Interface Changes

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2006-10-24 Print this article Print

Interface Changes
Users upgrading to the new Firefox 2.0 browser will instantly notice the updated interface, which uses a new default theme that has glowing, 3-D-like buttons on the tool bar.
Some of the biggest changes to the interface, however, are in the use and management of tabbed windows. Firefox 2.0 finally changes the longstanding Mozilla style of closing tabs through a button on the right side of the browser. With Firefox 2.0, as with other tabbed browsers, there is a Close button on each tab. This is a big improvement to the Firefox browser, making it much easier to close only the tabs the user wants to close. We also like that a Recently Closed Tabs item has been added to the History menu. Firefox 2.0 adds scrolling arrows to each side of the browser window, leaving each tab the same size instead of scrunching them all together as in previous Firefox releases. This allowed us to actually see the title for each tab even when we had lots of tabs open. One thing we would like to see by default is a New Tab button on the browser tool bar, although the lack of such a button is easily remedied by right clicking on the tool bar, choosing Customize, and dragging and dropping a New Tab button to the tool bar. Firefoxs search has been enhanced with a feature that displays a drop-down list of suggested search terms when users begin entering a word in the integrated search box. Search engine management also has been improved, and new search engines can be added from a long list of common search engines. Firefox 2.0 cant add a search engine from any site—as Opera does very well and IE 7 does to a certain degree—but if a site has a search engine that uses OpenSearch technology, Firefox 2.0 will give users the option to add that site to their integrated search engine list. One of the coolest new features—and one that greatly boosts usability— is the new integrated spell-checker, which checks users spelling when content is entered in Web-based forms and fields. In other browsers, this functionality can be added through plug-ins and add-ons, but we liked the smooth integration of the spell-checking function in Firefox 2.0. Finding out about RSS feeds and subscribing to them is also improved in Firefox 2.0. When we clicked on a feed link, rather than showing RSS code, Firefox showed an informative summary page and provided a drop-down menu with several options for subscribing to the feed. Also new is the Live Titles feature—small, updatable headlines created by Web sites that display in the bookmark headings in Firefox. When bookmarking a site with Live Titles, referred to generally as microsummaries, we could choose to view the summary headlines in our bookmarks. Next Page: Securing Firefox.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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