Firefox 3 brings Ugliness to the Mac

Having tried to use Firefox 3 as my main browser for a while it just strikes me how little it actually conforms with the rest of Mac OS X. I haven’t found a decent summary of this yet on the web, so I decided to do one myself.

Let me give a brief summary…

Buttons

Firefox does not use Cocoa controls. However when they tried to copy the OS X buttons they must apparantly made a few mistakes, because the buttons does not look anything like the OS X buttons. And as soon as a few effects are added it just gets worse and worse.


Standard Safari button


Standard Firefox button - notice the difference on the edge

Menus

In Leopard all menus now have rounded corners. Well not in Firefox. All Firefox menus have the old style look, and when used with items such as list boxes it just turns out way wrong.


Standard Safari list box


Standard Firefox list box - wrong in just so many ways (it doesn’t even respect my graphite setting)

Window design

Firefox 3 RC2 added the possibility to differentiate between foreground and background windows. However there is still something very wrong with the Firefox window. Check below

Here’s the standard Safari window. Nice and linear gradient.

Here’s the standard Firefox window. Notice how the gradient is BRIGHTER in the middle! This is a three-component gradient, going from mid-gray, to light-gray, to dark-gray. This has been noticed by many others, but the Firefox team either thinks it’s better looking or they just cannot spot the difference.

Heres a Firefox window skinned with the theme  GrApple Yummy (graphite). Notice how the three-component gradient gets compressed in a weird way.

Form layout

Finally I think Firefox renders content in a very ugly way. Just check the two pictures below from  http://www.google.se/. There is nothing special in the form layout, but just look at the way the buttons OVERLAP with the input field, and how the radio button text is located UNDER the actual buttons. It’s so ugly it’s almost funny.


Safari interpretation of www.google.se


Firefox interpretation of www.google.se - notice buttons overlapping input field, radio box text located under the butons, and the non-standard looking aqua buttons

Conclusion

Using Firefox 3 is  really a different experience from using OS X. It’s not Windows, it’s not OS X and it’s not Linux. It’s something else. It’s too much apparent that there is no overall design team involved in Firefox development, and for me personally it’s enough reason to not  want to use Firefox at all.

** Update. Markus Stange, Firefox OS X developer, posted some clarifications below. Well worth a read.

82 Responses to “Firefox 3 brings Ugliness to the Mac”


  1. 1 sdfsadsfwe

    Sadly the same thing applies to Opera 9.50. They’ve tried to mimic OS X looks, and have done buttons better than Firefox, but dropdowns are just as ugly and icons are even worse :(
    Non-Mac people probably don’t “get it” about OS X consistency. On Windows every application invents its own “skin”, on Linux you have several wildly different toolkits and nobody cares :)

    [compulsory registration sucks]

  2. 2 Alex

    Firefox and Safari handle control widgets the same way, they make their own widgets and draw the system theme onto the widget.

    The buttons in Firefox seem odd though, like they’re slightly more blurry (the top border is much more defined in Safari), might just be a problem with how Firefox is telling the system to render them.

    And the drop down menu’s are a throwback to Windows 98, but at least they’re consistent in that regard (they look the same on Windows)

  3. 3 Zerf

    I whole heartedly agree with this article, and thank you for putting some of this analysis together in one place. It would be very nice if more places would start adopting a more standard MVC type design, so that they can actually adopt a native GUI for each platform. However, at least it’s a step forward from Firefox 2 in plenty of ways. It looks like we’re finally starting to see more support for ICC profiles for example, which Safari has at least somewhat dealt with for a while. Looking forward to a color managed web once we figure out what to do with Flash at least :(
    Probably though like a lot of us I’ll just continue to run multiple browsers. Firefox will be my special purpose utility browser, both for testing the look of layout on a different rendering engine vs WebKit and for a couple of sites that have very useful extensions for them which make browsing much better. Safari will be the “rapid launch” quick browser, and OmniWeb will remain my main browser.

  4. 4 Anonymous

    wow. You have to admit. This is a level of nit-picking that would get a Trekkie crucified and ridiculed off the net. Nobody said it was going to look, act and render *exactly* like Safari, because everyone who wants that, can just use safari.

    Keep in mind what Firefox2 looks like on a Mac, i have no idea how users have not collapsed to the fetal position and died.

  5. 5 Simon Thulbourn

    I agree with this post. The Firefox development team seemed to have tried to theme firefox so it suits the mac, but it has failed to the point of I’m unsure what I would want more, a app that looks like it sort of belongs on OS X or a app that has nothing in common with OS X.

    The GrApple theme has done a lot to fix some of the problems, but we shouldn’t have to theme a app that’s meant to have a native look and feel, which Firefox quite clearly misses.

