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The removal of the alternate stylesheet switcher

Discussion of features in Mozilla Firefox
Blake
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 2:57 pm

Discuss.

lynggaard

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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 3:13 pm

That sucks, put it back

1. To me it appeared to function properly.
2. As "Daniel Glazman" pointed out it is a CSS2 conformance parameter.
3. Reading the bug report on the issue the author of the switcher had plans to fix the known bugs (besides one) before FF 1.0PR
4. I believe it is a browser parity issue
5. many blogs and other sites gives alternate style sheets to choose from.
6. It not having a keyboard shortcut is to thin a reason to remove it (that and the bugs was given, bugs are covered by item 3).

mrmazda
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 3:22 pm

Users need and deserve the ability to easily disable css on pages that create the need (bug 32372; W3C mandate). They don't have that now that bug 253722 is "fixed". FF 1.0 release should be delayed as long as required to put this functionality back in, regardless whether alternate stylesheet selection is working perfectly or not or something in between, especially for sites like this, using microscopic 10px & 11px font sizes. At least bugzilla users can read and comment without jumping through font size hoops. Zoom alone is not good enough.

logan

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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 3:26 pm

Leave it out and let someone remake it as an extension.

Anthropic
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 3:28 pm

From the standpoint of the user, the AltSS UI was one of the most visible demonstrations of what standard compliance is capable of. With the selector, a user could clearly see what CSS is and what it can do. It's one thing to tell users about standards compliance, it's another to give them a little UI toy to show it to them. A tiny bit of UI clutter is a small price to pay for that benefit. It's also clear that it was a great utility to have for blogs.

jmd
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 3:48 pm

Keep in mind, Firefox 1.0 is not targeted towards you, or the few thousand other Mozillazine users.

It's not even targeted towards the few ten-thousand early adopters, beta testers, and power users that have switched, many years ago.

By all estimates, less than 1% of current web users use Firefox. I believe the Mozilla Organization is targeting 1.0 towards the other 99.5%. And I hate to break it to you, but the other 99.5% <i>really</i> doesn't care about the alternate "Grape" CSS available on your 'blog.

If you want cutting-edge, half-implemented, mostly-useless-but-hey-they-look-cool features, then use the Firefox trunk, not the Aviary branch, which is being cleaned up for wide release. 1.0 is the culmination of six and a half years of effort from a whole lot of people. If making it the best it can be for an October release means the few hundred people who had a legitimate use for alternate style sheets need to install an extension, then so be it.

Things more productive than whining:
- Use trunk builds, instead of Aviary.
- Write an extension, scriptlet, or your own browser to provide Alt SS switching UI.
- Help fix the (major) problems with the current Alt SS code, especially persistence.
- Accept that Alt SS <i>isn't</i> the most important thing in the world, recognize that it <i>wasn't</i> removed just to spite you, and continue helping test Aviary nightly releases on the run up to 1.0.

Adam9
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 4:06 pm

I have to agree with mrmazda, mostly because the feature that removes the effects of a stylesheet is useful, easy to use, and gives the visitor more control of the browser.

I'm ok with removing the stylesheet selector, but at least include something to allow people to disable the css on a page.

driverkt
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 4:22 pm

Glazman wrote on Asa's blog about how the "View Source" being removed will be portrayed by the media as a "missing feature" and even worse a "feature that IE has but Firefox doesn't." While IE may not have a stylesheet switcher, it does allow for disabling of stylesheets. These features shouldn't be missing from Firefox 1.0.

tiwan
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 4:26 pm

I totally disagree with this removal : how such a tool can be removed while it doesn't bother the lambda user ?
I just showed this function to a friend who was using FF for several weeks and I can't tell you how he enjoyed it. Moreover, it follows the CSS2 recommendations.

I can only imagine that the bugs relative to this function are not as important as the UI's or the bookmark's for the developers what I can understand.

But please, keep it in FF by default : removing it won't bring more users to Mozilla !
I'm a bit sad FF is losing its functionnalities by the time the final version will be released *sigh*

michaell
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 4:29 pm

jmd wrote:Keep in mind, Firefox 1.0 is not targeted towards you, or the few thousand other Mozillazine users.

It's not even targeted towards the few ten-thousand early adopters, beta testers, and power users that have switched, many years ago.

All true. However, those people do happen to be most of the current user base, and the people that are supposed to be driving the Firefox marketing effort.

By all estimates, less than 1% of current web users use Firefox. I believe the Mozilla Organization is targeting 1.0 towards the other 99.5%. And I hate to break it to you, but the other 99.5% <i>really</i> doesn't care about the alternate "Grape" CSS available on your 'blog.

That's not entirely what it's about - you can also switch styling off with it, to make pages which are unreadably styled readable again.

Also, it's a standards requirement. You might say that standards aren't the most important thing, but are we just out to make a browser that's a bit better than IE at browsing the www as it exists in 2004?

It's true that the other 99% don't care about that, they also don't care about standards, or being cross platform. They're not bothered about RSS or tabbed browsing. They don't even care too much about security. They just want a browser that works with all their favourite web sites. Doesn't give us much to work with - the biggest thing from that point of view is pop-up blocking, but XP SP2 gives IE that. Competing with IE on IE's terms is a hard thing to do. Supposedly there's a chunk of people that will like tabbed browsing and RSS, but aren't bothered about stuff like stylesheet switching and viewing the page source. Seems like a risky strategy to dump the current 0.5% of users in order to chase that other group, but that has, AIUI, always been the Firefox strategy. Anyway, that's a wider issue than this...

