Mozilla mulls over removing the address bar from Firefox

A few months ago, Google caused quite a stir when it was revealed that they were considering removing the address bar in a future version of Google Chrome. Many people were up in arms at the idea of navigating the web without this seemingly-essential UI element and now it looks like Mozilla might one day follow suit, if a blog post detailing some browser concepts is to be believed.

The location bar has to go. It has many problems. For one, it’s always visible and constantly takes up a large amount of space. Secondly, it’s hard to read, since people don’t really understand URLs. Moreover, it’s modal: it has a mode for displaying the current page’s location and a mode for entering your next destination. It’s not always immediately obvious which mode you’re in and what the current text is indicating, and switching modes is not easy either.

While this move will certainly polarise the Internet, author David Regev makes quite a good case for dumping the much-loved URL bar. However, the blog is interesting because it's less about removing features from the web browser and more about designing it from scratch.

A big part of the redesign is Ubiquity, a currently experimental addon for firefox that allows users type in natural language commands to perform various actions. This has the immediate benefit of letting you add extra functionality to the browser without having to add new UI elements and the theory is that it could be used to navigate web sites just as effectively as the URL bar while at the same time adding a lot of extra functionality.

The case for removing the URL bar is certainly a compelling one, however everyone at least agrees that although it may be a bit clunky, it serves an essential purpose and all that functionality must be retained somehow. Mozilla's proposed solution differs from Chromes in this regard. Rather than having the URL drop down from the tab, the proposition is to have page information inline, at the top. When you scroll down, the information is hidden, much like how modern mobile browsers work to save screen real estate. The side effect of this is that you've got a lot more room to play with, meaning you can have much richer and more detailed page information. Even cooler is the idea that your browsing history can then be part of this tab as well. Scroll down even further and you'll see the previous page you were on, or the item you downloaded from the page you're currently on.

At the moment, this is all purely concept so don't expect any major changes to Firefox just yet, but it's certainly an interesting debate and the author encourages people to join in with any criticisms or suggestions they may have.

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Just lost a bit more respect for Mozilla. The address bar is fine as it is. Most people have large screens so the space it takes up is neglible. What they should do is add a "match whole words only" option to the find bar. It's been requested since 1999 but they always refuse because it will "take up too much space" even though the rest of the find bar is wasted gray space! To be brutally honest, I think Mozilla are morons when it comes to GUI.

I've been browsing using Opera without address bar since long version ago. If I want to type an address, I simply press F2.

" The side effect of this is that you've got a lot more room to play with, meaning you can have much richer and more detailed page information." Mean only 1 thing, more room to sell to advertisers.

Remember, you asked for (over)simplicity and now you're getting it.

Mozilla seems to have completely run out of ideas hence this foolhardy nonsense. Let's all undo all our previous work. I won't be surprised if the actually remove it considering they killed the status bar in FF4.

What are those of us who frequently type in URLs to do? Switch to IE 9.0 or some other browser that still allows you to enter a URL? As for taking up screen space, hardly a valid reason.

I stopped using Firefox ever since I discovered Chrome's omnibar, where I can program all my favorite search engines to use a hotkey, so all I need to type is "y video" to search YouTube for "video" etc. Infinitely more convenient than having two separate bars, and having to scroll through all the different search engines before you can even start typing what you want to search for. Frankly, I'm shocked that all the other browsers haven't implemented this essential feature.

As for the screen real estate issue, just make it autohide until mouseover. I'd love to have that on Chrome. any add-ons that do this?

SHaGGGz said,
I stopped using Firefox ever since I discovered Chrome's omnibar
...
Frankly, I'm shocked that all the other browsers haven't implemented this essential feature.
...
As for the screen real estate issue, just make it autohide until mouseover. I'd love to have that on Chrome. any add-ons that do this?

All the other browsers kinda have it already... and for quite some time as well (IE being the late adopter and Opera being the instigator as usual). The fact that you can do everything from the URL bar is kinda my main reason for wanting it there.... either it be lunching addons or bookmarks or making searchs I always go there first. Not to mention the obvious fact that I like to know where I am at all times.

