skitched-20080519-110406.jpgFirefox 3 is scheduled to be finished in the next month or two, and with it users will begin seeing a completely redesigned interface that is tailored to the operating system that they are using. This version of Firefox has already made significant advances in terms of performance, and it seems as though the only thing people have been criticizing in Firefox 3 are the new themes. When it comes down to it there is a different theme available for Vista, Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows XP.

Alex Faaborg, the user experience designer at Mozilla, put together a rather comprehensive review of how they visually tied Firefox 3 into the different operating systems. Personally the only thing that I really dislike in the themes is the “keyhole” design for the back/forward button. All of the themes, except for Linux, have this type of button. I find it to be gaudy and not flow well with the other aspects of the themes.

Luckily you can easily ditch the keyhole-styled button by enabling small icons. Just right-click on the navigation bar, choose Customize, and then check the Use Small Icons box. Notice how the oversized keyhole design is nowhere to be found?

I was really looking forward to Aero Glass integration in the Vista theme, but that won’t be happening this time around. For the time being we’ll have to rely on an extension to get that job done, that is until the next version of Firefox arrives:

On Vista we do a great job visually integrating with icons and with our set of secondary windows, although the main window is notably missing support for Aero glass. Users will hopefully be able to get this functionality using an extension during the life cycle of Firefox 3, and we will have glass support added to XUL for the next release of Firefox.

Faaborg even went as far as to say that “Safari 3.1 does a number of [visual] things wrong that we get right.” An example he gave was how the navigation buttons are not grayed out in Safari 3.1 when the window is not selected, which isn’t consistent with some other Apple applications. One commenter who goes by the name Superdotman called Faaborg out by saying:

Apple’s attention to detail is huge. If you see something that seems inconsistent, there’s usually a good reason.

Safari glyphs remain dark because when the window is deselected, they still accept click-through. Finder’s don’t.

Aqua controls are used for webclips because webclips are done with a modal dialog. Inline find uses the appropriate textured controls.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you guys are trying to integrate more with OS X! Just tone down the ego a bit until you have some more knowledgeable Mac guys to back it up.

Mozilla definitely deserves some credit for being one of the first cross-platform browsers to developer OS-specific themes. I’m curious as to how many of you like the new themes, and how many of you will actually go hunting for a new one to use.

Thanks to “Change” for the tip!