User:Dmcritchie/Firefox priorities

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base


Firefox Priorities

It seems all too often to me that Firefox is being changed for the worse based on what looks pretty to a graphics designer rather than what is useful for browsing. This is my list of priorities in order of importance that should or should have been implemented in Firefox, many of them ages ago.

Priorities for Developers

  1. Keyword bookmark property, should be seen in all bookmark dialogs for Adding, modifying or deleting bookmarks. Keyword is essentially an alias for a bookmark, there can be only one bookmark for a keyword. This is one of the fundamental features of Firefox. [1] [2] [3]  Additional references mainly to Keyword Bookmarks
  2. Description bookmark property, should also be seen in all bookmark dialogs for Adding, modifying or deleting bookmarks.
  3. Bookmark selections, need ability to export selections of bookmarks and/or bookmark folders. For use by others, for documentation, and to combine and recombine sections of bookmarks.
  4. Distinguish Tabs active/read/unread with styling up to the user. Bug 480813, Bug 487242, TabVisited, Style 24728
  5. Export individual or multiple bookmark folders for sharing with others, and such that the keywords can be imported as well from such selections -- keywords are actually in the full bookmarks export to bookmarks.html files exported and imported by all browsers so were always considered important by at least Firefox structure and Opera.
  6. Find needs to be improved to place the first hit in the center of the page as in Opera and continue down from there until forced to start on another view to show lines above and below so resumes in the middle of a page for next hit. Firefox lacks matching on whole words, letter-case, and a "Find All" in syntax list (which could be improved even more for tables). It took many years to get "Highlight all" added, which is barely a start. Context Highlight for highlighting multiple search strings with different colors would also be welcome. Firefox 12.0 has put each Find smack dab in the middle, which is not quite as bad at at the very bottom, but is almost as insane.  Call it stupidity or job security, either way it has not been redesigned for usability -- it is certainly NOT parity with Opera.  Smack dab in the middle makes it very difficult to see where you are, and there is no beep or notification when you reach the end and start over again. Easily tested with a find of "the" and the word occurs several times on the screen the viewing window should not change until the next word/string "the" is outside the current view (Bug 78833, Bug 171237, Bug 440198).
  7. Document Outline (table of contents of a page) why is this not built-in to Firefox, it is coded into so many pages such as MozillaZine KB, it would be so useful to all users. I would choose "HeadingsMap" over "Document Map" extension only because the first includes additional areas in frames.
  8. Tabs opening next to parent tabs should never have been done before item #4 as in Firefox 3.6, but not only was it done, but 3.6 wiped out the ability of extensions and styles to distinguish the same. It also had no clear means to users installing 3.6 as to how to remove the new feature.
  9. Tags should not have been introduced before items #1 is firmly in the bookmark addition properties and item #3 where users can share bookmarks. Instead a developer removed keyword thinking it was the same as a tag, keyword was restored the next day but it still was hidden. Tags on the other hand are very confusing to new users particularly when implemented with an additional drop-down detracting from the ability to add a bookmark into a particular folder or a recently added to folder.

Negative priorities - priorities that are harmful, but Firefox Developers are working on anyway