Instead of thinking about taking it away maybe they should add more features to it. Integrate more stuff in there is not that hard... like putting back my god damn RSS feed icon would be a nice start (I can't believe I have to use an addon just for that ¬¬).

As far as pixel count goes, this is not their main issue I think. The fact is that they are trying to dumb down the interface the most they can (****ing Apple "less is more" side effect). Websites are getting more and more complex the more away from the OS we get for our computing needs so they are trying to make it less of a burden to the general idiot population I guess.

*711 said,

All the other browsers kinda have it already...

Really? I've tried with FF to no avail, having to settle for their cumbersome, separate search bar.

SHaGGGz said,
Really? I've tried with FF to no avail, having to settle for their cumbersome, separate search bar.

What separate search bar ? remove it.

I undersand URL. I want that in a browser. Its like shell for the internet. Why do you want to take that away? Keyboards next?

Since phoenix (before firebird, before firefox) my configuration has taken two bars.
One bar for tabs
One bar for bookmarks toolbar/addressbar/googlebar

The URL (ahem... "location") bar must be an option, and enabled by default.
Majority use it, no matter what 1 browser manufacturer decides what's fashionable or not.
If any1 wants to further "slim down" the interface, just press F11. ;-)

Kind of off topic: Has anyone else had a prompt to try the 48 hour trial of the new UI changes on the aurora channel?

It changed the address bar to be more search orientated with tab to choose between search content and url specific browsing, and removed the search box.

Problem is that it came up on my work PC so I can't check again until I get in tomorrow, was just wondering if anyone else has had this pop up, as I can't find anything on the forums/twitter/the mozilla blog.

I can already remove it if i choose to, infact, i probably don't really need it, i have most stuff i need on my bookmarks bar.

Having said that, I do need it, i don't always want to go to website on my bookmarks bar

Lol what kind of stupid idea is that, why not remove everything so you have no HUD at all. Nonsense, the addressbar is what makes the web.

I'm against removing it altogether. I have not tried it yet, but I imagine there are times where I want to type in the url. Sometimes you have very specific needs regarding it, so I'm all for hidding it by default just like with the menu items... but disconnecting power users from it completely is just not something I can stand. I don' want to have to go through a search engine. What if I'm testing internal network web servers etc. ?

I have each browser as I like to see how each renders when I run into trouble I check them all. So we shall see how this tips up.

....as someone already said FF already does this (press F11 or simply edit the interface and hide whatever you want whenever you want, you can even "auto-hide" it by pressing the right click and hiding the damn thing).

Aside from that , I can't believe this cramping up syndrome... really! They should address widescreen monitors before they even bother cramping stuff even more. All my web pages have a but load of free space both left and right and with adblock they are not even a good venue for ads anymore, it's just black/white/pink/whatever voids whenever I go.

NO! "sidebars" are no solution, they should start moving crap to the sides. On Opera for instance I have my tabs on one side and URL/all else on the other, but since it's not "default" its sluggish at best. I can achieve similar results with a few addons on Firefox but again, it's not built to work like this so it ends up looking like a disjointed mess.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BnLbv6QYcA

Can't believe this actually have a chance at becoming reality ¬¬

I certainly think that they can just make it so you have to double click on the current tab to edit URL or an address bar pops up in the tab when you click the + button for a new one. And it would save a lot of space.. I am def. supportive of this.

I'm a fan of thinking out of the box. But this is the most pin-headed, stupid thing I've heard of in a while. Anyone who actually believe the address bar takes up any significant space is just plain smooth-brained. It's a one line bar! Meanwhile, they see no problem with throwing a bunch of stupid icons up there? With screens getting bigger and bigger, how on earth do they think we're losing screen real estate? I absolutely use the address bar. There are MANY times when I need to get to a specific file, page or location that ISN'T one that shows up in a search or even in a site map. I will not use any browser that doesn't allow an address bar. Bunch of feebs.

So Firefox doesn't do full screen like IE and Chrome (F11)? They don't need to remove anything, F11 does this already.

