Firefox 'Australis' UI revamp now in Mozilla's beta test channel

Mozilla may have put their plans to release a Modern UI version of Firefox for Windows 8 on hold, but the company is still moving forward with a major revamp of its main web browser. This week, the "Australis" version of Firefox entered the beta testing channel.

The beta build shows off what will become the new user interface for Firefox when it becomes part of the public build for the browser later this spring, most likely as Firefox 29. Mozilla's blog states:

We’ve changed the tab structure and functionality in Firefox to enable you to focus on your Web content. Tabs have a more fluid and streamlined shape, sit higher up in the browser and tabs that are not in use have been visually de-emphasized. We’ve also moved the bookmark manager next to the bookmark star in your Firefox toolbar to make it easy to save your favorite sites for one click access.

In addition, the Firefox beta includes the new "Customization" mode which will allow users to drag and drop features, add-ons, and tools anywhere in the browser. Finally, the new Firefox Sync feature will help users keep the same settings on the browser when they switch from a desktop to a notebook to a mobile device.

Source: Mozilla | Image via Mozilla

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Walmart selling 'Titanfall' Xbox One bundle for $450

Next Story

Microsoft boosts SharePoint Online OneDrive for Business storage to 1TB

76 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Firefox looks very bad, so this is a welcome move. I might start using it again. The only reason i'm not using it right now is because it's hurting my eyes.

I don't want to bash on anyone, but...

What the hell is the big deal about this change? After years of seeing changes like these in the world of software, it's quite obvious (and most of the time understandable) that software is becoming more and more simple on the surface, resulting in more appeal for new and less tech savvy users/consumers who don't know or care to know about the powerful internals of that software.

Personally I don't see the UI as particularly worse than before, except the curves on tabs and the fact that they don't utilize the space at the top of the window, which can easily be changed with an extensions.

Those who know how much the browser is tweakable can still do the things they did before, so what exactly is the big deal, I would really love to know...

Gornot said,

Those who know how much the browser is tweakable can still do the things
they did before, so what exactly is the big deal, I would really love to know...


When it comes to customisation, the thing is you actually CAN'T do the things you did before at
least without installing certain third party add-ons such as "Classic Theme Restorer". By default
with Australis, it's impossible to put the navigation buttons back in the positions where they're
meant to be ... Back Forward Reload Stop Home ... directly to the left of the Location Bar.

Australis is presented as a major enhancement to the GUI, when it is in fact a diminishment.

I'm very surprised that they moved from the ugly "boxy" GUI that MS is pushing with metro/modern to using smooth curves again. Although I like this look better, I detest the fact that the bookmark "star" does not allow me to save a URL in a specific subfolder. Now all Bookmarks are saved as "unsorted". There is no longer an option or prompt to pick the folder I want! That sucks!

m4rco 7070 said,
I'm very surprised that they moved from the ugly "boxy" GUI that MS is pushing with metro/modern to using smooth curves again. Although I like this look better, I detest the fact that the bookmark "star" does not allow me to save a URL in a specific subfolder. Now all Bookmarks are saved as "unsorted". There is no longer an option or prompt to pick the folder I want! That sucks!

Try double left clicking the star on the url you want to bookmark, you then get the choice of where to put it...Hopefully this may change in a future build.

This is the same way the previous bookmark star worked anyway... 1 click automatically sends it to unsorted, two clicks allows you to specify.

Looks good, yes, but the mechanics are a little confusing--I liked the old style better, where you could actually click a tab to switch to it. Now, you have to click the drop-down arrow. Okay, it's not much, but I admit it--I'm a lazy b*****d. :)

robertwnielsen said,
Looks good, yes, but the mechanics are a little confusing--I liked the old style better, where you could actually click a tab to switch to it. Now, you have to click the drop-down arrow. Okay, it's not much, but I admit it--I'm a lazy b*****d. :)

Clicking on a tab to change to it works for me, not actually sure what your on about :s

Riggers said,

Clicking on a tab to change to it works for me, not actually sure what your on about :s

Riggers,

I found the problem--it was the 'Tab Mix Plus' add-on. Once I disabled that, my problem went away. :)

robertwnielsen said,

Riggers,

I found the problem--it was the 'Tab Mix Plus' add-on. Once I disabled that, my problem went away. :)

Nice one (Y) Despite a few being against/aghast by this newish direction i for one am quite likeing it and i`m a lazy basket as well :)

Riggers said,

Nice one (Y) Despite a few being against/aghast by this newish direction i for one am quite likeing it and i`m a lazy basket as well :)

Yeah, I kinda like it myself, even if it is a Chrome knock-off. :)

I`m also liking it, it`s a shame the show your bookmarks and bookmark this page buttons seem welded together, it`s easy to hit the wrong one.

I do hope Mozilla offer's an option to default to the soon to be "classic" theme.
But make the default theme to be the current one.

Personally, I'm liking the new theme style myself.

It's remarkably hilarious how people get all bent out of shape over such UI change like this.

