Lightweight themes UI landed

As part of the ongoing work to bring basic support for lightweight themes (based on the ideas from the Personas extension) into Firefox 3.6 I’ve today landed the main UI parts that allow users to see and select between lightweight themes they have used recently. o landed most of the backend last week  but we’re still waiting on the support for installing new lightweight themes before this feature will be truly usable in the development builds. For the time being here is a shot of what the UI looks like in the add-ons manager after you have used some lightweight themes.

Lightweight themes UI

The idea is that users will install lightweight themes from websites. The add-ons manager will include the most recent lightweight themes used to allow the user to use them again. For this release they are offered as a straight alternative instead of other installed themes. We’re going to replace the default icon there with something more themey.

11 thoughts on “Lightweight themes UI landed”

  1. There really should be a way to distinguish Personas from real Themes. Maybe use the Personas logo for the Icon in the list instead of the generic puzzle piece.

    1. I’m not so sure there needs to be, as it is right now we’re showing them as a straight alternative to other themes. Do users need to know what is going on under the hood or just that all of these things change how Firefox looks?

  2. Seperating personas into a catogory separate from addons and themes could allow for personas-enabled themes. That way people could change themes but still have their favorite background. Themes would of course have personas disabled by default unless they have a property in install.rdf

    1. That’s certainly something we are thinking about for the future though I think the UI needs more thought than that to make it clear to users what is going on. What we wanted to do was get a base level of functionality uplifted into Firefox and then have the Personas extension experiment with further ideas that can then be rolled into future Firefox releases.

    1. I’m not sure the larger preview is a good idea since it is simply too wide for the preview area and would cause scrollbars to appear. I think it is better to see a small overview than just a part of the whole when glancing through. This is something we can easily tinker with though, even after Firefox is released, we’ll see what further comments come back in the next few weeks.

    1. We’ve been using Lightweight Themes internally to refer to the feature in Firefox, this is as opposed to Personas which is the extension which we expect to continue to live and try out new ideas outside of Firefox.

  3. One of the advantages of Personas is that it is very easy to try out different themes, or to switch themes. Just hover over a choice in the menu to pre-view. This looks the same as the normal theme UI, i.e. very cumbersome to use compared to Personas.

    Also, I agree with Frederic. I use a theme that changes the icons only (I dislike to the default icons, but prefer simplicity & native looks). Why force the default icons on anyone who would use these ‘lightweight’ themes?

    1. The actual process of previewing and using a new lightweight theme will be pretty much exactly as it is with the personas extension when viewing a gallery on the website. The UI in the add-ons manager is just the one used to view previously used lightweight themes, they apply instantly too as long as you don’t have a third-party theme applied.

      As for forcing default icons, it is simply a case of getting something solid and usable into Firefox 3.6. Had we gone down a more complex path we wouldn’t have made the deadlines I think.

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