Firefox 2.0 and User Interfaces

Classes have started for this semester, which means that I am just a bit more busy than I was before - and I had a pretty full plate before. Luckily, both of my classes are fairly similar, allowing for some overlap and giving me two different perspectives on the same topic. I suspect that I will end up skewed toward one direction or the other. Both are on Human Machine Interaction, one from psychology and one from computer science. I am particularly interested in improving software interfaces and novel interfaces, even though it isn’t really in my defined research topic. Homework on both doesn’t seem like it will be an issue. There will be usability studies at the actual professional usability lab at the U.

I recently got fed up with the crappy javascript support that safari has, so I decided to install Firefox 2.0b2 and give it a try. I was immediately presented with some new user interface elements. Close buttons on each tab is an annoyance for me, because usually I close tabs with Ctrl-W (Loop-W on my Mac) so I didn’t want them around. I found an extension that supposedly removed them but found in the comments an about:config variable that you can set to get rid of them. Problem 1 solved. This leaves two remaining annoyances for me. The go button by the URL entry not removable as it was in 1.5 - this is only a minor annoyance, I can ignore it easily and it doesn’t take up much space. The more obtrusive change however is that when you close the last remaining tab, now it doesn’t close the window, it just clears out the tab. This doesn’t happen when you have the tab bar go away if you only have one tab open, so that’s a good workaround for now, but I sincerely hope that this is just a bug that they haven’t fixed yet.

Both of these things have a strange sort of antagonistic synergy for me: I’m trying to learn what is the best interface for everyone, but at the same time I want my interface exactly the way that I specify, generally usability be dashed. Then again, I did prefer to use ion for a while.