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Big Theme change again in Firefox 4?

Discuss application theming and theme development.
Aronnax!
 
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Post Posted July 24th, 2009, 3:29 pm

DonGato wrote:
ehume wrote:And I agree with patheticcockroach that they should focus on performance, stability and bug fixing for a while.


The next 3.6 release is exactly a performance, stability and bug fixing version :D
and later versions ... for example: http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news ... owsing.ars

WattsvilleBlues

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Post Posted July 24th, 2009, 3:35 pm

DonGato wrote:And I agree with patheticcockroach that they should focus on performance, stability and bug fixing for a while. Many friends of mine are considering moving to Chrome because of that, not because its interface that they don't like much but for performance and stability.

Firefox.next is currently focused on: "Observable improvements in user-perceptible performance metrics such as startup, time to open a new tab, and responsiveness when interacting with the user interface. Common user tasks should feel faster and more responsive." among other things.

Source: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Namoroka
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patheticcockroach
 
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Post Posted July 24th, 2009, 3:59 pm

Aronnax! wrote:
but it's still slow as hell

you use a browser, which is for you slow as hell .. hard to belief

As I explained, I'm on Minefield, and this one is quite fast indeed, except when my history starts getting big. And the main reason why I use Firefox is (as most Fx users I guess) the tons of extensions, not the speed. Yet my point was: the weak point of Fx 3.5 compared to Chrome (or Opera or Safari) is the speed, not the UI. It's not really "slow as hell" anymore, but its slowness is still the most noticeable difference with other browsers. Thus before thinking about chaosing the UI, focusing on performance seems like a better investment. Almost every time I see a Chrome fan-boy explaining why Chrome is so awesome (sic) they talk about speed (and definitely not about extensions :mrgreen:, and not either about the UI).

Aronnax! wrote:
I even registered on the forums just to complain about all those stupid UI ideas

They are not stupid, but likely as well not the best ideas :-k and your (these) conservative thinking is not very helpful to find the pick of the bunch :D

I wasn't aware that suggesting to make the whole UI totally and easily (meaning like drag and drop or something) customizable was so conservative :mrgreen:
But otherwise, if you call not supporting bad UI ideas being conservative, I guess I am... OK, maybe the current UI isn't perfect, but the ideas I've seen in this thread would at worst make it worse, and at best make it just different. And I don't like the idea of changing things just for the sake of changing things. It reminds me too much of product designers who randomly change their product every year just because they're paid to change things and not because they really have something to improve. Btw, here is another UI idea: instead of enforcing changes, make every UI change an option (like, for instance, an option to merge the URL bar with the search bar)

Aronnax!
 
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Post Posted July 24th, 2009, 5:17 pm

I wasn't aware that suggesting to make the whole UI totally and easily (meaning like drag and drop or something) customizable was so conservative


Not conservative, but as well not new ..
Bug 347930 - Tab strip should be a toolbar instead https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=347930
would be for example very helpful for your wish .. was intended for 3.5 and more or less ready then although delayed. One of the reasons was for example: It would serious break a lot of themes and would make the theme creation much harder. .. only an example that is not easy to support all these wishes :D

.. but the ideas I've seen in this thread would at worst make it worse, and at best make it just different.


Cool down :mrgreen: .. early Mockups and ideas from Mozilla had never really much in common with the final versions .. according to experience :D
Last edited by Aronnax! on July 24th, 2009, 5:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

WattsvilleBlues

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Post Posted July 24th, 2009, 5:22 pm

Aronnax! wrote:Cool down :mrgreen: .. early Mockups and ideas from Mozilla had never really something to do with the final versions .. according to experience :D

Unfortunately.
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KLB

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Post Posted July 24th, 2009, 5:30 pm

Aronnax! wrote:
Bug 347930 - Tab strip should be a toolbar instead https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=347930
would be for example very helpful for your wish .. was intended for 3.5 and more or less ready then although delayed. One of the reasons was for example: It would serious break a lot of themes and would make the theme creation much harder. .. only an example that is not easy to support all these wishes :D


I hate to think the kind of work this would lay upon me as a theme developer; however, It would make sense for the tab strip to be a toolbar that could be moved. In fact, I've never fully understood why Firefox toolbars are not movable in the same way a Microsoft Word toolbar is movable. I wouldn't want to see this change until there was a major Firefox update (e.g. FF4.0) so that all major theme changes could be wrapped into one update rather than trickling them out over a series of minor FF3.x updates.
Ken Barbalace - AMO Editor (I focus on reviewing themes)
I maintain Classic Compact, a very compact yet clean Firefox theme.
EnvironmentalChemistry.com (Periodic Table)

WattsvilleBlues

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Post Posted July 24th, 2009, 5:48 pm

KLB wrote:I hate to think the kind of work this would lay upon me as a theme developer; however, It would make sense for the tab strip to be a toolbar that could be moved. In fact, I've never fully understood why Firefox toolbars are not movable in the same way a Microsoft Word toolbar is movable. I wouldn't want to see this change until there was a major Firefox update (e.g. FF4.0) so that all major theme changes could be wrapped into one update rather than trickling them out over a series of minor FF3.x updates.

