Our little 'bird is all grown up

When I started using Thunderbird, I must admit that I had to force myself. Stephen Horlander and I were creating the Pinstripe theme and I was happily using Apple’s Mail program. A year ago Thunderbird felt unfinished (I can hear you say “duh”), but I needed that dogfood taste to inform the design of Pinstripe.

At first I found it hard to get around the “Netscape Messenger 4” feel of Thunderbird. I wish that the UI had been burnt down and redesigned from the ground up as Firefox was. There seem to be many opportunities for simplification in the menus, preferences and settings windows. Perhaps this is coming.

Recently a raft of really useful features have been added like saved search folders (aka virtual folders), RSS feed reading, and message grouping. As we approach Thunderbird 1.0, despite the “legacy” feel of the UI, I find myself really liking Thunderbird instead of merely tolerating it.

Apologies to Scott MacGregor, but this is meant as a sincere compliment 🙂

Firefox 1.0: The Beginning

Even though I’ve been working closely with Firefox and Thunderbird for over a year now, I’m amazed at the attention it’s receiving. Not actually surprised though. I’ve always thought of Mozilla as being full of potential. It’s great to see Mozilla technology being given its due.

My own involvement with Mozilla has been very rewarding so far. Thank you to Ben Goodger and Dave Hyatt for bringing me into Firefox. Thanks to Scott MacGregor who helped me land the first version of Pinstripe Thunderbird in CVS when I barely knew what I was doing. Thanks of course to Stephen Horlander who has been a great collaborator. He has brought great style and attention to detail to the Firefox and Thunderbird themes.

What’s next? Well, it’s easy to design something to death. I’d like to take a step back from the Firefox themes for a little while, move on to something else and then come back and consider Firefox with a fresh dose of perspective. I’d like to write a style guide for Pinstripe/Winstripe for extension developers. There’s been talk of a Thunderbird theme for Windows and maybe even a Nvu theme.

Get Firefox 1.0 Now! FTP | BitTorrent


A little over a week ago, Ben informed me of the decision to push back the Mac-specific Firefox work to a 1.1 release that would come out in March 2005.

Firefox 1.0 was going to be released on Windows and Linux first. After the Windows version was out the door, we (meaning Ben and the few Mac hackers who work on Firefox) would focus on the Mac user experience to bring it closer to the level of polish and integration that OS X users expect.

But the Mac-specific work will take a while – with the holidays it could easily take until early 2005. Ben and crew want to merge the work that’s been going on in the Firefox branch with the Mozilla trunk as soon as possible to get on with the post-1.0 development.

Chris Hofmann wrote:

Ben, Asa and I met to review a plan for synchronizing the Mac 1.0 with the Windows and Linux releases on 11/9. We looked at feedback and satisfaction data from version tracker and other sources, recent Mac specific bugs fixed and decided to move forward with a plan to ship Mac Firefox 1.0 on 11/9. The hard and anecdotal data shows the satisfaction rating of Mac Firefox to be very close to Safari, and we see many users choosing Firefox over Safari which is a clear sign that we should be calling it 1.0.

This is disappointing but I agree with the reasoning behind the decision. Hopefully we will be able to use the extra time to make Firefox 1.1 the best browser on the Mac platform. Of course you can help! Look over the bugs targetted at Firefox 1.0mac and file requests if you think something is missing.

Firefox 1.0almost

Firefox 1.0 Release Candidate 1 is out. There isn’t anything flashy to talk about in this version except hundreds of bug fixes. Version 1.0 for Windows and Linux is scheduled for release on November 9. The Mac version will get special attention and come out sometime later.

Between 1.0RC1 and 1.0 I’m going to finish up tweaking the Windows and Linux theme. Here are a few of my priorities. Feel free to suggest other theme tweaks that should make it into 1.0.

Find Bar Feng Shui


I have always thought the UI for Firefox’s Find Toolbar has room for improvement. Recently the Match Case checkbox was added to the bar, increasing the amount of horizontal space it requires. This becomes a problem when the find bar is used in the Help window, where a portion is clipped off unless you widen the window.

I made a Photoshop mockup of how an alternate find toolbar might look. This probably isn’t *the answer* – just starting point for a discussion. What do you like and dislike about the find toolbar, and what should we do about it?

"Live Bookmarks" is not RSS

A few days ago we changed Firefox’s Live Bookmarks status icon to something less geeky.

Live Bookmarks status icon before and after

As people rightly pointed out, Live Bookmarks shouldn’t pretend to be RSS. The status bar icon should not represent multiple flavors of a syndication format. It should represent the Live Bookmarks feature.

Here are some of Stephen Horlander’s original sketches for a replacement Live Bookmark icon

Live Bookmark icon sketches by Stephen Horlander

Initially the RSS button design was suggested by members of the Mozilla Visual Identity team. At the time, it seemed natural that we’d want to use something similar to the semi-ubiquitous orange RSS chiclet found on web sites that offer news feeds. I even rationalized that RSS is becoming an almost generic term for news feeds, and even though Live Bookmarks supports RSS and Atom, an icon that said “RSS” wouldn’t confuse people. What the heck, Apple does it too!

But that’s a poor excuse. You shouldn’t need to know what RSS or Atom is to use Live Bookmarks.

Pretty Widgets, Part 2


Here’s a followup on my attempt to make the HTML widgets on Mac Firefox presentable. I’ve had to make some compromises here to get the widgets to look nice, for instance I force the background-color and -image on buttons. And text box borders usually use my colors rather than the ones specified by the web page CSS. For these reasons these styles would probably not be acceptable for inclusion in Firefox, but in most cases I’ve found these to be more comfortable than the primitive default widgets.

Instructions: Close Firefox. Right-click on your Firefox application, choose “Show Package Contents”, and then open the Contents > MacOS > res folder. Make a backup copy of your platform-forms.css file. Then copy these files into the res folder:

Important: If you followed my instructions in the previous blog post to modify your userContent.css file, either delete it or remove my additional code before trying out the new and improved widgets.

A little bug: I’m not sure how I can get rid of the black border around the inside of the selected select box. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for improvements!

Silliness is its own reward (Updated with extra mirth!)

Looking over the selection of Firefox buttons at the new SpreadFirefox site, I was inspired to make this:

Get Fiberfox!

To the obvious question, I say: Why not? This is an audience participation blog post. Warm up your Photoshops and your MacPaints and lets see your take on the little browser that could!

UPDATE: This comes from Scott @ techory.com:

Get Tirefox - All season browser

He has another one on his blog. Cool stuff!

UPDATE 2: Daniel Keep sent this one through email. Thanks Daniel 🙂

Get Fiberfox!