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When Will Firefox Feel Native? Never.


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There’s a new version of the Firefox Web Browser on deck, and as is the custom Mac UI experts and critics have started in on the various inconsistencies that the Firefox XUL based UI has when compared with an application built using the built in OS Widgets.

I can’t say I disagree … despite tremendous efforts by various skin authors Firefox has never completly caught the subtleties of the Mac UI. This isn’t exactly news though. Here’s Greg Knauss on the subject eight years ago.

But on another level, Mozilla is an unmitigated usability
disaster. Running on Windows, Netscape 6 looks nothing like
Windows. Running on MacOS, Netscape 6 looks nothing like
MacOS. Running on Linux … well, no two Linux programs look
the same anyway. In the end, Netscape 6 looks — and works —
like Netscape 6 and only Netscape 6.

Oh, sure, somebody will labor mightily to produce a skin
that looks just like each native OS, and he or she might
even come close to pulling it off. But close doesn’t mean
much in a world where subtlety and nuance actually matter.
Common, native controls exist for a reason, and that reason
is not to serve as a model for crude simulations.

It’s Good Thing™ to catalog the inconstancies and work with skin authors and XUL maintainers to get Firefox (or any Mozilla product) looking/acting/behaving like an OS X application, but Firefox will always fall little short, so it’s best to get used to it.

Originally published June 16, 2008

Copyright © Alana Storm 1975 – 2023 All Rights Reserved

Originally Posted: 16th June 2008

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