Mozilla Firebird Gets New Download Manager
Saturday November 29th, 2003
The latest nightly builds of Mozilla Firebird feature a new download manager for saving files. The Downloads sidebar and progress windows have been replaced by a new combined Downloads window that lists all current and completed downloads. Cancelled and failed downloads also remain in this list, with a 'Retry' option to allow transfers to be attempted again. A 'Clean Up' button lets users keep the Downloads window tidy by removing all completed, cancelled and failed downloads. There are also new preferences for the automatic removal of downloads from the list.
To streamline tasks such as saving cached images, the Downloads windows does not appear for files that take less than two seconds to transfer. A confirmation dialogue is displayed if you try to exit Firebird with downloads still in progress, eliminating the frustration of accidentally stopping your downloads when you're done browsing. For Windows users, an alert similar to the new mail notification from the Mozilla Application Suite and Mozilla Thunderbird appears near the taskbar when all downloads have completed. See the download manager QA page and the forum topic about the new Downloads window for more information.
Bigger? I suppose so... the new Downloads window is 30 pixels wider and 30 pixels taller, but come on, is it that much of a big deal? Not really.
There are options to stop the Downloads window from appearing when a download starts, and an option to make it close when all downloads complete. With the former pref set, you can monitor status manually at any time by hitting Ctrl+E or bonking the Downloads button on the toolbar.
The case for the Download Sidebar was not strong. It did not fit easily with other sidebar panels (it wasn't a source of links), it stole horizontal real estate for long periods at a time when the average screen resolution is 1024x768, and offered only a limited subset of the progress window's functionality. Furthermore, the Download Sidebar was not default, and fairly well hidden previously, it's fair to assume it was not widely used.
I have placed numerous hooks in the new code to enable extension authors to place the current downloading UI in any other part of the browser they wish however, including a sidebar panel, or perhaps a tab. People who prefer the older style of management need not suffer long, if they can find someone to code what they want.