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The future of Firefox - Themes/Personas, Extensions/Jetpack

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ShareBird

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Post Posted January 8th, 2010, 7:44 pm

On the Google Groups there is an important discussion about this stuff:
http://groups.google.com/group/mozilla. ... 12d64c4cb9

I'm concerned about the decisions that could be taken (and decisions that already were taken) based on the proposals you will read there. It will affect all Firefox users, theme developers and, later on when the JetPack plans are implemented, all extension developers as well.
I think members of MozillaZine and other forums should be aware of all this.
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted January 9th, 2010, 2:34 am

Thank you ShareBird, it's down-right nauseating to read some of this stuff.... especially some of the "official" replies from people like Mike Beltzner and Mike Conner. I think what makes me the maddest about this whole issue is that a small group of people central to Mozilla have decided that this is the best decision for everyone else. It's not like theme authors are 100% against change... sure we grumble when there are changes, but we fix them and move on... because at the end of the day, we keep jumping through Mozilla's hoops to make our users happy. And we keep going because these guys, esp Beltzner, has been lying to us all along and continues to do so in this thread by saying there is no plan to get rid of "heavy-weight themes", but then goes on to say how much better Personas are and how that's what they would rather people use and that's what they would rather support and how they have fewer bugs... (wouldn't it be easier to build bug-free themes if Mozilla handed us down a bug-free default?). It makes me feel like I've wasted the last 2 years of my life building themes and the last 5 years of my life personally promoting and evangelizing Firefox to my friends and relatives if this is really the future of this product. Blah. I can do without Lady Gaga leering out from behind my search bar. NO THANKS MOZILLA.
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aaron

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Post Posted January 9th, 2010, 2:54 pm

at least you haven't wasted the last 9 years on themes patrick...

ShareBird

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Post Posted January 9th, 2010, 3:18 pm

And now this:
On Personas and themes - by Mike Connor
http://steelgryphon.com/blog/2010/01/09 ... nd-themes/
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 4:28 am

MUST we force everyone to eat mild salsa because it's easier on some people's stomachs? If bland if your favorite flavor, you already have a Microsoft flavor of bland and a Google flavor of bland, frankly, they can have it. If Mozilla loves Google so much, why don't the core developers just quit and work for them?
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ShareBird

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 10:38 am

[edit]No really an issue...[/edit]
Last edited by ShareBird on January 12th, 2010, 6:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Ngamer01

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 2:13 pm

ShareBird, you may be triggering the anti-spam captcha with all the links in your post. The blog system is thinking your a spammer/bot.

Try reposting your message without the links.

Anyways:
http://design-noir.de/log/2010/01/on-ex ... -jetpacks/
http://steelgryphon.com/blog/2010/01/09 ... nd-themes/ <-- Updated blog entry.

We've got an uproar. There needs to be more if a change is going to be forced here. Would anyone mind sending this story to SlashDot, Digg, and the like?

ShareBird

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 2:36 pm

Ngamer01 wrote:ShareBird, you may be triggering the anti-spam captcha with all the links in your post. The blog system is thinking your a spammer/bot.

Try reposting your message without the links.

But there are other posts with links there... :roll:

Would the hxxp trick does the job?

Ngamer01 wrote:Anyways:
http://design-noir.de/log/2010/01/on-ex ... -jetpacks/
http://steelgryphon.com/blog/2010/01/09 ... nd-themes/ <-- Updated blog entry.

We've got an uproar. There needs to be more if a change is going to be forced here. Would anyone mind sending this story to SlashDot, Digg, and the like?

http://developers.slashdot.org/story/10 ... Extensions

http://adrianer.jogger.pl/2010/01/10/pl ... co-system/
http://dafizilla.wordpress.com/2010/01/ ... -kill-xul/
http://blog.getfirebug.com/2010/01/09/f ... xtensions/

P.S. - @Ngamer01 - Yes! the hxxp trick did the job!!! Thank you.
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Omega X

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 4:13 pm

I don't think anyone's happy with the sudden change of the tried and true with unfinished replacements.

