[Regression] restore position of Open Link in New Tab




9 years ago
9 years ago


(Reporter: mozbugzilla, Unassigned)


(4 keywords)

Firefox Tracking Flags

(Not tracked)




9 years ago
User-Agent:       Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101026 Firefox/3.6.12
Build Identifier: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT; rv:2.0b6) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/4.0b6

I have been using Firefox since spring of 2004.  Almost immediately, my mousing hand developed a habit for opening links in new tabs:  Right-click on the link, and select the second menu option.  The entirety of perceptible cognitive load is devoted to deciding I want a link open in a new tab; zero conscious brain cycles are spent selecting the appropriate place to click.

I call this “offloading to dedicated hardware” (I have an ASIC wired into my mouse-hand).  Such a phenomenon, colloquially referred to as “muscle memory”, is beloved by usability specialists; and 6½ years’ worth of muscle memory is a substantial learning investment, particularly for an action oft performed hundreds of times each day during heavy research.  A software package used by millions of people must carefully consider each and every such interface change.

Recently, I downloaded Mozilla Firefox 4.0 Beta 6.  In the context menu for links, the first and second menu options have been switched from the positions they held from pre-1.0 up to 3.6.  When using 4.0β6, I find myself constantly interrupted by new windows suddenly popping up when I expected a tab in the background.  The fun transcends new nadirs when alternating between 4.0β6 on one computer and 3.6.x on another computer.

I understand that Firefox’s designers wish to make the UI easier, more obvious, or theoretically more elegant in some way.  There is probably a bug where this decision was made; I didn’t bother searching, because the real bug hereby is a deeper issue.  Software developers are constantly doing this—breaking the “open-in-new-tab-then-shift-alt-tab-backwards-to-new-tab” paradigm is another recent Firefox example (thank you about:config)—and it’s not just Firefox; in the browser arena alone, the transition from Opera 10.0 to Opera 10.5 was a catastrophe for heavy users of alt-* keyboard shortcuts.  (Solution:  Stop using mainstream browsers, and switch back to the stable UI of Lynx.)

And remember, people are busy.  Correction:  The people you most want using your software are busy; for they are the very ones whose lives will be improved by software which helps them do useful work.  Most of these people don’t know how to use Bugzilla—hey, do I look like I know how to file a proper bug?  The majority of actual humans either suffer with software, or switch to different software and suffer with that.  I am only reporting this issue after the issue itself wasted me more total time and energy than expended in writing this.  Thus for each such change designers make, an immeasurable quantity of individuals are either quietly enduring pain, or quietly desisting from usage of the product.  Neither is a desired outcome—and neither shows up in Bugzilla, the operative word being “quietly”.

So, *please*:  When you consider a seemingly insignificant UI change, pretend that you are the maker of a dynamically linked C standard library and you are breaking ABI compatibility with millions of brains.  Then unless the change is a revolutionary improvement in easy of use—and I do mean, *revolutionary*—take a big step back and resist the urge.  In the grand scheme of things, really, how much will new users be helped by having open-in-new-tab as the first menu option?  —Versus how much angst borne by longtime users who must now unlearn and relearn the software?  Bear in mind that the latter process is far and away more difficult than learning new software with a clean slate.

[Fine print:  No warranty provided for unwarranted puns.  Mousing-hand ASIC is patent pending.  © 2010 adam аţ certifound.com.  Patent also pending on homographic insulation against spam harvesters.  Dynamically linked C standard libraries are bad architecture; please stop that also.]

Reproducible: Always

Steps to Reproduce:
1. Browse any webpage containing hyperlinks.
2. Decide to open link in new tab.
3. Act consistently with 6.6×10^-3 millennia worth of accrued muscle memory.
Actual Results:  
1. New window pops up in face.
2. Cognitive interruption:  Stop reading page which is now obscured, stop thinking about task, think about browser instead.
3. Curse under breath.
4. Need to un-maximize (“restore”) new window and position it for following step.
5. Painstaking drag of tab from new window to old window.
6. Rinse.
7. Repeat entire process ten seconds later.  More cursing and re-cursing in as much as the compiler for this process lacks tail-call optimization, requiring a new stack frame for each instance of unwanted new windows; stack overflow results in defenestration of entire system.  (Will file a new bug about this.)

Expected Results:  
1. Link opened in background tab.
Give it a week's worth of exercise. You'd be surprised how quickly the brain adjusts.

Comment 2

9 years ago
(In reply to comment #1)
> Give it a week's worth of exercise. You'd be surprised how quickly the brain
> adjusts.

You’re @mozilla.com, so it’s your product, not mine.  That being said, the immediate reaction that I should adjust my brain to Firefox strikes me as a—well, an *interesting* HCI methodology.  Particularly when the “adjustment” is an unlearning of substantial prior experience with the same software; as I noted, it’s far easier to learn new software than relearn old software.  People should certainly spend reasonable effort learning the tools they wish to use, but shouldn’t thenceforth be on a treadmill of re-learning the same over and again.  Thus I must ask, is Comment #1 representative of Mozilla’s general user-experience philosophy?

(I think I said my piece; and I did notice after filing the bug that I seem to be e-mailing about forty people.  I have no desire to push a discussion if nobody @mozilla.* sees merit in what I said already.  Just wondering if “[y]ou’d be surprised how quickly the brain adjusts” is Mozilla policy.)
Whiteboard: dupeme
juan, via https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/buglist.cgi?type1-0-0=substring&short_desc=open%20link%20&field0-0-0=short_desc&type0-0-1=substring&field0-0-1=short_desc&type1-0-1=allwordssubstr&resolution=---&resolution=INVALID&resolution=WONTFIX&resolution=DUPLICATE&classification=Client%20Software&classification=Components&chfieldto=Now&chfield=[Bug%20creation]&query_format=advanced&chfieldfrom=14m&short_desc_type=substring&value0-0-1=new%20window&type0-0-0=substring&value0-0-0=new%20tab&field1-0-0=short_desc&product=Firefox&field1-0-1=short_desc the only bug I find to duplicate to is bug 596930  - which seems to me should be closed WONTFIX.  implemented via bug 322736 so there's really no chance of them changing the behavior back

FWIW, I think the new behavior is an improvement.
clarifying issue in summary.
Closed: 9 years ago
Resolution: --- → DUPLICATE
Summary: [Regression] Please Stop Destroying My Muscle Memory → [Regression] restore position of Open Link in New Tab
Whiteboard: dupeme
Duplicate of bug: 596930
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