I'm Aza Raskin @aza. I make shiny things. I simplify.

I'm VP at Jawbone, focusing on health.


Design Session: Where do Firefox Mobile Add-Ons Go?

Madhava Enros and I spent 45 minutes the other day thinking about where add-ons live in a web browser that has nothing but content showing 90% of the time.

Suggestions for add-on placement in Fennec.

Thoughts, comments, and mockups welcome! The decisions made now effect the space in which the diverse life-blood of the browser-enhancement community lives. So speak up :)

RT @aza Design Session: Where do Firefox Mobile Add-Ons Go? | Follow @aza on Twitter | All blog posts

View all 114 comments


well first i need to say that i would like to see more movies like this. the voicelevel was a bit low so for me as a non-native speaker it was a bit hard to understand sometime.

i think the bars on top and bottom of the page will be really usefull. but the one on the right should be untouched. i also prefer the tabs over the sidebar ’cause it gaves a more clear look to the application.
i think most people won’t install 20 to 30 addons on a mobile browser so you don’t need to find huge spaces for icons but may this will be a kind of statement like ‘no one will ever need more than 512kb of ram’.
unimportant what will find its implenentation to the final you should add the possibility to organize bottons like on firefox’s toolbar ’cause people would like to master their extensions.

like you said some of the addons should find their place between the bookmarks. i think to start my feedreader extension doesn’t differs from visiting a bookmark but the lower area may should be used for extensions which require input like posting to twitter or something like that.

one last word to the representation of extensions:
may you should organize them in a grid of icon. i know this hardly reminds on the iphone but a list on a limited screen seems like a wast of space to me.


ah and i also would like to see a restore closed tabs function on the tab-list cause i often push the close-button when switching to a tab ;)


Gah! I was writing comments as I was watching and usually the comments that I wrote were covered about a minute later in the video. lols. So I apologize if I repeat stuff you covered. Anyways, here goes:

In the desktop version of Firefox, often I find that the two main areas that are cluttered used are my:
1. Status Bar
2. Tools menu
3. Navigation Toolbar
Most Add-ons in these three areas have UI that I never use. Personally, I want to de-clutter these areas so promoting proper placement of UI is crucial. I’m glad you mentioned creating a map/guide/author manual recommending where Add-on developers should place their UI. This is badly needed for desktop Firefox so it makes sense not to repeat the same mistakes in mobile.

Also, don’t forget to recommend to Add-on developers that they might not UI at all! Two of my most used extensions (TwitterFox and WebMail Notifier) just notify me of events. In this case, they should be using notifications and not icons. Plus, when the user clicks on the notification, that is another way to invoke the Add-on!

Speaking of “second tier” Add-ons being filed away in a “tools” button, I really dislike this idea. This is similar to #2 (the Tools menu) which becomes bloated very easily. Why not simply have a way to invoke an Add-on in the Add-ons Manager? There are many Add-ons I use infrequently that I would not mind having to tap a little extra to use it that one time.

Also, I liked the little spiral gesture for zooming in the page. Along the same lines why not have a two-finger-circle-gesture to scroll down to the end of the page? (i.e. like a virtual ipod scroll wheel gesture).

Yes, I am going go here; Preferences for Add-ons should be dealt with in the Add-ons Manager and not in Firefox Preferences. Two reason: 1. de-clutter Firefox Preferences and 2. eliminate confusion between what’s a Firefox feature and an Add-on.

It’s interesting that you guys completely ignored the corners above and below the sidebars. I don’t think the corners would be that accessible but I’m just throwing it out there.

Good discussion. Thanks again for keeping us in the loop!

P.s. This video was a LOT easier to watch because I could actually see you guys.You guys def need an HD camera to see the whiteboard better. Flip MinoHD anyone? lol.

Philip Ganchev

How to get to the top or bottom of the page easily? How about:

- scroll right to show the sidebar
- scroll up/down past the top/bottom of the sidebar
- scroll left to hide the sidebar

This would work if the sidebar is guaranteed to be short.


Sorry – I meant that as a way to access the space above the visible screen, such as the awesome bar, not as a way to scroll to the top of the content. Unlike scrolling to the top of the page, you don’t lose your place in the page. If you are already at the top, you can pan down to go see above the content. But if you are in the middle, it’s easier to pan left, down and right to see the same.

About the find-in-page box – Madhava mentioned it could be with other tools in the side bar. But that would obscure most of the content when the find box is in use. It’s better to put it above the content, as a tiny box next to the awesome bar. Focusing the box would expand it, obscuring most of the URL bar. You never need to see both at the same time.



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