22 October 2008 - 5:20Touching Firefox

I finally upgraded from my iBook G4 to one of those new shiny aluminum MacBooks last Tuesday, so over the weekend, I got to play around with the big buttonless glass trackpad. I noticed that I often used the 4-finger gestures to show all windows or the desktop but rarely used any 3-finger ones.

I knew iPhoto supported 3-finger swipes to switch between pictures, so I figured I should file a bug so Firefox could do something similar to switch tabs. Lo and behold, there’s already a bug filed and resolved fixed since April! Three-finger navigation gestures on MacBook Pro trackpads should be recognized [bugzilla.mozilla.org]

Wait a minute.. that’s Camino! But it didn’t take long to find two related bugs: Core: widget/event-detection support for multi-touch trackpad gestures and Firefox: Implementation of Multi-Touch Gestures on Mac OS X [bugzilla.mozilla.org].

And even better is that both bugs have patches already reviewed or in the process of getting reviewed. The bugs were inactive for a few months, but Tom Dyas appeared out of nowhere (AFAICT) and started submitting patches with the help of Camino, Mac, DOM guys.

Earlier I took the Firefox patch and tweaked it slightly to conform better to sdwilsh style standards ;) and added various refactoring. And now I’ve tossed those pair of patches up on the try-server so people can touch Firefox with a new set of gestures.

A quick detour for those not familiar with the multi-touch gestures.. The most basic multi-touch gesture is the 2-finger scroll which has been around for over 3 years (my iBook had it), and it lets you scroll through pages up/down/left/right/diagonally. Recently added is the 3-finger “swipe” where you place 3 fingers on the trackpad and move them in any direction like the 2-finger scroll. A couple other iPhone-inspired gestures are the “pinch” (2 fingers moving towards/away from each other) and the “twist” (2 fingers rotating).

Note! The following gestures are totally tentative and subject to change, and I’m not sure if they’ll even make it into Firefox 3.1. (From what I quickly gathered, the gestures interface was reverse engineered from some private Apple API, so things might change at any time!) You have been warned! :P

  • Swipe Left: Go back in history [bonus! hold Cmd to open it in a tab]
  • Swipe Right: Go forwards in history
  • Swipe Up: Return to top of page
  • Swipe Down: End of page
  • Pinch Together: Zoom out
  • Pinch Apart: Zoom in
  • Twist Right: Next tab
  • Twist Left: Previous tab

Personally, the biggest benefit is the ease of going to the very next tab with just the touchpad. No need to use keyboard shortcuts like cmd-alt-right or fn-ctrl-down or cmd-tab#. Rotating to the right doesn’t just go to the next tab because if you keep twisting right, you’ll go to the next one and the next one. You could think of it as turning a dial to pick the tab you want. And of course, turning the dial back in the same motion switches back to the previous tab.

So if all that sounds interesting and you want to try, make sure you have one of these machines before downloading:

  • MacBook Pro from this year (either early-2008 model or the new late-2008 ones)
  • MacBook Air (both models from 2008)
  • MacBook from late 2008 (the new aluminum ones)

Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 “pre” with Multi-Touch Gestures – OS X only [build.mozilla.org]
Edit: This feature has been in “trunk” since Oct. 23. Firefox 3.1 will have this feature, and the upcoming milestone, Firefox 3.1 Beta 2, will have it. If you want to grab a version now, you can use a nightly build [ftp.mozilla.org].

Thanks again Tom Dyas for working on this feature! :D

78 Comments | Tags: Apple, Mozilla

Comments:

  1. an0n1 m0us says: 22 Oct 2008 - 5:51

    Yet another Firefox developer using the platform only 10% of computer users prefer (unless you’re running XP on it).

    I wonder why Fx market share growth is flattening? Could it be that not enough focus is given to the Fx version that represents the biggest market?

  2. There are many developers that use other platforms such as Windows 2000/XP/Vista and various distros of Linux. Personally, I still use my Windows XP desktop for general use and testing.

