Classic Skin Now In Nightly Builds

Thursday June 22nd, 2000

Now that skin-switching is a reality in Mozilla, the developers have been working on a "Classic" skin for Windows, Linux, and Mac. The "Classic skin" aims to not only provide a more "Communicator"-like UI alternative for Mozilla, but also give users more platform-specific UI widgets.

If you run Windows, you can try out the "Classic" skin in the current nightly builds. Start up Mozilla, go to the prefs dialog via Edit > Preferences, visit the Appearance > Themes pref panel, choose "Classic" from the list of available skins, and click the "Apply Theme" button. After a moment of whirring, Mozilla wil be skinned with the "Classic" theme. There's still a lot of work to be done on the skin, but it's worth checking out.

Thanks to Colin Stewart, Yoshi, and Christopher Cook for this news.

#1 Needs work

by WillyWonka

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 8:05 AM

Its good, but its still got a ways to go.

And the big question I want to know is, after switching to the new skin, how do you get mozilla to load up again? So far using the skin switching has screwed up mozilla on 2 computer for me. It opens webshell 3 and stops working.

If you can resist, I'd suggest NOT trying the new themes. :)

#2 Re: Needs work

by johnlar

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 9:16 AM

That is a known bug, it happend on some computers, but not all. But the classic skin in improving every single day. Personally I would suggest that you don't mess with the skin switching though unless you can easily reinstall mozilla if anything goes wrong.

#7 recovering from that bug

by KaiRo

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 10:37 AM

just delete user-skins.rdf in chrome folder, that should restore to modern afaik

#4 Re: Needs work

by wtmcgee

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 9:48 AM

could someone post a screenshot of the classic skin?

#3 motif

by lubricated

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 9:31 AM

I forgot how ugly motif can be. It seams like under linux the developers took the worst parts of motif and put them into certain parts of the skin. The good points of the skin are. The classic buttons. Those new buttons without text labels and without knowing when you pushed down really suck. The scrollbars, the classic scroll bars are really cool under linux. One thing that kindof sucks is that the old netscape could easily be customized using the .Xdefaults file. Now to change stuff on the classic skin will be much more difficult.

#5 Re: motif

by sneakums

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 9:49 AM

The buttons on the new skin all give peedback when they are pressed. The large round buttons' white border gets wider when you click. There are also tooltips in the nightly I am using, which seem to be present for most all of the buttons.

#6 Re: Re: motif

by lubricated

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 9:58 AM

the feedback on the modern skin is very minimal. The classic skin feedback is much better.

#10 Re: Re: Re: motifRe: Re: Re: motif

by sneakums

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 1:11 PM

I find that there is pleny of feedback. To take just the big round buttons:

* When they are disabled, they are clearly "greyed out".

* When the mouse is over them, the white border thickens noticeably.

* When you click on them, they move; if the click started a page transition, the throbbers begins to animate.

Pretty much every clickable element in the main window responds to a mouseover, except the security and offline buttons and the gfx widgets. They all move or highlight in some fashion when they are clicked.

I guess we have different tastes in interfaces; luckily Mozilla is skinnable to cater for both our preferences.

#11 Flamebait

by sicking

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 1:55 PM

<Flamebait> I thought that you unix guys liked when things were very flexible but hard to configure :-) </Flamebait>

#8 A LOT more work

by Kovu

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 10:37 AM

Parts of it look good. It shows promise. It could take a significant amount of time to get it to look good, though, as awful as it looks now.

#9 Re: A LOT more work

by blahism

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 12:42 PM

I like the new skin *MANY times better then the ol' blue blob. Especially with Todays build, it looks like the ol' navigator except trimmed up a lil better.

Much easier on the eyes, more pleasing to look through when reading and more professional.

Just stinks after you switch skins it doesn't load up :) you have to delete mozreg and start over. (Windows NT 4.0, latest build yesterday & today)

#12 good feel

by eMonk

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 5:34 PM

I was surprised after trying the Classic skin how much more stable the UI *felt* .. I'm not talking about look, but about feel. The modern skin makes the interface feel rather flimsy to me. Maybe it's just a mindset I have from using the 4.x series for so long. Maybe my psyche won't let me accept that a serious program has funky colors like that. What do you guys think?

#15 component bar icons

by Kovu

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 8:21 PM

I can say I nearly wept with joy when I saw the old component bar icons. The AOL-ized light blue on dark blue icons were way too cheap for my tastes. I just hope the component bar becomes detachable again.

