Mozilla Firefox 'Australis' to bring UI enhancements to the browser

Mozilla has announced that nightly versions of Firefox "Australis", which contains a new theme and many other UI enhancements, will be available to testers starting on Monday.

Australis is a project aimed at developing a streamlined interface for the Firefox browser with an updated design, improved customizability and a new Firefox menu.

According to the company's mailing list, Firefox nightlies will start getting Australis UX builds starting Monday, which will be followed up by nightlies of version 29 in December. The project is expected to merge with "mozilla-central" in the near future, depending on the feedback received. After evaluation of the nightlies, Mozilla would decide whether the new UI would make it into the final release of Firefox 29 in mid-April.

A separate branch of the Australis project builds will be maintained while "mozilla-central" will continue to be updated with non-Australis code in order to reduce the overhead in case it is decided not to include the updated UI in the next release.

Mozilla has been rapidly developing the Firefox browser with new features and implementing new UI elements on a variety of operating systems such as Android, Windows and Windows 8's Modern UI in recent times and Australis is expected to further boost the consistency of the browser's interface across all platforms.

Testers and enthusiasts can grab the nightly builds for Windows, Mac, Linux (32-bit and 64-bit) from the UX branch; bug tracker for the test builds can be found at mozilla.org.

Source: msujaws' blog via Mozilla | Image via Mozilla

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62 Comments

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Ugh, too Chrome-like. I keep turning the menubar back on since the Firefox button doesn't contain a lot of commands.

It looks like they let touch devices dictate the UI on the desktop, there's nothing wrong with different UIs for different platforms.

Will it (a) fix the frequent crash problem in Windows-7 64-bit settings, and (b) be mouse/keyboard oriented? Or...will it mimic the mess of Windows-8 and its touch-centric UI?

Improved customisation really? Bull***! The new and unimproved UI prevents the proper navigation
buttons from being added to the main toolbar. Only the Back button appears to be in the proper
standard position. Where's the forward button? Why can't I move the Reload/Stop button out of
the Location Bar and put them back where they're meant to be? Why can't I move the Tabs back
to beneath the Bookmarks bar where they ought to be in the first place? Why is the Menu Bar
in the place where the Title bar should be?

Firefox GUI designers, put down the crack pipes and stop what you are doing ... now!

Thankfully SeaMonkey won't be switching to a fugly UI that can't be properly customised!

I'll be happy as long as I can revert back to the Firefox 25.0.1 theme. So much wasted space in Australis, and those curved tabs look horrible.

Jaybonaut said,
Look out Firefox theme creators, you are all out of business soon.... er wait.
they wont worry bout that till it least gets to BETA if not into the stable channel

WIth firefox on win8 it crashes too often for me, otherwise I'd use it. I am curious whether the Metro version is any good, but taking them a long time to develop it.
I don't particularly care about the UI as I rarely use it. Set it and forget it mostly.

I think it looks awful. It doesn't suit my style of working at all. I like menus, and I like to customise my toolbars exactly how I want. I like my tabs under my toolbar, under my menus.

Really getting fed up with companies trying to dictate how I do things on my computer!

Just make sure to fix fullscreen while you're at it. It's been broken for ages. When I minimise out of fullscreen, the Windows taskbar stays on the bottom of the screen when I go back to fullscreen. Have to toggle fullscreen off and back on again to fix it.

Could this be any more of a blatant ripoff of Chrome? The rounded tabs, the three bars for the menu, can't they come up with their own design instead of just completely copying someone else's? That's so lazy.

I want a Windows 8 theme and integration. They're too busy supporting older, obsolete operating systems than they are rewarding those who have upgraded. C'mon Mozilla, time to unfrak yourselves and get with the program.

Why is an operating system obsolete if it does what the person using it want`s it to do? And don`t come with the no support ballony, if you use common sense with SRP and preferably automatic sandboxing of internet facing apps you should be fine!

Riggers said,
Why is an operating system obsolete if it does what the person using it want`s it to do? And don`t come with the no support ballony, if you use common sense with SRP and preferably automatic sandboxing of internet facing apps you should be fine!