    Additionally, even though you might see pictures of Mozilla developers in Mountain View all using MacBooks of some sort, many of them are running virtual machines to test other platforms at the same time.

  3. Ed: Eh, you can’t win. Linux users claim we only focus on Windows. Mac users claim we are all geeks and don’t do things the Mac way. People on Vista complain that we don’t support all the whiz-bang Vista stuff 100%. Making a multi-platform product is hard, and we’ll probably never make everyone happy all the time, but little things like this add polish and make an app feel more platform native. If your anonymous commenter actually paid attention, he’d know that our goal is to feel like a native app on all of our target platforms, and there are people working to make that happen on Windows, OS X, and Linux. Sure, it’s hard, but I think the developer time involved in maintaining separate native platform ports of the UI would be much worse, and we’d wind up even worse in platform parity. (See Google Chrome, f.e.)

  4. [...] Edward Lee has released an experimental build of Firefox 3.1 pre-Beta 2 that adds support for multitouch gestures on the latest [...]

  5. leandro says: 22 Oct 2008 - 7:44

    Really interesting. I wish i could have enough money for a decent macbook for me.

    Today i use windows vista in my pc, and i’m starting to like vista os. It’s stable, beauty and solid-rock.
    Don’t get me wrong please, but visually firefox on vista is ugly. The background of the toolbar still that ugly purple-ish, and glass isn’t being used (and bug #418454 landed weeks ago).
    The Glass extension is nice, but i think developers could make firefox on vista more beautiful… Win7 is going RTM between firefox 3.1 and 3.next, and yet glass hasn’t showed in firefox.

  6. Do we really have to make this another OS flamewar? Christ, I hate the internet.

    I’ve been using gestures with my firefox using Multiclutch since the day I got it. I have the exact same setup, but I turned off the zoom controls (too easy to accidently do), and made “swipe up” and “swipe down” into “open previously closed tab (command+shift+t) and “close tab” respectively.

  7. [...] new feature in Firefox, can thank Edward Lee for his efforts on this work. He details his progress here, if you’re interested in taking a [...]

  8. [...] new feature in Firefox, can thank Edward Lee for his efforts on that work. He details his progress here, whether you’re interested in taking a [...]

  9. “…sdwilsh style standards…”

    Oh. Dear. God.

  10. Nice. Would be really cool if it coul be integrated into the main release.

  11. [...] More details and download. Share and Enjoy: [...]

  12. [...] MacBook 上,就在刚刚 Mozilla 开发团队的 Edward Lee 放出了支持多触点手势 FF 的测试版本(Firefox 3.1 pre-Beta 2),适用的机型有 [...]

  13. [...] new feature in Firefox, can thank Edward Lee for his efforts on this work. He details his progress here, if you’re interested in taking a [...]

  14. [...] quieren saber más aún de este proyecto y sus avances pueden visitar el blog de Edward Lee quien está a [...]

  15. [...] new feature in Firefox, can thank Edward Lee for his efforts on this work. He details his progress here, if you’re interested in taking a [...]

  16. [...] parecer Edward Lee ha pensado en ello y ha montado una versión de Firefox 3.1 con un sistema de manejo multitouch para ir abriendo boca. [...]

  17. UnlikeLobster says: 22 Oct 2008 - 14:11

    Is it possible to make this work for Windows users that use Boot Camp? I ask because I have a MBP and I’d like to use this for both the Mac and Windows partitions of my laptop.

    Apple already has drivers that enable capability for the trackpad on Windows, so given those drivers, it seems to me that it wouldn’t be impossible to make a windows version of FireFox with Multi-Touch capability.

    By the way, I love the Mac version of this.

  18. [...] new feature in Firefox, can thank Edward Lee for his efforts on this work. He details his progress here, if you’re interested in taking a [...]

  19. [...] quieren saber más aún de este proyecto y sus avances pueden visitar el blog de Edward Lee quien está a [...]