#23 Re: component bar icons

by basic

Friday June 23rd, 2000 1:13 AM

While they are at that, can they make all bars detachable? ;-Þ

#13 RE: Good feel

by caseyperkins

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 6:02 PM

I felt the same way. Mozilla SEEMED more stable and snappy using the Classic Skin. Whether that's actually so or not, I don't know. I doubt it. The main thing,though, was that it felt like an old friend. Let's relegate the Modern Mozilla UI to a being a secondary skin, and make Mozilla look like a proper Mozilla/Netscape browser!

#22 Re: RE: Good feel

by basic

Friday June 23rd, 2000 1:06 AM

Saying me "3"! here, just wondering if this would end up being more popular than the "modern" one.

#30 Re: RE: Good feel

by thales

Friday June 23rd, 2000 9:54 AM

Instead lets relegate Modern and Classic to Netscape 6.0, and get Mozilla it's own skin.

#14 system colors?

by basic

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 6:29 PM

does the "classic" skin use system colors?

#26 Re: system colors?

by sneakums

Friday June 23rd, 2000 5:37 AM

No. There is no platform-independent way to determine the colour scheme. On Unix, you would have additional issue of deciding which toolkit's scheme to use.

#31 Re: Re: system colors?

by basic

Friday June 23rd, 2000 11:37 AM

After some testing, I found that it uses system colors on win32.

It should be able to use system colors on the mac (does system colors work on the mac yet?).

On unix, I think it should at least try to use gtk, since it uses gtk as its toolkit on unix (currently). In the future, when moz become more toolkit independent, mozilla should detect which toolkit is available and use the system colors accordingly. Or if there is more than one toolkit available, the user maybe given a choice.

#28 Yes it does (win32)

by ben952

Friday June 23rd, 2000 7:10 AM

It uses system colors for menus, text selection, ... Even for the toolbar buttons text. But it does not use system fonts, it uses the default font for mozilla (in the prefs) You must use the "sans serif" as default type if you want your menubar to look like the windows ones. But it changes your default font for web pages too!

#32 Re: Yes it does (win32)

by basic

Friday June 23rd, 2000 11:41 AM

Does anyone knows if system color works on the mac yet?

#33 Re: Re: Yes it does (win32)

by basic

Friday June 23rd, 2000 11:54 AM

After searching through bugzilla, I found that system colors is (was?) hardcoded to the default setting in MacOS 8 on the mac. I hope this will not turn out to be a permenent solution though.

#34 Re: Re: Re: Yes it does (win32)

by gwalla

Friday June 23rd, 2000 12:40 PM

I've actually seen a complaint on n.p.m.wishlist to the effect that Mozilla doesn't honor Kaleidoscope settings on Mac!

Kaleidoscope is a Mac extention that allows extensive customization of the Mac UI...not just colors but even windows, scrollbars, and progress meters (so you can make it look like BeOS, wicker basket, etc.). It's fun, but a real memory & processor hog.

#38 Re: Re: Re: Re: Yes it does (win32)

by basic

Friday June 23rd, 2000 3:14 PM

I doubt moz will ever get that far in using system ui setting. At most it can do system colors and system fonts (and maybe some other simple stuff like border width). If we are going that far, we might as well try supporting native widgets. Which brings to mind, how should native widgets be specified in XUL (if moz is going to support it and still have gfx widgets)?

#37 yes, and fonts too

by Ben_Goodger

Friday June 23rd, 2000 1:49 PM

Yes, system colours are used in the Windows version (and on the unix version too actually). CSS2/3 System fonts are used on Windows as well. As soon as Pierre can prove to me that system fonts work on the mac I'll poke them into the mac variant as well ;)

#16 Who ever thought classical was good?

by Pyro

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 8:53 PM

I don't know why, but I just like this classic over the "modern". Maybe it's just the familiarity, but I do agree with the others that say its more snappy. I really appreciate the fact that it now once again uses system colors:) Call it nostalgia

#17 Except for one bug, I LOVE IT!

by jesusX

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 10:26 PM

It's GREAT! It's 4.x, but better. Manna from heaven. The bookmarks menu jumps size when I mouseover the longest bookmark name, but I can live with it. I must admit to liking the Modern skin's preference's menu MUCH more though.

Is it just me, or is the Classic font a bit too small?

#69 Font

by Kovu

Sunday June 25th, 2000 10:54 AM

It's not the right font. Communicator has a sans serif font, Classic skin looks like it has Times New Roman instead. Maybe if they upped the point size by one it would be a little easier to read.

