Full Article Attached Rapid Pace of Development for Mozilla Firebird

Sunday August 17th, 2003

If you haven't downloaded a Mozilla Firebird nightly build in the last few weeks, you may be surprised to discover how many enhancements the application has received. In this extended full article, MozillaZine takes a look at some of Firebird's more interesting recent improvements, including support for sidebar panels with webpage content and a selector for alternative stylesheets. Remember that you need to be using a nightly build and not a milestone release to see these new features in action. Refer to a resource such as The Burning Edge if you need help deciding which nightly to download and discuss Firebird with other followers of the project in our Mozilla Firebird forums.

#1 One more feature: "Add engines..."

by borggraefe

Sunday August 17th, 2003 6:12 PM

You've forgotten one more new feature in Firebird that is really great. In the search toolbox you can now choose "Add engines...". This will take you to where you can add arbitrary search engines to Firebird.

#2 Re: One more feature: "Add engines..."

by AlexBishop

Sunday August 17th, 2003 6:48 PM

"You've forgotten one more new feature in Firebird that is really great. In the search toolbox you can now choose 'Add engines...'."

Did an article on that on August 9th:


#3 Two comments:

by pkb351

Sunday August 17th, 2003 7:46 PM

1. In the preferences I find it is not very intuitive to place the Plugin and Helper Application preferences under this category. When I think of downloads I think of files I download to my hard disk. Examples are executable program files, MP3, JPEG, etc. which I intend to save. "Download" is not the term I think of when I want to play a media file using either a plugin or helper application.

At the risk of being flamed, "Download" is the last category I would think of when seeking the plugin and helper application preferences. I believe it would be much better for a seperate category called "Plugins and Helper Applications".

2. I have a wish for the sidebar search function as used in the Mozilla Suite to come to Mozilla. I love the Suite's ability to search more than one egine at the same time. Being a Mac user all my Sherlock search engines are recognized by Mozilla. Now if only Firebired could search more than one search engine at the same time. There is more to searching the web than just Google ;).

#5 Re: Two comments (and a bit more...):

by alcatraz52

Sunday August 17th, 2003 11:23 PM

Some tiny things & general ideas that would make FB a completely awesome browser (mixed in with a response to you :))-

I think "Downloads" fits the plugin and helper application preferences well because you're downloading the media- .mov's are like mp3s (I have quicktime installed, which I *never* ever use except internally with FB). In my plugins list, there are things like AU, MIDI, MOV etc. that I choose to play in the browser with their respective plugins. Others might not. So it fits IMO ;)

One *annoyance* (also in 0.61) is in the bookmarks and history quicksearches: pressing enter in an empty quicksearch box removes all items from a list. In most Win32 apps you expect to press Enter to get a result. So either a "show all" button like in about:config is needed or pressing enter in an empty quicksearch should intuitively show all items again. For example, after searching for something (and pressing enter after typing), you might want to go *back* to the original list.

Think I should just stop pressing Enter? ;) But still it's annoying.

However I really dislike how long the context menu is seems too be edging toward billion-item Moz territory when you right click an image. If I'm wrong..good :) I'd love to remove the items that I don't need however I don't their IDs in userChrome.

On the context menu, I personally think "send page", "send link", "send image" etc. are useless features- why not put them in an extension? It would remove menu bloat for people who don't use it (a lot) and keep the Send-* people happy. You can just right-click->copy link location & open a compose window anyhow. But if I could turn it off.. :)

The Moz sidebar in FB? That would be nice. I think FB should have the icons to switch the sidebars in a miniaturized state where the sidebar title is. A bit like Opera's Hot List buttons but icons.

Example ('xuse the obviously edited alt text): [img=""]

The good thing about this- if it's even possible- is that extension authors who write sidebars for FB can have their icon appear here among bookmarks, history etc. However there's the problem of too many icons in that row so customization like in the toolbars might be in order.

About Moz's search sidebar...I think it would be much more intuitive for it to open *without* opening a duplicate of itself in the same tab. So I could keep the search results open in the sidebar and just click normally on an item which would open in the same tab. I don't have Moz installed so I can't grab a shot...but I hope you get what I mean.