  6. 6 Tom Moors

    Hey, I never noticed these things! You are right, even the latest RC suffers from this little flaws. But before bashing the developers too hard, maybe this http://boomswaggerboom.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/firefox-3-for-mac-os-x-under-the-hood/ can be an interesting read. It gave me a new insight on these cross-platform development issues.
    Comparing to Firefox 2, I have to say FF3 is great! I think Camino has lost it’s place in my applications folder, no browser can beat the amount of extensions :-)

  7. 7 Tom Moors

    Woops, didn’t see that you had also linked to this article in a previous post, my bad.

    The thing that keeps me from using FF3 as my default browser is the speed, they’ve made a lot of progress, but Safari reacts faster at the moment. So now I use these 2 browsers together, getting the best of both worlds.

  8. 8 Brian Dillard

    I don’t understand why Mac purists have to be such … purists. Is it really that essential to live in a Mac-colored world at all times? Let’s talk about what Firefox does deliver: A nearly identical UI across all three major platforms. I can work on a Linux machine at work, a Mac at home or a PC at my mom’s house and enjoy the same browser experience. And then there’s all the cool functionality that Firefox offers and Safari can’t on any platform.

    The browser _IS_ the platform. The native OS is just the host.

  9. 9 Dave R.

    Firefox looks awful on the Mac. I guess it fits in okay-ish in Windows and Linux, but that’s because their apps’ look and feel is all over the place anyway.

    It’s performance has always been very disappointing on OS X as well. I swear browsing with Firefox was quicker on my old 1.8GHz AMD Linux box than on my dual G5 PowerMac.

  10. 10 Mogden

    One thing I hate is that the dark grey toolbar area isn’t entirely draggable like it is in other apps. There’s an invisible boundary. Argh.

    It’s the “uncanny valley” of close but not quite there OSX feel…

  11. 11 Rich

    Kind of like how Apple apps don’t conform to Windows, and don’t run at all on Linux. Cool.

  12. 12 Tom

    Your criticisms are spot on, and should be forwarded to the Mac OS team at Mozilla. However, you should keep in mind that Firefox actually outperforms Safari in OS X integration in several areas. See Alex Faaborg’s post (scroll down toward the bottom to find the Firefox 3.0 vs. Safari comparison):

    http://blog.mozilla.com/faaborg/2008/05/14/firefox-3-themes/

    Getting everything perfect as far as UI experience is difficult, and the Firefox team did a really solid job of making Firefox seem more like a proper Mac OS citizen. Hopefully in Firefox 3.1 they can nail the remaining bugs that you’ve pointed out. (Likewise, the Safari team will hopefully add that last bit of spit and polish to Safari 4 to update its UI integration with the OS.)

  13. 13 Chris

    And people say Apple users are insufferable

  14. 14 Nixing your finch

    This just really confirms my suspicion. Mac-owners have way too much time on their hands…

  15. 15 zii

    google search button and the gradient on the button… come on - you really don’t have a life. thats bs.
    the leopard itself has some serious style issues - the red x (close window) button is damn ugly compared to tiger.

  16. 16 Markus Stange

    Some background info might be interesting:

    1. Blurry button edges:
    Cocoa can only draw buttons at specific “natural” sizes (16, 19 and 22px). The “Google Search” button’s height is 20px, so Firefox uses the next larger size (22px, NSRegularControlSize) and scales down, causing blurryness.
    Safari just snaps to the next best size.
    Unfortunately, 20px is the default size for html buttons… we need to change that.

    2. Non-native dropdowns:
    Yeah, they’re awful. That needs to change.

    3. Three-component unified gradient
    “going from mid-gray, to light-gray, to dark-gray.” - I don’t see any light-gray part. I think it goes from mid-gray to mid-gray to dark-gray.
    “the Firefox team either thinks it’s better looking or they just cannot spot the difference.” - Both is wrong; fixing it would require (1) introducing more cruft into the already hacky implementation and (2) taking developer time from more important issues.
    The current implementation works like this:
    The theme sets a color for the window’s titlebar (using the attribute “(in)activetitlebarcolor” on the window element) and paints a gradient that starts below the titlebar. That means the gradient can’t extend into the titlebar because we only support a solid color there.
    We could fix it by introducing attributes like activetitlebargradientstart and activetitlebargradientend, but that’d make things really messy. There are other ways of fixing it (e.g. faking the titlebar, too); we’ll see what can be done.

    4. Overlapping buttons on google.com
    That’s another unfortunate default stylesheet issue. Safari applies default margins to form controls, we don’t (yet). See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=416755

    5. Weird vertical alignment of radio buttons
    Don’t know about this one.

  17. 17 Alfonso

    You are an idiot. Find a better way to make use of your time.

