back to article Mozilla plans to tie Firefox 3.7 pigtails in pretty Ribbon

Mozilla is planning to radically overhaul the “dated and behind” Windows version of its browser’s user interface by considering the introduction of a Microsoft Office-like Ribbon in its Firefox 3.7 release. The outfit said in planning documents that it might drop the current menu bar in the Firefox UI for version 3.7. The …

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Eh, looks good

At home I hide the menu bar in Firefox and compress to a couple of buttons ANYWAY.

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Jobs Horns

Look at all the Luddites

The ribbon is far easier to use than bloody menus, nearly every function you need is a couple of clicks away, not deep in some menu system.

Microsoft supposedly developed the ribbon because they asked users what they wanted Office to do, and discovered that people were asking for things that Office already did and they didn't know were there.

So which is it? Do we put all the features in easy to find places or hide them in menus because some people are used to that?

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What's that I hear? Oh, it's the call of Chrome.

Firefox used to be the bee's knees. When I first tried it it was amazingly fast, efficient and offered a wealth of customization. Over the years though it's got slower and more bloated, while the main competition (IE) has caught up with it. Now have they given up trying to break ground and lead the way? Are they going to just ape Microsoft's castoff UI features while adding more bloat?

The other thing that rankles for me is the lack of choice. On my netbook I have a firefox extension that hides the menu and puts it into a button in one corner. That's great and it's my choice then to have the menus or not. Why not leave them there and give the choice to move them? In fact why not just bundle that extension?

In the meantime, chrome has come out of left field and is as fast and effective as firefox used to be. If only they'd hurry up and make a linux version I'd be a convert! I know chrome doesn't have a menubar, so I would be losing the very feature I'm lambasting firefox for removing, but chrome has never had it, and that's their choice. Chrome is still a decent browser regardless of not giving me the choice to have a menu.

Though I still can't shake the feeling that google browser is going to unveil some shady behaviour in the future. Possibly involving adverts.

I guess I'll watch the space. It'll be a sad day for firefox if they do go with the crappy MS-fawning ribbon bar.

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Go

I like the Office Ribbon

The Office Ribbon is a great piece of UI for me. I like using it very much and I welcome its addition to Firefox. This is one area when my PC is superior to my mac which not only stick to traditional menus, but still populates them with useless junk.

The only thing missing in Ribbon is a feature search box that would let you find a function by its name.

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Dick Deadeye would say...

"Argh! He's on the wrong tack, and so are you!" [HMS Pinafore; Gilbert & Sullivan]

What is this constant craving for more acre-age? We MUST HAVE more screen space available for rendering? Sez WHO?

How about KISS? Keep it simple, Stoopid!

I am already over a lot of news sites which clutter up the screen space with so many stupid little things (and I haven't even started on the adverts!)

Having seen a few iterations of Office, I can understand the Ribbon being a replacement for a heap of cluttered menu bars.

But that was because dreary old Office decided to mount six menu bars in the screen real estate before showing you the top of the blank page - where you actually typed.

In older screens with resolution of 800x600, that left you with about a Ribbon of typing space, right? And that was just too much like the old mechanical typewriter, wasn't it? :-)

Icon none - who needs to clutter up the space?

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Anonymous Coward

just to throw the cat amongst the pigeons...

What is so bad about the ribbon/fluent interface? In term's of UI design it's pure genius! It's usable, clear AND fast. I can't help but think that the majority that complain about it are just upset because they had got *used* to menus and tool bars - a sort of "fear change" reaction disguised by abhorrence. Yes, it does slow you down to begin with, but give it a chance! Perhaps the normal users will require "some" training - which, afterall, they are supposed to be provided with fairly regularly. They'll get quicker, more efficient and eventually wonder what all the fuss was about.

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It's an interface that's optimised for the stupid.

So the 75% of us that can eat without injury get to suffer for it.

1) It's always there. Hogging the top of the page. I'd quite like to use that for my content, not interface.

2) It's so large because every function is assigned an icon. When it gets to the point where 200 functions have icons, the icons are no use, which means,

3) you have to read the text which takes too long because it is scattered about randomly by the icons. Your eye has to skip around and can't track - say a nice column of text. Even worse,

4) the text is compressed into a small box so you have to mouse over...and...wait...for the tooltip

5) Even MS gave up and put everything you need under the Button->Word Options menu. Where everything takes another 2 clicks to find making 4 clicks to make a change you need.

For the power users give us hotkeys, or mouse gestures or something - anything to make things *quicker* instead or *easier*.

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Paris Hilton

Who cares

New UI new learning curve, deal with it.

Paris learns new positions all the time.

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Black Helicopters

Slow ribbons

The ribbon is painfully slow and awkward to use compared to menus, it also takes up more screen space. Why do Mozilla want to copy something that amounts to nothing more than a bad re-arrangement of the deck chairs ?

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More Chrome-like please

The perfect browser interface for me would be like Google Chrome (clean and lean with the tabs on the top), except for with a Firefox search box. IMO the main reason that there is no search box in Chrome is because the evil Google empire wants you to make it harder for you to switch search engines through their monobar.

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What ever happened to original thought

Growing up, when I'd do something daft in imitation of one of my siblings, it would get met with a retort.

"If they ate shit of a stick, would you?"

Who says that a classic interface is dated - One man's dated is another's elegant.

Having struggled with the ribbon in Office 2007, I find it a breath of fresh air to return to the simple, elegant interfaces of Firefox and OpenOffice (another product that has been having this discussion).

Very easy to predict the first Add On for Firfox 3.7 - it will be one that applies a classic styling to it allowing you to dump that ribbon.

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Grenade

Noooooooooooooooo!!!!

I HATE the IE bar, I can't FIND a damn menu half the time now it's hidden (on the RARE occasion I have to use IE it due to some moron website writer.)

I Also hate the ribbon effect, the menu option I WANT is ALWAYS hidden ffs.

Don;t do it FF, please don't be like IE, people like FF because it ISN'T FF!!

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Oh come on

Nobody likes this no-menu nonsense that we've seen lately. Mozilla are starting to follow trends rather than doing decent UI design.

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Happy

Silver lining

Because Vista's Explorer was unusable without a button bar I had to go and find an alternative. I found Directory Opus (no, I have no vested interests) and haven't looked back, so there are upsides.

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What are they thinking?

Wait a minute. Obviously they are not thinking! If they were, they would know how counterproductive the ribbon concept it.

Menus work because they are simple and people can hunt if they have to find something. Re-organizing menus would be good. Adding features to menus instead of requiring about:config would be good.

Dumbing it all down with a ribbon would be an insult..

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Unhappy

Oh, bugger

I f*Ckin' HATE the ribbon. Yuck. I hope it's an option that I can turn off, or I guess I'll be stuck on Firefox 3.5, or I'll switch to Opera or something.

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I'd far rather...

...they spent the time and effort working out what it was they broke in 3.5 to make Firefox take up 500Mb of system resource when I open 2 tabs, or why Firefox has crashed more in the last few weeks than it has ever done in the past few years.

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Joke

But the good news is...

I agree w/ the consensus: Why they would copy the worst trend in user interface design since the trackball is beyond me. I am "Vistafied" that anyone would think these real-estate hogging ribbons with icons on them are an "improvement" over menus and toolbars. The good news is that for those of using relatively stable, efficient operating systems (i.e. pre-Vista MS, or Linux) we'll still be able to use Firefox w/out a whole lot of retraining on how to use exactly the same features, just differently.

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MENUS ARE GOOD

Menus bars are perfect at their job, in fact it's why they were invented. They follow good principles of GUI design. Everything is in theory 2 clicks away. They can have a keyboard shortcut next to them for advanced users to get common commands quicker. If you don't know how to do something in a program, it will be in the menus somewhere. New users can probe the menus trying to find what they want to do, or discovering new things. It takes up only 1 line, but provides a lot of functionality. It's perfect, tried and tested.

The ribbons they added in the latest version of office are an absolute travesty. As an experienced user of MS Office, it takes me significantly longer to do things that I could do easily in previous versions. There doesn't even seem to be much logic behind what appears where, because to save space they've had to cram things under peculiar categories. And it just takes longer to use than a menu anyway, even when you do know where something is. When you don't know where something is, it's not as fast as browsing a menu. It's a lot harder to take in the information scattered over the ribbon in a disorganised way, compared to just a line of text in a menu that can be scanned over easily.

And, of course, they take up MORE space. I thought the idea of removing the menu was to save space. I hate it so much. I prefer the classic versions of Office over the newer versions so much. I really think they missed the target with this one. OK, everyone's looking for the next thing, trying to innovate. But this isn't it. I wish they would drop it and say, 'yeah, actually, menus are perfect for that job'.

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Anonymous Coward

Am I going Bonkers.....

or have loads of readers lost the plot...

Yes I too hate the Ribbon in Office 2007..

But this isnt what the picture of the new FF is showing is it???

It looks more like Chrome than Office

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Ribbon Vs Menu Bar

Having recently been moved to Office 2007 at work, I have just started with the Ribbon and can see why people do not like it. Mainly for me it is because of the difference and it is not easy to get used to, as well as taking up so much space. I know you can minimise it but, then you have to open it each time you want to use it.

That said in my own browser, Opera, I have only really been using the menu bar to get to preferences recently, and as Opera 10 now allows the menu bar to be hidden, a button on the tab bar replaces it, I have played with this and have not missed the menu bar, preferences for example is the same number of clicks away, just in a different place. Not missing it is however only because I can customise my other tool bars to get the functionality I need.

I think this is the biggest problem with Ribbon, you can't customise it, well not easily by a user anyway, for your own needs, whereas with tool bars you can.

A well thought out Ribbon, with the menu bar being replaced by a single button that gives the menus back, that is also customisable for personally most used features, that takes minimal screen real estate, is I reckon best. What are well thought defaults for the Ribbon though ?

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Works for me!

The problem with IE7 wasn't that they removed the menu bar, it was that they did a shitty job of *replacing* it. The menu bar provided a way to access functionality, and MS provided no simple, obvious way to access much of that functionality without it. And Google did an even worse job with Chrome - a year after release I still can't figure out how to do a lot of things I want to with Chrome.

*IF* Mozilla provides a good way to access all of the functionality provided by the menu bar, then good riddance to it! Menu bars are almost inevitably cluttered, and take up more screen real estate than they're worth. That's a big 'if', though.

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled chorus of idiots whining about having to use a better interface because it's different from what they learned in 1993.)

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@Anonymous Coward 24/09/2009 16:01

You are not going bonkers. Mozilla are not adding the ribbon to Firefox. If they did, it might look like this:

http://www.raizlabs.com/blog/uploaded_images/firefox_6-793488.JPG

not this:

https://wiki.mozilla.org/images/e/e2/Fx-3.7-Direction-Phase-01.png

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FAIL

So they are going with the dual interface design

So they are going with the dual interface design, giving me more bloat without functionality. What's the percentage of users on Vista and 7 anyway about 10%?

And seriously, the goal here is to reduce my File/Edit/View/History/Bookmarks/Tools/Help menus down to 2 buttons? Not that I like apps to waste screen space but I don't see this recovering much, my menu bar is only about 15 pixels high. You could recover more by getting rid of the stupid TV remote look on the toolbar and going back to small rectangular buttons.

Still running 3.0 anyway.

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Jobs Halo

@martin gorner

QUOTE:

"The Office Ribbon is a great piece of UI for me. ... This is one area when my PC is superior to my mac which not only stick to traditional menus, but still populates them with useless junk.

The only thing missing in Ribbon is a feature search box that would let you find a function by its name."

The "missing Ribbon feature" you speak of just happens to be one of the bits of "useless junk" that your Mac has in every app's "help" menu (since Leopard, AFAIK).

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Let's be Honest

If Google or Apple had developed the Ribbon it would be hailed as the greatest thing since Xerox Parc Place developed the WIMP interface in 1980. I'm old enough to remember when all computers had were paper tape reader/punches and a drum and you could watch the memory bits flip -- I've had no trouble adjusting to the Ribbon in Office 2007.

The only people who think Moz will use a Ribbon in Firefox are journalists and the like. If they bothered to READ the Moz wiki's where these things are discussed then they'd find almost no talk of doing so. There's a lot talk of Chromifying Firefox, such as putting the tabs at the top of the Window; an equally daft idea, those who suggest it obviously don't know Fitt's Law.

MS has guidelines for Ribbon usage -http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc872782.aspx#galleries - there are lots of do's and do not's - such as this one

"If your ribbon consists mostly of menu buttons when displayed at full size, you might as well use a menu bar"

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functionality improvements would be nice

If they're going to windows-ise the windows version a bit, how about support for group policy, and picking up user-installed SSL certs?

oh, and have they fixed that bug where the browser cache is stored in the roaming part of a person's profile instead of the local part?

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Gates Horns

Ribbons for Gibbons

The ribbon is shite-tastic as a user interface.

It will probably make FF even more bloated.

FF you are heading in the wrong direction!

Keep it simple, stupid.

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FAIL

And the vote just in....

Personally I Like reading comments, but articles like this and others simply become a tirade of votes with various levels of cutting comments. I think its about time El Reg developed a poll widget for such articles - oh and for the record, my vote is a tick in the "Microsofts Ribbon Interface is the worst interface ever concieved since the dawn of man" box

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FAIL

Fail on all the comments about following Microsoft

This looks nothing like MS' ribbon it looks just like chrome and safari.

The Mozilla guy is simply using the ribbon as an example of how the old file>edit>view menus are vanishing from everything.

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Widescreen

One key advantage of Chrome's UI is that it reduces the number of vertical lines used up by the browser. 16:9 and 16:10 widescreen monitors are becoming more and more common, and they play havoc with the old UI model using lots of vertical lines that works fine in 4:3. It's not just the menu bar - it's also the title bar, the line containing favourite bookmarks, the extra lines installed by various 'helpful' applications... All useful if you've got the vertical screen-space, quite annoying if you have a widescreen monitor. For me that's the key reason why Chrome is superior to Firefox on my laptop. And I agree with @DavidSimpson1, the MS Ribbon is a red herring.

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