new look's here || MAIN || mountaineering on mars

August 22, 2004

alternate style

I'm having some difficulty hooking up an alternate style sheet. I've added a couple of links over on the sidebar, one for the default style, and one for the nice stylesheet that Grayrest created (slightly modified). If everything was working correctly, the link for the Grayrest Style would swap out my style for his and set a cookie so you'd get a nice persistent style.

Either of the two styles, Grayrest's or mine, seems to work fine as the default, but Grayrest's sheet doesn't apply properly if it isn't the default. It doesn't like being alternate for some reason. Anyone have any ideas what's going on?

update:OK, I found the problem and it was Grayrest's IE hack setting the date2 div's height to 100%. Removing that messes things up a bit with the first post header in IE, but that seems preferable to not seeing any posts at all in Gecko.

I'm not sure why Gecko is OK with that 100% height hack when it's the default style but not when it's the alternate style. I suppose it's a bug in Gecko. Maybe Gecko experts dbaron or bz would know.

Posted by asa at August 22, 2004 10:12 AM

Why not set an alternate stylesheet via so Firefox/Mozilla users (and others) can use their built-in stylesheet switcher?

Posted by: andy on August 22, 2004 01:54 PM

Oh...I see you do on the front page, but not on the archive pages.

Posted by: andy on August 22, 2004 01:54 PM

andy, the built-in stylesheet switcher is going away for Firefox 1.0.


Posted by: Asa Dotzler on August 22, 2004 02:55 PM

Asa sez:

the built-in stylesheet switcher is going away for Firefox 1.0.


Posted by: Greg on August 22, 2004 03:40 PM


> andy, the built-in stylesheet switcher is going away for Firefox 1.0.

Please stop removing very useful features from Firefox! The stylesheet switcher is a great thing and I cannot understand why you want to remove it.


Posted by: Thomas Kaschwig on August 22, 2004 04:08 PM

You can just use built-in view source to see that there are alternate stylesheets. Whaaa? That's going away too? Fiddlesticks.

Posted by: Chad on August 22, 2004 05:34 PM

Then how can we see alternative stylesheet?
Can we see it again by choosing "developer" setting? :-(

Posted by: minghong on August 22, 2004 05:48 PM

Um, you can click the link that 99.99% of web pages with alternate style sheets offer the user to change style sheets.

Did you all miss your coffee today or something? Do you really think that there is a non-trivial number of websites that offer alternate stylesheets but don't offer their own in-content UI for switching? I'll bet I can find 10 sites that have alternate styles presented in such a way as to be invisible to the Mozilla style sheet UI for every one site you can find that offers alternate styles but no in-content UI for switching.

This isn't rocket science.


Posted by: Asa Dotzler on August 22, 2004 07:06 PM

Don't want to sound like a troll, but IMHO a good user interface is consistant. Even if the site lets you change style sheets, it's good to be able to do it from firefox, in a consistant manner.

How much code does this actually add to firefox?

This feature is something we have over competing browsers too.

Okay, maybe there are websites that present style sheets "in such a way as to be invisible to the Mozilla style sheet UI ", BUT that sounds like an argument for adding an IE compatibility mode, instead of supporting standards.

Again, IMHO it's not that there isn't an in-content UI for switching on most websites - it's that if firefox has it on the status bar, it's consistant across web sites. You know where to look to change the style! At a glance!

We should be looking at each addition/subtraction from a joint user experience and standards perspective. Why did we even have an in browser css selector in the first place if it wasn't a useful feature? Does it confuse users or bloat the codebase enough to warrant removal? Okay, i'll get off my soapbox!


Posted by: Anko on August 22, 2004 08:58 PM

One of 10 non-existing pages -
Do anybody find nine other? =)

Posted by: Adam Hauner on August 22, 2004 10:29 PM

The W3C sez:

User agents should allow users to select from alternate style sheets.
When the stylesheet switcher was first introduced, the big hullaballo was that Firefox (then Firebird, I think) was actually following the W3C's recommendation about alternate stylesheets, an "advantage" over IE. Now, a switch away from that stance.

Just because a web site can build in a style switcher doesn't mean that the user agent shouldn't provide its own mechanism. Many websites are using style switcher interfaces to provide different text sizes. Does that mean that Firefox should rip out the ability to change text size?

Posted by: Greg on August 22, 2004 11:24 PM

One nice advantage with how it is now is that you don't have to dig around in a web site to find that "switch style" link. You always know where and how to do it.

I also agree with Greg here.

