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  1. Can Firefox’s new look save the web browser? Enter the Gecko Firefox released version 89 recently with a new look named Proton. It brings a major change to the user interface in its colors and looks, giving the web browser a more modern feel. Web browsers look incredibly similar these days, with the tabs on top, a menu accessible to the right, and a bookmarks bar if you so choose. However, Mozilla has been unique in these browser wars, working on improving its own Gecko engine instead of moving to WebKit or Google’s Chromium variant, as Microsoft Edge has. With the new look now out on all platforms, we spoke to Mozilla about the new release, and if it has any particular hopes for WWDC next week. A New Look Using the new UI it prompted us to ask, why the drive to redesign it now? “Late 2020, we had a vision of what we wanted Firefox to be. Currently, we're living in a frenetic time where people are dealing with really tough challenges every day. It's hard to solve problems that are popping up everywhere on the Web,” a Mozilla spokesperson tells us over email. “We believe that the browser should be a piece of software that you can rely on to have your back, whether that's privacy, performance or security, and that it looks amazing and works seamlessly with the Web.” While the UI is clearly an improvement on what came before, it also prompted the team to work on optimizing the browser overall. “On June 1, our Firefox release had ground-breaking design work, challenging engineering work and a really great end product,” they tell us. “With this release, we took on a mission to save everyone time. On Firefox, it means making pages load faster, using less memory or simply streamlining the everyday use of the browser. We believe we have a fresh take on the Internet and the tools we use to harness the Web.” In every project one makes, there’s always an aspect that you’re proud of, however minor it is. Mozilla agreed. “The team is most proud of the Streamlined Clutter-Free Menus. We prioritized the content based on what people clicked on when they visited the menu,” we were told. “We made the labels less cryptic and more cohesive. Also, we removed some elements and refreshed the icons so that it was easier for people to see at a glance where they wanted to go. We worked to deliver an inviting, high quality experience so that people felt calm, no matter where they use Firefox — on a computer, phone or tablet. That meant paring down and streamlining over adding and expanding.” Accessibility in Proton A new user interface also has to cater for those with accessibility needs, so we asked whether the new Proton appearance made sure to factor this in. “For this release, we looked at the use of dark themes and colors and overall minimizing visual noise,” Mozilla explained. “This year, we will continue to work with the accessibility community to address their specific needs and incorporate them in future releases.” It seems as though the company isn't done yet in improving accessibility for Firefox and Proton as a whole. However, one aspect of the user interface that is already sticking out to many users are the tabs. They look as though they're more suited to touch displays, so we asked Mozilla whether this was deliberate. “For the tabs, our primary aim was to redesign these tabs so that they floated neatly, and we added the visual indicators, like blocking autoplay videos until you’re ready to visit that tab,” Mozilla says. “More than 50% of people have four tabs or more open. We detached the tab from the browser to make it more inviting for people to move, rearrange and pull out tabs into a new window to suit your flow, and organize them so they’re easier for them to find.” Gecko Engine on iOS 15? Of course, we’re on the eve of Apple's WWDC where iOS 15, macOS 12 and many more updates are expected to be announced. I asked Mozilla whether they had any wishes themselves, or even if it’s just being allowed to use the Gecko engine instead of WebKit, which is a requirement for browsers in Apple’s App Store. “Yes, the most obvious is to be able to leverage GeckoView in our Firefox iOS app. Overall, Apple is a partner and we were very excited to see the new privacy features put in place with iOS 14 and the default browser option. We're hoping for more great news for this upcoming WWDC.” Can Firefox’s new look save the web browser?
  2. Firefox Proton design refresh is almost ready: here is what is new Mozilla Firefox is getting another design refresh; Mozilla has been working on a refresh of the web browser's design under the Proton codename for some time. The organization plans to launch the new design in Firefox 89 Stable, out on May 18, 2021. Firefox Stable is at version 87 currently, which means that there will be only one major stable version release before the new design release in May. While things may be delayed, it seems unlikely that this is going to be the case for the design refresh. The refresh will make adjustments to many interface elements of the browser, including its tabs, main menu, context menus, and modals. Our last preview of Proton dates back to February 2021; a lot has changed since then. Most design changes can be checked out in Firefox Nightly only, which is at version 89. Many are hidden behind flags and not necessarily enabled by default. The compact density is still available in the latest Nightly version. Removed Options Mozilla removed the preferences browser.proton.toolbar.enabled and browser.proton.tabs.enabled in the latest Nightly versions. The functionality is included in the main Proton preference browser.proton.enabled. New options Quite a few new preferences have been added to Firefox in the meantime that handle various Proton related features. Here is an overview of the preferences that are available currently: browser.proton.enabled -- This is the main preference. It will be the main preference going forward, while most of the development related proton preferences will be removed at one point in time. browser.aboutwelcome.design -- The preference ensures that Firefox displays the new Welcome page for new users of the browser, provided that it has the value proton. browser.proton.doorhangers.enabled -- Doorhanger, e.g. when installing Firefox add-ons, are handled by this preference. browser.proton.infobars.enabled -- The infobars, e.g. when popups are blocked, are handled by this preference. browser.proton.modals.enabled -- The new modals for the browser are handled by this preference. browser.proton.places-tooltip.enabled -- The changed tooltips design is handled by this preference. browser.proton.urlbar.enabled -- Changes to the address bar are made behind this preference. browser.tabs.secondaryTextUnsupportedLocales -- This is an interesting preference, as it will remain available after the launch of Firefox 89. It lists locales that don't support the new two-line tab layout when playing media in the browser. Add your locale, if not listed, to get a single line layout for tabs all the time. I could not get this to work though in the current Nightly. widget.macos.native-context-menus -- Mac OS specific preference to enable native context menus under the operating system. widget.macos.respect-system-appearance -- Mac OS specific preference to get full dark mode support when dark mode is enabled on the device. Generally speaking: most preferences are Boolean and accept values of True or False. True enables the new design usually, False disables it; this is true for all preferences that end with "enabled". Now You: what do you expect from the Proton redesign? (via Sören) Source: Firefox Proton design refresh is almost ready: here is what is new
