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Product plan: remove support for heavyweight themes

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mightyglydd

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Post Posted November 9th, 2015, 10:51 am

I wonder how long the Moz discussion about renaming Complete Themes to something that implies Themes are bloated resource sucking Firefox killers took?
Supersized, Jumbo and Brobdingnagian were probably considered.
@Just what is a "Heavyweight Theme" ? Frank's are less than 150KB...
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Post Posted November 9th, 2015, 11:40 am

mightyglydd wrote:I wonder how long the Moz discussion about renaming Complete Themes to something that implies Themes are bloated resource sucking Firefox killers took? Supersized, Jumbo and Brobdingnagian were probably considered.


I've been wanting to do a graph of theme size vs. Firefox size over time. Nightly for Windows is what now, 50MB? That's nine times what it was back around Fx3 or 4. OSX universal binaries = 104MB. I'd bet that, proportionally speaking, at least for NNL, theme size has remained more or less constant. I hope if anyone's saying anything about theme size, they're taking that into account. (But I kinda doubt it.)
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted November 9th, 2015, 1:59 pm

mightyglydd wrote:@Just what is a "Heavyweight Theme" ? Frank's are less than 150KB...


Frank's themes are technically what we used to call "Lightweight Themes" before Mozilla hijacked that term for Personas. The idea behind those themes is that instead of replacing all of the code and images of the default, we work on top of the default theme and just manipulate it. And Frank has some special techniques that make them even lighter than they would otherwise be.

There's another kind of "Lightweight" theme where only a part of the default theme is replaced, leaving the other parts from the default. This is what my current Stratini Artemia theme for SeaMonkey does.

A better term for both kinds of themes is probably... low maintenance themes because they both avoid most of the headaches of theming as well as reduce the possibility of something breaking on an update.

As far as "Complete" themes, the smallest one I ever built that touched every single part of the UI and replaced every single image was Mosaic Fox. By using flat color graphics and very simple CSS code I cot it down to 557kB. I stopped working on that around Firefox 15 so it did include all of the clutter for supporting Tab Groups/Candy, and the overly complicated Addons Manager, and a very early version of Newtab page, but didn't include all of the Devtools madness. I should note that by that point I had been able to reduce the size of the theme down below where it was for Firefox 3.6 at 583kB even with the addition of all of that new junk because I made it a priority in my theme design to try to reduce overhead.

While new versions of Firefox include many many new images, one of the sources of bloat in the themes is the CSS code... while many people think Mozilla has been removing features to "simplify" Firefox all it takes is even a casual glance at the coding to realize that that is absolutely not true. There was a time around 2009 when Firefox theme code was graceful and human readable and perhaps even elegant. Today it is a tangled mess of nonsense that is barely human readable. And it often takes them 4 to 5 times as much code to do a basic task, with scads of unnecessary and confusing redundancy. It's easy to understand why Mozilla would want to axe themes if you look at their own code, and their own mistakes in fragile structure.
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mightyglydd

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Post Posted November 9th, 2015, 2:41 pm

So in Mozspeak 'Heavyweight Themes' are all of the above.....anything other than Personas?
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Post Posted November 9th, 2015, 3:18 pm

mightyglydd wrote:So in Mozspeak 'Heavyweight Themes' are all of the above.....anything other than Personas?


Yup. Ironically, your average Persona is actually "heavier" in terms of raw size than many Complete Themes. I built a theme once that only colorized the default theme icons: 2kB. TWO. Pretty sure I have the all-time record on that. One thing you'll notice about the difference between the way Personas are listed on AMO and how Themes are listed is that Personas don't show the size of the install. But honesty and transparency were thrown out the window a long time ago.

Several of us here at mZ workshopped about a dozen different ways to build themes over the years. Some of them are stupefyingly easy and small. And ShareBird who really advanced the whole concept of "lightweight" themes, also wrote an extension that allowed Complete Themes to be changed without a restart. There's actually an about:config preference that supports that but Mozilla decided to not finish it. You read that right. Themes in their current form, no matter how big or small, can be swapped without restart without a whole new infrastructure or even major code changes. So the whole Personas revolution was just a really complicated reinvention of a wheel that already existed. It's always been political.
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Frank Lion

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Post Posted November 9th, 2015, 3:37 pm

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1222546

Some people might think that I would be opposed to this bug, but they would be wrong. I say bring it on, partly because I think it would do Mozilla good to feel the cold wind of a default theme that everyone had to use, and partly because of this -

viewtopic.php?p=14333921#p14333921

40 hours a month is 480 hours a year and for what? That sort of constant workload on top of other commitments is just not good for people. I'll explain - in the old days you made your theme, which is the fun part, and then released it. However carefully you and your betatesters tried, you'd always have to do a few updates to correct things or restyle things shortly after release and then that's it. You then forget about them and go and enjoy the many things that real life has to offer, it is why we are here. Obviously you're around for any unexpected theme bugs that might spring up, but that's all.

