(In reply to :Gijs (he/him) from comment #6)
(In reply to Katelyn Gadd (:kael) from comment #5)
If I go to the Firefox website in Edge and click Download, it automatically starts downloading to my Downloads folder. A little flyout does appear to show me that it was downloaded, but the flyout is small and does not steal focus.
Without stealing focus, the change is not keyboard accessible, and also not noticeable for users of assistive technology without further work (ie a blind user would not realize anything had downloaded). So there's a reason we steal focus.
This is only relevant for the case where a download occurs without the user requesting it, right? I agree that it is valuable for that scenario - I don't know how common it is in the wild since for me Firefox almost always prompts or opens a save dialog.
"Every browser opens downloads UI when you download something, so I don't understand this comment. Before this change, Firefox would have opened the "what do you want to do with this file" dialog, which also stole focus." Yes, but this new downloads popup steals focus even if I just finished with the save dialog.
So this goes back to wanting to specialcase situations where explicit browser-chrome level actions (usually from the menu, context menu, or shortcut) are what leads to the download, right? Can you elaborate on why, in this case, the focus stealing is disruptive? I would not have expected that if you were using the context menu, focus would be in a "useful" place anyway (ie if I focus an inputfield, then context-click an image, and click 'save as', focus does not return to the image, irrespective of whether the downloads panel opens). And additionally, can you perhaps provide some context around the workflow in which you encounter this scenario? What are you trying to do, and how does the downloads panel get in the way of that? I'm sorry because I realize this is likely obvious to you, but it's not to me, and getting more of an idea of what the context is might help in figuring out what else we can do to help.
It's an extra interaction to dismiss the popup that doesn't communicate additional info to the browser, since user already intentionally confirmed the download + its target location by interacting with the system 'save file' dialog box. It would also kind of make sense to bypass this if I just dealt with the Firefox 'what should I do with this file' modal, since that also asks where to put it, but in that case I can understand wanting to open the flyout so that it's easy to navigate to the place where FF put it, since your default Downloads folder might be in a weird spot.
I actually misunderstood the way this focus-stealing popup behaves, because it appears to only partially steal focus - Ctrl+F4 will still close the current tab despite the tab no longer having focus, and that was the main flow I was concerned about here. The popout does block mouse input going to the tab, but it's at least not a very big popout so that is a less general concern on big monitors - while it's 25% of my vertical real estate, it's not very wide so it only works out to like 5% of my total desktop real estate (I don't know what it's like on a consumer 1080p monitor though - hopefully not too bad?)
It's possible the resolution to this is that websites that require this sort of interaction will be redesigned to cope with the way things behave now, especially if Chrome migrates to this model. "Open a bunch of tabs to save that the end user then has to close" was already bad and this makes it slightly worse, so ideally websites will stop doing it. It's already the case that some websites address this by just generating zip files containing all the downloads, and then it's the end user's responsibility to use an external tool to unpack them, which solves the problem of the browser having to make the downloads flow smooth.
I should note that if I'm trying to use the keyboard to download multiple attachments in gmail, this still regresses that flow - while ctrl-f4 to close tabs still works with the popout open, it fully stops me from navigating in the gmail tab after I've used the keyboard to kick off a download - I have to find my way out of the popup. Thankfully that is one consistent key, and I imagine not too many people use the browser this way so maybe it's not a big deal? If the popup only intercepted specific keys that would also fix this, it eats arrow keys to allow me to select older downloads and it has multiple focus targets that eat tab. If the goal is to enable accessible keyboard navigation one alternate solution that doesn't disrupt navigation would be a dedicated 'open my last download' hotkey that's always available and has an associated visual element - maybe the downloads flyout becomes smaller and less disruptive in that circumstance.
At this point though that's just speculative design. Ctrl+F4 still working means that my common workflows here will still work, they just behave strangely now - I was confused enough by the new behavior that I didn't fully explore how it interacted with hotkeys.
Having it in the release notes will help, but for many people a behavior like this feels random and not associated with an update so they may not think to check release notes.
I should hope that this is less so on release, where an update happens once a month, and is more clearly an 'event' as opposed to on beta where they happen every other day or so... Certainly, I see more bugreports (in general, not related to this) where people mis-attribute to a given Firefox release update, than where something turns out to be a regression and they didn't realize...
But really, there is a difficult trade-off here, because of course we have no idea, for individual users, who this behaviour is likely to annoy or surprise, and who couldn't care less. Based on our data, where we've had a significant uptick of the ratio of files opened vs downloaded, we think the new flow helps people.
It's good to hear that this new flow is supported by metrics, I was hoping it would be. For me the ideal resolution would just be a 'don't show this again' checkbox that appears for any existing users this behavior is pushed onto, because then you don't have to make any additional changes anywhere else and users don't have to dig into about:config (something the firefox UI design team rightfully seems to wish to discourage). I can imagine less advanced users clicking that checkbox without realizing it'll actually make their experience worse, though...