Because they've been superseded? Because no one writes software or drivers for them anymore? Because hardware isn't made for them anymore?

There's tons of reasons. Obsolescence is real. It's not a made up thing.

Dot Matrix said,

There's tons of reasons. Obsolescence is real. It's not a made up thing.

The obsolescence "scheme" won't work without massive adoption of the new OS.
Sorry if in 5 year, windows 7 is still a popular OS, then I'll bet software & drivers would still be developed for it.

Dot Matrix said,
I want a Windows 8 theme and integration. They're too busy supporting older, obsolete operating systems than they are rewarding those who have upgraded. C'mon Mozilla, time to unfrak yourselves and get with the program.

Mozilla's main target are desktop users, but there is no Windows 8 theme on desktop really, nor any HIGs for Mozilla to respect, and you can thank Microsoft for that.

When it comes to Modern UI, it's a bit different as there is a specific streamlined design there, but I think it's possible to mix Australis in with that, sort of how they did it on Android -- it looks native and behaves natively, but it still preserves some Australis specific UI elements (curved tabs, mostly).

Syanide said,

Mozilla's main target are desktop users, but there is no Windows 8 theme on desktop really, nor any HIGs for Mozilla to respect, and you can thank Microsoft for that.

When it comes to Modern UI, it's a bit different as there is a specific streamlined design there, but I think it's possible to mix Australis in with that, sort of how they did it on Android -- it looks native and behaves natively, but it still preserves some Australis specific UI elements (curved tabs, mostly).

It wouldn't be too hard to create a flat, square design that fits into Windows 8's look. Firefox integrated nicely with Windows 7, why can't that be the case here?

One would assume that could be achieved with a theme. It's probably pays off more to have a 'one size fits all' approach for the default theme.

Dot Matrix said,

It wouldn't be too hard to create a flat, square design that fits into Windows 8's look. Firefox integrated nicely with Windows 7, why can't that be the case here?

If it's generally clean, simple and flat, it will fit in even with the round tabs, which I think is their goal, and let's be fair, Firefox follows the system theme much, much better than say, Chrome does, but even then people will complain (for instance people complained about the blue color used in Firefox without realizing it's simply the Windows default).

And again, asking third parties to follow (non-existing) guidelines on the desktop is a bit much considering Windows itself isn't doing it, just look at desktop icons.

I think I'll prefer (old) Stratiform + Stylish + a bunch of other things so that the buzzwordy UX, lest we catch that most people don't know what that is, repeat "UX UX UX" everywhere like parrots, actually is mostly my own carefully adjusted to me user experience.

Same - there's already an addon in the works that's supposedly going to be released once Australis hits the main nightly branch, you can disable a lot of the new Chrome-like stuff. There's a reason I prefer Firefox over Chrome and the UI is one of the bigger ones.

It's about time, what was the first version Australis was planned for, wasn't that Firefox 16, then 25? However, the Nightly UX channel already has the Australis theme.

JUANMAS7ER said,
2013, Firefox still uses RAM like a crackaddict but! we have a new UI that still doesn't fit the Windows interface...nice

I don't use Firefox....but read browser reviews. Firefox uses the least memory of any browser.

JUANMAS7ER said,
It does, but still a awful lot for just a browser

All browsers are like this. I'm using IE 10 and it curently uses around 300 000MB of ram and i have 2 tabs opened only, Neowin.net and RDS.ca.

JUANMAS7ER said,
2013, Firefox still uses RAM like a crackaddict but! we have a new UI that still doesn't fit the Windows interface...nice

Chrome still uses ram like a crackaddict.

notchinese said,

I don't use Firefox....but read browser reviews. Firefox uses the least memory of any browser.


...until a memory leak happens or you keep the browser open for a day or two.

JUANMAS7ER said,
It does, but still a awful lot for just a browser

How little RAM do you expect a modern browser with the latest web standard support to use?

Since you're saying even among the leanest ones is using too much RAM, maybe it is your idea of modern browsers that is flawed, and not the browsers.

