Firefox 29 and Australis

In the post yesterday we asked if the screenshot below was that of Firefox or Chrome.

The answer is Firefox. Firefox 29 Beta 1 release with the new Australis theme/UI. This is the first major UI change since Firefox 4 was released on March 22, 2011 (after over a year of developmental releases). Firefox 4 also introduced Tabs on Top, the hidden menu bar and the Firefox button, which with Firefox 29 will be a thing of the past. Kind of a shame too as it at least made Firefox standout from other browsers which are really all starting to look the same now.

Like Thunderbird and Chrome there is now an app/menu button. In Firefox (and Chrome) it is on the far right side of the main toolbar. However, I was rather disappointed with the limited number of options in this menu compared to that of Chrome and for the matter Thunderbird. As you can see below there are a handful of options and they are displayed as icons with small text.

Firefox 29 App Menu

Firefox 29 App Menu

I really don’t understand as to why Mozilla chose to put so little on the new Firefox app menu, especially if you compare below to what options are on the current Firefox 28 Firefox Button menu along with the app menus of Thunderbird 24.4.0 and even Chrome.

Current Firefox App Menu

Firefox 28 Firefox Button (App) Menu

Thunderbird 24.4.0 App Menu

Thunderbird 24.4.0 App Menu

Google Chrome App Menu

Google Chrome App Menu

While you can add options to the new app menu, it is limited to toolbar buttons that are not already on a toolbar. With the lack of options in the new app menu, people are going to want to keep or restore the menu bar. You can re-display the menu bar by right-clicking on the tab bar and selecting Menu Bar. You can also display the menu bar temporarily by pressing the ALT key.

In Chrome as well on my Firefox “Release” profile (Firefox 28) I have my navigation buttons as follows: back-forward; stop/reload; home. So, I was rather irritated when I updated my “Beta” profile to Firefox 29 and discovered the following: the back button is hidden if you can’t go back; the back button (when visible) and the forward buttons are “attached” to the urlbar; the stop/reload button is also “attached” to the urlbar on the right-side; the home button is now on the far left. It wasn’t long before I was accidentally clicking the home button when I thought I was clicking the back button (at least where I was use to the back button being located).

A while back Gareon wrote about the Classic Toolbar Buttons add-on by Aris. I gave this try and while it did let me “detach” the back-forward button from within the address bar, they were still “attached” as in they could not be moved. The same applied for the stop/reload button too. After a little more hunting I found another add-on by ArisClassic Theme Restorer (Customize Australis). With this add-on you can restore squared tabs, appmenu, add-ons bar, small button view and more on Australis UI. There are lots and lots of customization options with this add-on, so you can setup Firefox pretty much anyway you could possibly think of (which is rater ironic considering this was the big claim to fame for Firefox when it first came out).

 photo options-1.png

Main Options Menu on Classic Theme Restorer

I don’t mind the new tab style, so I went ahead and opted not to restore the square tabs. I did restore the old Firefox App button and made it icon (which is different from that of Firefox 28) only on the titlebar. Movable back-forward button allows you to “detach” the button(s) from the urlbar. The Hide urlbars stop & reload buttons option is somewhat confusing, but it has to do with the way stop & reload buttons are “connected” with the new theme. Checking this option will remove the button(s) from the urlbar. Then, you can right-click on a toolbar button and choose Customize… Grab the stop & reload button(s) and drag to where you want the button(s) on your toolbar. The end result of my customization is below.

 photo classictheme.png


So much like Windows 8 (with Classic Shell), Firefox 29 and Australis are bearable once you install an add-on and do a little tweaking. The two add-ons can be used together if you choose (I don’t mind the newer buttons so I opted not to use the buttons one). The Classic Toolbar Buttons can be used with Firefox 24 or newer and installs without a restart. However, Classic Theme Restorer can currently only be used with Firefox 29 Beta or any of the other current developmental builds (Firefox 30 Aurora and Firefox 31 Nightly) and will require a restart when installed. Once Firefox 29 has been released, you will need to update to Firefox 29, then you will be able to install the Classic Theme Restorer add-on, restart then customize your Firefox to your liking.

One more thing…a teaser of sorts…Firefox 29 is supposed to include a “new and improved” version of Firefox Sync. I have never had much luck with this feature before, which is why I have been using Google Chrome on most of my devices. I just need to install Firefox 29 Beta on my laptop and tablet, then I can try out this feature.