Flagfox 5.0 update Q & A

I’ve been getting quite a few emails and bits of feedback from various sources, so I thought I may as well put up a post centralizing some common questions and answers.

Can I make the flags smaller?

Yes, however some of the more detailed flags don’t look quite right when you do. See here for more info. It’s just a pref to set via about:config.

Why didn’t you add the size setting to the options?

I didn’t want to include an in-GUI option that didn’t work perfectly. Detailed flags just don’t look right at smaller sizes. Those who reply back to me after I point them to how to change the size often respond “oh, yeah, I see that now”. Having it just in about:config lets me easily leave it as a raw number you can play with, as well.

Will you add back the old flag icons?

No. The old sets are not maintained anymore and full of out-of-date flags. Even attempting to properly figure out how many need fixing would take forever and I don’t have the capability to make replacements that match the styles. They were also bad for various other reasons, hard to make out for many people, and the alternate set was actually upscaled to fit into the still tiny space. It’s quite frankly strange that there are a few people who rudely demand that I revert something I worked on for months because they’re used to the old style. (I still get one guy creating throwaway accounts on Mozilla Add-ons to abuse the review system to repeatedly rant about the lack of status bar support many years after the fact; don’t get me started on the angry email about not supporting a version of Firefox that runs on Windows 98 anymore…) Yeah, it’s a UI change, and there’s a bit of subjectivity, but just because you don’t like it as much as everyone else doesn’t mean you should be an asshole about it.

Why didn’t you add the ability to pick between 3 different sets?

That would be a complicated mess and bloat the installer and update sizes. Again, there’s lots of holes in the old sets that I would have to attempt to (poorly) maintain.

Can’t you just add an option to the options dialog for me?

No. Even if I want to add an option, it needs to be translated into around 40 languages. Flagfox has around a million users and most of them don’t use it in English. The translators are all volunteers and getting any localization updates takes a month or two. Yep, there are downsizes to localization. (though, the positives outweigh the negatives)

How can you say the old sets were out of date? They even had the new Libyan flag.

Yeah, because I added it. There hasn’t been an update to either set in about 6 years, and the primary one was more out of date than the alternate one. I have personally been making an attempt to hack in updates over the years. They didn’t match at all. The size of the old sets was too small to work with without heavy stylization, and I’m no image editor pro. I was forced to limit which flags I could update to avoid making them a complete and total mess. Minor updates had to be ignored. Each individual update was a pain in the ass to do, taking a lot of time, and done always late as I didn’t exactly have a way to know when any of the 250 flags needed changing. It was an unmaintainable mess and the primary reason I decided I had to work towards a better solution. This new set is maintainable. I can actually detect and release updated versions rapidly. If you haven’t noticed, there have been a few more changes in the world as of late, and this is what I need to do to keep up.

There is no Flagfox development team. It’s just me; one guy sitting on a couch with an old laptop. It’s not a full-time job unless you decide to donate quite a lot to keep things going. There is one person working on Geotool. It seems there are quite a few people who can’t grasp that software is written by living people, not always a giant corporation or other organization. This is a free service and this new flag set is the only practical way forward that makes giant improvements in accuracy, usability, and appearance.

Can I have a monochrome mode?

Not trying to be rude, but this question made me laugh. I don’t even want to attempt to count how many countries have tri-color flags. If I made a way for the flags to be monochrome to match other buttons in your theme, you wouldn’t be able to tell many of them apart. People had enough trouble trying to tell apart Ireland and Italy in the old sets. No, monochrome will not work here. 😉

Why are the flags different sizes?

Flags are actually different sizes. Different flags have different aspect ratios. You may be used to flag image stylizations where they’re all squished and changed to be the same size. That is not real life. The 250+ nations of the world have not all gotten together to standardize their flag aspect ratios.

Why don’t the flag colors match?

Flags are actually different colors. The red of Canada’s flag is not the same red as America’s flag. Again, no, the world has not color coordinated their flags. I decided that if I was going to make a new flag set I would do it correctly and respect the actual color choices of each country. Plus, it’s much easier this way.

I don’t like flags at all. Can I have a text only mode?

I’ve been considering this a while as an accessibility feature. It was requested specifically recently by a user, so yes, I’m going to look into implementing this feature at some point.

Why did I put the first-run page on my blog?

If I were to put all 10 translations and all the needed styling to get it working inside the installer it would really bloat up the download size for the update for everyone. Putting it up here also lets me put in updates to links if need be.

Why only PayPal?

Mozilla Add-ons only allows PayPal. Yes, this sucks. I have also provided a second route to donate via Amazon which a few people have opted to use. At request I also put up a Bitcoin address, though as of yet nobody has used it. I would have preferred to also have up a Litecoin address, but could not do so due to technical issues with the client. If anyone has an issue with PayPal, please read this. You can email me to get the email address you need to use to send a donation with PayPal directly if Mozilla’s system does not work for you.

Why haven’t you responded to my email/review/post/comment?

I’ve responded to most people as quickly as I can. I’m ignoring the ones cursing at me. I’m noticing that some of the less coherent ones are getting caught in the spam filter, and I’m inclined to not dig through hundreds of spam emails to find them all.

How has the feedback been thus far, in general?

Overwhelmingly positive. Counting all routes, including contributions, I’ve gotten hundreds of thanks and a couple dozen or so complaints.

Note that the contribution system allows for posting a message, however near as I can tell, there’s no way for me to actually view that. Mozilla doesn’t seem to forward that correctly or put it up anywhere else I can find. Sorry, I have no control over that.

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