Prefbar for Firefox2

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Preferences Toolbar again recently. Grey Hodge blogged about the lack of an updated Prefbar install for Firefox2, and asked if anyone knew anything. I felt he might be interested in knowing what was really going on, so I resurrected a post from my old blog (I never got around to copying them all over) where I explained what happened with the Prefbar project and why I don’t work on it anymore. A lot of people seem to have found their way to this blog from there, many of whom have commented that I should really just start a new project (or a fork of the old one) with a different name and let the other guy do (or not do) what he wants with “his” Prefbar. I am definitely considering doing this, and although I might not have time to do any serious development on it until after the holidays, I plan to start soliciting feature suggestions and feedback in the very near future. In fact, if you’ve got anything you’d like to see in a prefbar-like next generation firefox preference and option management tool, please add them as a comment to this post. Name suggestions would also be appreciated.

In the mean time, we need to get the existing Prefbar working with Firefox 2 as quickly as possible. I have a version, available for download, that seems to mostly work. All I did was change the maximum version number field in the installer to 2.0 (it was 1.5), but as there weren’t any major backend XUL or preferences engine changes that I know of between 1.5 and 2.0, that might be enough. Please check it out and let me know if it installs and works correctly on your machine. All such reports can be sent as blog comments (or through the XulPlanet contact form) until I get something better figured out.

Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm and support.

Aa

Firefox 2.0

Well, 2.0 is finally out. For real this time. Am I the only one who’s seeing the bug where the scrolling in the chat windows in gmail is broken in 2.0? Other than that everything seems great, and I already couldn’t live without the automatic inline spell checking.

Mozilla Accessibility Summit

I was all planning on posting a huge long summary of the Mozilla Accessibility Summit in Boston earlier in the month, but I came back with the flu. By the time I got over it, everybody else had pretty much already covered everything in other blogs. Guess I’ll try again next year…

Attention Extension Authors!

For anyone who wrote an extension for Firefox 1.5, remember that now is the time to update your theme for compatibility with Firefox 2.0. Often this will be as simple as running a verification test and then changing the maximum version information in your install.rdf file; other themes might require some slight fixing, but nothing big. Writing your updated version now (and getting it listed in your update rdf file) will ensure a seamless transition for everyone who uses your extension when Firefox 2.0 final is released (real soon now).

XulPlanet Downtime

XulPlanet will likely be unavailable later today for a period of a few minutes to a little over an hour while we perform some system maintenance and move the server to a new location. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

PS. This post spell checked with the built in spell checking feature of Firefox 2.0! I’ve only been using it three days and I already can’t live without it. Kudos to whoever finally got this landed.

Update: Going down now…

Update 2: … and we’re back. We should be good to go now.

FYI

Note to Spammers: I DON’T SPEAK RUSSIAN!

Whoever told you I did was scamming you.

Firefox 2 Beta 2

So I finally got time to get myself a copy of Firefox 2 Beta 2 yesterday. There are several high profile changes, but it’s mostly the same browser we know and love. Here are some first impressions:

The most obvious change is the new theme, the “Visual Refresh” as it’s been called. Right now I pretty much hate it. Then again, I’ve hated just about every major visual change at first, so I’ll have to give myself a few weeks to get used to it before I can really say. I do think that the lack of visual indication of mouseover on the toolbar buttons might turn out to be a usability or accessibility problem though.

Part of the new theme is the new tab bar, which looks somewhat different and now has close buttons on each tab (instead of just one in the corner). There’s also a drop down menu in the far right which gives you a list of all open tabs and also (perhaps its more useful feature at this point) prevents you from accidentally closing your last tab when you instinctively click where the old tab close button used to be.

The second most visible change is the automatic spell checking in html text areas (such as this blog post). It’s fast, sooth, and works great. I love it. This is one of those features that we’ve been talking about since before there was a Firefox, so it’s nice to see it finally happen.

I can’t say for sure, but it looks like the loading image placeholder icon is different, and I swear I’m seeing it a lot more than I used to. Maybe it’s a Cairo thing.

The options/preferences dialog is significantly change organizationally, which means that all your favorite options have changed places. This is another one of those features that I really hate right now, but only because I’m used to the way it was before. I’ll have to give the designers the benefit of the doubt here and assume that they thought this through before changing it, and the the new organization will indeed prove to be better in the end.

The extensions and themes have been moves into a single tabbed dialog called “Add-ons” (which is nice) and there is now a “Manage Search Engines” Dialog for search plugins. I’m not quite sure why the search engines can’t be part of the aforementioned add-ons dialog, but at least it’s there.

The go button is back, albeit in a somewhat less intrusive form, but it’s now (as far as I can tell) impossible to remove without killing the entire location bar, so I guess we’ll have to get used to it being there. I always used to take it off, but I do think that usability (especially among less experienced users ) is improved be having it, so I won’t complain too bad. Besides, if I really hate it I’m sure I can kill it in userChrome pretty quickly.

Anyway, there are quite a few more changes (and plenty of things “under the hood” that aren’t so obvious) but those will have to wait for another day. Overall I’d give it an A+, but then again I’m probably a little bit biased. ;]

Journalistic Professionalism (or lack thereof)

Recently a student reporter stopped by my office to interview me for what eventually became this article in the online newspaper Utah State Today. She seemed pretty good at the time, but in the actual article managed to (a) spell my name wrong, even though I made it a specific point that it’s Andersen and not Anderson, and (b) include lots of phrases in quotation marks that look like direct quotes from me that are really her paraphrasing (usually badly) things that I told her. Aren’t there ethics rules against the latter?

This doesn’t really give me a lot of faith in the quality and accuracy of the rest of the production…

Blue Lecture of Death?

No, it’s not a parody, it’s not satire, Microsoft has designed a new high school (which they call “The School of the Future”) for the city of Philadelphia. It’s all based around (what they consider) futuristic technology and the Microsoft management style. I’ll refrain from making any of the hundreds of obvious jokes, but I can’t help but wonder, (a) What were they thinking? and (b) What would a school designed by Google look like?

Why is this a front page story?

Breaking News:

Leading astronomers say Pluto is no longer defined as a planet. - CNN

Meanwhile:

Leading Americans say they really don’t care what a bunch of bickering astronomers thinks.

Technically, tomatoes are fruits, but even the supreme court agreed that how the general public classifies them is much more important than how some crazy group of scientists does.

Somehow I think Pluto is going to remain a planet to everyone but these guys for a very very long time.

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