Firefox add-ons gets an overhaul

new-addons-manager

As pointed out by mozillalinks, Mozilla is planning to do a major overhaul of their add-on manager UI for Firefox.  The new add-on manager will change from the existing popup window, to its own tab. 

The add-on manager will move from the existing top navigation to side-tabs, keeping the same list view of available and installed add-ons.  Users will be able to manage their languages, search engines, extensions, themes and plug-ins all in the same window, being able to search for addition add-ons through the built in Mozilla search.

The add-on manager now includes search engines, where previously only available on its own, apart from the add-on window.  Mozilla has not announced their default list of search engines yet, but will allow a undo and restore search engine option.

Some of the functionality and UI isn't final yet, and is currently very buggy.

image courtesy of mozillalinks.org

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49 Comments

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Can't wait. Hopefully the also make some decent improvements in performance to remove the welterweight champ of its belt. (Chrome)

Good, I hope we will still see it. Looks to be very good if you ask me and should have been implemented a lot earlier.

Hopefully, when it eventually arrives, it will also do away with extensions putting their own menus in Tools.

I like this. If they were to move everything into a tab (bookmarks, history, downloads), the interface would be much more consistent.

They should implement a sidebar by default. This way one can manage all extensions, themes, etc. without having to install a sidebar extensions on our own.

Tabs for configuration or other things, I don't like it much.

Setnom said,
It would be also nice if we didn't need to restart Firefox for the themes and extensions to work.

That's a feature of 4.0 See: Jetpack

em_te said,
Now the Firefox tabs are above the location bar? I'm no usability advocate, but if Simon Thomas has taught us anything about usability, it is that the location bar should be first and the Firefox tabs should be second, lest they follow the path of Google Chrome and suffer from what Simon coins as Fit Law.

http://www.theusabilityblog.co...ome-browser-and-fittss-law/

This UI isn't what they've been blogging about, so I think this is just a work in progress at this point. Mozilla even stated that they do not like the tabs being at the top, but I think they are allowing customization, as that has always been their strength...

em_te said,
Now the Firefox tabs are above the location bar? I'm no usability advocate, but if Simon Thomas has taught us anything about usability, it is that the location bar should be first and the Firefox tabs should be second, lest they follow the path of Google Chrome and suffer from what Simon coins as Fit Law.

http://www.theusabilityblog.co...ome-browser-and-fittss-law/


If you were to move the taskbar to the top of the screen, you wouldn't expect anything to appear above the taskbar, would you? For me, the tab bar is like a secondary taskbar, and it makes sense to have the tabs on top, above the location bar.

em_te said,
Now the Firefox tabs are above the location bar? I'm no usability advocate, but if Simon Thomas has taught us anything about usability, it is that the location bar should be first and the Firefox tabs should be second, lest they follow the path of Google Chrome and suffer from what Simon coins as Fit Law.

http://www.theusabilityblog.co...ome-browser-and-fittss-law/

What is wrong with Chrome? the attempt with Chrome is to bind the address to the tab so there is a strong association where as there is a disassociation when you put the address at the top thus the relationship between the address and tab is broken.


The tab at the top creates the appearance of a continuous document with the address as part of that document rather than disassociated with it. I don't know what Simon Thomas background is but just because he has a blog doesn't give him a higher status when his argument is flawed to begin with.

Edited by rawr_boy81, May 3 2010, 4:25am :

this is nice, i notice these browsers are moving towards a clean & elegant look like chrome, opera as hopped onto the wagon, now firefox.... wud luv to see wat the IE boys have cooking... personally i think a zune (metro) look wud do wonders for IE 9...

k33nz said,
this is nice, i notice these browsers are moving towards a clean & elegant look like chrome, opera as hopped onto the wagon, now firefox.... wud luv to see wat the IE boys have cooking... personally i think a zune (metro) look wud do wonders for IE 9...

I completely agree with that idea about IE9. If IE9 looks or functions anything like the Zune software, I am sold.

Calum said,
I completely agree with that idea about IE9. If IE9 looks or functions anything like the Zune software, I am sold.

Meh, I'd sooner see Microsoft complete Media Foundation and have a single Media Player with Zune fully conforming to MTP specification instead of it using its own weird protocol. Call me a little anal but I'd sooner have one application that does it well than splitting hairs like what we see in the case of two or three applications that should be combined into one.

btw, I like Media Play 12 - it is simple and without the fluff that previous versions layered on.

Looks a bit like the Internet Explorer one.. At first I hoped this mean Firefox was introducing some new standards or rules because I've noticed Firefox getting buggier and more buggier it seems as my time with it progresses, I've used the same add-ons for ages now, can't remember the last time I added a new one but it always seems to be traceable to an add-on (particularly Foxytunes, winamp will hang when I close it so firefox freezes) or a few random crashes lately that I'm not sure about...

I just wonder if it could end up going a similar way to Flash being the issue, not the browser (obviously in this case replace flash with add-ons)

Change for the sake of change? Why is it any better because it's in a tab? Gonna move all other settings to a tab?

I suppose switching between addons.mozilla.org and the add-ons tab will be a little easier.

DARKFiB3R said,
Change for the sake of change? Why is it any better because it's in a tab? Gonna move all other settings to a tab?

I suppose switching between addons.mozilla.org and the add-ons tab will be a little easier.

