Neil's Place

January 21, 2003

6:42 PM Customizable toolbars coming to Mozilla soon?

[We are concentrating] our efforts on porting the Phoenix [toolbar customization] over and adapting it - UI Spec [PDF]

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January 20, 2003

11:23 PM More documentation needed

There's been a few people lately interested on customizing and deploying Mozilla in a company. Looking at some of the comments, there certainly is a need for documentation and tools to help.

Back in the Netscape Communicator days, we used a collection of tools to handle building customized versions of Communciator. These handled building the preference files, the netscape.cfg file for locked preferences and branding, constructing the installer, code signing, and modifying the dial-up account creation process. Documentation was provided in the form of two 200-300 page manuals and a pile of on-line help. I spent 3 years working with these tools.

I'm not expecting Mozilla to be able to provide that level of help any time soon. But it would be nice to see some general documentation about how to distribute customized Mozillas (or customized Phoenixes). Administrators don't really want information that tells one to edit various files manually or write scripts. Simple instructions and simple tools to automatically deal with complex steps are necessary.

Comments ( 2 )

January 14, 2003

10:43 PM On Tabbed Browsing and Desktop Habits

Did you know that Mozilla has tabbed browsing? Of course you did. There are lots of people that use Mozilla's tabbed browsing. Or a similar such thing in another browser. But there are many people who don't, and can't figure out why tabs are so popular.

Well, whether you like them or not depends a lot on how you use your computer. If you're like me, you have 5 or 6 applications open at the same time. In general, I have a file manager-like window open, a mail window, an audio player in the corner, perhaps a few instant messaging windows scattered about, a few terminal/telnet sessions open, a text editor and some browser windows.

Now that means, on average I have 8 to 12 windows open at once. However, the taskbar, dock, or whatever, gets a little full at this point. It gets too inconvenient to use it as it involves a lot of searching around. So I pretty much stopped using it. Fortunately, I have a 19-inch monitor so I can see everything at once, so I don't need the taskbar. I know where the mail window is because it's always in the upper-right corner of the screen.

Having less windows on screen is convenient for me as it means I can see a tiny bit of every window at once. I need a text editor? I just click on that bit of blue covered up by a bunch of other windows. I know that since I've set my text editor up to have a blue background. I can use spatial memory and colour memory to know exactly where every window is on the screen. With tabbed browsing, I can lower the number of windows on screen and keep order to my desktop, since I know where the browser window is. Thus, it reduces the amount of time it takes to deal with other applications as there aren't 10 browser windows covering them.

However, there are some people that keep all their windows maximized. Do tabbed browsers have value there? Not really. In the case, the tab bar is just duplicating the taskbar.

If you only usually have three or four windows open at once, tabbed browsers aren't as useful for you either, since you can just see the list of windows on the taskbar.

Of course, I'm generalizing a bit, but each person can think of their own reasons for using tabs or not using them. The point is that if you don't like tabs, it probably has a lot more to do with the way that you use computer and organize your desktop (your desktop habits, if you will), than with any fault of tabbed browsing itself.

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January 13, 2003

11:09 PM 101

I've inspired someone to try to come up with 101 Reasons Why Java Is Better Than .NET.

Comments ( 0 )

January 9, 2003

7:56 PM 101 modified things about Mozilla

101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot has been updated!

This version addresses various issues people had with the original list, explains why I chose certain items, includes links to relevant specifications, and provides brief instructions on how to enable certain features.

I haven't gotten around to updating the last 20 items or so, but I thought I'd update what I have so far.

Comments ( 1 )

4:31 PM Not the browser

Interesting discussion on browsers and Watson/Sherlock-like tools. Similar to what I've been working on. I guess it's finally time to start writing the big piece of information about it.

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January 8, 2003

9:27 PM XUL printing

Some work has been started to get XUL documents printable.

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7:17 PM Usability Quiz

The following are diagrams of the controls inside the three adjacent elevators in a real, existing building (where I currently work). Can you determine the usability problem that the elevator panels have?

Three images are provided. For the best time figuring it out, try to avoid viewing the images together, since if you were really in the elevator, you would only see one at a time.

Left Elevator
Middle Elevator
Right Elevator

For a bonus million points, see if you know which building this is. Hint: you won't.

Comments ( 31 )