Now that Mr. WON'T FIX has chimed in, I just don't know how the community plans to resolve this.
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 5:24 pm

I donno, informing our users and letting them flood Hendrix with complaints probably won't get us anywhere, although it's tempting! Technically, it should be possible to build an extension that changes the Add-ons Panel to have a more logical flow, e.g. have separate tabs for Extensions, Themes, Personas, UserStyles, Jetpacks and UserScripts. More than likely Mozilla will simply change the Add-ons panel to display Type 4 packages (Themes) in the Extensions tab with Type 2 packages (Extensions) and change the Themes tab to only handle Personas packages. I can't imagine they will actually force us to rebuild our themes AS extensions and then resubmit through AMO, etc, etc. Under that assumption, our imaginary extension would have to do a few things:

- Rename the "Themes" tab to "Personas"
- Rename the "Get Themes" button to "Get Personas"
- Distribute a 32 x 32 version of the Fox w/mask icon for that tab.
- Create a whole new tab (duplicating the old Themes tab) and name it "Themes".
- Create a new "Get Themes" button that actually leads to AMO/Themes.
- Redirect the old "Themes" icon to the new Themes tab.
- Migrate Type 2 extensions to the new Themes tab.
- Reproduce needed steps for Jetpack extensions.

With possession of such an extension, we could possibly migrate all of our themes to Type 32 - Multiple Item Packages and simply *gift* our users with this extension... unless Mozilla internally kills that off. That would mean redirecting our AMO pages, but I would rather do that than just roll over. If we collectively moved towards ShareBird's Lite style themes then we could all avoid many imminent version issues as well.
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Ngamer01

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 6:12 pm

http://robert.accettura.com/blog/2010/0 ... ck-debate/

This just hit Planet Mozilla.

The biggest problem I see with Jetpack is that too much of it is designed around existing needs. The problem with this process is that it’s always playing catch-up. The best extensions are disruptive and do things nobody ever thought of, or even thought possible. Looking at the Jetpack JEP list I see pagemods and toolbar. The kicker is these are “implementing” and “planning” respectively right now.

Things like jetpack.slideBar, jetpack.music and especially jetpack.lib.twitter make me feel a bit concerned. Why? Because they encourage too much conformity, and too many twitter client Jetpacks.

When developers are given such a sterile environment that’s intended to promote experience and stability it ends up inadvertently creating monotony and stalling innovation. If you want proof look at the iPhone. There are indeed some great apps and I say that as an iPhone user myself, but for each great application there are 1,000 that aren’t worth the price (which is often free). Many are just cookie cutter apps with a companies logo on them. Google used one undocumented API for a feature Apple didn’t think of providing a documented API for, and it was news worthy. While Jetpack distribution isn’t limited in the same way that iPhone apps are with the App Store the design questions still remain.

ShareBird

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 6:28 pm

patrickjdempsey wrote:I donno, informing our users and letting them flood Hendrix with complaints probably won't get us anywhere, although it's tempting! Technically, it should be possible to build an extension that changes the Add-ons Panel to have a more logical flow, e.g. have separate tabs for Extensions, Themes, Personas, UserStyles, Jetpacks and UserScripts. More than likely Mozilla will simply change the Add-ons panel to display Type 4 packages (Themes) in the Extensions tab with Type 2 packages (Extensions) and change the Themes tab to only handle Personas packages. I can't imagine they will actually force us to rebuild our themes AS extensions and then resubmit through AMO, etc, etc. Under that assumption, our imaginary extension would have to do a few things:

- Rename the "Themes" tab to "Personas"
- Rename the "Get Themes" button to "Get Personas"
- Distribute a 32 x 32 version of the Fox w/mask icon for that tab.
- Create a whole new tab (duplicating the old Themes tab) and name it "Themes".
- Create a new "Get Themes" button that actually leads to AMO/Themes.
- Redirect the old "Themes" icon to the new Themes tab.
- Migrate Type 2 extensions to the new Themes tab.
- Reproduce needed steps for Jetpack extensions.

