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.
  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.


The absurdity is that it is the bookmark dialog 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-in to Firefox but not made available. 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 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.

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 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 over one year during betas one can use styling again to add keyword (Style 9029), but keywords should be in Firefox without any need for any customization. Now users only see Extensions, Themes and Personas and are directed to many of the worst choices as "Recommended" extensions. 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.
  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.


  1. Remove large banners
  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.

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.