May 17, 2008

Firefox 3 is Awesome

Mozilla has just released Firefox 3 Release Candidate 1 and the final release is just around the corner. I really think that this is an awesome product, and wanted to mention my two biggest reasons for why that is.

Reason 1: The AwesomeBar

Yes, it’s actually called the AwesomeBar. This is what the URL bar looks like in Firefox 2:

and this is what it looks like in 3:

The great thing about this interface is that it requires zero effort to find and take advantage of; everyone uses the URL bar, and will eventually discover the usefulness of this feature when the suggestion list gives them what they want before they’re done asking for it. The screenshots above are from Deb Richardson’s excellent blog post detailing the feature, entitled AwesomeBar is awesome.

The great thing is that this kind of functionality is only going to improve over time, because the Mozilla design team understands the power of the graphical keyboard user interface.

Reason 2: Password Remembrances Made Non-Modal

This is the simplest UI change in the world, but I’m grateful for it day after day. It’s amazing how much less frustrating this one modification has made my browsing experience.

This is what Firefox 2 asks you whenever you submit a password to a website that it wants to help you remember:

As Aza Raskin has eloquently put it, modes kill. And this uninvited dialogue box, despite its good intentions, has made me want to kill my computer many a time—not just because it’s modal, but also because you’re required to answer the question before you even know if you entered the right password. The new non-modal security pane that slides down atop your page, allowing you to continue what you were doing without disrupting your train of thought by forcing you to answer the question, is an enormous boon:

These pictures, too, were stolen from Deb’s blog, this time from her article on Firefox 3 password management.

Of course, there’s plenty of other features in Firefox 3 that make the browsing experience more humane and improve its safety, but these are my two favorites. They’re bound to differ from one person to another, of course, and I hope that everyone I know will get a chance to try this awesome product for themselves.

© Atul Varma 2020