I mean... MY GOD.. you'd think some had just walked muddy boots all over your priceless Persian rug.

OH NO WHAT EVER WILL WE DO!!!

bunch of sissys.

Lots of people got bent out of shape with Win8's Start Screen too. Just how it is. Some like the changes, some don't, doesn't mean the latter are "sissys".

Romero said,
Lots of people got bent out of shape with Win8's Start Screen too. Just how it is. Some like the changes, some don't, doesn't mean the latter are "sissys".

oh yea, I don't mind the base concept of the start screen but I generally dislike the how works.

But I take it like a man.

The moment someone breaks with standard UI conventions and removes essential customization features on a piece of software that got its following for being customizable, then people get bent out of shape. Why are you surprised? Do you really think people get upset because they like that state of mind so much?

Lamp0 said,
But I take it like a man.
I find this hilarious. So as a paying (or even non-paying) customer you're supposed to quietly swallow whatever changes a company dishes out (no matter how insane they might be), never complain or protest if you feel the new version/model etc. is worse and always "take it like a man"? Lol. Are you serious or did you happen to forget the /s?

The reason the menu uses tiles is because it makes the new customizable menu feature work well. Menu customization with the old firefox menu design would have been a mess...

Then that feature is ill-designed if one has to create a new UI paradigm ("tile menu") just so that it works. And I'm not crazy about Chrome's "zoom" and "edit" (where several items are crammed into one row) menus either.

agtsmith said,
Then that feature is ill-designed if one has to create a new UI paradigm ("tile menu") just so that it works. And I'm not crazy about Chrome's "zoom" and "edit" (where several items are crammed into one row) menus either.

I don't see why that means it's "ill designed". the tile based menu makes the customizable menu very accessible and user friendly. Its simple to understand how to drag and drop the tiled elements on/off the menu. IMO this shows that they put thought into the feature and that it's well designed.

Its simpler, cleaner and more consistent than the old firefox menu.

Change not always meant to be good; this UI smells too much Chrome of which i really didn't like.

If i'd wanna Chrome clone, i'd use Chrome itself instead.

Looks like Chrome, which is a good thing in my opinion. They finally got rid of that ugly ass Firefox button.

you can't move the "refresh" button, "back" button and you can't remove only the "bookmark this page" button nor can you move the "list all tabs" button.

DownloadHelper addon doesn't work at the moment now.

I really hope mozilla lets us customise the ui, that's one of the best things about firefox. I love australis but i want to be able to customise the ui.

scrolling through the "bookmarks menu" results in the highlighter being laggy behind the cursor too.

torrentthief said,

DownloadHelper addon doesn't work at the moment now.
I have that problem too, and I think it's a problem with the extension not yet being compatible. But you can still use it, you just have to go through the menu. Press ALT -> Tools -> DownloadHelper.

Dot Matrix said,
I'd love to see a Stylish script that squares off those ugly rounded tabs.

It's different but not overtly bad. I would also like to see some straight edges with the tabs.

JJ_ said,
If I wanted a Chrome rip off UI, I would use Chrome.

hmmm no if you wanted a Chrome "rip off UI" you would a browser which rips off Chromes UI... So sense you infer you find the UI of this version Firefox is just then...you would use this said version of Firefox.

There's quite a few add-ons to bring back the addon bar. The bigger worry however is when Mozilla turns on Electrolysis (e10's). This will break many add-ons unless they have some sort of compatibility mode.

COKid said,

It's called change, deal with it.


I'll deal with it ... when I can put all the main toolbar buttons and the tab bar back where they're
supposed to be ... Back Forward Reload Stop Home ... all positioned to the left of the URL bar.
While they remain stuck in the wrong place, I'll continue using SeaMonkey.

streetw0lf said,
It's called change people, deal with it.
I'll deal with it (as i don't mind the new look) once forecastfox works with it or there's a good alternative. i've used that extension for years & it feels weird not having the weather show in my web browsers

streetw0lf said,
It's called change people, deal with it.

Change does not equal better!

It's my PC so I want it to work and look the way I want it to..

Hate the new look and functional style. Installed Release Version 28 instead of the next beta and will stick with it until it no longer does what I need it to do.

No amount of addons complete reverts the look/usage to how it was before...

Software is really dumbing down it's look these days...

thehootyowl said,

Hate the new look and functional style. Installed Release Version 28 instead of the
next beta and will stick with it until it no longer does what I need it to do.

No amount of addons complete reverts the look/usage to how it was before...

Software is really dumbing down it's look these days...


You could always install SeaMonkey ... which still has a sensible, fully customisable GUI which isn't
dumbed at all. The SeaMonkey devs have absolutely no intention of dumbing it down ... ever.

DJGM said,

You could always install SeaMonkey ... which still has a sensible, fully customisable GUI which isn't
dumbed at all. The SeaMonkey devs have absolutely no intention of dumbing it down ... ever.

Seamonky is pretty cool, but it's the old netscape with the rendering engine of firefox kept up to date.