I can understand this decision if this feature is a hack that somehow breaks some CSS code / the DOM for something you're going to introduce later, but not otherwise.

Posted by: Jugalator on August 22, 2004 11:31 PM

Relax, people. Removing "View Source", style switcher [a list of useful features follows] is perfectly "by design", as far as Firefox team is concerned. The idea is to provide a bare-bones browser, the rest is SEP ("Somebody Else's Problem" for those of you who never read Adams). That's what the extensions mechanism was all about - to offload the burden of development from the "main team" [this MIGHT be a bit of a liberal use of that term] to the folks out there with a lot of spare time on their hands and to allow people to mix and match instead of shoving Seamonkey bloat down everybody's throat.

You can pretty much bet your car on the fact that less than two weeks from the release date of Fx 1.0 (if not fortnight BEFORE) there will be extensions that will add a toolbar button to view source, change stylesheets, and whatever else that gets removed from Fx 1.0. True enough, some of that JS stuff might work slower than compiled code, true enough, quite a few of those extensions will take a while to mature, true enough, some of those extensions will NEVER work properly if installed together because they were developed by different people with different agendas and no interaction or ideas sharing between them (not to mention integration!), but hey - freedom isn't free... ;)

Posted by: Grunt on August 23, 2004 12:12 AM

OMG. Next one - Why do you have to mess so much between 0.9 and 1.0 - shouldn't it be stabilizing version only? There is so much mess around features and You're adding LiveMarks (who'll use it? There is sage!) but removing alternate switcher. :(( Firefox was the first to have built-in switcher, and will be the first one to remove it? I really like this feature. It's simply cute. :)

Posted by: gandalf on August 23, 2004 01:04 AM

For what it's worth (if anything), I'd prefer to see the style-switcher kept in Firefox. It's a nice feature, doesn't (IMO) contribute to UI bloat, and is a good item in the "better than IE" feature list.

Posted by: Matthew Wilson on August 23, 2004 01:09 AM


> Um, you can click the link that 99.99% of web pages with alternate
> style sheets offer the user to change style sheets.

I have no exact numbers, but definitely not 99,99%, I suppose only 50% let you choose between all alternative styles availale.

Where is the UI to choose "David's style" on your notblog*?

Where can I switch easily to "Basic Style", if a web page is unreadable in Firefox?

How can I switch the styles on your blog, if I have disabled JavaScript?

What is the benefit of removing cool features from Firefox. Firefox will not start faster, it will not use less memory and I don't think that the litte icon in the status bar will confuse or disturb any user.
Every time I introduce new users to Firefox or Mozilla, I show them these nice features, which make Firefox supperior to Internet Explorer and how cool CSS is, and the people like it.

And no, extensions are not the answer. Typical end user do not care about extensions. I use extensions, but I don't want to use an extension for every basic feature you want to remove from Firefox in the near future.
What are some of the main issues that many people have with Firefox? Extensions that make Firefox slow or unstable. Extensions that are not available for new versions or that have to be reinstalled with every new release. Extensions that are not translated (yes, there are other languages than english) or extensions that do not fit to the theme the user has installed.


Posted by: Thomas Kaschwig on August 23, 2004 01:27 AM

If you make it an extention, will the theme makers make an stylesheetswitcher icon for in the statusbar?

Posted by: Fergy on August 23, 2004 01:29 AM

Oops... I was about to say what Thomas said...

The problem of extensions is that no one can guarantee that an extension:
- Will be actively developed
- Will work
- Will not interfere with other extensions
- Will not make Firefox unstable/not usable (remember when the new extension manager is introduced?)

Not to mention that newbies won't know about u.m.o...

These less-frequently-used widgets will not cause confusion to general users. They will simply ignore it...

As long as we keep the UI minimal (like the current setting), it should be ok. Don't remove all those useful features that distant Firefox from other browsers, please...

Posted by: minghong on August 23, 2004 03:38 AM

Does anyone know the bug number for the stylesheet switcher removal?

Personally, I think that removing the stylesheet switcher is a step backward for Firefox. Every other browser (Opera, Safari, Konqueror, Mozilla, Netscape [I don't consider IE a "browser"]) has this. And it's really useful.

The stylesheet switcher is also extremely useful for:
* web developers (so they can try many CSS files for one HTML file)
* people with disabilities (so they can use a stylesheet better suited for their disability, if a webpage provides that, or a "basic stylesheet")

If Firefox doesn't have stylesheet switcher, I would be forced to switch to Galeon on Linux and Safari on Mac.