  1. Pinning (docking) dialogs to a Window should be avoided, the worst case is proposal to further mess up bookmark dialog. Pinning the bookmark dialog means that one cannot scroll down the page or visit other tabs to help fill in information while creating or modifying a bookmark. Combine that with a three column webpage, and bookmarks sidebar and you have nothing to work with when attempting to fill in the dialog.
  2. Changing toolbars, hiding Edit menus. This is very bad because it hides important information from new users, for experienced users many of us know what the keyboard shortcuts are, but we have extensions that add into the menus and need to be associated with the Firefox menu items, and we can use "Menu Editor " extension to arrange menus as we see fit. Changing things around on use just make more work for us, and in fact might even make it impossible to use efficiently. See my webpage Toolbars in answer to Windows Theme Revamp/Direction and Feedback. Actually what is shown now is even worse as it has tabs on top making them further away from the article being viewed. The only time I have tabs at the top is in full screen mode where that is the only toolbar shown because that is what I need quick access to. Moving cursor through the top or Ctrl+L or Ctrl+K will get me to input or show toolbars -- don't need more grief added to the Firefox experience. I don't need nonsense of having a home button moved to the tabs bar, where I need every pixel I can get on one line, and so would have to find a way to eliminate it and be forced to use keyboard such as Alt+Home or a keyworded shortcut of "home:" -- javascript:window.home(); The discussion for this is at authored by Alexander Limi (2010-02-09 Firefox UX Team update: Ramping up for the next Firefox release; and 2009-05-04 brainstorming ...).
  3. Showcase (thumbnails) of tabs seem to be popular with developers, but I know what each tab and window is and consider this to be useless and extremely annoying, please option each of these features where such things will be tolerated/disallowed.
  4. So much usability has been lost since even before Nov 2011 that Firefox is no longer pleasurable to use. JavaScript usage from bookmarks and from the location bar has been severely impaired or outright prohibited and possible consequences to justify this are so trivial and the loss of functionality is so great. This has had a severe impact on my use of keyword shortcuts that are required for usability and to save time.

Nonsense or crap

  1. "New Tab" in minefield copied from Google Chrome instead of "(Untitled)" is misleading and just plain incorrect. Open several links within same tab, then use BACK button, then use "about:blank" in the address bar. It is marked as "New Tab" and it is in no way a new tab. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!. There is no way that Showcase junk is going to be used within my tabs so "Top Sites" as in Safari would also be incorrect.
  2. Justifications for wasting space on the left site like "based on the current theme and the additional horizontal space that is available on most monitors..." -- the monitors are not larger the numbers are deceiving the wider screen have less space for Firefox, the font will be smaller, and you more easily look at two windows at once (WinKey+arrowkey).
  3. Flyout sidebar menus like the old grippes gadgets are a pain. I use "Split Browser" and use the option to drag to the sides, but it also interferes many times. The Windows-7 taskbar display windows is 95% done in error even after taking steps to delay such flyout by 10 seconds, tooltips appear at about 5 seconds). Grippes were useless as the stacking of hidden bars grippes was random.
  4. Adding pages to sidebar that could have been done better with keywords and sidebar indicator in bookmarks, that has been made disfunctional see Bug 215175 -- bookmark keyword cannot be used to open bookmark in sidebar .
  5. New Addons Manager -- list wastes space can only see 4 addons at a time compared to 10 before, I have about 125 addons on or off, and this is where I change options, so this is poor design, context menus is really crappy compared to context menus in place in 3.6.*, and the "Show More" is slower and less useful than before though it does now show the size. The addons list is now a tab rather than a detached list -- no end in sight for continued bad user interface designs. "Your add-on updates have been downloaded" -- well that's really NOT informative -- what is going to be changed. Nice to be able to sort on Name, Size, Updated and unfortunately that is the ONLY way you will know what was updated -- what if you didn't want to update an item this time around. BAH HUMBUG! From developer "people loved it" -- I'd guess most users hate it. Would seem Developers tend to have very few addons because they tend to break things -- isn't that what Betas are to test. If you click on "More Information" there is no BACK button you have to invoke addons list all over again.
    • as a tab which I hate and consider useless, the favicon should match that on the status bar and upper left corner, BACK button should function
    • Bad user interface: wastes space, inefficient interface
    • Good items: added "about:addons", nice to be able to sort on Name, Size, Updated


It is an improved bookmark dialog that is wanted that always shows keyword and is resizeable that is wanted -- not an attached sidebar for bookmark properties (useless). The resizing of dialogs and of the addition of the properties to be displayed is already built into Firefox something that can be turned on and off but is still not made available by default, and resizeability was in the 3.6 beta but removed from production. A few lines of styling code is all that is needed to display keywords and descriptions, or even to hide tags yet we do not have a choice in options and new users suffer greatly without these features being readily accessible. The gyrations of going to properties (in addition to the star) after bookmarking a page are time consuming and hide the true usefulness of Firefox over other browsers.