Thing is though, would average users want to see UI improvements, regardless of their impact on theme development? I think so. I think most people using Firefox don't install their own themes or extensions, so moderately improving the UI gradually is a good step.
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KLB

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Post Posted July 24th, 2009, 6:58 pm

WattsvilleBlues wrote:Thing is though, would average users want to see UI improvements, regardless of their impact on theme development? I think so. I think most people using Firefox don't install their own themes or extensions, so moderately improving the UI gradually is a good step.

Would the average user care about some of these UI improvements? Probably not. The impact on theme development MUST be part of the equation. Millions of users actively use custom themes. For example, my theme has around 100,000 active users with 845,162 downloads and it isn't even one of the most popular themes. NASA Night Launch has been downloaded 8,744,073 times and Vista Aero has been downloaded 7,254,249 times. Not all add-on developers make their stats public, but I would not be at all surprised if there were tens of millions of Firefox users using custom themes. For many of these users their favorite theme is a very important part of their overall user experience. I delayed releasing an update for my theme for a couple of weeks after Firefox 3.5 was released and the emails, blog comments, and reviews rolled in asking me to update my theme for FF3.5.

It is not reasonable to expect theme developers to be spending 20, 30, 40 or more hours updating their theme with every "minor" version update (e.g. FF3.6); personally speaking I simply don't have the time. FF3.5 is the perfect example of what a minor update should be; I only spent about five hours updating my theme for it which was reasonable. Significant changes to themes really need to be reserved for major version updates (e.g. FF4.0) and these updates really shouldn't happen more than once every couple of years. I easily spent 60+ hours updating and testing my theme on the transition between FF2.0 and FF3.0 and had to drop support for FF2.0 in the process because the changes were so significant. On top of developer time spent updating themes there is also all of the time that must be spent by AMO editors evaluating all of the updated themes.
Ken Barbalace - AMO Editor (I focus on reviewing themes)
I maintain Classic Compact, a very compact yet clean Firefox theme.
EnvironmentalChemistry.com (Periodic Table)

patheticcockroach
 
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Post Posted July 25th, 2009, 2:09 am

KLB wrote:[ The impact on theme development MUST be part of the equation. [...] For many of these users their favorite theme is a very important part of their overall user experience.

Indeed, I feel miserable without Classic Compact, the standard theme is so huge and somewhat ugly... And a very annoying issue with Fx 3.5/3.6 is that a theme marked as not compatible can't be enabled easily even when the compatibility check is disabled: I ended up editing the theme to hard-code it 3.6pre compatible... :roll:

KLB

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Post Posted July 25th, 2009, 5:53 am

patheticcockroach wrote:
KLB wrote:[ The impact on theme development MUST be part of the equation. [...] For many of these users their favorite theme is a very important part of their overall user experience.

Indeed, I feel miserable without Classic Compact, the standard theme is so huge and somewhat ugly... And a very annoying issue with Fx 3.5/3.6 is that a theme marked as not compatible can't be enabled easily even when the compatibility check is disabled: I ended up editing the theme to hard-code it 3.6pre compatible... :roll:


For the Firefox 3.0 beta process I tried to keep on top of the betas starting somewhere around beta 2 or 3 because of requests from the Classic Compact user base who also wanted to participate in the beta process. I got burned so many times by nightlies that would break something major that I probably ended up spending in excess of 80-100 hours or more trying to chase a moving target on multiple OSes. ](*,)

For FF3.5 I decided to sit the betas out and not update Classic Compact until after the beta process had been completed and FF3.5 had been released.

I agree that it should be easier for users to "version bump" the add-ons they use if they are wiling to take the risk. It was the users who did version bump Classic Compact and Classic Compact Options who were able to provide me the feedback I needed so that I knew exactly what was going to need to be fixed before tackling the update.
Ken Barbalace - AMO Editor (I focus on reviewing themes)
I maintain Classic Compact, a very compact yet clean Firefox theme.
EnvironmentalChemistry.com (Periodic Table)

Mateo1041
 
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Post Posted July 25th, 2009, 8:52 am

To be honest, I never understood the need to place tabs at the top. I navigate tabs a lot and prefer the shortest distance between what I'm interacting with (the page itself) and the tab area. It makes no sense to scroll past everything to a farther distance at the top of my screen.

tanjihay

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Post Posted July 26th, 2009, 11:11 am

Mateo1041 wrote:To be honest, I never understood the need to place tabs at the top. I navigate tabs a lot and prefer the shortest distance between what I'm interacting with (the page itself) and the tab area. It makes no sense to scroll past everything to a farther distance at the top of my screen.