And there's a world outside Google? ;)

Options..I like em! General seems too sparse. I think it would have been better to stick the tabbed options that are in advanced under the subtitle "Tabbed Browsing" like in 0.61. And remove the security options from Advanced, *why* turn em off anyway? I don't really understand the accessbilty caret thing, but that's ok cuz it's advanced ;)

The Web Features icon looks a bit dull..I liked it in 0.6 (I think) where it had little red lines, triangles, and circles in it. Just gave a bit more life but it really doesn't matter.

Moving Fonts & Colors into Web Features was a good idea though Web Features general busy-ness makes General seem *too* sparse.

Pipelining options should be in Advanced with a warning that it might not work on some servers (since IMO tabbed browsing is in General). Type Ahead Find as well. (just looking through about:config for things that aren't *too* geeky but a newbie would like to have control over). Maybe the option to have those mini javascript-opened windows minimize/resize/location (dom.disable_window__open_feature.*) features in Advanced? It's a bit annoying not being able to resize those..though it might turn out to be too geeky. I really hate not having control ;)

And there's my rambly contribution :) Great work guys, especially if it's kept someone like me using FB since Novemeber- I am so picky about little things.

#6 Re: Re: Two comments (and a bit more...):

by alcatraz52

Sunday August 17th, 2003 11:25 PM

oops..guess [img] doesn't work.

Well here's the link to my mockup of an improved FB sidebar:

#9 Re: Re: Two comments (and a bit more...):

by janahan

Monday August 18th, 2003 2:17 AM

hmmm, yes i agree the rightclick context menu IS getting a bit big! Maybe we shoudl take a leaf out of Symbian's book on this one. I have a SonyEricsson P800 phone, and there is an intrestign idea I gleaned from that platform. For an image, we could have two context menu items, "Send Image" and "Send Link". Under those we can have a cascading menu, or secondary dialoge which selects a target, for example on Send link you coudl have targets of "Clipboard, email, text, etc" and for Send File, you could have targets of "File, Email, FTP, x-drive, My Pictures". This menu can be extended by extensions or plugins, for example the MSNMessenger extension could add a MSN Messenger target to the target list, together with people online on your buddy list. a future FTP extension coudl automatically allow u to save directly to a FTP location.

#4 ani gifs pref?

by stylo

Sunday August 17th, 2003 10:02 PM

Should animated gifs preference be in multimedia? We used to have one to turn off after a loop. I don't see anywhere now.

#7 About style selector

by flash

Monday August 18th, 2003 1:37 AM

1 - The style selector is a very good addition. But it behaves a little differently as the Style Selector extension I used to use: it doesnt show up if there isn't any alternate stylesheet. As a web developper, it's then impossible to see how a page looks like without any style, unless I install the Style Selector extension.

2 - Something very annoying: the 'about:blank'. I don't see the goal of displaying this in the address bar. Before, when you opened a new tab, the address bar was empty, but now it is prefilled by this useless 'about:blank'... (I do know what it is, I just find this is useless, and annoying, to display it)

#8 Re: About style selector

by jesse

Monday August 18th, 2003 2:01 AM

The about:blank thing is and is marked as WFM. What's your build ID?

#10 Re: Re: About style selector

by flash

Monday August 18th, 2003 4:41 AM

20030811... Okay next time I'll try newer nightlies before complaining ;)

#11 Mac support

by the_Rebel

Monday August 18th, 2003 7:48 AM

Any ideas on when the next Mac build of Firebird might be available? The latest Mac build appears to be from 15-Jul-2003.

#15 Re: Mac support

by brokenvoice

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 1:29 AM

Agreed. It's getting harder to stay interested in Firebird. I'm still using the appsuite for all my www development and testing but I'd rather use FB and some extensions.

#16 If your willing to go unofficial

by jrobbio

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 5:03 AM

Try jtalkington's unofficial nightly builds here: The one for the 17th is out now.

#12 Persistent page preferences

by tomgilder

Monday August 18th, 2003 10:57 AM

Excellent to see plans for making alternative style sheet selection persistent. The current implementations of this are near-useless due to the lack of this.

Any plans to extend this to font size changing? I've always thought a very, very powerful feature in a browser would be a good local database which stored individual viewing settings for sites.

#13 Excellent

by cyfaone

Monday August 18th, 2003 5:24 PM

This is what mozilla should have been from the beginning. Im a web developer and I use Firebird as my default browser. Great job.

#14 That's all great but..

by mycho3

Monday August 18th, 2003 9:51 PM

None of the recent builds work on my computer.. I always revert to May 25 03 build. The new ones crash randomly, will not take my plugins, etc. Any advice?

#17 Re: That's all great but..

by mlefevre

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 6:25 AM

my advice is to post about it in the Firebird forum - - and mention which OS you're using, which build you're trying. the nightlies do tend to have some crash bugs. you could also try the 0.6.1 milestone - not so recent, but it's newer than May 25.

#18 Re: That's all great but..

by cgonyea

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 7:00 AM

Create a new profile and completely delete your previous installation, then install the new build works every time.

#19 trying firebird -- popups seem broken

by joschi

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 11:08 AM

anyone give me some advice here, i'm trying out firebird 0.6.1 and loving it, EXCEPT that it seems all popups are just screwed up. for instance, if i try to submit an answere to a poll on i get *2* popup windows, both of which are empty, no content. i'm seeing this on all kinds of sites that use user initiated popups, works fine in moz. is there a work around for this? unfortunately until i find one i cant use firebird :(

#20 Firebird prefs

by tvinci

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 3:11 PM

I'd love it if there was a turn off/on Flash option, so that I would start downloading the flash plug-in. There is so many flash banner ads that I never install it and if a website requires it I go to IE. Also I'd love an option to turn off the certificate warnings. We have a ton of bad certs in out QA environments so when ever I navigate there it always pops up a bunch of warnings. I believe this feature is already available but you have to go into the prefs.js file to alter it.

#21 plug-in prefs

by tvinci

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 3:19 PM

I must have skipped over that plug-ins. This is very nice!

#22 Re: plug-in prefs

by AlexBishop

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 4:04 PM

"I'd love it if there was a turn off/on Flash option, so that I would start downloading the flash plug-in... I must have skipped over that plug-ins. This is very nice!"

The feature doesn't disable plug-ins that are embedded into pages, it only disables plug-ins when you open a file on its own.

Example: A Flash ad embedded in a page will still work. However, if you follow a link to a Flash file, it won't open it with the plug-in but will instead be passed to a helper application or downloaded.


#23 Re: plug-in prefs

by ScLAD

Tuesday August 19th, 2003 4:19 PM

Haven't tried it, but this extention has the ability to only load flash objects when you click on them.

#25 Re: Re: plug-in prefs

by ScLAD

Wednesday August 20th, 2003 8:32 AM

Well the link didn't post for some reason, let's try again:

#24 Re: Firebird prefs

by Tar

Wednesday August 20th, 2003 5:08 AM

You should try "Flash Click To View" extension for Moz/FB: or my modified version of it that doesn't look so eyecatching on page:

#26 Tabbrowser

by sergiorg

Wednesday August 20th, 2003 8:52 AM

'Tabbrowser extensions' hangs my Mozilla in last nightly. Anybody saw this ?

#28 Re: Tabbrowser

by invirginia

Tuesday February 10th, 2004 9:46 AM

Yes, this happened to me. I downloaded the new Firefox this morning and things were fine. After installing tabbrowser extension, the splash screen for it comes up and hangs. I have uninstalled and reinstalled Firefox and it STILL appears. Has anybody figured out how to get rid of this? I can't use Firefox at all now!

#27 helper applications please

by jwmoore

Wednesday December 3rd, 2003 9:35 AM

Firebird's speed is appreciated and I want to add a helper app to both launch the neural simulation program NEURON and tell other users about Firebird. The method used in Mozilla is quite common, familiar and would you please add it to your push-down list to make it available soon. Thanks, john