Removing Firefox’s Status Bar and Rehousing Add-on Icons (Part 2 of 2)
June 7, 2010
Recently, I wrote about Firefox’s status bar and how we’d love to remove it, relocate its functionality, and dedicate that area back to page content. Though many add-ons currently place icons in the status bar, these icons could be displayed elsewhere in Firefox’s user interface. By treating add-ons as UI elements that users can move within Firefox’s UI, the bottom of the browser window could be dedicated to content while the functionality of add-ons preserved.
I proposed that by default, add-on icons display in the bookmark bar of the Firefox window.
But, if the user wishes, he can move the add-on icons to other areas. Firefox can subtly change the appearance of an add-on icon to visually match where it is placed.
Several commenters on my previous post noted that they preferred add-ons in the bottom right of the window, both because of particular add-on functionality and familiarity. Indeed, it should certainly be an option to reenable the status bar, and one way to do this should be to drag an add-on icon to the bottom of the window in customize mode.
The cases that would be especially suited to enabling the status bar are add-ons that require long, horizontal space in the main UI. Especially newer add-ons built by Jetpacks are increasingly using this horizontal space in creative ways. If users want this kind of functionality, giving up a significant portion of the bookmark bar should not be the only way to achieve it.
While this horizontal layout that some add-on developers choose is useful for many kinds of information display, it takes up a lot of space in Firefox’s interface and may not always be necessary. Providing API support for rich content panels that launch off of add-on icons could allow add-ons to provide rich interactive content, accessible with a click, that takes up little UI. This is a win for developers because it would enable them to easily add rich content to their add-ons. It’s also a win for users, because accessing rich add-on content won’t always mean sacrificing interface space. Some possible uses for such panels include: