First non-final Tabs redesign courtesy of Proton lands in Firefox Nightly

Mozilla is working on a Firefox design refresh under the codename Proton. The project is in its early stages but the general plan appears to be to refresh pretty much any user interface element in the browser.

Mozilla did create several mockups of browser elements, sometimes multiple, to showcase some of the ideas its UI team has for the refresh. It is clear that the project is still in its infancy and that final decisions have not been made yet.

Firefox users who run the Nightly version may enable the general preference browser.proton.enabled by setting it to TRUE to get the changes as they land in Firefox. If the past is anything to go by, changes will be introduced in waves over time and not all at once.

Nightly users who run the latest version can change a hidden preference -- one that is not displayed by Firefox when you search for it -- to enable the first version of the browser's tabs redesign.

It needs to be noted that the design is not final, and that it has been implemented mainly for testing purposes at this stage. Still, it may provide a glimpse of things to come.

Here is how you enable it:

firefox tabs design refresh proton not final

  1. Load about:config in the Firefox address bar.
  2. Search for browser.proton.tabs.enabled. You won't get any results, but an option to create the preference.
  3. It should be set to TRUE automatically; TRUE means that it is enabled, FALSE that it is disabled.
  4. Restart the Firefox browser.

Firefox displays the redesigned tab bar after the restart. Since the design is not final, it is fruitless to review it in earnest. Some things do catch the eye immediately, like the large size of the tabs or the second row that displays media playback controls permanently.

firefox tabs compact mode
Compact Mode

Firefox supports changing the tab density in the customization options. Setting them to "compact" reduces the height of the tab bar somewhat while setting them to "touch" makes tabs even larger.

Again, the design is not final and it is possible that the design will change before it lands in Firefox Stable. Mozilla is discussing the change openly here.

Closing Words

On a personal level, I would like to see an option to make the tab bar more compact as it is taking up a lot of height currently even in compact mode. The larger tabs may improve handling for touch users, but since there is a touch-mode already, it is unclear why the default tab design displays these larger tabs as well. It may work on large resolution screens, but if you use Firefox on a 1920x1080 screen or lower, and maybe not even in fullscreen mode, then you will have only a few tabs displayed. (via gHacks).

Now You: what would you like to see in regards to the tabs design refresh of the Firefox web browser?

This article was first seen on ComTek's "TekBits" Technology News

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