  18. 18 Johan

    Markus: Thank you for the clarifications. Very interesting and concise. Overall I think you have done a good job with Firefox for OS X. Good luck with the download record!

  19. 19 Allison

    It looks a lot more OSXy than ff2 did!

  20. 20 texas holdem tournaments

    We really liked the website .. Thank you.

  21. 21 deister

    I think all but the gradient issues are valid, for me personally. In reality though my main reason for not using firefox is the lack of being able to leverage all the cocoa extras like right clicking on a work and defining it, etc. Without that it will never feel like an OSX app — even with a perfect safari cloned interface. I do of course know this would require a rewrite of all the code and therefore never going to happen. So I just sit back with safari, content to know that firefox is out there in case we need it. Does anyone remember when we were stuck with the very ugly IE on the mac?

  22. 22 Ismael

    @Brian Dillard:

    We like consistency, we like elegance. That’s why we use a Mac. We like the fact that our OS doesn’t bother us with silly hover-overs, speech bubbles, and the like all the time. We like the way that we can see windows minimizing, moving to the side, sliding away to go into another “space.” And we like the way that the OS *feels* rock-solid, sturdy, and stable underneath our feet (or mouse :)). One of the main reasons we *use* Macs is for that feeling of “this is right.” And GUI consistency is a big part of that.

    If you can’t break it right, don’t break it.

  23. 23 Jom Gelborn

    I’m not even going to bother downloading FF3 now that I’ve read your review of the UI. FF3 would have to be way damn better than Safari for me to put up with that ugliness.

  24. 24 mashkina

    It’s all you have to say against the new Firefox? Wow, then it’s gotta be good.

    I am Mac user for a couple of years and have been using Safari since then, but after using Firefox 3 for less than 30 mins, I can say it is very very appealing. It is faster (FF 2 was either), and reacts good to plug-ins, unlike Safari. I am seriously thinking of switching, or at least using both (each one for diferent themes).

  25. 25 wenbert

    this is ridiculous. as long as it functions well and has Firebug, I am happy.

  26. 26 Connor

    The Firefox folks have been making this mistake for years now. They always think they can use clever theming tricks to *pretend* that their apps are using the system toolbox, even though they aren’t.

    They get close enough to the OS X look to convince you that it’s going to work like every other app on the system, and then catch you off-guard every time you try to drag the window by the toolbar, or every time a pop-up menu inexplicably pops-down.

    The system toolbox is not static. It’s a little bit different with every new system release, and it’s full of minor niceties that have been researched and designed by teams of full-time professionals; the Firefox team (or any other team) will never be able to create a truly convincing fake “on the side.”

    If you want the system look and feel, you need to link against the system framework to get it. If they’re not willing to do what it takes to create native UI, then I won’t use it — and I’ll be perfectly OK with that.

  27. 27 Big Ben

    I am using a Mac - I dislike the way FF3 (and Camino) now render search results in Google. This would seem to be down to Gecko 1.9. If you type Firefox into FF3 the search term is highlighted and a further blue line is added underneath. If you type the same search term into Safari and other Webkit based browsers the search term is highlighted but there is no extra blue line under the search term. I use Google alot and find this certainly an ‘ugly’ feature!

  28. 28 Jose

    Wow guys, you have too much time in your hands to be able to write such a long article about such trivial matters. You really need to turn off the computer and go out and get some fresh air… If you want to get into an energized discussion do it about something that’s actually important.

    I personally feel MacOS X widgets suck. They may have been cool in 2001 but in 2008 they seem outdated. Any attempt of imitation is an ill fated pursuit. For example the fact that the size of scroll bars can’t be changed is a lot more troublesome to me that any looks they may have. MacOS X seems to like making the target of buttons smaller, so the user has to increase their accuracy when click around.

  29. 29 Required Name

    I’ve always liked the Firefox 2 theme, even though it doesn’t look native to any OS. The attempts at “native-ness” just look wrong to me, and because it looks different from OS to OS, it doesn’t feel like the same product. Besides, since Firefox is meant to display websites the same regardless of the OS, the identical look-and-feel would further promote that.

    I’m not sure if anyone else share the same sentiments as me, though.

  30. 30 Josh

    You forgot how Mozilla blatantly stole the terrible combined forward/backward pulldown menu (and the big ugly keyhole thing) from Internet Explorer 7, and brought clunkiness to OSX.

  31. 31 WiseWeasel

    FireFox 3 has the extremely annoying habit of launching in fullscreen mode for me, no matter what size I set its window to when I last quit the app. This is so incredibly annoying, that I have to resize FireFox’s window to fit around my IM windows EACH FREAKING TIME I LAUNCH FIREFOX! I’ve gone back to Safari, and I’m not going to bother with Firefox until they get that fixed.

