collection of code. There is no "We". If there actually were a "We" in Firefox, it would imply that all the Mozilla developers were screening every url I entered and providing instant feedback. How disturbing would THAT be? O_O

  19. 2322f May 14, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

    is a chrome maybe is a edge some kind but this is not firefox ?

    If i will be not able go have firefox like on my screnshot will be just switch to chrome ! or you wll be DIE(); like DIGG. com

  20. MyNameIsYourName May 15, 2017 at 2:17 am #

    For me it doesn't look like Chrome or Edge. It looks more like Vivaldi browser.
    But yeah, I'm not bothered with the design chances at all, all I want is a stable browser that is from a company that mine my data.

  21. Tony May 15, 2017 at 3:33 am #

    Everything is squared off like a Microsoft app. It feels so harsh and unfriendly. It was bad design when MS did it, and it's bad design now.

  22. jupe May 15, 2017 at 4:49 am #

    In the latest nightly they have already moved the refresh button from the address bar to the old position of the LHS of the toolbar next to the forward button, which is a change I like, but now I have to get used to it again, also they have already started implementing the 3 dot menu button in the place of the old refresh location, albeit with no items in its popup menu yet. Another change they seem to be making AGAIN is an always visible forward button which I prefer too. They are almost back to the same Firefox 3x layout again.

  23. Anon May 15, 2017 at 7:41 am #

    Australis was bad, I liked FF4's theme and used an add-on that imitates it for the longest time until it started slowing down my browser. Photon looks like a step forward, probably because it makes Firefox tabs no longer look like Chrome's, but more like Vivaldi's. In any case, as long as the browser's functional experience isn't impacted negatively, I'm all for it!

  24. Owl May 15, 2017 at 7:46 am #

    Oh dear, some more mockups! :) It does look kinda square, but not the worst thing in the Universe?

  25. happysurf May 15, 2017 at 8:41 am #

    Great work for me.
    I like it the new style.
    Some criticism are absurd, with Australis many users said it is similar to Chrome, if Mozilla back to square tabs are too similar to Edge...
    You're never happy.

  26. Anonymous May 15, 2017 at 9:42 am #

    what's with the puking pink afro

  27. Martin May 15, 2017 at 10:49 am #

    Childish pictures. No possibility to move hamburger button to left, besides the tabs. No toolbars. Menu 1 to 1 form google chrome. This Photon is a crap! Die ChromeFox!

  28. 0xdeadbeef May 15, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    Where are vertical tabs already?

    • Ben May 15, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

      Just use an addon.
      Oh wait.

  29. kubrick May 15, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

    I kind of feel sorry for mozilla or indeed any browser developer trying to please the disgruntled masses.
    Complaining about themes when they can simply be changed is retarded in the extreme.

    To all the firefox detractors....!
    If you can do better then volunteer your expertise to mozilla,im sure they are waiting for your callls.

    • Anonymous May 15, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

      but what's with the puckicorn with the pink afro tho

  30. Ulf3000 May 20, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    lol @ firefox team , just lol

    comes off almost as buisness espionage/sabotage

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