  20. [...] his blog, Firefox developer Edward Lee talks about how he is going to include gestures support for Macbooks in the next version of the [...]

  21. [...] his blog, Firefox developer Edward Lee talks about how he is going to include gestures support for Macbooks in the next version of the [...]

  22. [...] his blog, Firefox developer Edward Lee talks about how he is going to include gestures support for Macbooks in the next version of the [...]

  23. [...] his blog, Firefox developer Edward Lee talks about how he is going to include gestures support for Macbooks in the next version of the [...]

  24. [...] his blog, Firefox developer Edward Lee talks about how he is going to include gestures support for Macbooks in the next version of the [...]

  25. [...] his blog, Firefox developer Edward Lee talks about how he is going to include gestures support for Macbooks in the next version of the [...]

  26. [...] his blog, Firefox developer Edward Lee talks about how he is going to include gestures support for Macbooks in the next version of the [...]

  27. [...] understand two- and three-finger gestures to control some Apple applications, and Lee has already produced an experimental build integrating those commands into the popular Firefox [...]

  28. [...] understand two- and three-finger gestures to control some Apple applications, and Lee has already produced an experimental build integrating those commands into the popular Firefox [...]

  29. [...] you already bought the new MacBook or MacBook Pro? There is a experimental build of Firefox now available at here. It can support the 4-finger gesture of the new glass track pad. You will be able to use 3-finger to [...]

  30. wahuneyc says: 22 Oct 2008 - 19:30

    Itis really interesting to see some of the advances in HCI and its applications. I for one am excited about the future of mutli-touch.

  31. [...] swipes, in Firefox? Well you can, with a new experimental build of Firefox 3.1 (pre-beta 2) from Mozilla’s Edward Lee. It uses all of the majors—swipe, twist and pinch—in awesomely intuitive [...]

  32. I like says: 22 Oct 2008 - 23:40

    This is ultra cool! Where can we vote to have this patched to FF 3.1 release?

  33. [...] ha sortit una versió beta (més aviat “pre” beta) del navegador Firefox, “Touching Firefox”. Aquesta nova versió ens permetrà realitzar moviments amb els dits per interactuar amb el [...]

  34. [...] versione sperimentale del browser è stata “realizzata” dallo sviluppatore di Mozilla Edward Lee ed è possibile scaricarla direttamente da questo link, oppure dal link presente sulla pagina del [...]

  35. [...] die aktuelle Beta 2 des Firefox 3.1 steht jedenfalls eine inoffizielle Version zur Verfügung, welche die Nutzung der Gesten wie im Safari erlaubt, der schon eine entsprechende [...]

  36. [...] Touching Firefox [...]

  37. [...] Engenheiro da Mozilla lançou uma versão experimental do Firefox 3.1 com suporte a gestos de dois e três dedos para comandos triviais do navegador. [...]

  38. [...] swipes, in Firefox? Well you can, with a new experimental build of Firefox 3.1 (pre-beta 2) from Mozilla’s Edward Lee. It uses all of the majors—swipe, twist and pinch—in awesomely intuitive [...]

  39. [...] sich diese bis dato wohl primär in Apple-Applikationen nutzen ließen leite ich folgenden Artikel mal [...]

  40. Love this version! This works well on my MBPro, I trully hope this functionality makes it into the offical tree or at least an add-on.

    Thanks again

  41. [...] que c’est possible avec une nouvelle version expérimentale de Firefox 3.1 (pre-beta 2) par Edward Lee de chez Mozilla. Elle exploite la plupart des mouvements multitouch de manière étonnamment [...]

  42. Experimental Firefox 3 tweaks with Multi-touch gesture support for new MacBook…

    Edward Lee played around with a Firefox 3 patch and he managed to tweak it so that it can support the new MacBook’s Multi-touch gestures. Nobody knows if Edward’s tweaks will be included in the final Firefox 3 but you can download his Firefox 3 pat…

  43. this is a fantastic way to surf.
    If it is removed I will stay on this version of firefox a long time.