If you want to remove something, you'd better remove useless features, such as the Tools > Web Search option which makes absolutely no sense, it's just bloat.

Posted by: marcoos on August 23, 2004 05:22 AM

In other news, Firefox developers have decided to remove the Back button, saying that any good Web page should provide its own navigation.

Seriously, though, I've never included a JS "UI" for switching styles on any of my pages because, first of all, I'd have to borrow someone else's code, and, second, I believe that tha UA should provide a mechanism for switching style sheets--and for enabling only persisent styles and for totally disabling all styles. Firefox currently does all that.

Please don't take it away. It's not bloat (it is, in fact, something the W3C recommends having) and it's not confusing or cluttering (it's actually kinda cool).

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on August 23, 2004 05:44 AM

Random ideas to help you building a better firefox:
- Remove the url bar, and set msn search as the default startpage. Oh, and who would nee d to change the startpage anyway ?
- Remove the themes. 99.9% of users don't change the theme in IE, why would they in firefox ?
- Remove gecko. Who needs a robust, standards compliant, portable engine when you have mshtml ? It will simplify the build process too (no more linux or macos builds)

Posted by: diox on August 23, 2004 05:52 AM

I just want my voice heard as well.

For reasons that have been well said already, please do not remove the style switcher. On your site alone, the David theme (my favorite of the three) is not available without it.

Posted by: Dave on August 23, 2004 06:39 AM
Does anyone know the bug number for the stylesheet switcher removal?

It's bug 253722. On the plus side, the motivation discussed there is actually pretty rational (even if I don't agree with it). The highly abridged version is that stylesheet switching is currently buggy and should be removed until it can be done right.

Posted by: Michael Carman on August 23, 2004 08:01 AM

like david's style, and Grayrest's (exculding the green top), i guess there is not much i/we can do about it but the ui theme switcher is actuall really usefull. why?


as a dyslexic i find some pages and difficult to read, the fsat simple option to change the style very usefull, it's partly why i also have the developer extension enabled.

i guess if it's buggy i can see some of the idea, and hopefully the dev exteion toolbar will add it if it does get moved out. but hopefull the bugs can be worked out and it will return soon... it's a usefull feature

Posted by: matt on August 23, 2004 10:01 AM

One of 10 non-existing pages :
With their stylesheet switcher, we can chosse between two stylesheet but with the built-in stylesheet switcher of firefox we can choose four stylsheet :)

Posted by: Thomas on August 23, 2004 11:08 AM

I just wanted to say I am glad you removing the stylesheet switcher....

Just kidding, like every other poster I think its stark raving mad to remove it.

Posted by: daz on August 23, 2004 11:35 AM

I have a scoop: the next name for Firefox is... Lynx !

People can vote for a bug, but they can't vote *against* :/

Posted by: disapointed on August 23, 2004 11:38 AM

While I agree that the stylesheet switcher needs some work and that the interface can be greatly improved, I'll be really disappointed if it's removed from 1.0.

The existence of non-standard alternatives doesn't negate the need for style-switching functionality in "conforming user-agents":

If the source document comes with alternate style sheet sets (such as with the "alternate" keyword in HTML 4.0), the UA must allow the user to select which style sheet set the UA should apply.

I personally dislike the javascript/cookie/mystery-interface baggage of non-browser style-switching and make extensive use of the "alternate stylesheet" attribute value on some of my sites. If the functionality isn't included in firefox 1.0, I won't be upgrading.

Posted by: Adam on August 23, 2004 11:54 AM


Posted by: XF007 on August 23, 2004 12:47 PM

After having read Bug 253722 and the bugs cited in that bug, I now understand why the style switcher is being removed for 1.0. I don't necessarily agree with all the reasoning (I think that something is better than nothing), but the argument seems valid to me.

Instead of barking at us about how a feature is useless and never should have been included anyway (that IS what your comment sounded like), you should have said something like:

"We don't feel like the style switcher is complete enough to include it in 1.0. Before we have a release with the style switcher we need to make sure it is properly keyboard-accessible and we want it to support additional features, such as remembering a chosen style. Once all the issues are addressed, we might get it in a release version."

...or at least given a link to the bug with the actual discussion. You know how us coffee-deprived fans get when a feature removal is flippantly mentioned.

Thanks to Michael for finding the bug number for us.

Posted by: Greg on August 23, 2004 01:36 PM

Sorry if this is my setup or something you've already mentioned but I can't see any styling on your font page. FF on XP.