  3. Proton Has Enabled 7000 Windows Games to Run on Linux We are reaching another milestone with ProtonDB: we are very close to 7000 Windows games confirmed to be working out of the box with Proton on Linux. The charts says it all: Proton has been receiving many updates in the past few months as well, with the introduction of the Soldier Linux runtime container and Proton Experimental on top of the regular Proton releases. We are still getting about 100 new titles working flawlessly (according to user reports) on a monthly basis, which is a very healthy and steady growth. Another point is the percentage of Windows games working out of the box in Proton over time. The number has been close to 50% since for a long time and seems to be fairly stable. In other words, for every Windows game out there, there’s a coin flip chance that it will work just as well on Linux. That’s pretty good, while there are still some recurring known issues in the other half of games coming out, typically: Movie files within games not playing as expected Multiplayer not working because of EAC or other anti-cheat technology Certain types of DRM that prevent games from even launching Performance issues DX12 support in certain titles (although this is getting better as VKD3D improves continuously) Additionally, less than 20% of newly released games are rated as “borked”, which is not running at all. It does not look like the number of Platinum ratings on a month-by-month basis is evolving much, which means there’s still some large opportunities to tackle in terms of compatibility. And we know that the folks at Codeweavers (working on WINE/Proton) and other contributors are hard at work to bridge the gap day after day. Note that when a game does not run well with vanilla Proton, there’s always a non-negligible chance that Proton GE may fare better at running it. In reality, there’s probably much more than 7000 games that work out of the box on Steam with Proton, because the dataset is limited to user reports. Yet, it is great to observe that there are so many contributors who try many new games every single month: it gives us a great insight at how diverse the community is, and how fast Proton is progressing, even if it’s just a sample of the reality. On this topic, please keep in mind we are tracking on a monthly basis what games get the most positive reports from ProtonDB: here’s a video we released for January 2021: Stay tuned on Boiling Steam for more reports, more stats and more progress updates in the coming months. Source: Proton Has Enabled 7000 Windows Games to Run on Linux
  4. Another glimpse at Firefox's upcoming Proton design refresh: the new menu Mozilla is working on another design refresh for its desktop version of the Firefox web browser. Some may fear the worst, others may be looking forward to design changes. The refresh is a work in progress, and that means that things may change along the way, may not change at all, or may look totally different from what the current state shows. The screenshot below was captured on a Windows 10 device running the latest version of Firefox Nightly with all the Proton preferences enabled. The screenshot shows the refreshed New Tab page, the tab bar, and the main menu. Compared to the current design, which you see on the screenshot below, you may notice that several things have changed. The New Tab page features new icons that fit better in the page and use less space on the page at the same time. The main menu has a new cleaner look, thanks to the lack if icons, but also menu items that have been moved. Some menu items are not present in the new menu, e.g. Developer Tools are nowhere to be found, and the menu starts with the New Tab option, a new menu option not present in the old menu. Since this is a work in progress, it is possible that the order of menu items will change, and that missing items will be added before the final release. The tab bar looks large by default and somewhat out of place. It may be ideal for touch users as it is easier to interact with tabs in Firefox, but users who use the mouse may find it too large. There is an option to change the density to compact, and the following screenshot shows the difference between the two designs. Firefox features a touch option when it comes to density as well, and it questionable why tabs in normal mode should become bigger as well, as touch uses may use the density instead. One reason for the tab bar to look out of place right now is that the changes to the address bar are not visible yet. It remains to be seen how the final design looks like once it lands in a future Nightly version. We talked about the changes to tabs in Firefox and the New Tab page already. Mozilla plans to change the design of other interface elements in Firefox. Apart from the main menu, which features the new design already, plans are underway to refresh the design of the address bar and info boxes. It is unclear if the right-click context menu will also see a design refresh at this point in time. How to enable the Proton redesign right now Users interested in checking it out need to download the latest Nightly version of the web browser and enable a few preferences on about:config to unlock the current state of the redesign. Load about:config in the Firefox address bar. Confirm that you will be careful by selecting "accept the risk and continue". Search for the following preferences, and set them to TRUE to enable the feature, or to FALSE to disable it. browser.proton.enabled the general toggle for the new design browser.proton.appmenu.enabled to enable the new main menu. browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.newNewtabExperience.enabled to enable the New Tab page design. browser.proton.tabs.enabled to enable the new Tabs design. Once you have made all the changes, restart Firefox to see them in action. Another glimpse at Firefox's upcoming Proton design refresh: the new menu
  5. Rounded corners comes to Firefox with their Proton redesign While the 2010s were dominated by sharp concerns and a flat user interface, the 3rd decade of the 21st century is going back to a softer, more dimensional look, which for Windows means rounded corners, layers, gradients, opacity and colours. Those new design ideas have now percolated to 3rd party browser Firefox, as part of its Proton redesign. In the latest Nightlies you can now see the first implementation of the softer look, which can be seen below: Old vs New Currently, the Proton redesign means rounded corners for the active tabs, which is also now more prominent, with the tabs having increased height for easier use on a touch screen. Mozilla also plans to make changes to the address bar, main menu, info bars, context menu and other elements of the browser, with the final result expected to roll out in Firefox 89. How to activate Currently, to see the changes, you need to download Firefox Nightly (here) and enable the “browser.proton.tabs.enabled” flag under about:config. via Winfuture Rounded corners comes to Firefox with their Proton redesign
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