Keywords are just as important as the AwesomeBar and used together even better than either alone. Keywords have been in Firefox since the beginning and have been hidden by design, evidently because people complain about it not being available and not going through the right channels, so even when they reword as an enhancement they get flung into year 2004-2005 bugs as duplicate won't fix.

Keywords, Tags and other bookmark properties

There seems to be a lot of confusion among the developers working on Tags as what Keywords are. The main point is that they are not the same. All of the items can be modified by the user.

Name/Title: resides in each primary bookmark record and is filled in automatically when bookmarking a page from the webpage TITLE.

Location/URL: the address to locate a page (Universal Resource Locator), but they do not have to be an absolute address, they can have JavaScript making them more powerful. If used with keywords they can also make use of substitutions. Firefox includes automatically when bookmarking a page.

Keyword/Alias: resides in each primary bookmark record and as such can be considered an alias, which is exactly how they are treated in Opera. But Firefox goes far beyond mere aliases by having substitutions available in bookmarks (%s and %S) combined with a keyword one can directly access a single article from a multitude of articles, such as one's own pages, a definition of a specific word. Both of those are simple to create and use. Only when you combine JavaScript do they get more complicated to create, but they are still simple to use. Just do a search anywhere on bookmarklets (or favelets) and any one of them could have a keyword to invoke the bookmarklet directly without going through bookmarks. A user must fill in the Keyword to have it available.

Developers should be encouraging others to use keywords rather discouraging their use.
Reduce clutter on you bookmarks toolbar by using folders and by using Keyword Shortcuts. I keep most of my keyword shortcuts out of sight in a single folder ("K") on my bookmarks toolbar. Keyword shortcuts are only available in Firefox with all of the following features.
  1. Used as bookmark alias to invoke a specific bookmark or bookmarklet. kws:
    and that is as far as Opera goes with Alias (which import/export to Firefox as a Keyword).
  2. Used as a bookmark alias with substitution to invoke a search with arguments. g: firefox keywords (Google Search)
    or for a MozillaZine Knowledge Base search :: development (symbols can be used within or as keyword);
    likewise, you could even use a "?" as a keyword to simulate the search indicator as in Google Chrome.
  3. Reduce the number of bookmarks needed by supplying the filename as the substitution to bring up at a site. ff: kws.htm (another way of getting my Keyword Shortcuts page)
    Same thing for a bug report, using the bug number bug 404507 (cut and paste to the location bar from a text report -- Ctrl+C, Ctrl+L, Ctrl+V, Enter)
  4. Used with JavaScript as bookmarklets to bring up several pages and apply the same parameters or search terms for each page. Shopping:online GPS (see my kws.htm#shopping page for a demo)
  5. Keywords are anything you want them to be they can be the initials of your bank or company, abbreviations and the concept is a lot easier to implement by users than tags -- if they have keyword in all of their bookmark dialogs. An assigned keyword must be shown in all bookmark dialogs so that users do not accidentally delete important bookmarks with the keyword thinking it is a duplicate of another bookmark that doesn't have a keyword or might even have a different keyword (alias).

Tags: (recently added to Firefox) are additional words added to classify a bookmark, they can be very powerful in the hands of some users, but are most likely to be misused. Each tag requires additional bookmark records for each bookmark they are attached to. If you don't have a consistent plan to begin with, retagging bookmarks would be very time-consuming especially for a typical set of 7,000 bookmarks. In fact for an individual user tagging bookmarks is pretty much redundant as they could have changed the title to help find a bookmark later. A user must fill in Tags to have them available. Ideally they could be filled in from web pages, but some web authors abuse these in pages to the point that some web search engines outright ignore them. But if a page is worth bookmarking it is worth the effort to verify that the entire bookmark is as wanted.

The primary distinction between keywords and tags is that there can be only one bookmark associated with a keyword, and that for a tag there can be many bookmarks associated with a tag, and many tags associated with a bookmark.