Yeah, I don't really see the benefit honestly...

DARKFiB3R said,
Change for the sake of change? Why is it any better because it's in a tab? Gonna move all other settings to a tab?

I suppose switching between addons.mozilla.org and the add-ons tab will be a little easier.


I think the point in this is that there will no longer be a need to go to addons.mozilla.com. Having it in its own tab will give you the whole tab height/width to search for and install/use the addons you desire, from within the addons tab. Makes a lot of sense to me.

So there are add-ons, extensions and plugins. Well done, now all you need are themes, looks, styles and personas. Oh, wait.

What a mess.

Examinus said,
So there are add-ons, extensions and plugins. Well done, now all you need are themes, looks, styles and personas. Oh, wait.

What a mess.

What's messy about it? It's simple... There's Extensions (Stylish, Fission, etc), Themes (Strata4, TwentyTen, etc), and Plugins (Flash, Java, Silverlight, etc). How would you do it?

xiphi said,
What's messy about it? It's simple... There's Extensions (Stylish, Fission, etc), Themes (Strata4, TwentyTen, etc), and Plugins (Flash, Java, Silverlight, etc). How would you do it?

Not like that.

xiphi said,

Care to share how you would change it?

I can't think of a better solution, but that certainly doesn't mean the current one is the best. They obviously share the same opinion and can't decide what to do with them.

It's about time Firefox scraps everything and a new Phoenix emerges that is fast and sleek. History is forever repeating itself. Firefox is going down the Mozilla Navigator route.

Examinus said,

I can't think of a better solution, but that certainly doesn't mean the current one is the best. They obviously share the same opinion and can't decide what to do with them.


If you can't think of a better solution, how do you know this isn't the best? There are only extensions, plugins, search engines, languages and themes (and personas, but they come under themes), not all what you mentioned. Plugins are different to extensions, as are the search engines. 'Add-ons' is the general term for all of these. What are you on about when you refer to 'styles' as a term Mozilla officially use for an add-on?

Calum said,

If you can't think of a better solution, how do you know this isn't the best? There are only extensions, plugins, search engines, languages and themes (and personas, but they come under themes), not all what you mentioned. Plugins are different to extensions, as are the search engines. 'Add-ons' is the general term for all of these. What are you on about when you refer to 'styles' as a term Mozilla officially use for an add-on?

Because I don't define the qualities of something based on my ability to surpass them. I can very easily point to something and say it's rubbish without having a better alternative.

I can't think of another browser that has made such a mess with its expansion management.

Examinus said,
So there are add-ons, extensions and plugins. Well done, now all you need are themes, looks, styles and personas. Oh, wait.

What a mess.

Exactly. Extension should be called "Installed Add-ons" and plugins should just go away and be under some sub category of "Installed Add-ons.

Edited by warwagon, May 3 2010, 12:48am :

Examinus said,
So there are add-ons, extensions and plugins. Well done, now all you need are themes, looks, styles and personas. Oh, wait.

What a mess.

Plugins are the legacy NPAPI-based addons. Extensions=XUL addons. They could do away with the lame personas in favor of the more powerful themes.

warwagon said,

Exactly. Extension should be called "Installed Add-ons" and plugins should just go away and be under some sub category of "Installed Add-ons.


I don't think the issue is with extensions vs add-ons, because add-ons function in a completely different way than extensions, technically speaking. Addons also imply completely different attack vectors than extensions, when talking of security. They're simply two different beasts. Addons run executable code, extensions are script-based. I don't think it's a big deal anyway, because most users just own one or two addons at most.


No, then I dislike this whole personas vs themes things more. I wish they'd improve the personas support further, and do away with themes, and then let personas becomes the new "themes", themes requiring no restarts.


Then they'd only have to do a similar thing with extensions too as for restarts, and be up to par with Google Chrome.

Edited by Northgrove, May 3 2010, 9:13am :

Northgrove said,

I don't think the issue is with extensions vs add-ons, because add-ons function in a completely different way than extensions, technically speaking. Addons also imply completely different attack vectors than extensions, when talking of security. They're simply two different beasts. Addons run executable code, extensions are script-based.

Right, but then try to express that in a simple, intuitive, attractive GUI and problem solved. The issue is they haven't, and this article is evidence that they continue to fail to do that.

That's why it's a mess.

Examinus said,

I can't think of a better solution, but that certainly doesn't mean the current one is the best. They obviously share the same opinion and can't decide what to do with them.

It was only backed out because there was a problem Macs only.

Gary7 said,

It was only backed out because there was a problem Macs only.

This is something they have changed with each major release.

Ci7 said,
it has been backed off in the current nightly

yup, latest nightly the addons tab page seems to have vanished and it's back to the old way. I hope it's just a glitch.

Inklin said,

yup, latest nightly the addons tab page seems to have vanished and it's back to the old way. I hope it's just a glitch.


No, it's an official backout, it was too buggy. It's currently in the hourlies still.

Owen Williams said,

No, it's an official backout, it was too buggy. It's currently in the hourlies still.

I see, it is after all an alpha

Inklin said,

yup, latest nightly the addons tab page seems to have vanished and it's back to the old way. I hope it's just a glitch.

Coz it had two scroll bars in "Extensions" tab and one could not use Nightly Tester Tool with it to override compatibility issues .