Things more productive than whining:
- Use trunk builds, instead of Aviary.
...
- Help fix the (major) problems with the current Alt SS code, especially persistence.

Those assume that the feature won't also be removed from the trunk, and that fixing bugs will mean that it will get added back. Historically, when things get dropped, they tend to stay dropped. Firefox "isn't community driven" - the Firefox devs decide on the Firefox UI. There is nothing productive you can do to change their decisions, so the only option is whining and hoping they are impressed by the volume of whining.

Anyway, if this is just dropped for 1.0, and actually is fixed up and put back, then I don't think it's so much of a problem...

benw

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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 5:23 pm

I have to say, I am starting to think this is becoming ridiculous. So there's some bugs in the AltSS UI...there's bugs in every part of the UI. As one poster put it, why don't we just turn it into a gecko installer and make browsing an extension?

As far as I can see, the argument for removing it is "There are bugs, and users might be confused." (That's true, and user confusion is definitely a bad thing.)

The arguments against are:
1. The owner is promising to fix the bugs for 1.0 (isn't that the point of it being in development?)
2. It is a much-used feature that plenty of people will miss
3. CSS2 conformance requires it
4. It's another selling point (look, you can switch styles on pages instantly)
5. Possibly Feature Parity (tho not with IE, as far as I could tell)

I agree with Daniel Glazman's (I think) appraisal that this seems like another symptom of a too-ambitious 1.0 timeframe. Please please please let's not make firefox 1.0 another netscape 6.0.

Wow, is there anything more pointless than posting in the mz forums with an opinion in opposition to the decisions of the firefox development team? It's like trying to stop a train with a toothpick on the rails.

dean
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 5:34 pm

michaell wrote:Those assume that the feature won't also be removed from the trunk, and that fixing bugs will mean that it will get added back. Historically, when things get dropped, they tend to stay dropped.

The code was only #ifdef'd out, nothing was removed. Blake checked in <A HREF="http://tinyurl.com/4rlw4">these changes</A>. All of the stylesheet-switching code is still in the tree.

I tend to believe Blake's check-in comment that, "[m]aking an extension would be ridiculously trivial."

michaell wrote:Anyway, if this is just dropped for 1.0, and actually is fixed up and put back, then I don't think it's so much of a problem...

I have not seen a similar check-in on the trunk, so I don't think there will be.

DIGITALgimpus
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 5:57 pm

My 'discuss'

Blake
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 6:31 pm

Comments to the effect of "there's no point in trying to disagree with the Firefox team" are just silly, given that I started this thread in the first place. The Firefox team listens to well-reasoned arguments that take reality into account.

Second, people here would do well to remember that 1.0 is not the end of the line. It is a single release, our first one ever to the public. It will certainly not be our last. The development cycle from Phoenix 0.1 to Firefox 1.0 has already been ridiculously long for a single release. We do not intend to make the same mistake Mozilla did in thinking that 1.0 has to be perfect in every regard. We are going to get to a solid, reliable 1.0, and then we are going to go full steam ahead with 1.5 and 2.0. And like all other software, we won't take 4 years getting there.

Changing stylesheets as a feature concept has not been removed from Firefox. We fully intend to revisit it in the 1.5 timeframe. However, like offline, it is not yet of shippable quality, and it's not going to be. Those of you complaining how absurd it is that we're removing features this close to 1.0 are missing the point: it's precisely <i>because</i> we're this close to 1.0 that it's time for these features to go. They've been allowed residence in Firefox all this time because we weren't ready to ship, and there was a chance they'd get fixed up. But now we're revving up the engines, and they need to go.

Some people have worried that Firefox 1.0 will become another Netscape 6.0. Having worked on and used both pre-1.0 Firefox builds and Netscape 6.0, this claim is so blatantly absurd on its face that it doesn't merit a response. The press would seem to agree.

There are calls to delay 1.0 until these features can be done properly. But it's my firm belief that anyone claiming we should delay 1.0 even further to get alternate stylesheet switching up to snuff is completely out of touch with reality. We are already <i>way</i> too late with 1.0 as it is. The number of potential users we'll lose to XP SP2 when it's fully deployed if we delay 1.0 is infinitely higher than the number we'll gain if we wait til minor features like stylesheet switching are working perfectly.

Firefox 1.0 will have an impressive, stable and polished feature set that will suit a large number of web users. As we drive toward 1.5, 2.0 and beyond, we will continue to refine and extend our feature set. But it's time to release 1.0.

goodstyles
 
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Post Posted August 24th, 2004, 6:54 pm

He is right. I personally am all for feature sets....but ones that work like they are supposed to. Never been one for the CSS switcher tool personally....actually, for me it is clutter and having it as an extension makes a lot of sense. just how easy is it to install extensions now?? Get the Enxtension/Themes manager working like should be, and these removals wont be issues. Just load up the manager, select your CSS switcher and there ya have it. A slimline, sleek, stable browser is what I want. It is sleek, but at the moment it isn't slim and stable. Getting rid of the clutter and throwbacks first is a good idea.....though did someone say View Source is out? ahh well, tis the price ya pay for now...I can always get it again later as an extension or however...

FF should be shipped already, but as blake says, it has gotta be a solid base. Give me a firefox that is rock solid, and then we can build on it in the future.

And also, isn't it better to take out the buggy parts for the 1.0 release and then start adding them back in when they are stable...? That way, users can see that the product is "developing" each time they update...and the updates are solid.

rock on with 1.0....

Paul.
Where there's a will, there's a way to host it right.

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