Almost a year later, you pick up the theme again, a few weeks before Firefox's annual release, and knuckle down and do your version update coding and any required new graphics for the new release. After that? (...you can see it coming) You forget about themes and coding and go back to real life again. Done like that, doing Firefox themes was an enjoyable pastime, that amused you and was useful to other people as well.

A human brain (even mine) was only designed to hold so much information, so you drop that coding knowledge until you need it again and replace it with other things, other pastimes, other friends, other enjoyable things.

Now read David Vincent's post again. Does that look like a guy enjoying life? Does that even look like a guy who could find the time to enjoy life, after spending 480 hours minimum a year with his head constantly filled with useless code? They do it (I do know quite a few theme and extension writers, as you might imagine) out of a sense of duty and responsibility to their users, which is admirable.

But, that is the present day reality of someone making Complete Themes in the conventional way, totally up to date with current Firefox releases in 2015. Firefox Releases coming out every 6 weeks ensures that not only do those themes have to be constantly updated, but the themer is constantly on edge never knowing what's going to break and trying to work with a mind that is filled with nothing else but code. It is just not good for people.

I'll give you an example - a guy takes pride and enjoyment out of creating his own garden and after much learning and hard work, produces a really great looking garden, bursting with colour for 11 months of the year. Few months go by and a mole starts throwing up molehills in his borders, he sorts it out and sets traps. 6 weeks later, same thing happens, but this time it's 2 moles and they are wrecking the lawn and so it goes on.

Now, 2 years down the line, you tell me - Is that guy still a gardener or has he become a mole catcher?
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Post Posted November 9th, 2015, 6:26 pm

Frank Lion wrote:https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1222546

I say bring it on, partly because I think it would do Mozilla good to feel the cold wind of a default theme that everyone had to use, and partly because of this -

viewtopic.php?p=14333921#p14333921



That reminds me of how when I saw IE9 for the first time I thought WTH? MS just copied the Firefox Strata theme... ](*,) The IE8 ui is way better and needed a few fixes which I suggested at answers.microsoft.com...Sure the idea will copy part of the ui for Firefox 4.0 regarding the cool orange menu tab but hey it would look good in my opinion!

That is why I haven't gone over to the latest versions of Firefox as I just don't want to know the problems with the theme I have been trying to fix,etc....Mozilla really needs to listen to the people here and where else Mozilla Firefox themes are discussed before going on their crazy sprees!It is truly sad that devs of themes are giving up working on their themes because what Mozilla is busy doing and a lot of general users of Firefox lose out as well! :(

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Post Posted November 10th, 2015, 8:16 pm

mightyglydd wrote:@Just what is a "Heavyweight Theme" ? Frank's are less than 150KB...

It stems from when I was posting on this thread - viewtopic.php?p=13256339#p13256339

Officially, I hadn't been putting out any public themes since 2008, but behind the scenes I had carried on in the private/commercial sectors. So, I had a pretty fair idea of what was needed.

The original theme template was produced as an extension .xpi (I made my first UI changing xpi back in 2006) and it would have stayed like that and then someone pointed out that no one visiting AMO would ever realise that they were Complete Themes, so I repackaged it as a Type=4 theme .jar that would automatically go into the Complete Themes section on AMO. :)

How you write the code in that template is far more important than what form the code is housed in. Tough call, I suppose, you've got to style an entire browser across at least 3 releases and do it so it works on WinXP, Vista, Win7, now Win10, Mac and 100+ distros of Linux and also not have access to half the OSs, plus it shouldn't keep breaking in the future either.

I set a code limit and styled the entire browser in less than 1,000 lines of .css. I very heavily cranked some of the default images and used just 1 image made by me - the chrome progressmeter ball. Later, that would become 2 of my images as I could stand looking at their fuzzy amateurish yellow Bookmark Star any longer.

It's good to set a code limit, as it forces you to use special techniques. In conventionally coded Complete Themes there are no limits, which seems great until your overblown or outdated coding comes back to haunt you, further down the line. I set a code limit of 2,000 lines total in the later far more advanced themes to give myself room to do more.

Just one example - buttons - usually at least 4+ images and 200+ lines of code in button.css! Code that is stuffed with padding and margin commands that break if you so much as look at them.

I did my entire button coding in 30 lines with no images. I used linear-gradient coding to make 'images' and that 30 lines includes a Linux fix who insist on putting a stupid dotted border around the buttons on focus.

