Closed Bug 941706 Opened 10 years ago Closed 10 years ago

[Australis] Alternative to Chevron: make second row of items


(Firefox :: Toolbars and Customization, defect)

Not set





(Reporter: BenB, Unassigned)


(Blocks 2 open bugs)


Once there are too many items on the nav toolbar, by some measure, they get put into a "Chevron", a dropdown. This means they are not just practically invisible to the end user.

This is a usability problem. Assume that the user has intentionally installed certain extensions some time ago. Further, assume that she is not very computer proficient, she doesn't know what a "URL" is (she enters "Facebook" in google, as many many users do), and generally just manages to get by with all these computer things. She likes Facebook and her music, and she has a little extension for playing music and alerting new mail.

Now, suddenly, it's all done! She doesn't know what happened, it was there yesterday, and how it's gone. She's calling me, a friend of hers, for help. I of course have problems to diagnose what's going on, not seeing her screen, knowing what happened, and she's not expressing herself very well, she says things like "that thing here" over the phone.

Sorry for the long, colorful story, but I try to illustrate which kinds of users we have, and how they'll react to things being put in the Chevron: Panic.

Please don't assume that people will read and understand the interactive tutorial. I think it's a great idea, but it's basically defeat. UI should be obvious without teaching. While it will probably teach many, and that's good, there are good chances that the teaching is lost of >50% of the userbase.

As company, we've had users calling our hotline, because they had used the Firefox customization or menu items to remove things (themselves!) and forgot that and now called the hotline because the extension 'didn't work', 'nothing is there'. Real stories. We had to put extra code in to undo such hiding on re-install, so that naive users have an obvious recurse. If you have these kinds of tech support calls, it's not hard to envision what will happen once the "Chevron" solution is rolled out to end users.

Competition: Please note that Google Chrome is no measure, because 1) this isn't the same userbase and 2) Firefox has a lot more extensions, they are lot more powerful, and a lot lot lot more popular. Many of our users *depend* on extensions, and don't want to live without them.

Importance: In fact, I'd argue that extensions are one of the primary reasons why people stick with Firefox instead of Google Chrome. So, it's critically important for the survival of Firefox to get this right.

The main problem is:
* The user is surprised
It's important that the user is not surprised, that it's always clear to him/her what happens. And that he has the choice. Neither is currently the case with the Chevron.


If the toolbar overflows, i.e. has too many items and we're running out of window width, then
* make a second row of items, underneath the urlbar.
* Add an button "^" (or "-") which hides the toolbar and shows the Chevron instead.
  Ideally, there is an animation that lets the buttons go into the Chevron,
  so the user can see what happened.
* The Chevron has an "v" or "+" item to reverse that action

* Keeps current system where all items are always visible.
* Gives more space for customization
* Still allows to save screen space, in an obvious and discoverable way
* Once the user has clicked the "^" button and saw the animation, he knows where stuff
  is and will not be surprised about their lack.
* User has the choice whether he wants to see the items and sacrifice the screen space,
  or whether he wants to hide them.

I can volunteer to implement this myself, if given approval.
We've looked in to doing this before, but it's not something that we would consider. A major reason for removing the add-on bar is the likelihood that a user installs a single add-on which then causes a full toolbar to be rendered with only one add-on button on it.

If we did overflow to a second toolbar we would still have the issue of a single toolbarbutton being located by itself on the new toolbar.
Closed: 10 years ago
Resolution: --- → WONTFIX
Jared, the single button should never happen, because there should be sufficient available space for 3-5 extra buttons on the main toolbar. -- If there isn't sufficient space, then you've got a major usability problem for extensions anyway.

This second toolbar would only appear once the user has many extra buttons.

This is really crucial for the survival of extensions, and I'd like to have a more substantial discussion about this than just hearing "no, won't do that".
Yes, there should be room for 3-5 buttons on the main toolbar. But I was talking about when the user adds that 6th button, and then the 6th button is on a toolbar all by itself.
In that case, you'd move all buttons over to the toolbar, leaving more space for the urlbar.
So, no, an button would never be alone and lonely.

Please consider that if the user prefers the Chevron, he can trivially do that (and reverse it). This is about the least surprise, comfort, and choice for the user.
(And the one-click open/close is a *lot* easier than Customize, for average users)
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