As you might have heard, the theme for Firefox 3 has been undergoing a refresh. Alex Faaborg has been blogging about most of the big changes, but I thought I’d mention one little piece of remaining work — the throbber — and see what other ideas people had.
Here are the two throbbers used in Firefox 2… They’re pixelated and don’t work well on different backgrounds:
(Windows and Linux)
Firefox 3 includes support for Animated PNG images, so now we can make an animation that looks better and is more flexible. Our first APNG throbber has arrived with the recent landing of the theme-formally-known-as-Proto. It’s a cleaned-up version of the old OS X throbber, and looks much better:
(just for fun, a Vista-esque flavor)
So… I think the execution of the original idea is good, but now we’ve noticed that it’s very, err, active. The old throbber was perhaps slightly too subtle, but this new version really catches your eye. Too much. (*sigh* Design is hard, let’s go shopping!) Alex suggested a variation based on a reticle; the whole thing could rotate, or maybe each arc could grow/shrink. Looks interesting to experiment with, and should reduce the “too active” problem, but I haven’t animated it yet:
Speaking of experiments, here’s an older trick I did, which would be hard to do with the GIF format… The idea was to stack multiple APNGs running at different rates/lengths, to help eliminate the glaring periodicity caused by simple looping. In these examples, there’s one image with a red arc spinning clockwise, and another image with a blue arc spinning counter-clockwise. I wasn’t trying to make it look pretty, but it’s still an interesting effect:
I know we have an amazingly creative Mozilla community, so I’m curious to see about shaking out some other great ideas for a new throbber. If you’re feeling creative, grab APNG Edit, do a mockup (talk is cheap!), and attach it over in bug 326817. No unhelpful kvetching, please.
(P.S. There is no validity to the rumor that the native Linux throbber will look like this: )