Firefox’s Australis Theme May Have Disastrous Consquences for Users Who Customize the Browser

This kind of sounds like Firefox is slowly morphing into Google Chrome …

The new Australis theme has been looming around the heads of the Firefox community for a very long time. Most of what we – that is the public – know about the theme is that it will modify how Firefox looks as it will replace the current default theme when it is released. What many Firefox users may not be aware of though is that Australis is more than just a theme replacement as it will affect the way we customize the browser.

It has not been made clear up until now what this really means and while nothing has been set to stone yet, according to Mozilla, some of the proposed changes will affect many users of the browser. Here is a list of (proposed) changes to customization options as discussed on Bugzilla:

  1. The Add-ons toolbar (former status bar) will be removed. Mozilla plans to move all add-on icons formerly displayed in the bar in the main navigational toolbar instead (just like Chrome does).
  2. Custom toolbars will be removed. Icons displayed in those toolbars will be moved to the main navigational toolbar as well.
  3. The back, forward, reload and stop buttons as well as the url bar will be placed at the beginning of the main toolbar. They can no longer be moved to another location.
  4. Items can no longer be placed in the menu toolbar. All items that have been placed there – by add-ons for instance – will be moved to the navigational toolbar instead.
  5. Small icons will no longer be supported.
  6. Third party toolbars such as Ask, AVG, Babylon or Norton will remain untouched.
  7. The tabstrip’s customization area is limited to one area on the side of the tabs closest to the menu button. All items displayed in the tabstrip will be displayed there.

firefox australis

Again, Mozilla notes that this has not set in to stone yet and that users can voice their opinion on Mozilla’s Dev mailing list.

Probably the greatest strength of the Firefox web browser besides its awesome add-on support are the customizations that you can make to the browser. You are not stuck with a browser that you cannot modify at all (Chrome) but can use it just the way you like it. If you want the add-on bar you can display it, if you do not, then you leave it disabled. The same is true for other toolbars, the location of add-on icons and browser icons that you can place almost anywhere, or the option to display the old menu bar or the single Firefox button.

Taking that away from users, or part of it, is a huge issue and I’m not sure if Mozilla is really aware of that. What’s your take on the proposed changes?

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