Description: is a part of every bookmark record, it is automatically filled in with the "Open Book" extension and with styling so filling in is already in Firefox to fill in from a webpage's own description, but is not automatic. Descriptions could be included in searching with the AwesomeBar, and bookmarks, if not also history but they are not.

'resizability' of bookmark dialogs is a part of the "Open Book" extension it works fine there.

What really bugs users the most is that developers make changes to Firefox without any knowledge of the features they break, and in other cases on purpose, even when told beforehand of the problems. Here's one summed up in user comment #14 in Bug 404507 – Can't assign bookmark keywords from "Add Bookmark" dialog. Somewhere else was written that keywords are hidden because they can be confused with tags (only by a developer), I don't hear them attempting to suppress tabs because they sound like tags. Or check this one out can't tell the difference between size and shape Bug 524071 – Places UI (3.7): Bookmark contextual dialog should be detachable into a persistent sidebar Or that keywords are not important see my list earlier, or do an add-ons search for: keywords simple, which will produce the maximum 200 hits which I expect are mostly from frustrated users.


A Firefox developer collected statistics on use of keywords and tags, I've never seen the results, you ran something and it created some summaries, can't locate where that was from, or who it went to.

Here are my counts based on Counts_-_Counting_bookmarks_history_links_and_other_data_-_Firefox

  • Count of bookmarks, search on colon (":") -- 3,149
    • of which have "//" -- 2,922
    • of which have "//" and begin with JavaScript -- 121 (so probably addressing websites)
    • of which have "c:/" or "c:\" so address my own local files directly or indirectly -- 167
    • there are 102 uncategorized bookmarks in my Bookmarks Menu
    • there are 392 bookmarks in my Unsorted Bookmarks, of which 59 have tags
    • of the 10 in my most recently bookmarked, 3 have keywords and in my Bookmarks Toolbar "K" folder 1 w/o a keyword is in a subfolder of the "K" folder, 1 is in a subfolder of Bookmarks Toolbar "Blogs" folder, and 1 more is in Bookmarks Toolbar folder ("W7" for Windows-7 folder). There are 3 in Unsorted Bookmarks, the remaining 1 is categorized in folders of my Bookmarks Menu. None of these 10 have Tags.
  • Count of bookmarks with a Keyword -- 775
  • Count of bookmarks with tags -- 117 (tagged but don't use the tags)
  • Count of bookmarks with a Description -- 796
  • Count of bookmarks with JavaScript -- 345
  • Count of bookmarks with substitutions (%s OR %S) -- 201

The usefulness of Keyword is hidden from these counts because they do not show up in any count statistics on bookmarks, and a single bookmarklet with a keyword of "ff:" can be used to access directly any of 442 files, and I have several other such bookmarks. Similar substitutions can be used in place of listed search engines. Keyword shortcuts are also used to search a current site, or within the directory of a current site if Google (or other search engine) has indexed such pages.


Put the customization of Firefox back into Firefox. When I started Firefox, within two clicks of installing Firefox you came upon a page to customize Firefox via userChrome.css and userContent.css that was nice, to the point and not wasteful of machine cycles. The user was a part of the dynamic. One of the best features was a single line change in userChrome.css to include keyword in the add bookmark dialog, that ability was removed from Firefox, but that page or one like it can be seen at Customizing Mozilla. After a loss of 4-6 months use of keyword customization during Firefox 3 (Places) betas one can once again use styling to add keyword (Style 9029), but keywords should be in Firefox without any need for customization. Instead developers for Firefox 3.6 have again tossed keywords practically out the window and try to force people to use Tags and try to users and other developers that that are the same. New users are directed to customization only see Extensions, Themes and Personas and are directed to many of the worst choices as "Recommended" extensions. What they do not see is the configuration changes (about:config) Styles offer a user the ability to install as is or to modify them for a more customized look via the "Stylish" extension and there are many styles available on which can be tested and implemented without restarting Firefox.