A web browser today is almost like a mini-OS, especially since HTML5 and the integrated hardware and codec support, and sandboxing to almost make it a form of "web-based virtual machine". Heck Google even build laptops with the browser basically being the OS except for a thin layer to interface with the hardware. You can't compare Firefox or Chrome 20-something with some rosy old days surfing with Internet Explorer 3.0.

Northgrove said,

How little RAM do you expect a modern browser with the latest web standard support to use?

Since you're saying even among the leanest ones is using too much RAM, maybe it is your idea of modern browsers that is flawed, and not the browsers.

A web browser today is almost like a mini-OS, especially since HTML5 and the integrated hardware and codec support, and sandboxing to almost make it a form of "web-based virtual machine". Heck Google even build laptops with the browser basically being the OS except for a thin layer to interface with the hardware. You can't compare Firefox or Chrome 20-something with some rosy old days surfing with Internet Explorer 3.0.


You are right but firefox still sucks (except firebug).

notchinese said,

I don't use Firefox....but read browser reviews. Firefox uses the least memory of any browser.

Mine can go up to 1GB - 2GB sometimes.. even after I close all the tabs. It's not from the plugins, more like leaks from JavaScript codes or something, unsure

i like the UI hopefully it fixes some performance issues and please cut vista and XP out.. legacy code is holding it back look at IE11 when they cut the crap out

even to this date note even the latest beta of firefox can match the speed of chrome or IE 11. chrome does have its faults too but still is the king in this regard

Dot Matrix said,

Slim and fast, like IE.


So... not supporting XP will make it fast?

Firefox has a heavily Javascript based interface (XUL) and that is platform agnostic, so that won't be sped up by dropping XP support. Otherwise, browser speed is largely about engine optimizations (Javascript JIT compilation, DOM access), and since these are algorithm based, that also won't be sped up by dropping XP.

Pray tell, what is this blob of code that is added to support XP that will speed up the browser by dropping it?

In Firefox, it's usually to the contrary, if anything. Technologies like DirectWrite & Direct2D are used in Firefox to noticeably boost performance, but that is not available in XP, so it doesn't share the same performance there. I can't think of a single thing in Firefox that is added to it to support XP that causes some "bulk"?

Edited by Northgrove, Nov 18 2013, 10:30am :

Northgrove said,

So... not supporting XP will make it fast?

Firefox has a heavily Javascript based interface (XUL) and that is platform agnostic, so that won't be sped up by dropping XP support. Otherwise, browser speed is largely about engine optimizations (Javascript JIT compilation, DOM access), and since these are algorithm based, that also won't be sped up by dropping XP.

Pray tell, what is this blob of code that is added to support XP that will speed up the browser by dropping it?

In Firefox, it's usually to the contrary, if anything. Technologies like DirectWrite & Direct2D are used in Firefox to noticeably boost performance, but that is not available in XP, so it doesn't share the same performance there. I can't think of a single thing in Firefox that is added to it to support XP that causes some "bulk"?

Firefox still includes deprecated rendering technologies needed for XP. Direct2D, and DirectDraw for example aren't available on Windows XP, so the older rendering methods are still required. GDI, I believe it is. Basically, Mozilla needs to code for the LCD. And that is Windows 2000 (ugh), and Windows XP (UGGH!)

Compiling in support for XP (GDI, as mentioned above) might increase the download size on Windowz, but if Firefox's programmers are worth anything - and I have every reason to believe that they are - it won't affect performance. There's likely a quick check to see if one method or the other should be used, and after that the best available technology is in place. Any performance gain would be negligible.

Firefox has a huge market in XP users. If supporting XP means that enterprise users continue to get a relatively up to date browser that's more secure and more able to handle modern web pages, that's fine by me. Dropping support for a nominal speed boost would be suicidal.

Chrome continues to support Windows XP (https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/?platform=win). Does it suffer from the same serious speed issues?

It's poor. Dated UI design with rounded corners and gradients. Looks too much like a Chrome-clone and completely don't match Win 8.x either.

The only thing i like is the settings menu as it's user friendly and would work well with both touch and mouse input, but even the design on that looks very Google-like.

Mister Chief said,
Even the metro version has rounded corners. It's just stupid.

I wouldn't even call them rounded corners, they are so damn rounded...