Accueil > Mozilla > Firefox should drop Sync, Panorama, the web console, and more

Firefox should drop Sync, Panorama, the web console, and more

I was reading this interesting article from Leslie Michael Orchard today about some bugs being filed on b.m.o to remove some existing features from Firefox, such as Microsummaries, some features related to bookmarks, and Livemarks. The main reason mentioned for these removals was that these features are used by a very small percentage of Firefox users (based on which data?). If the number of users using such or such feature is the main reason to drop support for a feature, then I ask the removal of Sync (as most users will use Firefox from a single computer, or won’t bother sync their data when being on someone else’s computer, most of the time), Panorama (I still don’t understand why we have two icons, one to see all tabs, and one to group them. I don’t even understand how the UI works, so I gave up pretty quickly), and of course the web console (as most users aren’t web developers). It probably also makes sense to remove most of the API, as most users aren’t writing extensions or third-party tools.

The second reason mentioned in these bugs is that the code is mostly unmaintained, has performance issues, and makes things harder to further develop Firefox. Maybe that’s true, but moving the code into an extension isn’t going to make it faster, more maintainable or easier to keep compatible with future versions of Firefox. And users who use them daily, such as myself, will have to deal with the too numerous addons to find the one suitable for my purposes (and no, I have no fun going through this unusable website to find the extension I need for my version of Firefox, which doesn’t suck because it freezes Firefox everytime it looks for new articles in the RSS feeds I have, which doesn’t add 3 icons here and there with no way to remove them, which doesn’t display a stupid popup every X minutes that there are 13 new articles, which isn’t disabled everytime there is a new release of Firefox because the addon author needs 6 months to update the max version, etc…).

So instead of a simple and clear UI like this:

I will have to either use Google Reader (no, I don’t need nor want Google to manage all my tasks. Google is not the Web, the Web is not Google), or try to find a suitable addon. I know so many people who have no idea what an addon is, that I think it’s inappropriate to put everything into extensions. If I want a browser with mostly no feature by default and no button and no toolbar of any kind, then I suppose I can use Lynx. And if the goal is to be as fast as Google Chrome at all cost and to have the same UI as Google Chrome, then I suggest to merge both projects. I don’t want a clone of Google Chrome, I want Firefox!

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  1. Markus
    8 février 2011 à 12:30  

    Full ack! Honestly, I don’t understand most of the reasons for Firefox UX design…. :-(

  2. Anonymous
    8 février 2011 à 12:58  

    Personally, I’d like to see Panorama go away until it can come back with a sensible UI that doesn’t hide away tabs invisibly. Just integrate groups of tabs with the existing concept of windows.

  3. Simon
    8 février 2011 à 1:14  

    I’d happily agree with the removal of Sync and Panorama – I don’t have any need for the former, and find the latter somewhat clumsy when I’ve tried to use it.

    And yes, the web console should *definitely* go – Firebug does a much better job of the same thing, and anyone interested in the console output almost certainly has Firebug installed.

  4. Simon
    8 février 2011 à 1:16  

    The second reason mentioned in these bugs is that the code is mostly unmaintained, has performance issues, and makes things harder to further develop Firefox. Maybe that’s true, but moving the code into an extension isn’t going to make it faster, more maintainable or easier to keep compatible with future versions of Firefox

    No, but moving the code into an extension means the slow and unmaintained code isn’t in the core application. If nobody cares enough to maintain it, punting it to an extension sounds like exactly the right thing to do.

  5. 8 février 2011 à 5:54  

    Frédéric, welcome to SeaMonkey! ;-) It admittedly doesn’t adopt shiny new features (of the kind I call "kiddie-toy") as fast as Firefox — for instance it hasn’t (yet) got Tabs-on-Top or Panorama, or even (I think) the Web Console, but it has Sync available (though, I think, still in an extension), it has DOM-Inspector built in, and even a "Debug & QA" built-in extension in nightlies (but not in release builds). It is even more advanced than Firefox (or so I heard) concerning the in-tab Data Manager, and some so-called "used-by-nobody undiscoverable" features dropped from Firefox in the past (such as the throbber link, which caused a — totally unheeded — hue and cry from users who *did* use it when Firefox dropped it (and the so-called facts that "nobody uses it, and anyway it is not discoverable" were actually used as arguments not to restore it after comments were added to the FIXED bug saying "why, but why did you remove this useful feature which didn’t cause trouble for anybody?"). Its Preferences dialog is similar to the old one from Netscape 4 in look-and-feel ("no-nonsense", I call it, and IMHO it is more usable than the Firefox "Options") but the backend is the same even if the choice of settable options is somewhat different.

  6. 8 février 2011 à 5:59  

    …the backend is the same _as Firefox’s_, I meant.

  7. 8 février 2011 à 10:24  

    Precisely my two arguments against removing Livemarks. Merci pour ce.

  8. 8 février 2011 à 12:13  

    I happen to like Panorama A LOT as I tend to have a lot of tabs open all the time and it makes managing them much easier. And clumsy? What’s so clumsy about Panorama?

  9. Simon
    8 février 2011 à 10:25  

    @Surya – as long as I’m not on a small screen, I prefer the approach taken by Tree Style Tabs (on FF3.6). Basically, replacing the top tab bar with a vertically aligned tree down the left. It makes managing large numbers of tabs easy, and I can constantly see what’s open.

    Afterall, this actual website (like most blogs) takes up about a third of my screen width – the rest is blank, wasted space. Might as well use it for something.

  10. 9 février 2011 à 4:38  

    My initial opinion was to keep Firefox simple. And focus on most essential things like speed, stability etc…Since there will be N innovations like panaroma and microsummeries which people love to use (I love my live bookmarks,,,No google reader)

    But many just don’t need them.

    Making these things available as addons makes perfect sense…

    But then i just thought what happens if those addons are no longer maintained ? It would be disaster…ppl who used them will start leaving. Its complicated question to answer.

  11. Przemo-c
    6 mai 2011 à 7:56  

    Sync has to stay personaly I dont use it but it’s a basic browser feature for an ordinary person. as for web console I am a sort of a web developer but i would gladly install it as an addon why burden ordinary users with it. As for panorama.. I dont use it because overhead of managing tabs takes too much time maybe with some extension that makes the ui for it that actualy makes sense i will use it but for now it’s pointless.

    most of the improvements in fx4 were for the better ant there allways be a difference in opinion about what features are nescesary but basic functionality like sync should be available for the user without any external addons. this is also tru for new features that for now don’t have many users but maybe they will.

    btw i use many extensions and sort of hate the idea that they are written in javascript sure wish i could recompile them in some binary form for speedonce i install it on my platform. Extensions and the way ui is written in mozilla are the greatest things about the browser.
    being able to change application ui with only css is simply wonderfull.

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