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Australis tabs, where are you?

Implementing Australis, the new theme for Firefox, is one of the top goals for the desktop team this quarter. As a result, I've recently taken over work on the tab strip visual redesign portion of the project. At this point the tab shape and styling has been implemented on Windows and is undergoing review so it's a good time for testing from a wider audience so the feature can get some polish before development starts on OS X and Linux in the upcoming weeks. The following is a screenshot of a build with the the latest patch.

Screenshot of current progress on Australis tabs

To test the new design, install the Firefox UX Nightly on Windows (exe, zip). The changes are in code review and there is still some work to be done in follow-ups but at this point there aren't any known bugs which will hinder browser usage so go ahead and give it a try. Polish for background themes and Windows 8 will be added in follow-up bugs.

Some of you have been waiting for Australis since the designs were created over a year ago and you may be wondering why it takes so long to be implemented. The answer is that Firefox UI is very flexible and tries to adapt to various configurations and getting this right with a new theme can be a complex process. Here are just some of the variables that are taken into account while balancing the aesthetics, complexity, and performance of the implementation:

  • Operating system version/theme
    • Classic, XP, Aero Basic, Aero Glass, Windows 8, High Contrast
  • Background themes for Firefox
  • Window state - maximized/restored/fullscreen
  • Tabs in the titlebar
  • Tabs on top/bottom
  • Integration with system color, font and DPI settings
  • Tab overflow
  • Pinned/app tabs
  • Customization mode
  • Text direction – Left-to-right vs. right-to-left
  • Customized toolbar buttons
  • Tab drag-and-drop
  • Menu bar visibility

You can follow the remaining Australis tab work from the meta bug. Report issues with the current implementation in the comments on this post or in the bug (if they haven't already been covered there or in the etherpad).


Thanks, I've made a note of this in the etherpad.

On Windows 8, it looks pretty bad.

As noted in the blog post and in the etherpad, Windows 8 styling will be done in a follow-up bug which will remove the fog used for Aero Glass.

I love how the inactive tabs fade in the background, less strain on my eyes. Yet, I can still read the title of the tabs very clearly.
However, the rounded corners makes the tabs look big and taking too much space. Maybe consider keep them squared. Also, I don't like when Chrome people in my office are saying "Oh, it's like Chrome now".

Tell those people in the office the tabs in Chrome are slanted off and Firefox's are the ones actually curved down. To me, the tabs in Chrome and Firefox look completely different. It's the same as how people aren't able to tell the difference between a 3DS and its predecessors, your eyes aren't trained in that field.

The Australis theme on AMO has an option for "Classic Tabs". Check that out, as I tend to really like them too. :)

The roundedness of the tabs wastes horizontal space -- and the better usage of horizontal space is one of the main reasons I prefer the current GUI of Firefox to that of Chrome. Was there a good reason for implementing Australis? I don't mean to be rude, but I like the way the tabs currently look much better.

The only drawback I find is that if a user uses a visual theme for Windows (XP in my case) or just a different color scheme for the title bars, if it is dark, the fonts of the tabs remain in black color making it difficult to read.

Looks good but somehow the Australis tabs on thunderbird looks a little bit better in my opinnion.

Here are bugs:
[green] white border at the top of the selected tab, [red] angles are not "smooth" rounded,
and new tab button icon is not in the middle.

As I mentioned in the blog post, background theme support will be implemented in a follow-up bug.

They take so long that now is an outdated design to be used in Windows 8.

when ther are a lot of tabs, the inactive tabs didnt show close button and it is quite understandable. I would like to have close button appearing in those inactive tabs while hovering over it. It seems quick when closing a lot of tabs.

Why is Australis implementation removed from now? It was there when I last checked it!
How much time is it expected to land in? especially on Linux platform. Because Linux is where the UI really sucks compared to polish on other OSes.

-A user awaiting australis since a long time

When the Australis is finally released, will it come with the new, customisable menu button, or will we have to wait for it?

The plan is to release Australis tabs and the customizable menu button at the same time.