#18 System Fonts

by Anon

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 11:16 PM

Will the classic skin soon support system fonts for the menu and such? Right now, it uses the font selected in the Fonts option in preferences. That's fine when I change my font manually in the Preferences, but then it changes the font used on web pages as well. Any end in sight?

#19 Re: System Fonts

by basic

Thursday June 22nd, 2000 11:39 PM

I thought the fonts for the UI and the fonts for content is suppost to be set seperately, maybe this is a bug?

#65 you can :)

by alih

Sunday June 25th, 2000 1:17 AM

line 59, iirc, of chrome/skins/classic/global/global.css, chaning "font: dialog;" to "font: helvetica;" worked for me (prolly arial on windows ;) - Jaymz

#35 Re: System Fonts

by gwalla

Friday June 23rd, 2000 12:47 PM

You should be able to change the font in the skin CSS, which only applies to the chrome. I think.

If you want to get fancy, you can use namespaces to limit the font so that it only applies to XUL.

#20 Speaking of fonts...........

by Hendy99

Friday June 23rd, 2000 12:40 AM

<Stupid Question>If I was editing my copy of the skin, how would I set a custom font?</Stupid Question>

#21 Re: Speaking of fonts...........

by basic

Friday June 23rd, 2000 12:59 AM

set it on a CSS using "font-family"?...

#24 Great!

by spwolf

Friday June 23rd, 2000 2:35 AM

Looks good, of course that it is nowhere close to be perfect BUT it looks much better than "new" skin...great!!!

#25 Netscape / Mozilla naming

by AJB

Friday June 23rd, 2000 4:29 AM

I am getting confused at the separation between Mozilla and Netscape. Are the Netscape looks copyright of Netscape/AOL, and should the skin not be named 'Netscape Classic'? Maybe they can use .png format bitmaps for the secondary skin.

#27 Re: Netscape / Mozilla naming

by sneakums

Friday June 23rd, 2000 5:39 AM

Well, the unoffical name of Netscape Navigator was always "Mozilla" (invented by jwz), and it's not entirely incorrect to refer to it as such.

#29 Gripes

by Pyro

Friday June 23rd, 2000 9:20 AM

My gripe with the skins, more the Classic than the New, is that the scroll bars a few pixels too wide. Thus size sensitive sites such as end up having a horizontal scroll bar on 800x600 when there shouldn't be one. Anybody else here want smaller scrollbars? Also, I think the Classic skin takes up a little too much space - the toolbars should shrink a little, and the buttons to minimize the bars should be smaller - on the bar at the bottom of Moz, the button takes up 3/4 the height, thus little saved space...

#36 Screen Shot?

by Dan6992

Friday June 23rd, 2000 1:31 PM

Anyone have a screen shot?

#40 Sure, here you go...

by isaacg

Friday June 23rd, 2000 4:29 PM (100k) This is on Windows 95, at 800x600 with all toolbars & sidebar on.

#41 Thanks!

by Dan6992

Friday June 23rd, 2000 4:43 PM


#43 Feel right at home again

by brista

Friday June 23rd, 2000 5:28 PM

Everyone says how they feel at home again and it seems faster, and more stable. I agree whole heartedly this is a step in the right direction.

#39 Modern is better

by arnoudb

Friday June 23rd, 2000 4:05 PM

I actually like the Modern skin better, in the classic skin (at least on Win32) everything seems just a bit too big! I'll just stick to the modern skin, I've gotten used to it long ago and it doesn't really bother me at all anymore.

#42 Looks Great!

by Dan6992

Friday June 23rd, 2000 4:51 PM

I think the new skin looks great. I agree it needs some polishing, but it's 100% better then the current Mozilla skin. Plus it should help ease the transition for non-technical users who are currently using 4.X. Keep up the good work.


#44 Too big? Too small?

by basic

Friday June 23rd, 2000 5:37 PM

I don't know what the gripe is all about, but I don't see anything wrong with the classic skin except for some bugs that needs to be ironed out. Until the bugs are ironed out, I wouldn't start comparing it to the modern skin.

#45 What a relief!

by thor

Friday June 23rd, 2000 5:59 PM

This is what I was waiting for quite a long time. Now users have a choice and I - as many others seem to do - prefer the classic skin. If this has not already happened: make it the mozilla default skin. Is there such a thing as skin voting? How about a new poll concerning skins?

