Tag: UI

Two annoying issues with Firefox 4 (and their solutions)

The Mozilla Foundation updated Firefox to its version 4 last month and it has lots of interesting features. So I upgraded and although I initially criticized the new interface (when looking at screenshot from beta releases), I now quite like it: it gives more space to the actual content (web pages) to keep the “container” (the Firefox GUI in itself) to a minimum.

But … (because there always is a “but”). But I found 2 annoying issues with the new version …

  1. the “open in new Tab” option is now second in the pop-up menu when you right-click on a link;
  2. Firefox will not save all your open tabs when you close it.

In version 3, when you right-click on a link, the pop-up menu shows you options to open in new window or in new tab in this order:

  1. Open Link in New Window
  2. Open Link in New Tab

Now in version 4, when you right-click on a link, the pop-up menu shows you these options in the following (inverted) order:

  1. Open Link in New Tab
  2. Open Link in New Window

So if you are used to click on the second option to open the link in a new tab (in version 3), you automatically do this in the new version. But you open a new window. That’s annoying! And that’s a known bug/feature.

There are three solutions to this issue:

  1. use Ctrl + (left) click to open a link in a new tab.
  2. use the Menu Editor add-on to re-organise the pop-up menu order as you wish.
  3. use this tweak proposed in a Mozilla forum.
  4. (I know, a fourth solution) just get used to it because I’ll also find it annoying if Firefox developers suddenly change the order of the menu items back in version 5.

My other issue with this new version of Firefox is that it doesn’t warn you that you will close it but not save the tabs you are currently browsing. In Firefox 3, there was a warning dialog box telling you something like: “you are about to close Firefox but there are still tabs open. Would you like to save them, quit anyway (and lose them) or stay in Firefox”. In Firefox 4, no warning, it closes and doesn’t save your tabs.

Initially you think you made a mistake, there was no tab when you closed Firefox. Or maybe you didn’t pay attention to the dialog box and closed Firefox, telling it not to save. At the third occurrence, you are sure there is an issue! And there is one indeed! The Firefox development team apparently decided not to show this box anymore. It sounds ok if you think that this roadblock-dialog-box isn’t in the user’s way when he/she decides to quit. But then save the tabs to users used to this features don’t lose their tabs. This evening, I lost at least 20 tabs containing things not so important (so not in bookmarks) but I wanted to read tonight. Grrr …

Fortunately, as usual, there is a solution:

In the address/url bar enter: about:config
In the filter box enter: quit
set browser.showQuitWarning to ‘true’

Again, this is a feature or an explicit decision: see bugs 592822 and 593421 for instance.

From my point of view, the gold standard is: don’t change the UI and user experience ; or do it but tell the user you did it the first few times the old behaviour isn’t occurring.

Redesigned Pubmed

I often wrote about Pubmed here. Briefly, it’s a search engine for publications in the biomedical domain. They recently redesigned their user interface and, although there are a lot of new things to save time that came with the new design, there is still a problem with their interface: the new search box takes too much space …

Redesigned Pubmed homepage
Redesigned Pubmed homepage (bigger image)

Redesigned Pubmed result page
Redesigned Pubmed result page: search box is hiding the logo, the display settings and the first result (bigger image)

To be fair, I must say these screenshots were taken with Firefox 3.5.3 on Fedora Linux but I didn’t see this problem with other operating systems nor other browser (not even Firefox on MS-Windows). Seems they tested their design with everything except Linux 😦 (A search with Pubmed redesigned doesn’t work with text-only browsers although the previous one perfectly worked)

Performance freeze in Windows Task Manager

I don’t know if it’s a bug or a feature (*) but the Windows Task Manager doesn’t seem to refresh its graphs when we are moving its window. It’s barely noticeable when you usually move it (**) but you can spot this behaviour when one of your other windows is freezing.

Freezing performance graphs - Windows
(larger screenshot)

(*) I know this post is nearly useless but I’m tired of waiting for this freezing software …
(**) I guess it refreshes its graphs between window movements: a human being can barely notice if Windows stops moving the window for 1/100th of second to refresh