  32. 32 Frank

    Bloody hell. Good I’m not the only one. Looks terrific on my Vista machine at work but hate it on my Mac at home. Especially the navigation buttons and the tabs are horrid. What were they thinking?

  33. 33 Get-a-life

    Please, you need to get a life. I own a mac, love mac os x, and yet i didn’t even notice these slight colour differences until you pointed them out. Even then it took a while before i saw it.

    Secondly, the google button looks identical in both, don’t know what you’re on about.

    Seriously, you must be a wimp if something this minor can offend you.

  34. 34 Laura

    Surely this was posted as satire? It simply can’t be real.

  35. 35 cwa107

    This is an attempt at satire, is it not? If not, please know that you made quite a few of us LOL. I have never seen such nit-picky critiques in my life. As far as I’m concerned, not only is Firefox’s rendering superior in terms of speed and accuracy, but it’s UI is far more pleasing at least to my eye. Apple’s minimalist approach may be attractive to some, but certainly not all Mac users. If I have to deal with the lack of ports, status lights and legacy support in hardware just to run OS X, at least don’t subject me to the same kind of design ethos in software. Form is not greater than functionality - at least not in software.

  36. 36 Krissy

    The folks saying to get a life and that this is too focused on particular gui aspects are obviously NOT designers. These seemingly subtle differences would not have to be explained, if Firefox had created an original design, rather than wholeheartedly copy what is frankly, a better-looking interface from a competitor. I wrote a blog post on this too, because as a designer and user experience professional I think the pr and news stories on how this is some great new design is sort of disgusting. An in-depth look at WHY this interface bugs some of us as much as it does, was very much appreciated by me. Thanks for this article, and for having a keen eye for detail. The world does need people like you, so don’t let the naysayers get you down! :-)))

  37. 37 Toby

    To anyone who can’t see what Johan is talking about, please stop posting. Any user interface designer will cringe.

    Just owning a Mac doesn’t make you an expert on GUI experience. And why do you own a Mac if you don’t care about it at all?

  38. 38 Michael

    I agree about the gradient issue, but on a scale of major life irritations it’s about a 0.01 on a scale of 10. I seriously want to smack most of you upside the head, crying and moaning over the most trivial things ever. Do non-rounded corners on pulldown menus really cause that much psychic pain? Really??! Some people are impossible to please. I suspect that most of you losers will continue using FF3 despite your protestations, because you clearly love whining and this gives you something to whine about.

    I, personally, only used FF2 because it has FireBug, and Safari does not. Apart from FireBug, I HATED FF2 — it was super slow and resource-hogging and unstable (and ugly, too, I admit). I used Safari for recreational surfing and FF2 for work out of necessity. However, so far, FF3 is a big winner in my book and has already replaced Safari as my everyday browser of choice.

    A HUGE factor that no-one is talking about here is the Full Zoom feature, which is flawless and very useful, and pretty incredible when you think about the technicality of pulling something like that off in a browser. For design fanatics, it’s a great thing — you can increase the scale of the page and its elements, without distorting the proportions that the designer intended. Beautiful! Safari immediately looks ugly, and ruins the designer’s intent, as soon as you hit Command-[+].

  39. 39 Greg

    Toby — get over yourself. “Stop posting comments if your opinion doesn’t match mine or the authors.” Really? That’s how it works now?

    The hyperbole and melodrama in this post are extreme to the point of comeday, and totally erase any credibility the author might have had.

  40. 40 Momus

    Mac OS X could use some inconsistency in its GUI. A decade ago, Apple looked down upon PC’s as being boring, dull, grey boxes. Now Apple’s operating system is nothing but that.

  41. 41 Michael

    Momus - I have to reluctantly agree, to a certain extent. For example, at a glance, I can’t see a clear, obvious difference between Finder, Mail, Numbers and iTunes windows. Expose is a nice feature, but when all the windows are shrunken down, they all look the same, which defeats the purpose of Expose. Design consistency is great, to a point — until everything looks exactly like everything else and productivity suffers.

  42. 42 Connor

    Wow, the “Firefox is the greatest thing since sliced bread” trolls are out in full force today.

    Some of us rely on the subtle features of the GUI to get things done. I expect to be able to drag windows around by the toolbar, like I can, not just in Safari, but in EVERY other app on the system. When that doesn’t work, it’s frustrating and it wastes my time. When I click a pop-up menu, I expect the currently selected item to be centered on the menu. When it doesn’t behave the way I expect (e.g. the way it behaves in every other app), it’s frustrating, it’s distracting, and it’s a waste of my time.

    Most days, I work around the UI problems by ignoring Firefox and using a platform-native browser like Safari, Camino or OmniWeb instead. In this case, I downloaded the new version because their marketing drivel claimed to have fixed my biggest problem with it — the “platform-native look and feel.”