Real Estate

  1. Keep page layouts simple, don't make us look at three unrelated columns on a page, it's a waste of space. It doesn't make a difference how big our screen is. Let us choose to put up six or more overlapping windows on the screen even if you think we should only be looking at one window. Windows-7 has a nice feature that helps us work with multiple Windows to place a window on left or right side, maximize or minimize (WinKey+arrowkey) useful for dual window display/comparisons the windows are docked to the sides but can be moved around in the normal fashion. 1
  2. Keep toolbar heights to a minimum size without distorted icons. The Navigation Toolbar takes almost 3 lines of toolbar space. Some examples of how it can be reduced in size based on vertical space of the toolbar Navigation/Location Bar BIG Presentation Height |, Navigation/Location Bar Minimal Height |, Navigation/Location Bar Presentation Height (DM*) | You do not even need the drop-down as you can use right-click context menu.
  3. Keep the menus, these are the primary route to learn how to use an application, has a hierarchical outline with keyboard shortcuts. They can be modified by users using extensions to add directly into menus with related items as the user sees fit. Lacking decent built-in facilities the "Menu Editor " extension provides exactly what is needed to customize menus.


(picture of toolbars with scaling grid)


  1. Page banner picture was removed but the pages still have an excessive page weight compared to text content.
  2. Remove large icon
  3. Display the download size next to each "Install" button.
  4. Move the user comments to the end after Developer descriptions and Developer comments.
  5. Collections are going to become a nightmare if that hasn't already happened.

Keyword as an advanced feature

Finally found out where use of keyword is considered an advanced feature in Firefox Browser | Tips &\1 tricks to help you get the most out of the Web, which is now a rather useless page compared to the page before that was like Customizing Mozilla that used to contain real Tips and customizations. The replacement page looks more like an presentation outline before someone downloads Firefox rather than a page offering help. If its a Help page where are the links. Even so why are developers destroying keyword usage, and how did they get charge of modules that they don't even know what the features are or the file structures.

What should be included in Firefox

See User:Dmcritchie#Facilities that should be built-in to Firefox as seen in these Extensions. This would eliminate problems of incompatible extensions as these features are really needed by all users. Unfortunately when such things are adopted into Firefox they never get done correctly, or do only one small part of the extension.

Mozilla stated goals

Watch list for 3.7a4pre failures/problems

"Menu Editor" extension complete tab context failure, see
Bug 554991 - allow tab context menu to be modified by normal XUL overlays [RESOLVED FIXED] fix is cause of problem

Aero Glass effects caused toolbars to be unreadable night of 2010-03-30, partially fixed on 2010-04-01 and problem with unreadable Stylish edit dialogs and menu icon stuff was fixed on 2010-04-04, so usable again.[4].

Probably Thunderbird issue but Shawn posts with a PSP signature on/after 2010-01-02 and using a list server instead of a newsgroup causes his replies in the above thread are hard to read as I have to read each of his from within an attachment or headers, and it also produces errors.

Window Live Mail: There was an error decoding this message. The message header contains invalid data.

The content is certainly not plain text as it has been placed into an attachment.

Content-Type: multipart/signed; protocol="application/pkcs7-signature";

Watch list for 3.7a5pre failures/problems

  • (Fixed) Double-click to open a New Tab is opening TWO tabs instead of one new tab -- changed double-click on tab bar to do nothing in "Tab Clicking Options" extension to solve part of problem, extension still needed to close a tab with double-click.
  • New Tabs open with incorrect wording of "New Tab" instead of more correct wording and unambiguous former wording of "(untitled)". Wording of "New Tab" is simply wrong -- close last tab and it is not a "new tab" but is simply an "(untitled)"; likewise use about:blank which adds another level of to tab it is not a new tab, add more levels to tab and then back off, it is still not a new tab but should be shown as "(untitled)" back off more into earlier tabs and titles.
  • Tab Color Underscoring active/read/unread (Fx3.6) | (Not working) should -- color the bottom border of a tab with RED for active tab, BLUE for a normal tab, GREEN for a still unread tab, MAGENTA(FUSHIA) for loading/reloading tab. Among other problems such as Tab height, probably need a new version of "Tab Visited" extension mentioned on the style page.
  • Stylish no longer works properly with latest Minefield Trunk 3.7a5pre -, existing styles work, but can't view list; therefore, can't edit, add, delete, etc. -- there is a disable all styles which I will not touch, but it probably would not do anything, but not going to try.  Coincidence of not the horrible/butchered new Firefox addons manager that resides in a tab and uses prodigious quantities of real estate is unusable and almost certainly affects "Stylish" and "Stylish Custom" usage.