With possession of such an extension, we could possibly migrate all of our themes to Type 32 - Multiple Item Packages and simply *gift* our users with this extension... unless Mozilla internally kills that off. That would mean redirecting our AMO pages, but I would rather do that than just roll over. If we collectively moved towards ShareBird's Lite style themes then we could all avoid many imminent version issues as well.

Easier could be an extension that implements the proposes on this bug (and I'm not sure if this isn't possible with just a theme and some XBL):
List Personas as sub-items from the default theme

Since lwthemes don't support third-party themes it would make more sense to list them as sub-items from default theme, giving the impression that is the default theme with different wallpapers. This would make the UI much more comprehensible for users, giving automatic the explanation why you need to restart the browser if you switch from a third-party theme to a lwtheme (you are in truth switching to the default theme). The item -"default theme" with sub items would be collapsed if not selected, making the UI much more clean also...

The "Get Themes" would be placed at the end of this list.
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 7:27 pm

My point is that the "future" will supposedly be that Themes are treated like Extensions and stuffed into that tab. If that is done and Themes are no longer Themes, than Personas will probably be "allowed" once again to work with Themes. There are more than a few problems with this "logic", not the least of which being that you can have a hundred Extensions running at once but only one Theme. That means that there would be two different logics working in the same tab, which makes no sense. The solution you mention is certainly what SHOULD HAVE BEEN considered for 3.6, but it's not going to happen. What would have made even more sense would have been simply incorporating the Personas menu item under Tools like the extension does, but Mozilla want's to reduce menu items for 4.0, so that would be counter productive. The root issue of the problem with 3.6 is not that Personas are built-in.... it's that they are built-in prematurely. They are quite simply not READY to be built-in and work with 3rd party themes. So they decided instead of waiting to incorporate Personas into 4.0 when it will be a finished, perfected product, to cut off the basic functionality that has been there since the beginning a year ago. That single decision, which was stupid, and not well-thought-out has lead to a domino chain of other bad decisions. But corporations are not fond of back-pedaling until they are forced to.

In recent history, when 3.0 came out, users demanded that we be given the ability to tailor the suggestions in the urlbar. The official reply was resounding and childish. We were told that this is the new way and to just suck it up, and even worse, that privacy concerns must mean we are bad people. (It's interesting that when a Google exec made almost exactly the same speech, they got some very bad press.) But only when privacy complaints got bad enough that they decided to make Private Browsing became a FEATURE of the next version of Firefox did they decide to fix it... not only backpedalling on the policy of "suck it up", but going in completely the opposite direction! But like a Rhinocerus stampeding towards a rock, they didn't learn the lesson until they got hurt, even though there were many many requests by beta testers to make this an optional behavior. We WILL see a repeat of this experience with 3.6 with both Personas and Relative Tabs. No question in my mind about that. The release will issue, people will be confused, people will complain, Mozilla devs will publicly deride those people whiners and sissies and refuse to fix it, and then turn around a fix it in the next release under the guise of some other related feature. (But certainly not for the sake of answering user demand.) This Fox is really a Rhinocerus.
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Lucy
 
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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 10:52 pm

Don't think I have enough experience to jump into the discussion whole heartedly, but some of your talk is about the add-ons manager. Not sure if you've seen Boriss' blog post about plans to redesign it http://jboriss.wordpress.com/2009/12/03 ... s-manager/ which totally changes things up.

Also, just because something is no longer needed doesn't mean it was a waste of your time. For 5 (or 9) years you were doing something very useful, especially to people who use your themes. IMO it's only a waste if you keep doing it after no one wants it.

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Post Posted January 10th, 2010, 11:38 pm

](*,)

For clarity sake I think I am right in saying Lucy is married to Mike Connor
Last edited by Ourph_The_Mingol on January 10th, 2010, 11:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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