No mention of these themes would be complete without mentioning Pat's part. Although he didn't post the stuff just for me, I seized upon his .svg filter stuff as I could see the huge potential in it and indeed in the more advanced themes I was able to replace the usual 4 row Toolbar.png by a single row and use svg filters for the hover/active/disabled states. The 'states' coding for the Forward and Back was done by very finely tuned linear-gradient as they have to look right, as an entire theme always revolves around them looking right (together with the tabs)

Pat also took an active part when I got brain fade through reading reams of default coding gibberish and again with general input and direct input with the content scrollbars. I'm saying this, not only to thank him but to bring to your attention that when sometimes your see 'Contributor... So and So' in a theme, it means a damn sight more than they did a screenshot of your theme on Mac and sent it to you. Of course, often other Contributors may be included just out of themers etiquette and didn't actually do anything. The clue is in the order you put them. ;)

So....that's how you make an entire Complete Themes with less than a 140KB filesize in total. Advanced stuff? Well, yeah, it would be, I haven't exactly been sitting on my hands since 2006. I would pick up a few techniques in that time, wouldn't I ? :P

However, once that original template was done, other people could have come along and adapted it for their own needs, but they didn't.
Last edited by Frank Lion on November 10th, 2015, 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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LoudNoise
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Post Posted November 10th, 2015, 8:50 pm

Frank Lion wrote:Some people might think that I would be opposed to this bug, but they would be wrong. I say bring it on, partly because I think it would do Mozilla good to feel the cold wind of a default theme that everyone had to use, and partly because of this -

viewtopic.php?p=14333921#p14333921


The amusing thing is that David's Noia Fox is stilled listed as the forth most popular "Complete Theme". I have no clue if this is true or if AMO just stopped collecting stats.
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted November 10th, 2015, 9:56 pm

Mozilla appears to be collecting stats still, but it looks like for MOST themes and extensions they've lost all of the data prior to summer of 2014. Unless that's just a bug tonight. If the data is gone, that is very suspicious. If you wanted to paint a picture of themes and extensions not being very popular a great way to do that would be to remove all of the data from when they were REALLY popular and just show the data from the last two years when power users have been leaving in mass exodus. Hmmm.
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Post Posted November 11th, 2015, 2:39 am

Frank Lion
Frank, looking on your Bugzilla activity, I have one advice: if you don't want to add your email to subscribed users, just remove mark in "Add me to CC list" checkbox before you are sending the message. That would save you some time for removing your email from list after, and doesn't produce additional Bugzilla mail spam ;)

Frank Lion

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Post Posted November 11th, 2015, 6:05 am

-Px- wrote:Frank Lion
Frank, looking on your Bugzilla activity, I have one advice: if you don't want to add your email to subscribed users, just remove mark in "Add me to CC list" checkbox before you are sending the message.

Thanks. Hopefully I'll never have to go there again, but thanks anyway.

-Px- wrote: That would save you some time for removing your email from list after, and doesn't produce additional Bugzilla mail spam ;)

Obviously, I didn't know that, but I confess the concept of the entire cc list receiving a Email every time I did that...quite amusing. :)
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-Px-

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Post Posted November 11th, 2015, 7:04 am

Frank Lion wrote:
-Px- wrote: That would save you some time for removing your email from list after, and doesn't produce additional Bugzilla mail spam ;)

Obviously, I didn't know that, but I confess the concept of the entire cc list receiving a Email every time I did that...quite amusing. :)

That is how things are working in Bugzilla, personally I don't really care about those additional mails, but some people are becoming angry just after 3-5 unnecessary mails :)

Frank Lion

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Post Posted November 11th, 2015, 7:31 am

-Px- wrote:...but some people are becoming angry just after 3-5 unnecessary mails :)

They should do, as I did, and just remove themselves from the cc list then. Sorted. :P

Really though, have you ever heard of anything so daft? Someone leaves a cc list and the entire cc list is informed by BugMail, what possible interest would that be to anyone? They should start a bug on it.

Could you imagine that happening here? 'Hey Frank, wasssup? I see you changed your Daylight Saving Time settings in your User Control Panel the other day'.

Damn geeks, daft as brushes.
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted November 11th, 2015, 3:37 pm

It's really annoying when a bug you are a member of starts getting spammed... and then on top of the spam all of the members start removing themselves from the list, creating even MORE spam. I started directing Bugzilla emails to a special folder in my email account so they don't fill up my Inbox. Pretty soon I'll probably just direct them directly to Trash. (Say what you like about Yahoo mail, but it's filter settings do work!)
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