#46 Boooo

by Blake

Friday June 23rd, 2000 7:07 PM

Hi, My name is MacLover and I think the Classic skin SUX. Why can't you have a nice pretty interface with cool aqua widgets? You guys spend far too much time ensuring that the product works, and absolutely no time making sure that it's beautiful eye candy. The rest of the Mac community and I would get together and help in the interface effort as developers for every other platform have done, but it's easier to bitch and whine about it.


#50 Re: Boooo

by doode

Friday June 23rd, 2000 11:05 PM

it's sad to see mac users being stereotyped. i myself am one. yes the classic skin on mac sucks, cuz it's totally screwed up at this moment. am i complaining? nope, i'm not complaining at all. am i putting an effort into it like "developers for every other platform have done" yes, of course i am, by making my own skin.

i don't wanna see os wars going around here and criticism of any person because of their choice in os

#59 Re: Boooo

by gerbilpower

Saturday June 24th, 2000 4:22 PM

oh the irony ...


#60 Re: Boooo

by Tanyel

Saturday June 24th, 2000 11:25 PM

You are obviously a non-Macintosh flunkie. Die.

#47 taskbar?

by archen

Friday June 23rd, 2000 7:46 PM

is anyone planning on integrating that useless task bar into the status bar (like N4 does)?

guess my main problem is that it's sort of... well cubby.... I take my screen real-estate very seriously and I hate to see it eaten up by all these titanic bars?

um... so when do we get the Netscape 3 skin? always thought the N4 buttons looked hokey, but then again, I'm just evil.

#49 Personally, I preferred NS2's look to NS3

by gwalla

Friday June 23rd, 2000 8:51 PM

The rounded corners on the Netscape 3 buttons made the window look like an overgrown dialog box, IMHO.

#51 :-)

by basic

Saturday June 24th, 2000 12:06 AM

What shall we call this skin? The classic classic classic skin? ;-)

#53 NS2

by damian

Saturday June 24th, 2000 8:04 AM

I just realized that I can't even remember what Nescape 2 looked like !! I vaguely remember Netscape 3, I remember that I liked the stop sign in it better than the traffic light thing in Netscape 4. Is there a Netscape Mueseum page somewhere that would have screenshots ? If not, there should be. ;)

#54 Re: NS2

by thelem

Saturday June 24th, 2000 9:34 AM

I can't provide a screen shot, but you can download them yourself from

#55 Re: Re: NS2

by basic

Saturday June 24th, 2000 10:46 AM

The files have been removed from that server. You could try this site:

#66 Doh!

by thelem

Sunday June 25th, 2000 3:36 AM

I looked at the page to confirm it was still there, but didn't actually try downloading the files.

#78 Netscape direct

by Dan6992

Monday June 26th, 2000 7:26 PM

You can also get them directly from Netscape at

#79 Yeah, but no screenshots :(

by damian

Monday June 26th, 2000 9:13 PM

Someone needs to make a browser museum, with screenshots, feature (or lack thereof) lists, and bug tables.

#62 I guess I'm sentimental

by archen

Sunday June 25th, 2000 12:35 AM

I still think N3 was the best browser ever made. I got on the Internet with it, it's fast, and about as stable as a browser gets. If it were extended with the newer JavaScript, and CSS support, & HTML4 I'd drop N4 in a heartbeat (sorry to the guys at Netscape, but the only thing I actually LIKE about communicator is messenger).

I can't recall what N2 looked like either. Admittedly I never used it much, but I thought it looked like N3. Guess you'd call the skin classic^2 or something for the N3 skin and keep going that way..

Just keep me the hell away from the Mosaic Netscape .9 beta skin - that's one browser I never want to see again

#82 Re: I guess I'm sentimental

by lobotomy42

Wednesday June 28th, 2000 2:11 PM

I totally agree. Of course, that's probably because I really started getting into the web with Netscape 3, and didn't really use it much before I had it. But wow, was N3 stable and fun

Hehe, I actually have N2,3,&4 + various Mozilla builds on my machine, and I can confirm that N2 looks basically similar to N3.

#48 Mozilla Icon

by Anon

Friday June 23rd, 2000 8:34 PM

Is/will it be possible to change the Mozilla icon through skins? I'd like the good old 4.x icon to be used for Mozilla when the classic skin is selected. Any chance of that happening?

#52 Re: Mozilla Icon

by bradfitz

Saturday June 24th, 2000 3:45 AM

That'd be platform-specific, of course ... on Windows it'd involve editing the .exe file, I believe. On Mac it may be easier ... editing the resource file? On Unix ... heh, there are dozens of ways, aren't there?