    Sadly, the new platform-native look and feel isn’t platform native at all, and it shows. It’s just new lipstick on the same old pig.

    Tomorrow, I’ll go back to Safari and be perfectly content with it. Today, people need to know that Firefox’s new “platform-native” UI really isn’t, so that they don’t make the same mistake I did. Kudos to Johan for bringing the subject up.

  43. 43 Jorge Rosa

    How about Safari bringing (insert adjective here) to the WinPCs?
    At least the Firefox team is working hard to make it look like a native Mac app, something Apple keeps «forgetting»: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070612-afirst-look-safari-3-on-windows.html , and I rest my case.

  44. 44 Georg

    Dude, it’s Open Source software. If you don’t like it, fix it.

  45. 45 peter

    It’s not that Mozilla doesn’t have design team — they do, or at least they pay attention to look and feel. The problem is much worse: they simply don’t get it. Nobody at Mozilla understands what it takes to create *native* UI and that no amount of work on mimicking native controls, instead of simply *using* them, will be perfect — or even good enough to be barely noticeable.

    And this is a problem on *all* platforms, not only OS X, so please cut off the hate replies. Firefox is not consistent with GTK+/GNOME on Linux either (though it’s much better in FF3 than it used to me). It doesn’t use native controls on Windows (where apparently — viz the replies here — people are so conditioned by inconsistent crap that they don’t care).

    Another offender of the same kind: OpenOffice/NeoOffice.

  46. 46 Markus

    Most of the design issues criticized are minor (buttons, gradient, …). But the weird overlapping buttons over the input field on google is strange. That’s a more serious lapse that the FF people should have caught. But overall, I’m very happy with FF 3. It’s so fast!!

  47. 47 Fernando R.

    I’m a Windows XP user and I mainly agree with guy named Frank. Just kind of disappointed with the expectations the releasing of FF3 raised up compared to outcome. I actually think that they must have worked mostly with “background” features like security, bookmarking, stability and other stuff. This seems evident to me now upon hearing one of your mac guys conversations centered on GUI. Graphically wise there’s more to add to what most of you said, but I guess for me graphics are not a main concern as long as they don’t “come in the way”. Which is precisely what happened, pretty much, with FF3 release. I was completely happy with FF2 in the sense that I never felt the urge to talk about it. But installing FF3 bad feeling towards tabs, side bar, and the overall look kind of annoyed me to the point that to me it feels like they actually made a step backward on such matters. What were they thinking expressese perfectly my feel about this whole FF3 thing, cause I don’t see this huge increase in speed either. On start up, for example, it appears to be even slower.

  48. 48 Micah

    Firefox/OSX looks far better than Safari/Windows.

    I might pay more attention to those who scream about native toolkits if Apple ever used them.

  49. 49 John_B

    I’d still rather put up with the FF3/OSX/GrApple “ugliness” than live without AdBlock Plus (with EasyElement+EasyLiset) and FlashBlock.

    Besides, stuff in Safari drives me equally crazy. No URL history dropdown in the Location Bar? Typing “Google”+command+return in the Location Bar opens it in a *new* tab? If they are both going to be effin’ wierd, I prefer the effin’ wierd without ads or Flash-trash with FF3 thankyouverymuch.

  50. 50 MacBooker

    Best part about the comments? The Firefox apologists who try to take you to task for being overly analytical and “picky”, and harp on you having “too much” free time-yet they managed to find time to stop, read this blog, AND comment on it, and make it personal as well.

    If Firefox 3.0 “looks good enough for me!”, hey, more power to you. It certainly doesn’t look good enough for me to actually use daily, but, that is just me :p

  51. 51 oomu

    but but Safari 3.1 is also full of inconsistencies !

    that very software is not totally “aqua”

    and please, look at Apple iTunes ! NOT AQUA scrollbars for Steve’s Sake !

    -
    so what ? I want a great UI, yeah, much more than all of you, but it’s a tremendous task, and Mozilla did a fine job to improve Firefox.

    I hope Firefox 3.5 will a be better, and I hope Apple will stop the madness with itunes 8 (or 9 or whatever) and fix the little mistakes of Safari too !

    you see ? no one is perfect.

    Did you see omnifocus from Omnigroup ? one of the most old software editor for cocoa, well, omnifocus use some crazy custom widget with NOTHING common in mac os X defaults widgets. and it’s bad, really bad, with many subtle faults (but annoying).

    So I’m really impressed by Firefox 3 improvements, more than Safari. and for my opinion, Omniweb 5.7 (or beta 5.8) is a more “cocoa” integrated webbrowser than safari.

    and you call yourself a mac purist ? pfouah! I will tell you what is real Mac Purist !

    a mac purist is someone spotting when in “graphite”, Safari loading-bar is still blue-aqua ! WRONG. Safari is just full of customs widgets (as itunes).

