The Thing about Themes

When I first got my Mac, I used IE as my browser. A short time later, Safari was released, a I discovered tabbed browsing. I loved Safari, and loathed going back to IE when at work (Windows). I was happy.

Then I decided to start my own website (you’re soaking in it). My hosting company’s web-based site admin panel didn’t work correctly in Safari or IE/Mac. They suggested Firebird (formerly Pheonix, and soon to be Firefox). I resisted, but eventually tried it. A week later it was my primary browser – at version 0.6.1. This was due in very large part to Firefox’s cross-platform nature. Using a Mac at home and a Windows PC at work, I value any useful app which looks and feels the same in both locations (probably why I’m using emacs much more these days).

Then something happened- version 0.8. The Mac version got a new default theme, to make it more Mac-like. While I applaud the sentiment, what it really did is make it less Firefox-like. With a different theme on Windows and OS X, my seamless cross-browser experience had suddenly grown some huge, ugly seams. I was never very successful finding an independant theme I really liked, but eventually I settled on Qute by Arvid Axelsson. This was the default windows theme, and was also available for the Mac. I got to really like Qute.

Then something else happened- version 0.9. Gone were Pinstripe on Mac and Qute on Windows; we got a new, standard theme. Good plan, although I missed Qute, and I couldn’t install it- it didn’t work with the OS X version of 0.9. Since both platforms were the same, I eventually got used to the change, and all was good. (Note: At least I think so. Until today, I would have sworn that the Mac and Win versions of 0.9 had identical default themes. Tried running an old copy of 0.9 today on my Mac, and the default theme matched the OS X 1.0PR default theme. Don’t know if this is a profile thing, or If i just never noticed the difference).

Then something else happened – 1.0 Preview Release. I noticed a difference on the Mac when I installed the new version (At least i think so, see prior paragraph). The Win and Mac default themes are similar, but different enough to really bug me. I prefer the Windows default theme. Also, Piro’s TabBrowser Extensions made weird looking tabs under the default Mac theme. Changing themes fixed that (I tried pinball for a while). Of course, you can’t download the Windows default theme (or any default) from the update website. Today, I finally got tired of the issue, and tried to overcome the problem. I copied classic.jar from the chrome folder of my windows install, and used it to replace the version in my OS X install. It’s almost perfect. The only problem is the scroll bars… they don’t appear. There’s room for them, and If I click in the right place, they function, they just aren’t displayed. I’ve seen this with certain themes in older releases (I think Qute used to do it), and the current Qute release does the same thing. For now, I’m dealing with it, but eventually, I need to see if I can edit the theme and fix it.

I really hope that when the final 1.0 gold release of Firefox is released, all platforms will share a single, identical default theme. Firefox is one of the best cross-platform apps I’ve ever seen. It should look that way.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “The Thing about Themes”

  1. chornbe Says:

    Saw this paragraph:

    I really hope that when the final 1.0 gold release of Firefox is released, all platforms will share a single, identical default theme. Firefox is one of the best cross-platform apps I’ve ever seen. It should look that way.

    You simply must find a way to get that to the developers. I agree. I’ve never been one to bash Micro$oft just for the sake of doing so, but the browser is one place they irk the crap outta me. I suffered thru’ many of Opera’s faults for a very, very long time ’til you nudged me into Firebird’s (Now Firefox) direction and I’m glad. But your statement above is a PERFECT impetus to get those guys looking at how they’re releasing.