#58 Re: Re: Mozilla Icon

by Dan6992

Saturday June 24th, 2000 3:50 PM

Actually, for Windows, it depends on how they're linked into the .exe file. If the Mozilla team were to use a .dll to contain the icons, instead of hard coding them in, then a chrome package creator could create his/her own dll using a simple shareware program like EasyIcons to replace the defaults. Now I don't know if it would be as simple on other platforms, but it would be no problem in Windows.

#56 small note...

by doron

Saturday June 24th, 2000 12:53 PM

the classic skin is a work in progress, being constantly reworked by ben. Each nightly is actaully getting better.

Small note to mac people - as I understand, ben is planning a mac version of the classic skin.

small QA note: please don't submit bugs on classic skin, as ben is aware of them already.


#57 Re: small note...

by Ben_Goodger

Saturday June 24th, 2000 2:36 PM

once the skin is looking a little better I'll send out word saying it's open season for visual glitch hunters and bugs can then be filed...

meanwhile, if you see something you think I've already skinned and skinned wrong, file a bug on it! Just don't do the areas that look like they need a lot of love, I just probably haven't gotten to them yet.

#61 This Gives Me......

by Hendy99

Saturday June 24th, 2000 11:33 PM

... a foundation to make my moz even more 4.x-like :-)

#63 I'm just playing.....

by Hendy99

Sunday June 25th, 2000 12:46 AM

How's this look for a rather uneducated fiddle with my chrome dir?

#68 Re: I'm just playing.....

by Martyr

Sunday June 25th, 2000 10:48 AM

Looks great!!


#64 Rrrrrr!! Is Moz going to lose some weight soon!!??

by basic

Sunday June 25th, 2000 12:54 AM

<rant> AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Will mozilla ever slim down?!!!!! I mean enough to run reasonably on a 32MB win98 machine?! </rant>

Sorry, Moz just froze, and I can't seem to figure out why. Can't really use it for anything but testing on this machine. Even then, I need to restart it after investigating a bug. Its alpha after all...


(tired of seeing moz freeze and NS473 crash windows kernel!)

#67 Re: Rrrrrr!! Is Moz going to lose some weight soon

by petejc

Sunday June 25th, 2000 8:09 AM

I can run it on a Win 95 pentium 75 machine with 40 megs of ram. It is REAL slow but it runs.


#70 Re: Rrrrrr!! Is Moz going to lose some weight soon

by thelem

Sunday June 25th, 2000 5:23 PM

I know, the Win2k task manager, says it takes up around 16Mb of ram, where as netscape 4 stays around 8Mb with lots of windows open. (I have even seen it under 3Mb)

#71 What? No "shop" button?

by damian

Sunday June 25th, 2000 8:55 PM

mwahahaha :-)

#72 which "classic"?

by basic

Sunday June 25th, 2000 10:42 PM

is the classic skin suppost to emulate moz classic or NS4.x?

#74 Re: which "classic"?

by Hendy99

Sunday June 25th, 2000 11:09 PM

Looks like 4.x - wouldn't most current Netscape users be using that already? Maybe it should be renamed the 4.x skin <grin>

#81 Looks like mozclassic

by dave532

Tuesday June 27th, 2000 4:07 AM

The old Mozilla Classic browser looked very similar to the current classic theme, it used the same widgets as 4.x but had less buttons on the toolbar a bit like the current classic skin. Mozclassic was also skinnable but not to the extent of the current mozilla, mozclassic used native widgets whenever possible

#73 Pretty slick

by damian

Sunday June 25th, 2000 10:56 PM

Here's a screenshot of Mozilla auto-magically matching my current GTK theme:

#75 What's up with the size of the builds?

by Quelish

Monday June 26th, 2000 8:02 AM

Boy I haven't gotten a nightly in about a month and it seems like the size of the builds keeps growing and growing. I remember in the "early days" when the Win32 zips were less than 2 they're over 7! I sure hope it's because there's debug stuff in there and that it will be nice and slim when the final release comes out.

#76 Re: What's up with the size of the builds?

by doron

Monday June 26th, 2000 11:45 AM

debug *junk* is about 2 megabytes.

#77 Re: Re: What's up with the size of the builds?

by basic

Monday June 26th, 2000 4:48 PM

does that include all the "test" files in the bin directory?

#80 Re: What's up with the size of the builds?

by doron

Tuesday June 27th, 2000 3:53 AM

i see about 2.7 MB of test files in the bin (including the testattributes.exe, that is around 1.5). You can see the differences in m16, which as none of the test files.