Stuff my wife will never use in Mozilla

Matthew Thomas, Mozilla UI guru posted an interesting article about a new project going on in the Mozilla base code, called mozilla/browser.

The project's goal is to make a browser for the windows/linux crowd that is seperate from all of the various tech and marketing bits that have made their way onto the UI over the years and make something for the average user.

Now, my first reaction was "Noooooooooooo!", why would they change my beloved interface.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this mozilla/browser project is a smart idea.

Why? Well, I started thinking about all the stuff that's part of mozilla's interface and I realized that most of it is totally useless to most users. So to prove my point I came up with a list of features that I like to call:

"Stuff my wife will never use in Mozilla"
1. Work offline
2. Edit Page
3. Fill in Form / Save Form Info
4. Show or Hide anything
5. View the browser in full screen
6. Use style to change style sheets? c'mon
7. Character coding
8. Page source
9. Page info
10. Form manager
11. Image manager
12. Javascript console
13. Javascript debugger
14. DOM Inspector
15. The Window menu

That's just a list I made going through the menus. I'm sure there are more features that I could come up with if I dug a little deeper.

What I would like to see come out of this mozilla/browser experiment is a series of different browser UI's based on mozilla's rendering engine.

One for developer's like myself with all the cool toys and one for the general public who don't need all that crap.

Come to think of it, the UI should be seperated from the main code base, as to make creating a new interface for your own needs (more than just skinning) as easy as possible.

» posted by jeffp on April 23, 2002 at 01:27 PM


more info about m/b from david hyatt

so this is basically mozilla's version of MSN Explorer? I wonder if they'll add a "Shopping" button on the toolbar.

# posted by pinder

Pinder, no, a better comparison would be "Chimera for Windows and Linux". E.g. a simple browser interface, and no other components. They still want to keep it written in XUL, though, I think.

# posted by Chucker

I'm all about simplifying the interface, but you have to beware what Joel Spolsky calls the 80/20 myth:

"A lot of software developers are seduced by the old "80/20" rule. It seems to make a lot of sense: 80% of the people use 20% of the features. So you convince yourself that you only need to implement 20% of the features, and you can still sell 80% as many copies. Unfortunately, it's never the same 20%. Everybody uses a different set of features."

I still think some valid points are being made here though. Some features just aren't used by anybody (the image manager comes to mind).

I still use IE6 as my primary browser, but it's starting to get interesting when I notice features that I like from Mozilla that are missing from IE. For example, I love in Mozilla that you can set Ctrl-Click to open tab-windows in the background. You can with five clicks I can open five background tabs from Google search results - in IE, I have to open in a new window and switch back every time.

# posted by Steven Garrity

I still think some valid points are being made here though. Some features just aren't used by anybody (the image manager comes to mind).

It's not just about features that no-one uses though. I personally could not live without View Source, it's been a feature ever since I've surfed the web and I will continue to use it.

However, I believe the objective here with mozilla/browser is to seperate the UI to the point where you can have a "Chimera" style browser for the 80% of people who use Mozilla and a "Kitchen Sink" UI for the 20% of people like me who would use those features.

# posted by jeffp

Speaking as a guy who doesn't know anything about CVS trees, how can i get a copy of mozilla/browser working on my machine?

# posted by frost

Chimera for Windows and Linux? You mean K-Meleon and Galeon?

# posted by Mark Paschal

Mark: In a similar way, but closer to Mozilla. It will use XUL, it will have a similar feature set for the browser, and so on. At least that's how *I* understand it.

K-Meleon and Galeon are both distros in which and Netscape aren't involved in any way.

# posted by Chucker

frost, currently the only way to get mozilla/browser on win32 platform is to build it yourself following these instructions, which means going through cvs trees and gmake and stuff.

# posted by pinder

5. View the browser in full screen

I disagree with this one. My partner is NOT a tech guy, and he uses the full screen function in IE a lot when he looks at art/photography pages on a laptop.

# posted by Barry Hoggard

Have to disagree with the characterization of the character coding menu item - anyone who reads a language other than the Western European ones (think of e.g. folks who read Greek, Hebrew, Russian, and Arabic, as well as those pesky CJK languages) will need that. Just because your wife isn't one of them . . .

# posted by Patrick Rourke

Perhaps it could be done more like some apps that let you select simple or advanced modes for the menus. Simplified has fewer power features, advanced has them all.

# posted by Jeff Wilkinson

I accidentally found your page while searching for details about Form Manager.

For the record, Image Manager is definitely one of my top 10 favorite Mozilla features. Bye bye 3rd party adverts and spy pixels.

As a web designer, I use hordes of Mozilla features that you might think are pointless. Also, my wife isn't an IT geek, but we both use AutoFill and Form Manager.

# posted by Frank Uy

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