Get an early look at the new Firefox Australis interface

June 21, 2012 – 10:40 by in Featured, News Print Share One Comment

It’s been public knowledge for a while now that Mozilla intends to provide a uniform interface for Firefox across all platforms. The aim of the Australis project is to ensure that the browser looks and feels the same just about everywhere (as much as possible, anyway), and you can read more at MozillaWiki.

This is no longer just theory, though. Jared Wein, a Software Engineer at Mozilla, has written a blog post with an image of the new Australis design (or the new curvy tab shape, anyway), which he says aims to bring “more customizability in a cleaner and fresher user interface”. And if that’s not enough, he’s also created a test Firefox 16.01 build so that you can view it for yourself.

The build is Windows-only, unfortunately, but comes in two forms: a zip or an installer. Following the links above or below will get you the zip version, but the blog post also links to the installer if you need it.

And on launch you will see the new rounded tab shape. Which is more or less as shown in the design documents which have been released (so no need to feel too left out if you don’t have a Windows system – looking at the grab here gives you more or less the same information).

Still, there’s no doubt the interface is looking good, and we’ll be interested to see how the Australis interface develops in future releases.

One Comment »

  • Mark says:

    Having given the australis build a try, I have seen no evidence of the “greater customizability” at all. Customizability is still the same as it always was, with the same elements to use and the same placement options.

    The blog post also indicated an aim for better OS integration – IMHO using the curvy tab edges (for the active tab) is actually moving away from that; In Windows 8, for example, “square is the new round” so it would certainly not blend well in that respect. Neither would it on Linux, for example.

    It certainly still needs a lot of work since if you happen to not use a dark background or persona, you are stuck with it being very hard to see at a glance which tab is actually active. The “flat” look for the inactive tabs (which in current release versions would be slightly darkened on a light theme) and lack of button borders overall give the visual impression of an interface with less clarity than current release versions.

    Another disappointment is the removal of the unified back/forward button if you happen to prefer it not being tacked on to the URL bar (e.g. to prevent unnecessary sliding of UI elements) and instead having flat, plain arrows which certainly are not appealing. In addition, the title bar is still wasted space when you use it in windowed mode with the app menu, which most users on desktops would.

    My overall impression so far is that it adds little to nothing in functionality, and removes a lot of clarity from the UI. It could have been done a lot more logical and better – especially from a visual point of view (which is, all things considered, the goal of this new theme…).