May 1, 2014

My favourite Firefox UI change justifications

It’s Australis time! Let the justifications for auto-updating your user interface to something completely different without warning begin!

We didn’t make the location/URL bar unmovable, we simply removed that ability from the default install of Firefox.

You can rearrange the nav & URL bar by adding items to the left of it in Customize mode. A bit hacky, but it works.

I’m not asking you to love it, but I hope you’ll play around with it and see if it can’t be a new home base for you. If it can’t, hey, try another browser.

There’s a lot of reasons we made the tabs curvier. One is that the modern web is becoming more fluid and organic and less boxy and robotic, and it’s (arguably) a Good Thing.

Interface designers (or whatever eye-rolling term the industry prefers to use these days), please be aware that we might not dislike the entire set of changes — some may actually be justified and qualify as a net improvement — but remember that you’ve been dogfooding these changes for months if not years, and many of those changes are purely subjective based on a relatively small circle of like-minded people. You have been subjected to gradual shift. Now the sum of those changes have been dumped on hundreds of millions of users without warning, and you expect people who have been using the product for longer than you’ve been a member of the Mozilla community to adapt or leave the product that again, they’ve been using for longer than you have.

A slow gradual shift in UI design can be halted and reversed where necessary. This is the basis for iterative change and improvement. An instantaneous, monolithic change is so much easier to justify keeping because we spent so much time and money on this and undoing it would be really hard now.

I believe the many commenters on this long-running issue — going all the way back to the strange, demonstrably illogical, pattern-breaking mess that was Firefox 4 — are right in saying that the Firefox UI team’s influence to change significant amounts of the interface without restraint should be curtailed. No other team has as much power to affect the public’s perception of the browser. None. The technical team may introduce WebRTC or another more controversial web-facing feature, but that is constrained, has little to no effect on other features, is easily ignored, and most likely can be disabled if necessary. Large-scale UI changes cannot be disabled or easily reverted, are not constrained, demonstrably break addons and existing usage patterns, and disable or remove long-term user-facing features (such as the ability to move the address bar or back/forward buttons).

When I was testing Win32 webkit nightly builds I could switch the web engine behind the scenes without affecting the UI. Give me that and you can let your UI designers go wild. My UI is clean, organised how I like, keyboard accessible, fast, and my addons work exactly as I like. I don’t need curved tabs because the web is increasingly fluid and organic.

There is a certain irony in being told that simple features of the interface are being removed because they’re better provided by an addon, but then a monolithic, significantly different UI design isn’t packaged as an addon (what happened to “complete themes”?).

posted by Andrew

September 14, 2012

Launched: JSRage.com and JSSwirl.com

Just a quick post to announce that I’ve thrown two of my (ongoing) JavaScript projects onto their own sites:


A JavaScript & canvas, in-progress clone of Streets of Rage from the Genesis/Mega drive. Previously blogged about here and here.


An animated, configurable, spirograph-style graphics generator that can be easily embedded into a site (code generator included).

There’s also a general ‘JS experiments’ domain that I’m putting together to contain a bunch of smaller, yet still interesting projects I’ve worked on since getting into Canvas. That’ll launch soon.

posted by Andrew

August 16, 2011

And these people run political parties

From News.com.au’s Gay marriage should be ridiculed, says Independent Bob Katter:

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said his four daughters would be affected if same sex marriage was allowed.

We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband and I want that to happen for them.

I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me.”

Lol Kitten doesn't understand your logic. What?

You don’t have to support gay marriage or those pink commie lesbo liberals (who hate this country and/or want to convert our children, etc) to see that this statement makes no sense whatsoever.

posted by Andrew

June 13, 2011

Why I’m Dreamhost’s corporate shill

From this month’s Dreamhost newsletter / promo robot:

We now have the ability to act as a domain registrar for a total of 21 top-level-domains.

[amusing self-deprecatory rambling] …

$49.95/year: .mn

Then, further down said email:

posted by Andrew

February 16, 2011

Oh Kotaku, how I miss your…

… content.

Wouldn’t be so bad if Gawker’s individual sites hosted the JS files since NoScript wouldn’t block everything by default. Did someone skip user-testing?

posted by Andrew

February 8, 2011

Updated semi-useful, half-done JavaScript 2D game engine (featuring Streets of Rage 2 characters)

New version’s up. It’s much more developed than when I last blogged about it, but there’s still plenty to do. I’ll write about it in detail later.

Great in: FF 4, Chrome 6+
Good in: FF 3.6 (a bit slow)
Dodgy in: Safari 4 (audio samples are always reloaded from the network, otherwise it’s ok), Opera 11 (input problems; the browser thinks the numpad keys are the same as the numbers above QWERTY).

posted by Andrew