I personally wouldn't mind it being at the bottom. I remember doing this with Opera years ago and liked it there. To remove the address bar completely though would be pointless to me unless there was some way of entering a URL directly either via a hotkey or pop up window activated with said hotkey.

The url bar typically takes up the empty space in the toolbar where all the other buttons go.

Unless you move those buttons (forward, back, refresh, home, etc) in place with the tabs, there will be empty space. So really, the address bar isn't taking up any extra space at all.

I don't know if this is a good idea or not but it's pretty good although Mozilla needs to tweak a bit more. I liked Chrome 13 hidden nav bar more, it's is pretty good.

I don't see why this is newsworthy if it's from Mozilla Labs. If it was from the UX team, I'd understand.

Meph said,
I don't see why this is newsworthy if it's from Mozilla Labs.

Not even from them. It's a community concept.

OK well I'd like to post a quote from the link but the comment form ****s up when I do, so have a click and read what's directly under the title.

This is extremely ****ing shoddy "journalism".

tomjol said,
OK well I'd like to post a quote from the link but the comment form ****s up when I do, so have a click and read what's directly under the title.

This is extremely ****ing shoddy "journalism".


Hah, same thing happened to me. Apparently Neowin's system doesn't like the emdash. Found that out after typing up a fairly long comment

Omega192 said,

Hah, same thing happened to me. Apparently Neowin's system doesn't like the emdash. Found that out after typing up a fairly long comment

THAT's what it is! I figured it was some character issue but couldn't spot it!

Omega192 said,

Just started using that yesterday. I'm loving it!

Been using it since they released it. At first, it was somewhat difficult with the see though address bar with the transparency, but they were pretty quick to fix it so that theme/persona background covers the hover area when in view. There is no going back after you start using this.

daniel_rh said,
I think people are taking "minimalist design" too seriously

Nope. They're thinking out of the box. This isn't to be minimalist per se, they're just imagining what a browser would be like if it was invented today.

Address bar is an old concept, and they believe it shouldn't be part of the page unless it's needed. Which makes sense imo. The address bar is only useful for a couple of seconds. After that it only wastes space on the page.

Absolutely brainless and utterly stupid idea. It's bad enough Google might consider this for a future
version of their Chrome browser, but for Mozilla to be playing copycat to this extent is ridiculous.

I'm getting sick to the back teeth of browsers made primarily for desktop displays or regular sized
laptops continuing this needless trend of dumbing down the GUI to appease the netbook crowd.

These simplified GUIs are ideal on tablets, smartphones, public internet kiosks and similar devices,
that have small displays, or are locked down to restrict use beyond basic web browsing, but for
all the larger standard sized displays and screen resolutions from 1024x768 upwards, there is
absolutely no need for removing standard GUI elements.

I'm glad I'm sticking with SeaMonkey (former Mozilla App-Suite) as my primary internet browser,
as it's developers wish to stick to long held standards in GUI layout, rather than dumbing down
and removing standard features for the benefit of those that like squinting at tiny screens.

Who is the guy who made this 'post'?
Does he realize this is just a community concept about integrating Ubiquity to Firefox?

god such a fail

AKLP said,
Who is the guy who made this 'post'?
Does he realize this is just a community concept about integrating Unity to Firefox?

god such a fail

Unity?

AKLP said,
Who is the guy who made this 'post'?
Does he realize this is just a community concept about integrating Ubiquity to Firefox?

god such a fail


Agreed, FFS, the subtitle is "A guest blog post by community member, David Regev. A philosopher, Firefox enthusiast, and an aspiring interaction designer."
Steve Donaghy needs to learn to read before posting an article on something.

Heck, I wish this was an official Mozilla concept. I love it. If half of the commenters actually /read/ the article, they'd understand this was about scrapping the current browser and designing it from scratch with modern ideas. I love the Ubiquity-centric idea.

yeah....except the AwesomeBar also serves tab searching, history and bookmark searching, which is not related to the page and i dont want to awkwardly have to scroll all the way up to access all the goodness.

