The new Firefox design has made it out of beta today and is now available to the general public. This is one of the most significant user-interface update in recent memory, and you can see how things have changed by browsing the photo gallery. At first glance, you may notice that the tabs are now much more contrasted, so it’s extremely easy to see which one is active. In a world where people always keep 50+ tabs open, this may prove pretty useful. I like the fact that background tabs completely fade into the background.
The Firefox Menu is also seeing its fair of changes and becomes much more clear and user-friendly than the old one. It is also possible to drag & drop to reconfigure the general user interface and define what fields show up or what icons is visible and where it’s located. For example, I have removed the search bar since I can search with the URL bar as well and I have added the Developer icon to the top-left since I use it often. Lastpass has also become a prominent feature in my new setup. It’s up to you to define how you can make Firefox more productive.
The Tab customization has changed a little. This is the page that you see when you open a new Tab. In the past, I have not used this feature much because the shortcuts there were not relevant. Now that I can “pin” shortcuts to the page, I find it to be much more palatable and useful in general. My metric for success is whether or not opening a tab and clicking on a shortcut is faster than typing the URL with auto-complete. In many cases, it is faster if my mouse is nearby.
As always, there are many other improvements in terms of Sync, Performance and even functionality, but Firefox 29 is mostly about design and user interface. In the end, those are two of the most important “features” that drive productivity. If you want to check it out the free download is located on the Firefox page. I’ve been playing with those features using Firefox Beta and if you want to be at the bleeding edge, you can do the same.
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