    You are just wannabe purist, not enough hard core :)

  52. 52 Timothy

    John_B, I had to comment, because I simply couldn’t figure out what you would want cmd+return in the location bar to do if not open in new tab. Cmd-clicking a link opens _it_ in a new tab, so I see that behavior has 100% consistent and predictable. (And if you have cmd-click set to open in a new window, then cmd+return opens the address in a new window.) What behavior are you looking for from cmd+return if not exactly what it does?

  53. 53 Firefox Firesuxz

    Wow…looks like Sanneblad struck a nerve in Firefox fans. I don’t know why they feel like they’ve suffered huge injustices when anyone has any cristism about Firefox.

  54. 54 Me

    I’m using both browsers on my Mac, I think Fx will never look perfect because this is a cross platform app, not a native Mac app. It has some other strengths, though. I like its versatility (I can pick just the right extension…), and it uses less memory than Fx 2. I was not entirely satisfied with Safari either, until v.3. Now it has a “restore session” option, a nice “Find” command, etc. I’d like a “cookies exception” list, too. But all in all I’ve got two browsers to choose from and I’m pretty pleased, considering what the situation was a few years ago.

  55. 55 Justin Williams

    I’ve been a long time Safari user, but after switching to Firefox 3 on Tuesday, I haven’t felt the urge to go back to the 100% native Safari just yet. I think Firefox to is good enough that even the biggest stickler like myself can accept the tradeoff of a few wonky looking controls and behaviors in exchange for a more powerful and customizible experience.

  56. 56 clvrmnky

    Honestly, I can’t see the difference in the buttons. The rest is obvious and ugly. I’m just not sure how much any of this matters anymore. We all use ugly UIs every day now, and it ain’t going to change.

  57. 57 Andy S

    Why can’t they just use native controls ????

    I am a programmer, and I can tell you that it is far easier to just use native controls rather than write an entire rendering and layout library (required to draw controls).

    Well, FF3 may not be perfect but at least it looks about a billion times better than any QT app, now that it one truly hideous toolkit.

  58. 58 John_B

    Timothy, command+enter on every modern browser (goodlord, yes, even IE) adds “http://www.” to the front and “.com/” to the end of whatever you typed in the location bar and loads it in the current window or current tab. BTW, I’m not clicking anything.

    Still, its a forest-for-the-trees issue. If Safari could (1) reliably block ads, (2) reliably block 3rd-party cookies related to ad domains and (3) block Flash by default, that would be good enough. Quirks I can adjust to, but ads and Flash-trash, not so much. YMMV.

  59. 59 Ras

    If you feel the need to point out that this article is bordering on Obsessive Compulsive behaviour and that “Mac users have too much time on their hands”

    Get off the internet.
    Srsly, Blogs are not democracies, they are opinions.

    Also, if there were not such people who paid attention to such small details human infrastructure would collapse and the word consistency would be struck from the worlds lexicon.

    If this sort of rational thought is too much for your poor mind to take, please, stop breathing and let a more useful member of the human race take your share of food water and air in order to make some sort of meaningful difference.

  60. 60 Max Howell

    I agree XUL is an exercise in not quite getting UI elements right. Though to be fair it is only OSX where this is a serious problem. Windows barely has a standard UI toolkit. Eg. standard menus on Windows don’t even support icons. Everyone implements their own. And naturally Linux doesn’t even have the concept of a standard Window Manager.

    I take offence at your article though.

    “It’s too much apparent that there is no overall design team involved in Firefox development”

    Yeah indeed, so “apparently” it’s pure luck that Firefox 3 is clearly so much better on OSX than 2. Heaven forbid that people like you could have a rational or reasonable opinion for a change. An excessively negative rant. Recognise credit where it is due.

  61. 61 You'reAPettyFool

    Is this a serious article? Come on, get a grip…

  62. 62 Andy

    Are ’sheets’ still a clunky Firefox implementation of the standard Cocoa widget ? I mean, the thing that appears when you customise the toolbar - on the Mac this is a standard control that slides out of the window titlebar, with a smooth animation and standardised functionality. On Firefox it - well - isn’t. :-/

  63. 63 Markus Stange

    @Andy S: “I can tell you that it is far easier to just use native controls rather than write an entire rendering and layout library (required to draw controls).” - That might be true if your application only runs on one platform and isn’t skinnable.

  64. 64 Hans j. Gotta

    Johan, get a life!
    You must be a Shakespeare-Fan …
    Much ado about nothing!