No they're just trying to make some more space available for their Chrome OS because it's designed for those small notebooks and tablets. At least I hope so. Well personally I like to have the address bar at the top because im so used to it, and with it taking such a small amount of space (to me) it doesn't make a difference if it's there or not.

Could work Just have the adress bar appear on mouse hover or when hitting a simpel button combo.

I rarely use it anyway... so no problem

I don't get it... I have a 23" monitor in 1920x1080 resolution.

The url bar takes "a large amount of space"?!? Well, then, I have alot of space to spare.

I still see the majority of the websites taking just the middle of the screen , half of the space (left and right) being just empty background.

So, I want the URL Bar to stay!

Sorry for my bad English!

MafiotuL said,
I don't get it... I have a 23" monitor in 1920x1080 resolution.

The url bar takes "a large amount of space"?!? Well, then, I have alot of space to spare.

I still see the majority of the websites taking just the middle of the screen , half of the space (left and right) being just empty background.

So, I want the URL Bar to stay!

Sorry for my bad English!

At work I'm stuck with 2 x 17", they're TINY and this extension is awesome

You have got to be ****ting me.
This along with the session saving fiacso, well, to cut a long story short, **** this, when firefox 5 or 6 is out chances are I'll be jumping boat and leaving this crap but once great junk behind.

now it looks like Mozilla might one day follow suit, if a blog post detailing some browser concepts is to be believed.

No, it's a COMMUNITY Concept.

what happens when you need to see it to know you are on a valid site? thats why MS forced the bar to be visible in modal windows

Stewart Gilligan Griffin said,
what happens when you need to see it to know you are on a valid site? thats why MS forced the bar to be visible in modal windows

It's at the top of the page still, just it's part of the tab as opposed to being part of the Chrome around it.

Kushan said,

It's at the top of the page still, just it's part of the tab as opposed to being part of the Chrome around it.

don't really get how that's any better going by the concept drawings

Kushan said,

It's at the top of the page still, just it's part of the tab as opposed to being part of the Chrome around it.


And if I have 14 tabs open I get "neo","gno" and a bunch of other tiny arsed things that require me to then go up to the tab and hover anyway. With the site icon how much else can be crammed in a tab before it is useless.

schubb2003 said,

And if I have 14 tabs open I get "neo","gno" and a bunch of other tiny arsed things that require me to then go up to the tab and hover anyway. With the site icon how much else can be crammed in a tab before it is useless.

You made me ROFL pretty ****ing hard! ><

You sir deserve some extra internetz for today, so true and so funny ^^

what said,
An address bar only "takes up a large amount of space" if you design it badly.

i agree, let's not make things harder than they need to be for the user. maybe reduce the size a bit.

reverseswing said,

i agree, let's not make things harder than they need to be for the user. maybe reduce the size a bit.

Theres no reason why it couldnt be an Auto-Hide feature if they're worried about space.

what said,
An address bar only "takes up a large amount of space" if you design it badly.

Really? There's only very few places an address bar can go. Even then it still takes up space.

barteh said,

Theres no reason why it couldnt be an Auto-Hide feature if they're worried about space.

I was going to say the same thing, just mouse over it or use a hotkey to pull it up, don't take it away.

I'm officially abandoning not just Firefox, but Mozilla corp. They have seem to forgotten their root and where they came from. Their mission was to create an open platform that let the user do whatever they want to it. Yes, they should dress their chrome in a nice fashion to attract eye candies, but should not be out there dictating what should and should not be. That's the user option. Just because IE9 now rein as the slimmest browser doesn't mean they have to one up IE and remove the address bar. Their god damn TM+JM is still light years behind V8 and Carakan. Even the little annoyances like removing the RSS button from default is enough for me to stick to FF3.6 forever until it cannot handle modern HTML5 and CSS3. For now, FF3.6 is still more than capable of handing current standards and ALL the addons is designed to how it should be. Not the limited function hidden away from sight like in FF4. If I'm tempted enough I will fork FF3.6 with gecko2.0 and V8 if I have to.

