Firefox 3.6: Contextual menu items do not blink

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 9th, 2010 • 11:11 am

Safari is my main browser in Mac OS X. Sometimes I have to use another browser, and Camino tends to do the trick. (It’s based on the same underlying engine as Firefox.)

While I keep a current copy of Firefox on my hard drive, I hardly ever use it.

Why? Because, even after all these years and after numerous improvements, it still suffers from a pretty basic lack of Mac OS X-level polish in places.

Take this very simple example:

Contextual menu

This is what you get when you right-click (control-click) on a button image in a web page that acts as a link.

Apparently, this is a proper-looking Mac OS X contextual menu.

But try selecting one of its commands, for example “Copy Link Location.”

Notice anything?

I do.

When you select it and release the mouse button to activate it, the menu item does not blink.

It might sound like a very minor, mostly aesthetic problem. But it’s not. The blinking of a menu item when you select it is an important visual clue that confirms that your selection worked and that the menu command was executed.

This confirmation is missing in this contextual menu in Firefox. And since the menu command in question (“Copy Link Location”) is one that gives no other visual clue of its execution (it simply copies the link URL to the Clipboard), I find this rather problematic.

Because of the absence of the blinking, I cannot help but wonder whether Firefox did actually execute the command and copy the URL to the Clipboard or whether my fingers slipped and I actually did not select the command properly. I can only check this by pasting the Clipboard and seeing what comes out.

Yes, it’s a pretty minor thing, and not a deal breaker. And yes, Firefox is open source, it’s free, so you cannot ask for the moon. We should be glad that there is such an alternative to Apple’s browser “monopoly,” especially since there is a number of sites out there that only work properly in Firefox (or Camino) and in which Safari is stubbornly not supported (though one of the side benefits of the iPhone’s popularity might be that this situation will continue to improve over time).

But because of this lack of support for such a basic feature/convention in Mac OS X, I cannot help but wonder whether there are other areas where the Firefox developers have failed to follow Apple’s guidelines, in purely visual areas or beyond.

All told, of course, Firefox is a decent, usable browser for Mac OS X. And its support for add-ons can be a bonus. But it still lacks the level of polish required to really make it feel like a native, authentic Mac OS X application. (While not perfect, Camino tends to be better in that respect, which is why I tend to gravitate towards it rather than Firefox when I need an alternative to Safari.)

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