Firefox Mac OS X Native Form Controls Preview

I’ve been doing a lot of hacking on Mac OS X native form controls for the past couple of weeks and I’m getting close to the point where I can turn them on. I’m close enough that I can make my own builds with pretty nice form controls, though I can’t land the code yet because it would break Windows and Linux (who uses those anyway…). Here is a preview of what should be coming in the next 2-3 weeks, and it should be even better by that time.

Click to download:
Firefox 3.0a5pre with native form controls (Intel only, PPC coming later)

Please do not report bugs you find with this build – it contains a lot of code that has not been accepted into the Mozilla tree yet. Reporting bugs from this build will cause considerable confusion. If you are concerned enough you can find me on IRC ( and talk to me about it there.

That said, please also download official Firefox 3 nightly builds and report any bugs you find there.


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About Josh Aas

Josh Aas is a Gecko platform software engineer with Mozilla Corporation.
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42 Responses to Firefox Mac OS X Native Form Controls Preview

  1. bustaa says:

    Great :) … i will give it a try tomorrow (left my mcp @ work :/).

    are there fixes in gp for the beach ball problem (when switching back to firefox (2) from another app) ?


    bustaa :)

  2. John says:

    Any screenshots for those of interested in the progress but don’t have Macs?

  3. Neil T. says:

    Using it now and I’m really impressed. It’s the first gecko 1.9 build I’ve tried and I’m liking the changes I’ve seen so far – the widgets for one look good but it’s also much faster at rendering pages and displaying dialogs. And the Growl integration is nice too :) .

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Richard C says:

    Any screenshots for those of interested in the progress but don’t have *Intel* Macs? :)

  5. TwisterMc says:

    Neil T. – The current Firefox has Growl notifications too. Just grab the extension from the addons site. :)

  6. Kula bácsi says:

    Will there be an option to use the current controls? I hate those Aqua button crap on web pages.

  7. Bill says:

    I am interested in testing the Native Form Controls, but don’t have a compatible Mac.
    You wrote “PPC coming later”. I wonder how much later? 1 day, 1 week, 1 month…

  8. excomax says:

    Sounds really good. But the Mozila-Server seems to be down. So no chance to get my hands on it. :(

  9. CableGuy says:

    Sounds great! I always missed those Aqua buttons in Firefox!

  10. Anonymous Coward says:

    So… any screenshots?

  11. Anndra says:

    How does this project differ from Camino? Are you working with the Caminio developers?

  12. Jan Boeijink says:

    Any screenshots for those of interested in the progress but don’t have *Intel* Macs? :-)

  13. i for one have only a ppc. will it soon the ppc version ready?

  14. excomax says:

    So I just got it from another mirror. One thing I dont’t really like (maybe it’s something with an extension): The scrollbars don’t work as expected. Scrolling only works with the mouse’s scroll wheel. The scrollbar only follows if I scroll from top to bottom. I can’t grab the scrollbar or puch the scroll buttons. Are these problems only here?

  15. shawnrobts says:

    sounds great! keep it up. i’m very interested in testing out the ppc version whenever it is available for download. keep us all posted, please. as for those asking for screens…just sit and study the look and feel of camino’s style for control forms. it would be something similar.

  16. Yukeake says:

    Looks like browser.urlbar.hideGoButton is broken. Regardless of being set to True, the accursed button still appears! Any ideas?

  17. Adam says:

    The scrollbar issue aso shows up for me if you try and change (for example) the default font. You cannot use the scrollwheel or the scroll bars to change the font, and using the arrow keys only enables you to cycle through a few of the possible fonts – the selection “wraps around” so to speak…

  18. excomax says:

    After playing around a bit with that version I think the scrollbar problem depends on some themes. With just the Firefox theme everything scrolls fine. ;)
    But another thing that really needs some work is the high usage of CPU. Everytime a page loads my MacBook starts blowing really loud. But these widgets are really nice… :)

  19. Bill says:

    No reply about the PowerPC version, which accordingly should be “coming later”. Guess its time to update to an Intel Mac, since more and more software developers FORGET about us PowerPC users.

    Oh well… :(

  20. Madd the Sane says:

    Don’t worry. If this is going to be integrated into the main Firefox source code, it will be available for anyone to see, modify, and compile. It will just take time.

    And you think you have it hard? I am stuck with 10.2. I am guaranteed that anything “new” won’t work on my computer. I need a new computer! :( Just be patient.

  21. Ben says:

    I’m not here to vent, but does anyone else feel that that “PowerPC coming soon” is a becoming a worrying trend? Can anyone explain in layman’s terms why this is – from a developers POV?

  22. krissnp says:

    great blog.