Edited by xendrome, May 25 2011, 10:31pm : No swearing/profanity please..

flexkeyboard said,
I'm officially abandoning not just Firefox, but Mozilla corp. They have seem to forgotten their root and where they came from. Their mission was to create an open platform that let the user do whatever they want to it. Yes, they should dress their chrome in a nice fashion to attract eye candies, but should not be out there dictating what should and should not be. That's the user option. Just because IE9 now rein as the slimmest browser doesn't mean they have to one up IE and remove the address bar. Their god damn TM+JM is still light years behind V8 and Carakan. Even the little annoyances like removing the RSS button from default is enough for me to stick to FF3.6 forever until it cannot handle modern HTML5 and CSS3. For now, FF3.6 is still more than capable of handing current standards and ALL the addons is designed to how it should be. Not the limited function hidden away from sight like in FF4. If I'm tempted enough I will fork FF3.6 with gecko2.0 and V8 if I have to.

After I was finished laughing, I decided I would point out that none of the customization ability of prior versions of firefox has been removed in 4.0. Also AWFY would disagree with you on the subject of the Javascript engine.

Edited by xendrome, May 25 2011, 10:48pm :

flexkeyboard said,
I'm officially abandoning not just Firefox, but Mozilla corp. They have seem to forgotten their root and where they came from. Their mission was to create an open platform that let the user do whatever they want to it. Yes, they should dress their chrome in a nice fashion to attract eye candies, but should not be out there dictating what should and should not be. That's the user option. Just because IE9 now rein as the slimmest browser doesn't mean they have to one up IE and remove the address bar. Their god damn TM+JM is still light years behind V8 and Carakan. Even the little annoyances like removing the RSS button from default is enough for me to stick to FF3.6 forever until it cannot handle modern HTML5 and CSS3. For now, FF3.6 is still more than capable of handing current standards and ALL the addons is designed to how it should be. Not the limited function hidden away from sight like in FF4. If I'm tempted enough I will fork FF3.6 with gecko2.0 and V8 if I have to.

blah blah blah, your post is more of rant than anything else. dont like the current direction of mozilla then switch to another browser, problem solved. forgotten their root don't mean a damn thing now,the topic at hand which is the address bar which is a community concept, nothing more.

Edited by xendrome, May 25 2011, 10:06pm :

flexkeyboard said,
I'm officially abandoning not just Firefox, but Mozilla corp. They have seem to forgotten their root and where they came from. Their mission was to create an open platform that let the user do whatever they want to it. Yes, they should dress their chrome in a nice fashion to attract eye candies, but should not be out there dictating what should and should not be. That's the user option. Just because IE9 now rein as the slimmest browser doesn't mean they have to one up IE and remove the address bar. Their god damn TM+JM is still light years behind V8 and Carakan. Even the little annoyances like removing the RSS button from default is enough for me to stick to FF3.6 forever until it cannot handle modern HTML5 and CSS3. For now, FF3.6 is still more than capable of handing current standards and ALL the addons is designed to how it should be. Not the limited function hidden away from sight like in FF4. If I'm tempted enough I will fork FF3.6 with gecko2.0 and V8 if I have to.

Every time a new version comes, 90% of add-ons stop working. That's what I hate the most. That's never happened on Chrome.

Edited by xendrome, May 25 2011, 10:24pm :

Sub_Zero_Alchemist said,

blah blah blah, your post is more of rant than anything else. dont like the current direction of mozilla then switch to another browser, problem solved. forgotten their root don't mean a damn thing now,the topic at hand which is the address bar which is a community concept, nothing more.

Did you forget the first sentence of his comment?

flexkeyboard said,
Just because IE9 now rein as the slimmest browser doesn't mean they have to one up IE and remove the address bar.
Seriously, have you ever used Chrome or WebKit or Safari? ;-)

The Stark said,

Every time a new version comes, 90% of add-ons stop working. That's what I hate the most. That's never happened on Chrome.


Just because the for some reason have to have the addon defining what versions it's made for so the developer needs to go in change those numbers, most of the time it works fine unless the changed something big like in a few of FF4s later betas, this is why i have simply disabled addon compatibility checking...