Posted by: Hanni on August 23, 2004 03:02 PM

Now, according to the burning edge, work offline was removed for 1.0. Asa, can you explain what is going on? view source, stylesheet switcher, work offline... what's the next victim?

Posted by: vr on August 23, 2004 03:54 PM

vr, because it is "broken"...
this one is ok because, well... who really need it?

seems that the team is removing every incomplete/broken features so that Firefox 1.0 will be "stable".

Posted by: minghong on August 23, 2004 06:28 PM

minghong, dial-up users do need it. it allows to dig stuff from cache avoiding the connection to the server.

Posted by: vr on August 23, 2004 08:03 PM

View source isn't going, for whatever reason was decided. They changed their minds. Quit burning a dead cat; you're not helping yourself.

Removing the stylesheet UI and work offline was done because the features are buggy and don't Just Work. The larger the percentage of Firefox essential UI that works right in 1.0, the better, even if it means temporarily removing some buggy extras. Both features are still available for the user who is willing to suffer through the bugs (no matter how minor/major they may be).


altSS is *not* essential UI. Most sites that rely on it do indeed supply an alternate method, because the View>Styles>... method everyone else has used is pretty unusable unless you *know* a site has an altSS...and how would you know without seeing something on the page or checking it out (which isn't feasible for every page, obviously)?

Work Offline is not essential UI, either. Sure, if you're in Europe it'll save money by letting you stay offline, but most users don't need it. Therfore, it's worth cutting to an extension to improve the general experience with 1.0.

Posted by: Jeff Walden on August 23, 2004 08:55 PM

How can extra cruft like the download manager (which has/had a slow scrolling bug)/ Extension Manager/Themes manager (should be merged) / RSS reader and Find Toolbar be implemented and yet simple basic features that Mozilla/Opera and other browsers have, are being removed?

If it's simplicity that the devs want, I'm all for it. But it must be consistent, not random and expecially not something people are used too.

I know MANY sites that do no offer UI's for switching (If I recall, your's didn't use to have an UI either). The most complient browsers all have switchers (Mozilla Suite/Opera/Firefox/etc.)

Again, I'm not against the idea, I'm against the way it's being done and the selectiveness.

Why not have a discussion with people that have been in the buisness for years and are respected on multiple levels like Hayatt, D. Glazgo, DBoron, etc.

That would only make sense.

No offense, but you, Ben and Blake are definitally not the only UI pro's around. (You're all good, but not perfect.)

Posted by: Jed on August 23, 2004 10:19 PM

Again, my post above didn't mean to be a flame. Sorry if it sounded like one.
I, like others just want to get some reasonable responses.

Yes, buggy features should be gone for 1.0. I agree.
Yes, simplicity need to a focus and kept reall.

What I don't understand though is why not talk to the community (yes, I know, you don't have to) and ask us to test out a feature and report all the bugs. There are tons of Contributers that can write oustanding code (Toris, pike, clav, etc.) and I'm sure they could knock out any bugs that Ben or Blake don't have time for.
They could then be tested some more, and reevaluated for 1.0.

I'm not telling anyone how to do thing, just offering suggestions, as I would appreciate suggestions if someone had them for my products.

If these are being removed for other reasons unknow to us.
Then please excuse this post :)

Posted by: Jed on August 23, 2004 10:26 PM

The Stylesheet switcher is useful because you won't have to find where the stylesheet switcher UI is on the web page.

Posted by: Snap on August 24, 2004 04:04 AM

You guys are going crazy...

And yes, this is really me, not some lurker abusing my identity like on Gerv's blog some time ago. I just don't understand what you are doing. After the Source View, the JS Console, the Work Offline, you have all caught a remove-all-featuritis disease or what?!?

Posted by: Daniel Glazman on August 24, 2004 07:21 AM

If Source View, the JS Console and the theme switcher are removed, i think I will stay to Firefox 0.9.3. In my mind when a software become mature, it had new more features and not less.

Posted by: Skink on August 24, 2004 08:38 AM

Style Switcher is very useful ; it's always easyer to use a necessarily well known UI than to find something (which is probably not existing) on a web page. With the Stylesheet switcher you can immediatly know if a webpage has alternate stylesheet or not. We don't need to look for it around the page.
If you delete it, we will have to find it in the page... like in IE. The switcher is a "plus" in relation to IE, it's a great argument for Firefox, and you want to delete it ?

The JS console can be very useful to help newbees when they cannot log in a site, they are the only person able to find the error message in their JS console. If it is deleted, we will have to ask them to reinstall Firefox with the "developer pack".
For sure they will be back to IE ;-)

You are going to transform Firefox into a dead box with nothing interesting in it. You are removing all the things that are making Firefox better than IE. In other words you are making a IE-2 with a better standards rendering.

