Firefox 4 gets custom alertboxes

Look, Firefox 4 is getting custom UI for JavaScript alert boxes:

ff4_alerts

My first impression is that while that’s pretty, it seems to be pretty for the sake of pretty. My gut feeling is, however, that with the XUL-based interface Firefox has, they need to make custom UI if they want to make JavaScript alerts tab-modal — and why wouldn’t they? So they might as well run with it. Tab-modal, if that is in fact what they’re doing: thumbs up. Pretty for the sake of pretty: mullet.

A Look At Firefox 4 Beta 1

Here are a few screenshots of Firefox 4 on Windows.

Firefox_4_b1_addons Firefox_4_b1_maximized Firefox_4_b1_tabs_below Firefox_4_b1

Click to embiggen.

Some observations:

  • Firefox really feels faster than 3. It starts so much faster, and is generally more responsive. It’s not Chrome or Opera fast, but it’s way faster than Firefox old.
  • The new theme has the benefit that, when maximized on Windows, the Firefox button actually DOES grab the top left pixel of the screen. In Chrome, that pixel is still reserved for the oldschool Windows icon menu.
  • Alas, it seems the fullscreen “tab moves to the top” feature which we got a blurry look of a few weeks ago, hasn’t yet been implemented. I expect it to, though.
  • With the addition of the Firefox button, menus now feel even more obsolete.

Firefox 4 Maximized, First Blurry Look

Mozilla has posted a startlingly effective video argument for why Firefox 4s default preference will be tabs-on-top. For the first time since the Firefox 4 mockups, we now see a maximized Firefox 4, which uses the Fitt’s Law argument I’ve chimed since 2006 when I tried redesigning the Firefox interface myself:

firefox_maximized

Of course only Windows gets this benefit, since both Ubuntu and OSX have a menu there.

Firefox 3.5 Mini-Review

Firefox_3.5_icon

Mozilla Firefox 3.5 is the latest version of the open source project originally spun off of the Netscape browser. Its latest incarnation features private surfing, better history handling, a number of web standards display features, speed improvements and a tweaked icon.

With 3.7 already on the way, Firefox 3.5 may prove to be a short-lived pleasure. But it is a pleasure, nonetheless. 3.5 feels faster, especially in JavaScript heavy applications such as Gmail or Calendar. The new features are all nice additions even though they simply feel like incremental improvements to a good product (which is fine). The two features that matter the most these days, however, are memory handling and webpage rendering, both areas wherein 3.5 improves over 3.0. With CSS drop shadows and inset styles, it certainly feels like its catched up to the competition (Safari, Chrome, Opera).

The icon, originally designed by Jon Hicks, got an update. It’s now more glossy, and updated by the Icon Factory. Pity. I like Jon.

When it comes to speed, the browser certainly feels both faster and lighter. Yet somehow, now that I’ve tasted how fast a browser can be (Chrome, Safari), Firefox falls short. It still takes a long while to launch the browser. It’s bulky to open lots of tabs and when they’re finally open, the whole thing slows down and if (this is rare, fortunately) one tab crashes, all tabs crash. Oddly, even closing the browser takes a while; closing the browser and starting a new one immediately after will tell you that Firefox is already running.

Back when it was Firefox versus Internet Explorer, things were simpler — and not only because IE was the worst browser in the history of everything — no, Firefox was the open source, extensible browser that took on the giant. It was David vs. Goliath, and David had a chance. We rooted for the browser, and overlooked the few issues there were, because after all, it was still parsecs ahead of IE. Things have changed, and I’m almost sorry they have. Out there is Chrome, which through Chromium is also open source. Chrome has better speed and memory handling. It’s got Google behind it, and soon it has extensions. At some point, the only thing keeping me on Firefox will be the icon, which isn’t even the sole product of someone I know any more. It’ll be a tearful goodbye.

Quick Thoughts On Mozillas Firefox 3.7 Theme Revamp Mockup

FF_3.7

The next Firefox browser, 3.7, is apparently scheduled for a theme revamp. As indicated by the above mockup, Mozilla is pondering radical changes (see all mockups). Some thoughts:

  • Clearly, Mozilla looks to embrace Windows’ glass interface to make the browser look so much the more platform-native. The idea is nice, but the current implementation looks as sloppy as Internet Explorer 7s.
  • The new buttondesigns for Back, Forward, Stop and so on are small rounded rectangles extremely reminiscent of those found in Google Chrome. The idea, no doubt, has been to tone down the distractive qualities the moreso multi-colored icons Firefox 3.5 has, but I hope and expect the final designs to be more distinct to Firefox. Anything else would be a disservice to an innovative browser.
  • The new tab design is uninspired and the tabs are still below the addressbar. Either Firefox should do something radical like putting the tabs on the side, or take notes from the exciting resizable tabs in the Opera 10 beta. Otherwise, what’s the point in redesigning the tabs at all.
  • Ditching the file menu was scoffed at when Internet Explorer 7 did it back in the day, now browser vendors are scrambling to remove as many menus as possible. What’s interesting is that they all seem to end up with the same new icon-menu-design. Two buttons, outlined icons, “Tools” and “Page”. If Mozilla does this, we’ll pretty much have the same menus in both Firefox, Chrome and Safari. It’s not that it’s a bad idea per se, I hoped Firefox would do this ages ago, but it does feel a bit uninspired.
  • There are still two inputfields. The addressbar and the search box. Since the searchbox is Mozillas primary source of revenue (Google pays for each search), and the revamped addressbar for Firefox 3 (dubbed “The Awesomebar” — with its type-to-go bookmark search features it’s arguably Firefox’ best feature), it makes sense to combine the two into the Super-Awesomebar. Searchable bookmarks, AND a source of revenue. Mozilla, I dare you!
  • In this mockup, the “Page” menu is in context of the tabs (and the page). Yet, it feels dislocated and odd. Once again, tabs on top would’a been the more logical way to go.

[Update]: That was quick (and slightly stupid). You can now skin Firefox 3.5 with a 3.7-mockup-look-alike.