Jason Stillion said,

Seamonky is pretty cool, but it's the old netscape with the rendering engine of firefox kept up to date.


Actually, SeaMonkey is what was once the Mozilla App-Suite, before Mozilla.org switched its focus
to Firefox, and the former Mozilla App-Suite became a community run project called SeaMonkey.

Netscape doesn't even enter the equation anymore since AOL effectively killed it off. While it's
true that SeaMonkey shares the same underlying codebase as Firefox, that codebase first
came about when Netscape went open source in 1998, and launched Mozilla.org.

If anything, Firefox owes as much to the legacy of Netscape as SeaMonkey does.

Tried that with Obama, didn't like it either. Luckily his term will expire. Firefox's draconian rule...not so much.

Jason Stillion said,

Could use the Firefox ESR version to at least get security updates and hold out for about a year.
http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/faq/

And it looks like FF 24 is the release in specific. Download it here: https://download.mozilla.org/?...r&os=win&lang=en-US

EDIT: Saw from a comment below that there is an addon that'll help you further customize Australis, including square tabs, adding the Firefox button, moving the Firefox button or menu button, and more: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-...addon/classicthemerestorer/

Edited by Pluto is a Planet, Mar 21 2014, 10:57pm :

streetw0lf said,
It's called change people, deal with it.

looks like the crappy chrome browser - without the menu bar across the top of the browser, Now you have to click TWICE to get to all your frequently used functions (unless they are keeping that HUGE, waste of space, 1/3rd window on the bottom of the browser all the time?)

All to chase market share on small phone touch screens.

Anyway - thanks for the warning. Turning off auto updates for firefox NOW!. and BTW firefox - I'll never use your browser on my phone - "One browser" is perfect in that environment, thanks!

Edited by dvb2000, Mar 22 2014, 1:49am :

dvb2000 said,

looks like the crappy chrome browser - without the menu bar across the top of the browser, Now you have to click TWICE to get to all your frequently used functions (unless they are keeping that HUGE, waste of space, 1/3rd window on the bottom of the browser all the time?)
This makes no sense, you can drag buttons from the customizable menu to the the top of the browser... And you can keep your menu bar displayed all the time.

Can you give a contextual example of the situation you're afraid of?

Change is not always good.
I can take your car and give you a chariot being pulled by a horse and then say "you know...change..deal with it".
The word "Change" seems to be very abused these days.

Mark Straver said,

At the moment Pale Moon is based upon the current Firefox ESR version 24.x. The next ESR is 31.x
that's very likely to have the Australis GUI, and Moonchild Productions (the makers of Pale Moon)
are reluctant to support features of Firefox they consider extraneous, and any radical changes to
the front end. Australis is about as radical a change as the (previous) new GUI from Firefox 4.
At least that was easy enough to change back to normal without too much fuss.

There are plenty of options to have the current UI on a later version of the Gecko code; just like you could have an Australis Theme on previous versions of Firefox. I'm sure there's going to be a solution - maybe not without serious work, but one thing is certain: Pale Moon will not come with Australis. Ever.

dvb2000 said,

looks like the crappy chrome browser - without the menu bar across the top of the browser, Now you have to click TWICE to get to all your frequently used functions (unless they are keeping that HUGE, waste of space, 1/3rd window on the bottom of the browser all the time?)

All to chase market share on small phone touch screens.

Anyway - thanks for the warning. Turning off auto updates for firefox NOW!. and BTW firefox - I'll never use your browser on my phone - "One browser" is perfect in that environment, thanks!

australis has nothing to do with phones or touch screens.

DJGM said,

You could always install SeaMonkey ... which still has a sensible, fully customisable GUI which isn't
dumbed at all. The SeaMonkey devs have absolutely no intention of dumbing it down ... ever.

Or even Pale Moon if you're on Windows, the team have kept Firefox's UI true to its roots. The only bad thing about Pale Moon is it's Windows only, they don't do Linux or Mac versions which is a real shame as its truly optimized for multicore, it runs much better than stock Firefox. I don't even think SeaMonkey is MP optimized, but then again don't use it.

Officially, Pale Moon is for Windows only, but there are actually Linux versions of Pale Moon
available, but you have to go to the Pale Moon support forum to find the latest releases to
download, as they've only very recently started compiling builds for Linux. I guess they'll
add these releases to the main site in the not too distant future.

If Moonchild Productions wish to keep Pale Moon completely Australis free, they'll have a
cartload of extra code hacking to do, to keep "Firefox's UI true to its roots". and future
changes to the Firefox GUI front-end by Mozilla will only make that more difficult.

Bear in mind, those roots originate to Mozilla.org, and the only current Mozilla based
browser that intends to stay truly faithful to the GUI roots of Mozilla is ... SeaMonkey.

Moonchild could bake in the "Classic Theme Restorer" to Pale Moon, but I don't think it'll
be that straightforward. Mozilla have removed the option to move the Tab Bar back to
its traditional position below the URL Bar, and I assume Moonchild would like to have
that feature in upcoming versions of Pale Moon as well.