Firefox integration into Linux also sounds native to the platform

Michael Ventnor, a Mozilla intern working on the Linux integration of Firefox 3, just posted a great summary of the work that has been done for Firefox 3. For those of you who can see, he also has a bunch of screen shots that show Firefox nicely integrating into the Gnome Desktop on Ubuntu.

I’d like to add a few items that a blind user who uses Firefox 3 with Orca will notice.

Aside from the obvious, the web browsing itself, great attention has been paid to make dialogs such as the Preferences dialog behave like dialogs in other Gnome apps: The Cancel button comes before the OK button while tabbing through the dialog. The dialog itself is found under the Edit menu, as is usual for other Gnome apps, and it’s called “Preferences”, not “Options” like on Windows.

The Location Bar is an AutoComplete, a widget type not found on Windows, but used natively on Linux.

The Places Organizer tree tables are native tree tables, displaying hierarchical information in multi-column view.

As you would expect, the Open File, or any kind of Save As dialogs are the native Gnome dialogs, so if you’re used to using GEdit, OpenOffice etc., you’ll feel right at home, Firefox is not requiring you to learn something new here.

One inconsistency I found–and I’ll have to find out whether a fix for this is planned– is the fact that above mentioned Tree Tables cannot be navigated like, for example, in Nautilus: In Nautilus, you expand a collapsed item using the + key, and collapse it using the key. Pressing Right Arrow moves you one column to the right, Left Arrow moves you one column to the left. This does not yet work in Firefox (or Thunderbird, for that matter). There, Right Arrow expands, Left Arrow collapses an expandable node, and moving between columns isn’t possible at all currently. So this is typical Windows-style still, but within that, consistent across platforms.

All in all, I expect the browsing experience with Firefox 3 on Linux to be a great one. The Orca team is putting hard work into making Orca work well with Firefox, and the past month alone has brought an emense boost in speed, as discussed here.

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