Status Bar and other Toolbars

Status Bar

  • Can't move items to other toolbars
  • Dysfunctional large wasteful empty area on "add-on" bar
  • Extension "McAfee Site Advisor" now inaccessible with status bar item missing
  • Extension "Headings Map" transparent background on menu
  • Link url message gone up to location bar
  • Status bar messages gone, hard to see whats not there, error console don't work, awkward
  • Status Bar replaced with a semi functional add-on bar
  • Too few items to justify a toolbar
  • Too many items to distribute onto other toolbars
  • Transparent background for menu on
  • User interface stinks

More on Misguided Ergonomics and eyeball studies
Mozilla and Microsoft have done eyeball studies, I'm sure at great expense, and with all the wrong conclusions and goals. The worst is the Microsoft Ribbon, and Firefox is incorporating much of that bad design with lots of extra clicking in hard to find/use menus (the ribbon is a picture oriented menu).

Everything in your face, nothing to be seen and very little that is usable.
If nothing is wrong there is no waiting and no need or time to wander or go looking for problems, as what one wants to see would already be in view.   All of the so called studies seem very flawed to me, put something new on the screen and people are going to look at it.  But it is not a matter of having to look directly at something, as long as it is within an immediate area of where one expects something to be the exact placement is not important.

Early ergonomic studies included hunt and peck typing -- there was essentially no one without some familiarity with a querty keyboard and all they had to guess at was within one key of where a key actually was, keep in mind that typewriter keys do not move around. So even a person that did not know where any keys actually were did better than on a keyboard with an alphabetical arrangement.

Adding confusion such as moving toolbars around may take some time to get used to, and older people or animals may never fully adjust, but put them back to where they first learned things and there is no loss of time in adjusting.

How long you expect the menu bar with combined Firefox and Extension functionality to remain around after all of the work is being focused on separating the two and adding a couple levels to get to the menus.

If you don't know a lot of keyboard shortcuts and alternate ways of doing things, you will probably be at a great disadvantage unless your mind and usage follows that of a left-handed graphical artist.

Users should be main concern

The best users are those that make use of features and can tell others how do use them. Instead what I see is developers who often don't understand their own product, make changes for the sake of making changes but not to help users. Documentation left to users rather than developers being the primary source for documentation, which instead is relegated to to those who have to figure out why things don't work. This is the difference between Specifications (SPECS), Reference (HELP) as opposed to a guide with more specific usages (Usage GUIDE).

So many things have been made non functional in Firefox, or reduced to barely working, this has wasted a lot of my time and it frustrating to most users many of whom just give up.

My particular interests are

  • keyword shortcuts particularly with substitution and JavaScript. Was introduced to JavaScript in Internet Explorer, but the substitution was new to me in Firefox.
  • Streamlining toolbars without loss of features by removing wasted space. The new toolbars with each version or release have never ever saved any space compared to simply removing the wasted vertical and horizontal space, and removing several useless toolbar buttons..

Then of course many extensions, many of which require compatibility to be turned off or find another one. The good extensions where the author is no longer around but get marked incompatible. The problematic extensions almost all of which I never installed because they are obviously poorly designed and need a lot of attention, but they are widely used because the configuration options are so hidden and annoying for users to change.

When I started Firefox within about three clicks after installing Firefox, I was introduced to configuration options and what to change.. That is when Firefox was more friendly.

With each new release or version , one has to change several defaults back to previous settings, or add new configuration variable to retain old settings,..

You want examples, I expect you can find several hundred in the following, plus some individual examples.: