The official release of Mozilla Firefox 3.5 is due this week. It's a significant milestone in the open-source browser's history. Putting pure features aside, let's take a look at some of the big design changes Mozilla has made over the years, beginning with version 0.8 when Mozilla renamed it from Firebird to Firefox.
For the sake of simplicity we're keeping it limited to just the Windows and Mac versions. And for certain features where there is little, if any, difference between the platforms--we're sticking to the Windows version.
The four things we're comparing are navigation, tabs, bookmarks, and the settings menu:Navigation
Navigation has experienced subtle changes over the years, with the exception of version 3. This brought the increased size of the back button, and noticeable shrinking of the rest of the controls. Mozilla also made it easier to bookmark pages, by adding a star button right into the address bar, which users can click, avoiding having to use keyboard shortcuts or on-screen menus to save a page.
Note: To see the full-size versions of these images just click on them.Tabs
Tabs are a very important part of Firefox. Version 3.5 adds a new plus button that users can click on to create a new tab. Previously this required a keyboard shortcut or selecting the option from a menu.
Version 3.5 is also getting "tab tearing," which lets users pull away tabs from one window to add to another, or break off into an entirely new window. Early versions of the browser wouldn't even let you… Read more
Walk the halls of any open-source conference and you'll see a large percentage of attendees with ironically un-open-source Apple laptops and iPhones. I've commented on the reasons for this before, but a new thought sprung to mind while reading Matthew Thomas' excellent (and old) "Why free software usability tends to suck."
Open-source advocates like good design as much as anyone, but the open-source development process is often not the best way to achieve it.
Last month we reported on Iomega's new line of eGo external hard drives. Today, the company sweetens the deal with an even more versatile device: a portable hard drive with FireWire 400, FireWire 800, and USB 2.0 ports for the ultimate in cross-compatibility.
Iomega dropped by CNET's offices last week to hand over a test drive, and although we haven't put it through our labs benchmark tests yet, the eGo track record is good enough to assume that this device will earn good marks. The drives are delivered in HFS+ for out-of-the-box Mac compatibility, but you … Read more
Anyone bored with the standard icons that come with Windows or any other program have an opportunity to make a change. Sib Icon Editor allows users to choose any icon and alter it, or even create their own icon. We did find some discrepancies in the price, however.
This program has a very simple interface that even novices should be able to easily follow. First, a screen appears asking whether you would like to create an icon from scratch, alter a specific icon, or search for all existing icons on your computer. The All Existing Icons feature takes some time … Read more
This free program lets users compress and decompress executable files. Novice users might find its user interface and features a little overwhelming, but more-experienced users will find it to be a valuable compression tool.
At first glance, Free UPX's user interface appears a little cluttered. But once we spent a little time with it, we found it easy to navigate. Using the command buttons at the top of the window, we browsed for, and added, the executable files to be compressed. The layout of the interface flows really well, so we went easily from one step to the next, … Read more
TreedBNotes Pro is a personal information manager, database program, and word processor. TreedBNotes Pro also includes an alarm and reminder feature plus password protection and encryption capabilities. Still not impressed? TreedBNotes Pro's e-book feature helps you write that great American novel or training manual (that is, formatting the text, sharing or not with other readers, and creating a Table of Contents and fully searchable text; the creative writing part, well, TreedBNote Pro leaves that to aspiring Melvilles and Grishams).
TreedBNotes Pro sets itself apart from similar programs in the way it stores data in tree-like structures which lets users … Read more
Among existing FriendFeed loyalists, it doesn't look like there's much dissent about the redesign, which is currently available as a beta test. An "anti-FriendFeed beta version" group hasn't gotten much traction. But on Twitter, which some people see as a FriendFeed complement and others as a competitor, opinions were much more mixed.
"I have (Twitter client) TweetDeck to filter and organize noise. Why then would I still need … Read more
Agenda At Once will keep you on top of all of your appointments, but make sure you pencil in enough time to learn how to navigate the busy user interface.
Regardless of your skill level, this program's user interface is sure to overwhelm you. Toolbar upon toolbar is stacked on top of each other, and unintuitive buttons required us to hover our mouse over each one to learn its function. We were glad to find that the View menu does let you customize the user interface by adding and removing toolbars, but even this requires some investigation before you … Read more
In what's portrayed as a new approach, the U.S. Army is including soldiers in the early stages of equipment development, and in the case of the Future Weapons Systems, it's having them pitch it as well.
Last January, defense contractors employed nearly 400 computers, dozens of vehicle mockups, and more than 100 soldiers and engineers in a preliminary test of the Future Combat Systems (FCS), a technological enterprise billed as the "cornerstone of Army modernization."