  23. zpok says:

    Ben, I can answer this one only from my own perspective, but I think it applies here: every level of complexity added introduces the possibility of bugs. So it makes sense to just compile the one version (intel in this case) you know you can test yourself, especially when releasing a BETA.
    So why intel and not PPC?
    Most developers will work on intel macs since it’s so easy to do different platforms on one machine. I love the fact that I can run Windows. Not that I need it a lot let alone like it a lot, but every once in a while I can do stuff in Windows when a mac version of a program doesn’t deliver.

  24. Gavin Laking says:

    Thanks Josh! Just a quick heads up to anybody that’s crazy enough (like me!) to try to use an Alpha for work; Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar and Joe Hewitt’s Firebug both don’t work with this Alpha. Oh well, stuff work- let’s surf! :-)

  25. Pope Zaphod says:

    zpok, that may make things easy on developers, but it means that, what, maybe 10% of Mac users (if that many) will be able to alpha/beta test things?

    And as for companies like Aspyr who are porting Intel-Mac-only games? Yeah, that does me a whole lot of good. My PowerMac G5 is plenty powerful for me right now. I don’t have the inclination – nor the money – to buy a new Mac.

  26. Mike says:


    FireFox has a problem to render the CSS “text-align:justify;” exactly like other Mac OS X Browsers do. Safari, Opera, and of course FireFox and IE on Windows… doing fine with this, but FireFox OS X make it different, so it happens that this is the only Browser where Text look different than in all others…

  27. DAY says:

    Once more — how about PowerPC users? “Later” is… ?

    Not answering is the great way to get good feedback… :)

  28. Wayne says:

    I like the aqua gadgets but I think an OSX specific theme would need to be developed for aqua firefox to keep the overall look-and-feel. Currently, I am using the default Firefox theme and the non-native gadgets fit the theme better.

    BTW: one reason I can think of for Intel versions first is the use of open source, Linux focussed development environments for cross-compilation is relatively simple. I’ve seen a number of Linux developers produce their first OSX versions of their products without even having a Mac just through Intel compilation.

  29. Josh Aas says:

    As for not having PPC builds, that is purely the result of my not having much time on my hands. I have a Mac Pro that I develop on and it was all set up to do Intel-only builds since I have no need to produce PPC builds on it.

  30. Rick says:

    After using it for a few minutes I’ve noticed:

    – the font on the buttons is not the right one
    – text on buttons is a few pixels too low
    – the gray buttons (representing the enter key) don’t pulsate

    I realize this is an early build, but those problems scream “I’m not actually using NSButton” to me.

  31. ! says:

    Sorry, it’s not about the widgets. It’s about the holistic, comprehensive philosophy of user interface design that is sorely lacking in the Firefox team, at least in any discernably Maclike character. The widgets are only the most immediately visible manifestation; the river of shit runs far deeper.

  32. Chris Ryland says:

    Wow, finally, a Mozilla-descendent with decent font rendering (spacing/kerning). Nice work.

  33. Chris Ryland says:

    And, not only that, but Cocoa text handling! Wow, this is nirvana.

  34. Brad says:

    Not to rain, but having to use native widgets in forms is the reason I don’t use Safari. I’d like to see a web site as the web site designer intended. I hope there’s an option to not use them with FF3 comes out.

  35. Jerry Normandin says:

    Where’s the source? Mozilla is supposed to be open source, so you modify it, you post the source. Eric Stallman will have a field day here. I’ve got a
    complete development environment. I plan on building a native ppc binary. I’m not planning on giving up my real mac with a 970MP processor any time soon.
    So, post the source, I’ll build a native ppc binary and post it.

  36. Jerry Normandin says:

    Ya know.. The last post was my attempt at being funny.

    If you got the source I’ll throw it into my development environment and
    build a ppc binary. And at some things.. especially running Blender, my dual processor G5 is faster. Apple switched to Intel for supply reasons. The PowerPC costs more money. I WISH apple went with the IBM p6 processor, that would have been cool.

  37. Jake says:

    Is there any hope of getting the blue rectangle around the selected form element like in Safari?

  38. mr.bliss says:

    Any screenshots???

  39. dijkhoff says:

    ik heb vol gehoord over dit programa.dus werd ik nieuwsgierig,
    groet egbert dijkhoff.

  40. dijkhoff says:

    hoop that i ever get this program?

  41. aaron says:

    Native text boxes has been the number one reason for me not using firefox on osx. I hate the up-down AND the home-end buttons not moving the cursor to the begining and end of the text boxes so much I’m willing to forgo using the extentions.

  42. Smithc1 says:

    Fckin amazing things here. Im very glad to see your post. Thanks a lot and i’m looking forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail? aeegdfdcbcbfaabb

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