  44. [...] Lee, da Mozilla, divulgou em seu blog um ajuste na versão de desenvolvimento do Firefox 3.1 beta para que funções do browser se [...]

  45. Hi Lee, the FF3 doesn’t make links in URL posted in new Yahoo Mail (in new messages), even the IE 8 does this automactly with Space or Enter keys in keyboard.

    I hope this issue can be fixed in FF 3.1.

    Thanks!

  46. [...] en ello y ha realizado una pequeña modificación a Firefox creando así lo que ha denominado como Firefox Multitouch. Una versión que nos permite sacarle el máximo provecho a los trackpads [...]

  47. this is fantastic. really hopes this makes it to future versions of firefox. the new macbook deserves it!

  48. [...] | JkOnTheRun. Más información | edilee. trackback ¿Recomendarías este post? Más noticias sobre: Mac, Navegadores Tags: [...]

  49. [...] Vía | JkOnTheRun. Más información | edilee. [...]

  50. [...] Vía | JkOnTheRun. Más información | edilee. [...]

  51. [...] Lee, da Mozilla, divulgou em seu blog um ajuste na versão de desenvolvimento do Firefox 3.1 beta para que funções do browser se [...]

  52. [...] Vía | aNieto2k Sitio Oficial | Blog de Edward Lee Descarga | Versión modificada de Firefox 3.1 con soporte multitouch [...]

  53. Firefox, du mein Safari-Ersatz: FF versteht Multi-Touch-Gesten…

    Eigentlich ist Safari zu meinem Lieblingsbrowser mutiert: Öffnet sich und die Seiten schnell und versteht vor allem die Multi-Touch-Gesten.

    … Drei Finger nach Links : Eine Seite vor (in der History).

  54. [...] Para los afortunados usuarios que tienen su nuevo macbook , macbook Pro o macbook air , ya salio una  versión de “firefox” con soporte “multi-touch”.Esta en versión “beta” aun y prácticamente puede realizar las mismas funciones que con safari ( es decir con los dedos en el track pad, puedes hacer zoom, adelantar , retroceder paginas etc.) Espero que le puedan agregar mas funcionalidades , porque esta de mas decir que para muchos “firefox” es el mejor navegador del momento.Si tienes algunos de los equipos antes señalado y quiere hacer la prueba del navegador descarga aqui [...]

  55. Interesting… but it doesn’t work on my MBP. It’s a mid-2008 MBP with Mac OS X 10.5.5 in English. I’ve tried to find the place to activate the multi-finger gestures in the Preferences panel from Minefield but it doesn’t work. Multi-finger gestures work ok on iPhoto :-/ Is there anything else that I should be enabling?
    Oh, I’m using a Bluetooth mouse, maybe that’s interfering with the gesture plugin in Minefield, but after closing Minefield, turning the mouse off and opening Minefield… still not working.

  56. [...] Fixed: 456520 – [Mac] Multi-touch gesture support for Firefox. (Using the trackpads on some newer Mac laptops, you can now swipe with three fingers to navigate through history or scroll to the top/bottom of the page. You can also pinch to zoom and twist to switch tabs. Read more on Mardak’s blog.) [...]

  57. [...] @ 5:30 pm | Author: admin Owners of MacBooks with multi-touch trackpads can try out an experimental Firefox 3.1 build that supports finger gestures—swiping left and right for back and forward, pinch zooming, and [...]

  58. [...] Touching Firefox | edilee (tags: interface:touch) [...]

  59. [...] @ 11:00 am | Author: admin Owners of MacBooks with multi-touch trackpads can try out an experimental Firefox 3.1 build that supports finger gestures—swiping left and right for back and forward, pinch zooming, and [...]