Same here, I prefer shortest distance between page and tab =D>

falconer.
 
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Post Posted July 26th, 2009, 12:35 pm

KLB wrote:Would the average user care about some of these UI improvements? Probably not. The impact on theme development MUST be part of the equation. Millions of users actively use custom themes. I would not be at all surprised if there were tens of millions of Firefox users using custom themes.

I think Mozilla might be trying actively to discourage the continued development of third-party themes. After all, in the latest iteration of the Firefox Add-ons web site (AMO), they've relegated all themes to a single menu option at the very bottom, with no labels or details, giving them a lower billing than things like dictionaries, language packs, and search tools. At the same time, they've been advertising Personas as more-or-less the way to customize the appearance of your Firefox — and Personas leaves the toolbar buttons alone.

Mozilla obviously wants to build a strong and consistent visual identity for Firefox, and I think they think third-party themes are getting in the way of that mission. When you open up Internet Explorer or Chrome or Safari on anyone's computer, you know exactly what it's going to look like. Not the case with Firefox. To all of us, of course, that's a great advantage for Firefox — we can morph the browser into virtually anything we want. Mozilla, on the other hand, might despise that.

Themes like mine have got to be the worst in their eyes. I thought other open source browsers such as Camino and Chromium generally looked better than Firefox with its default theme, so that's why I adapted their default toolbar images into my own themes and then spent hours adjusting the background colors, borders, metrics, and spacing, to make Firefox look better. Sometimes I don't feel respected by anybody because I used many toolbar icons from other open source projects instead of making my own, but even then, and even without ever having been featured or recommended on AMO (for obvious reasons), my themes have still received over 2 million downloads. If that can happen, the interest in themes among users at large must still be very great.

It's my guess that Mozilla might see that as a failure on their part to keep users within their desired visual identity. Perhaps it's Mozilla's goal to make enough improvements (or what they see as improvements) to the Firefox default theme so that the vast majority of users won't even want to replace it. In the meantime, third-party theme developers will grow more and more frustrated with all the changes they have to keep up with, and they'll eventually stop making their own themes. Two birds with one stone.

(Edit: Fixed a few small errors)
Last edited by falconer. on July 26th, 2009, 1:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Mateo1041
 
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Post Posted July 26th, 2009, 12:51 pm

Sounds rather "corporate'ish" to me. The best thing about Firefox is that it *can* be customized so extensively. I've always thought the default themes were awful. That's why in the end I just developed my own.

Jeff.Tet

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Post Posted July 26th, 2009, 1:36 pm

tcmediatech wrote:
KLB wrote:Would the average user care about some of these UI improvements? Probably not. The impact on theme development MUST be part of the equation. Millions of users actively use custom themes. I would not be at all surprised if there were tens of millions of Firefox users using custom themes.

I think Mozilla might be trying actively to discourage the continued development of third-party themes. After all, in the latest iteration of the Firefox Add-ons web site (AMO), they've relegated all themes to a single menu option at the very bottom, with no labels or details, giving them a lower billing than things like dictionaries, language packs, and search tools. At the same time, they've been advertising Personas as more-or-less the way to customize the appearance of your Firefox — and Personas leaves the toolbar buttons alone.

Mozilla obviously wants to build a strong and consistent visual identity for Firefox, and I think they think third-party themes are getting in the way of that mission. When you open up Internet Explorer or Chrome or Safari on anyone's computer, you know exactly what it's going to look like. Not the case with Firefox. To all of us, of course, that's a great advantage for Firefox — we can morph the browser into virtually anything we want. Mozilla, on the other hand, might despise that.

Themes like mine have got to be the worst in their eyes. I thought other open source browsers such as Camino and Chromium generally looked better than Firefox with its default theme, so that's why I adapted their default toolbar images into my own themes and then spent hours adjusting the background colors, borders, metrics, and spacing, to make Firefox look better. I often don't feel respected by anybody because I used many toolbar icons from other open source projects instead of making my own, but even then, and even without ever having been featured or recommended on AMO (for obvious reasons), my themes have still received over 2 million downloads. If that can happen, the interest in themes among users at large must still be very great.

It's my guess that Mozilla might see that as a failure on their part to keep users within their desired visual identity. Perhaps it's Mozilla's goal to make enough improvements (or what they see as improvements) to the Firefox default theme so that the vast majority of users won't even want to replace it. In the meantime, third-party theme developers will grow more and more frustrated with all the changes they have to keep up with, and they'll eventually stop making their own themes. Two birds with one stone.


I definitely feel your pain! Although I have had to redevelop some of the UI's graphics because Chromium just doesn't have the feature set yet. Do you think that Firefox is suffering from a identity crisis or personality disorder? Of coarse it doesn't make total sense to phase themes out, that would be backward step in progress.
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