October 29, 2008

Fennec and add-ons

Add-ons are as central to the idea of Fennec as they are to desktop Firefox, so this is great to see: prolific add-on author Chris Finke has added Fennec compatibility to his addon URL Fixer.

From an interface perspective, this chunk of Fennec is still a work in progress (see some design wireframes here); what you see in alpha 1 is more or less straight out of desktop Firefox. Still, it gets the job done, which means that we can walk through the process:

Above is the AMO page for URL Fixer. Soon AMO will recognize Fennec and offer direct installation, but for the moment, I just had to feed Fennec the XPI. When I did so I got the following:

So, clearly here's a dialog that needs some mobile-design attention. Still, when I tapped "Install Now," it actually went and did so. When I then moved over to the add-ons manager, URL Fixer had already finished installing. (Yes, we need to get some of our browser-level notifications in (as demonstrated over that link in a downloads context), so that users will know that things have happened.) So:

Tapping "Restart Fennec" did what it should. When it came back up, I went and looked in the add-ons manager again, and there it was, safely installed:

And it works!

So, much cleaning up to do interface-wise, but add-ons work, and that's great. Thanks Chris! (And Mark, of course!)

Posted by madhava at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2008

Fennec Alpha 1

Fennec alpha 1 is here! If you have a Nokia N810, please install it and try it out! If you don't, though, you can also install Fennec on your Windows, OS X or Linux desktop.

The release notes give a good overview of what's new and how to get started with Fennec. Jay and Mark have posts about it, too.

As I mentioned in my last post, Fennec's user-experience is really coming together — it still needs tweaking and tuning, but you can get a real sense of how Fennec dedicates screen space to web-content and minimizes the need for typing. If you want to get a sense of how it works, before you install it yourself, I've recorded a quick video walkthrough:

Fennec Alpha Walkthrough from Madhava Enros on Vimeo.

I'm eager to know what you think, so keep the feedback coming!

Posted by madhava at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2008

Fennec at M8 - now with more UI!

As Mark Finkle posted over on his blog, milestone 8 (M8) of Fennec is out. This is an exciting time from a user-experience perspective because, along with functionality and stability improvements, this milestone brings with it the beginnings of Fennec's look and feel. In a sense, we have some UI worth playing with, evaluating, and improving.


The following are actual screenshots from an N810 running M8 rather than wireframes or pixel-perfect mockups.

A Fennec entry, with icon, in the Application Manager:

Fennec, just opened, non-full-screen:

Switched to full-screen, and on a new page. The titlebar has some more room to spread out:

As you pan down the page, the titlebar slides off the top:

Here, I'm panning past the right-hand edge of the page to get at the control strip:

Or, off the other side to see my tabs:

Less look, more feel

Of course, there's UI work, both theme and interaction-design, still very much ongoing. One critical part of the UI, the navigation screen that comes up when you tap on the titlebar, is in as of M8. It has yet to be themed, but is starting to behave as it should.

Here's that screen, filled with awesomebar-based suggestions of where you might want to go before you've even begun to type. Search engines are also in place, so you can send your search terms off to the engine of your choice with a single tap. Obviously this is still undergoing theming (to look more like this), and needs to be tweaked so that each line is taller and more finger-tappable.

And, as you begin to type, the awesomebar provides better suggestions:

My blog comments are still broken, so please help yourself to the discussion group

Posted by madhava at 04:41 PM