  65. 65 Daniel

    John_B, the command key consistently opens a new tab in safari, in whatever use. Making it do it IE/FF’s way breaks safari’s design. In any event, Safari will automatically add those components of the url anyway. For example, typing mozilla/en-US/firefox/ in the location bar will lead safari to insert the http://www. and .com For that matter, does anyone ever type http://anymore? Every browser assumes that, and www is *almost* never necessary either.

  66. 66 Jason

    Hey… if you don’t like it… reskin it. I know, I know… using the built-in capabilities of the browser is a lot to ask.

  67. 67 Antonio

    A very in depth review but also quite ridiculous. Judging a browser based upon the interface rather than the performance and customization options means you guys have nothing better to do. Rather than spending time reviewing likes and dislikes, why not create your own interface theme? Just like what the Mac stood for before OSX and full customization (even though you can still do it now with hacks, long live FruitMenu). The whole point is to customize and have it look and behave exactly as you see fit. If you’re like lemmings and prefer the Safari theme, go download one like Grapple.

    The beauty of Firefox are the numbers of Add-ons it supports, something Safari can only do through shareware hacks. I love the customization and as I told someone else, most Safari users will probably hate FF3 out of the box, but after having a number of Add-ons, you start seeing the opportunities. AdBlockPlus is a godsend and Saft doesn’t compare. Talk about speed, FF3 is much faster on certain sites because I’ve blocked all those annoying ads. It also makes great use of the bottom status bar allowing me to one-click translate any site, get thumbnail previews in google results and even have a mini-download monitor.

    I’ve been a mac user since my IIc and have owned 8 different macs and 0 pc’s. The most important thing to me is having an application that works the way I want it to without it dictating how I should interact with it. So if you’re someone who uses Photoshop with all of the default menus open rather than moving them and customizing to what you like, or any other application like that, then I suppose Safari is for you then. But if you really like to optimize the great experience you get from OSX, then give FF3 another look rather than arguing why it doesn’t look and behave like Safari.

  68. 68 Brent

    Amen Antonio!

  69. 69 Mike

    What bothers me most is how the labels of the radio buttons don’t align vertically. It’s almost the same (a bit less) on Windows.

    PS.
    Soooo many commenters are missing the point here.

    Some people even argue that because it runs on Linux too, it’s no big deal. That has nothing to do with it. Others say that it’s wasting time to write about this, well then it must surely be wasting time to comment on it.

  70. 70 Renaud

    I totally agree… I love this to help: http://www.takebacktheweb.org/

  71. 71 Johan

    Antonio/Brent/Renaud: You are missing my point with this post. Most screenshots were taken using the GrApple Yummy (graphite) theme. Skinning Firefox 3 does not in any way affect how Firefox renders buttons, list boxes or form controls. Nor can the theme make the window gradient look like any other Mac OS X application.

  72. 72 amin

    are you seriuos..its almost identical. Lame article.

    However, i do say that firefox 3 sucks because any theme other than default does not contain scroll bars. I dont care if its the people who made the theme or the browser itself. Thats lame. My macbook deserves scroll bars. macbooks rule.

    safari may be a bit faster but ff3 has the coolest extensions and you can change the themes (it will be a short while before they are updated and fix for scroll bars). Safari is a bitch to change the theme *easily and make it look nice.

  73. 73 Ahmad

    I just noticed something else that was a little off in Firefox 3.
    http://www.ahmadk.com/?p=38

  74. 74 Jacob

    The drop-down menus actually use your highlight color, not your menu color. Same with the location bar auto-complete.

    In a way, it doesn’t make sense to use native controls, since HTML form controls are style-able. That said, I think the aesthetic issues you pointed out are relatively minor. Firefox seems much more stable than Safari in my use. Also, I can’t live without Firebug ;-)

  75. 75 Bob

    As a designer I agree that it is slightly ugly, but it still functions. I’ve also learned that if you are nit picky about EVERY little design detail - down to the pixel - that you will die of high blood pressure.

    Lets all take a deep breath and let it go.

  76. 76 ceelife

    if you don’t like it, don’t use it and stop whining!

  77. 77 Woodie

    The Netscape browser was doomed because so much code was tied to the native widget toolkits for the various platform they had to support. The mozilla browser (which became firefox) addressed this by rendering the widgets with CSS. Given that I cannot run Safari or IE on my Linux box, this seems to be a reasonable idea.

    Personally, I find it annoying that form fields with focus now have a cyan halo. I will never understand why the Mac won’t let me resize a window from any corner.

  78. 78 SoWhatta

    Are you raving mad or something? Not a word of functionality, no this little gadget doesn’t seem to render prop on my shitty screen.

    Of course they stupid Mac users who used a computer in so many year completely without an operating system and didn’t complain then. Now they start to complain. If my stupid little gadget render good I don’t care if the stupid computer dies every other minute, no because it looks fine when its up!

    So now they have an OS and now they start complaining on gadgets in non standard browsers… Please get a life or YOU COULD MAKE A SKIN YOURSELF INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING ON FREE STUFF.

  79. 79 Marc Etienne

    The point here I think is the “uncanny valley”. In trying to achieve the looks of Mac OS X as closely as possible yet maintain a common codebase across all platforms, the Firefox developers had to imitate the UI elements instead of simply accessing them like Camino does. That meant they had to redraw them, render them from scratch (and to be honest, they got impressively close).

    The “uncanny valley” comes from the fact that they are so close, yet not quite identical. That jars a little, like an itch instead of a wound - you don’t think of it at first, but it distracts and annoys until you can think of nothing else. It’s not a true “uncanny valley”, where gradual imitation suddenly swings from “oh, how neat” to “um, that’s creepily too close”, but related.

    I respect the work that the Firefox 3 team did, especially under the hood. Since this is a work in progress, though, I think we can expect improvements as more people fine-tune the interface. Perhaps the Camino team can help the Firefox team achieve the holy grail of making a Cocoa version that remains close to the other platform branches…

  80. 80 Dojan5

    Jaaa, joo. De ser inte jättekul ut. Jag är mycket förtjust i Firefox och använder den i både Ubuntu, SliTaz Linux, Vista och XP (Tyvärr har jag ingen Mac), men sen dess at Firefox 3 kom ut har jag nästan spytt då jag ser den.

  81. 81 JMJimmy

    This will probably never be read but here goes:

    #1) Firefox is NOT Safari.

    #2) Firefox 3 INCLUDES Cocoa Widgets for the first time.

    #3) Firefox 3 the first time out for it’s newly adopted vector graphics engine.

    #4) Why does Firefox have to look like Apple OS X programs??? Standards are important, yes, but so is creativity and uniqueness (see #1).

    #5) All of the technologies used are open source. Don’t like it? Help out! Contribute something better for the next version!

    Give them some slack, give them some help, give them a chance to get it right. Also remember, OS X only has a 3-9% market share (depending on who’s stats you look at), and if it’s “pretty close” for now, just wait to see how much better it gets when OS X becomes more popular.

    Notes on me: Run Leopard, XP, Ubuntu, develop for any browser that has 1% market share or more. I like Firefox because I can run multiple personalized profiles (one for browsing, one for developing, one barebones, etc). I prefer XP, but only because OS X doesn’t have some of the the small customization details in XP. Small things like I had to download a 3rd party utility to be able to turn off the Mac loading “bong” so it didn’t disrupt meetings etc. let alone be able to change it to something I want. Or to be able to maximize a window to the screen by default and not the content size. Small things, I don’t shy away from OS X because of it, but I figure they’ll get around to these things when they have the time and money to do so.

  82. 82 Franco

    All you complainers really need to focus on functionality, speed and not nonsense about gradients etc…and since its free, either contribute, or point out things that really matter but don’t waste time on petty issues. frankly I’m not impressed by safari at all either, prefer firefox over all navigators.

  1. 1 Glen Scott - Keeping it simple, since 1977 » Firefox 3 released: still looks dodgy on Mac
  2. 2 Firefox UI Clarifications at Johan Sanneblad
  3. 3 Verily » Browser Bugs Bite
  4. 4 A place for my head » Blog Archive » Firefox 3 UI on Mac OS X
  5. 5 Warum Firefox 3 auf dem Mac einfach nicht gut aussieht ‹ dreitehabee
  6. 6 Firefox still sucks on macs « Tom Sucks
  7. 7 Firefox 3 Released. Mac Fanboys winge « Intrepid Studios
  8. 8 http://numberless.net » Firefox 3 is a usability nightmare. /
  9. 9 Ugly, ugly, ugly Firefox 3! « Out Here In The Field : A walk off the beaten path, on road less traveled
  10. 10 Inline PDF Viewing in Firefox 3 at Johan Sanneblad
  11. 11 “Netscape 6 - The Tyranny of the Skins has Begun” at Johan Sanneblad
  12. 12 Firefox, Photoshop CS4, Iris – co się stało z HIG? - Apple Blog
  13. 13 Blastr.tv » Blog Archive » Blastr EPISODE 42 - Mojo, Firefox 3 and Robot Fish
  14. 14 Firefox 3 = Fail? - Appfrica
  15. 15 Geekaholic: Firefox UI Gripes
  16. 16 Ahmad Karimi’s works » Another Firefox 3 Interface Oversight on OS X
  17. 17 Firefox 3 for Mac is Ugly at Bad Assembly
  18. 18 Testing Testing | Decycled

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