Removing icon positioning options
Firefox 4.0 got rid of the status bar and replaced it with a new fully customizable toolbar called the add-on bar. Flagfox 4.1 will have its icon positioned on the right side of the location bar (the current default) and the options to move the icon will be removed as the alternate location is now gone.
The long story: Flagfox 3.3 and 4.0 can be configured via their options dialog to place the Flagfox icon in various positions in the status bar, however for Firefox 4.0 that obviously goes away with the removal of the status bar. There’s currently a shim/hack “status-bar” ID widget in the add-on bar that allows for an odd backwards compatibility attempt but this will eventually be removed at some unknown time and I don’t want to rely on this explicitly transient hack. (I don’t even agree with Mozilla’s reasoning to put this hack in there in the first place) The positioning options I currently have don’t even work with it fully as it’s only in one spot, thus I can only position the flag to the left or right of other things in this shim and not anywhere in the full bottom toolbar. To do that, I’d need to add full add-on bar support. However, it’s hidden by default and now has a built-in close button and will have a keyboard shortcut to show and hide it, so it’s being designed to be a repository of add-on widgets that you don’t need on screen at all times in order to save screen real-estate.
To add add-on bar support things would get a bit complex. I was initially considering a new way to position the icon via drag & drop, but that turned out to be way more problematic that it would be worth. I’d still be supporting Firefox 3.5/3.6 and SeaMonkey, which both still have the status bar and no add-on bar, so I’d have to detect things and handle the new more free-form positioning in any part of the 2 out of 3 possible areas. This would turn the already more complex than necessary dynamic icon positioning code into a more complex endeavor. The size of the flag icon is also not really large enough to be placed in the add-on bar and look decent in comparison to the other icons around it, as the add-on bar is now bigger than the status bar. Adding support is of course possible, however after some thought it all seems rather pointless. I don’t really have the time to write all of what would be needed and it wouldn’t really be worth my time to do so.
The flag icon fundamentally belongs in the location bar. The icon gives the physical location of the address in the location bar and as such belongs next to it. As a result of the changes for Firefox 4.0 I’m dropping all positioning customization in favor of simply having it in the most logical location for everyone.
The positioning options are essentially a vestigial structure. Once upon a time, Flagfox 1 & 2 were simply positioned somewhere on the right of the status bar. Other extensions did this too, and when I took over for Flagfox 3 and rewrote things to bring the performance problems under control I also added a few new features. One of the new features I added right away was the option to move the icon around in the status bar as some users had requested this to be able to move the icon to a position that worked better with their other extensions installed down there. For Flagfox 3.3 I moved the default position up to the address bar which turned out to be a much better location, as stated above. I updated the positioning options to allow people set in their ways to go back and even allowed moving the icon around inside the address bar. That being said, these additional position options were fairly useless, just easy to implement with the existing system. Nobody needs to have the flag on the right of the star button instead of the left, and moving the icon to the far left put it out of place a bit and wasn’t supported by all applications, thus complicating the code that handles all this.
With dropping support for these old position options I greatly simplify the code involved here by getting rid of the already complicated dynamic positioning function that would have to get way more complicated if I were to support the add-on bar. Instead, it’s just a normal overlay icon. This will also greatly reduce the potential for another add-on doing something stupid and breaking things as has happened in the past. Simple == better.
Note that this is not to say that I will never use the new add-on bar, just that the main Flagfox icon doesn’t really need to go into it.
For those few who will actually be affected by this change, please don’t be rude. I had my fair share of rude feedback when I just moved the icon up to the address bar by default even when I still let you move it back. It’s just me doing this extension as a hobby in what little time I make for it so I ask that you please be respectful and not complain about something that’s not all too important like it’s the end of the world. This vast bulk of the now 1.5 million Flagfox users won’t even notice or care. For those few that do, sorry, but please read the above and understand that I’m removing an old minor transitional feature that whilst you might use you don’t really need anymore.
To the handful of SeaMonkey users who moved the icon down to the status bar to work around a bug causing the Flagfox menu to usurp the plain history drop-down when clicking the down arrow, this SeaMonkey bug has finally been fixed for SeaMonkey 2.0.12 and 2.1. Once you get the SeaMonkey update the problem should be fixed for all affected Flagfox versions, old and new.
Update 1: What did I say about rude comments? WordPress has approval required on by default for comments so I’m not going to bother showing and arguing with aggressive or passive-aggressive comments.
Update 2: If you don’t like the fact that hovering over a link in Firefox 4 causes the destination URL in the address bar to hide the flag icon, that’s not going to be a problem soon. It seems they’re getting rid of the hover link feature in favor of a popup box in the lower left corner. They already recently implemented this for status text (e.g. connecting to X…, waiting on Y…).
Update 3: There’s been a bunch of comments posted seemingly accepting of the change, just ranting against Mozilla for removing the status bar in the first place. I don’t care if you’re one of the curmudgeons Firefox gets every major version who rants and raves that they’ll never update to the new version because of a few new changes they don’t like. This isn’t a blog post about that and I don’t need your rude comments about that here either.