  60. [...] MacBookシリーズのトラックパッドに搭載されているマルチタッチですが、スワイプやズーム、回転などのアクションは残念ながらApple製のアプリケーションにしか対応していません。 いつもはマウスを使っているので別に気になりませんでしたが、先ほどトラックパッドで作業する機会があったので、Firefoxでも使えないかと調べてみました。 そこでまず発見したのが、with Multi-Touch Gestures版のFirefox。 こちらでダウンロードできるみたいですが、Firefoxだけにとらわれず、いろんなアプリで使えないかと思ってもっと調べてみたところ、MultiClutchなるアプリ、というか環境設定の拡張ファイルを発見しました。 こちらからダウンロードして、解凍し、中身のMultiClutch.prefPaneというファイルをダブルクリックすればインストールできます。 すると、システム環境設定にMultiClutchという項目が追加されているはずなので、クリックして設定画面に移動します。 [...]

  61. [...] siehe mac.blorge.com, edilee [...]

  62. [...] MacBook 上,就在刚刚 Mozilla 开发团队的 Edward Lee 放出了支持多触点手势 FF 的测试版本(Firefox 3.1 pre-Beta 2),适用的机型有 [...]

  63. Robert says: 08 Nov 2008 - 10:10

    Excellent, I’ve been waiting for such an enhancement to Firefox to be added in since I got my Macbook Air back in April. Nicely done, thanks.

  64. It’s definitely taking a little longer than expected for the Mozilla Org. to release the newest version. I can’t wait until the full release and / or Google Chrome for OS X.

  65. great info thanks. just ditched M$ and move to mac. lovin it!

  66. Great… Now I will have three firefox 3.1 versions to choose from every morning… :p

  67. It doesn’t seem to work in the build linked… there is an app which may help out: http://wcrawford.org/2008/02/28/everytime-i-think-about-you-i-touch-my-cell/ dunno, didn’t try it yet.

  68. Congrats for the great version!! i’ve tested it and its ok… but what about an addon for firefox 3.0??? it would be greater…

  69. [...] swipes, in Firefox? Well you can, with a new experimental build of Firefox 3.1 (pre-beta 2) from Mozilla’s Edward Lee. It uses all of the majors—swipe, twist and pinch—in awesomely intuitive [...]

  70. Works great on my MacBook Pro I bought yesterday. I’ve been a PC user for 20 years, but I got used to using gestures in Safari in a day. This build allows me to use FireFox so I couldn’t be happier!

    The rotating is a bit finicky but I think I just need to get used to the gesture.
    Keep up the good work!

  71. THANK YOU SO MUCH. I was forced to use Safari because this simple feature was missing and slowing down my productivity. I can finally move back to the superior browser, thanks thanks thanks!

  72. [...] support had been absent from Firefox. Experimental Firefox support for the multi-touch trackpad was first introduced in a pre-Beta build back in October by Mozilla’s Edward Lee. The changes have since made it [...]

  73. [...] support had been absent from Firefox. Experimental Firefox support for the multi-touch trackpad was first introduced in a pre-Beta build back in October by Mozilla’s Edward Lee. The changes have since made it into the [...]

  74. [...] support had been absent from Firefox. Experimental Firefox support for the multi-touch trackpad was first introduced in a pre-Beta build back in October by Mozilla’s Edward Lee. The changes have since made it into [...]

  75. [...] la web usando el interfaz multitáctil que incorporan los últimos modelos de portátiles Apple. Edward Lee, de Mozilla, introdujo los cambios necesarios para que esto fuera posible en Firefox en una [...]

  76. [...] support had been absent from Firefox. Experimental Firefox support for the multi-touch trackpad was first introduced in a pre-Beta build back in October by Mozilla’s Edward Lee. The changes have since made it [...]

  77. [...] source? Because Edward Lee said nothing of the sort about Mozilla REing it! Here’s what he actually said: From what I quickly gathered, the gestures interface was reverse engineered from some private [...]

  78. [...] of MacBooks with multi-touch trackpads can try out an experimental Firefox 3.1 build that supports finger gestures-swiping left and right for back and forward, pinch zooming, and [...]


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