The firefox flap

I’m rather surprised at the amount of complaining that I have seen about firefox 29.  There are several threads at opensuse forums and several threads at dslreports.com (the two main technical forums that I follow).  Yet, for all the complaints, firefox still functions very much as it always has.

I’ll admit to surprise when I first saw the new firefox.  What was most noticeable were the curved edges of tabs and the changed shape of the back button.  Some people are saying that it has become “chrome”, but its browsing behavior is still that of firefox and quite different from chrome.

The menu bar

One of the frequent complaints is about the menu bar having gone missing.  I did not notice this myself, because I had turned off the menu bar some time ago.  What I noticed, instead, was that the firefox menu had moved from near the top left to near the top right, and had changed shape.  But that is easy to adapt to.

If you miss the menu bar, it is easy to get it back.  Just right click to the right of the tabs, and check the “menu bar” box.  If you rarely use the menu bar, then an alternative is to tap the ALT key when you need it.  The menu bar temporarily drops into place, and then later hides itself again.

I later upgraded firefox on my wife’s Windows computer, where the menu bar had been active.  And, after the upgrade, the menu bar was still there.

Bookmarks

Without the menu bar, bookmarks are accessible via an icon to the right of the address bar.  I had already been using bookmarks that way, so all I noticed was that it moved a little.  The one thing that I did not like, was that star to the left of the bookmarks icon.  I had been adding bookmarks with the “add bookmark” entry in the bookmarks menu.  That option is moved to the star.  And the one problem, is that the star was in a position where I would accidentally click it, adding bookmarks that I did not want.  But it did not take me long to get used to that, so it is no longer a problem.

On the bookmarks drop down menu, I do notice that the lines appear to be closer together.  I actually prefer that.

The title bar

On Windows, the title bar (at the top of the Window) is no longer there.  I really didn’t notice that.  When I reboot to Windows, I had already turned off the menu bar for firefox, and the title bar was already gone with that action.  So the loss of the title bar under Windows is actually not new.  What is new, is the missing title bar if you turn the menu bar back on.  But if you go to the customize settings, there is one to turn the title bar back on.  So again, an easily reversible change.

My one gripe

On Windows, if you use the help menu to check if a newer version of firefox is available, then it just goes ahead and begins the install.  I would have preferred it to just tell me about the new version, and allow me to choose a time for upgrading.  This is not a problem in opensuse, where that check for new version is not available.  Instead, we get the new version via regular opensuse software updates.

Summary

Firefox has not changed as much as people think.  If you don’t like the changes, then experiment with the customize options, and perhaps try an alternate theme.  You will probable adapt very quickly.  And the functionality is still very much that of the previous firefox version.

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About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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