Actually, removing all features from Firefox, people are going to need more and more extensions. And THIS will cause real problems !
(I already use more than 20 of them, because of the lack of built-in features, and they are making my profile and my Firefox quite unstable... I don't want it to be worse in the future)
For a newbie it is not easy to find an extension, to install it... an to pray it works. Newbies won't install extensions. They Can't. Do you want Firefox to become an "elitist" browser or do you want it to be used by "basic users" too ?

I hope you will change the way you "improve" Firefox. Improve means "make better in quality, ameliorate", not "simplifiate, remove".

PS : sorry for the long message and the bad english.

Posted by: Xavier on August 24, 2004 09:47 AM

> How can extra cruft like [...] Find Toolbar be implemented [...]
The Find Toolbar replaces other types of in-page searches causing a general code reduction so this isn't "extra cruft". Problem is that it too is buggy (mainly for IME inputs), but this will block 1.0 unlike the really (per W3C) essential AltSS won't.

Posted by: Anonymous on August 24, 2004 10:58 AM

Well well... no more nightlies for me I guess until Rob improves his extension. And let's just pray it will work with XML stylesheets such as on my site, because they're usually overlooked (think EditCSS, etc).

And I agree with 'disapointed': why the hell can't I vote /against/ a bug :(. Instead I just voted in favour of the existing stylesheet improvement bugs.

Jeff wrote: "Both features are still available for the user who is willing to suffer through the bugs (no matter how minor/major they may be)."

Hmm, so does that mean I can re-enable it again by setting a pref or something? That'd be nice. Which one?


Posted by: Laurens Holst on August 24, 2004 11:32 AM

p.s. problem with the Find Toolbar is that I wanted to do a case-sensitive search recently (very useful if you need to look for an abbreviation) and I couldn't seem to be able to find the 'regular' find dialog back. Is it removed entirely as well?

Posted by: Laurens Holst on August 24, 2004 11:34 AM

Hmmm... I can only hope Work Offline and Switch Stylesheets will return in post-1.0 releases as the worst bugs with e.g. CSS2 are ironed out, then. :-/

Posted by: Jugalator on August 24, 2004 01:26 PM

It is great that the FF developers seem to know better what is working in Firefox than all the users that use this useful feature regulary.

Posted by: Raven on August 24, 2004 01:52 PM

You know who this is starting to sound like?


It's Microsoft that hasn't realeased any updates to features like PNG and CSS2, because these aren't deemed "important enough to the everyday user." They think to themselves "people won't stop using IE because we don't have transparent PNGs or because of a few CSS bugs."

It may be true that the average person doesn't notice the lack of these features, and the average person may not notice the lack of "view-source" and the stylesheet switcher in firefox, but that doesn't mean that it's right to exclude them.

Posted by: Kevin on August 24, 2004 11:48 PM

I've never experienced any real problems. The half bug with 'Basic Theme' appears to have a patch ready - The bugs seem tiny and don't appear to justify removing something so uniquely useful - especially when compared to the bugs that have just been willfully tossed into the browser with the Find toolbar and the (quite unneeded) RSS Livemarks, which weren't exactly added to "simplify" and "clean up" things for 1.0, now were they?

Personally, I think it's a great little feature that should definitely remain. If you must, move to the View menu near the text items then you can have keyboard support and no tooltip bug. What's left except feature requests (stickyness, etc.)? Then again, you just rammed that RSS icon into the status bar, so why treat the AltSS icon differently? It's much handier on the status bar. Get a better icon than the pizza, though :-)

Posted by: stylo~ on August 25, 2004 12:27 AM

I'm not pointing fingers.
But at the end of the day, this sounds like a power trip in action without the consent of proper.

Many people form part of "The Mozilla Organization" of which pays it's employee's to work on Firefox/Mozilla/Gecko.

Seeing that, Firefox 1.0, will be the most important representation of The Organization since it's creation, wouldn't it be respectfull to discuss these ideas to those who consist of the organization (Brendon E., Ben G, Michell, etc.)?

I, like many others have contributed finacially to the Mozilla Organization so that it's leadership be concise and organized, not under-minded buy it's employee's or contributers.

If I'm wrong, please clarify, as the absence of a response would encourage that my ideas are correct.

Jed Brown

Posted by: Jed on August 25, 2004 01:10 PM

Post a comment