For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing various ideas relating to the Location Bar in mozilla.dev.apps.firefox. Dão Gottwald has been doing a great job keeping up with the suggestions, and implementing them in the excellent LocationBar2 extension.
Having done the prototyping, and a UI review with Jonathan Nightingale and Mike Beltzner, we now propose that we do the following two independent things, as a start:
1. Remove the favicon from the URL bar
We want to make the URL bar totally trusted, and that means not allowing sites to control parts of it to spoof locks or things like that. We can either remove it entirely or replace it with a generic page icon/folder icon/whatever under our control.
I note that mockups posted recently for the Places UI use this icon for a menu, and so we may need to negotiate as to what happens.
2. Change the URL bar so that everything except “Public Suffix + 2” is greyed out
If the URL bar is focussed or hovered over, the colour switches back to black throughout. This should be possible using CSS only. The “greyed-out” colour is a pref; people who don’t like this feature can set it to “black”.
Public Suffix (also called Effective TLD) is the part of the URL not owned by a registrant. E.g. “.com”, “.co.uk”, “hokkaido.co.jp”. 2 is the default for a pref; we think this is the right number, but want real world experience. So Public Suffix + 2 is e.g. http://www.mozilla.org, http://www.ibank.barclays.co.uk/foo/bar/login.do, http://www.fred.blogspot.com/archive/2007/04/06/mypost.
This will look basically like Ka-Ping Yee’s mockup.
We may also do other things from the LocationBar2 UI experiments. However, these two things are where we want to start, and then we can look at further changes.
I’d like to finish by pointing out that it seems to me that the process we’ve just gone through is a textbook example of how open source development and UI prototyping should work in our world. We had loads of cool ideas, implemented them in an extension, kicked them around a lot in discussion, realised some were too radical, and have now come out with a considered proposal. This rocks. Thank you to everyone who took part.