If you follow Firefox web browser news you may have read some time ago that Mozilla planned to remove the browser’s compact mode from the customization options. Compact Mode is one of Firefox’s three density modes for its main interface; it is the smallest layout option and leaves most room for webpages displayed in the browser. The other two modes, normal, which is the default, and touch, which is for touch-capable devices, display a bigger interface.
Mozilla’s original plan was to remove the Compact Mode option from the browser’s customize menu. You may access the customize option by selecting Main Menu > Customize. The reason that Mozilla gave for the removal was that the option was “hard to discover” and that it believed that “it got low engagement”.
The reasoning did not sit well with Firefox users, many of which were using Compact Mode in the browser. A new bug on Mozilla’s bug tracking site reveals Mozilla’s plan for Compact Mode in Firefox.
According to the listing, Compact Mode remains enabled for Firefox users who are using it. The mode remains available in the customize menu for those users. Firefox users who have not set it won’t see it in the customize menu anymore, but they may reactivate it through a “hidden” about:config setting.
The preference browser.compactmode.show determines whether the Compact option is shown under Density in the customize menu. Set the preference to TRUE to show the compact density option, or keep it at the default FALSE to hide it from the menu.
It is unclear whether setting browser.uidensity to 1 will enable compact mode without showing it in the customize option, but it looks that way as the preference is the one that Firefox users to determine the set density.
If you compare the new decision to the old plan, you will notice the following;
- Compact Mode is still moved to about:config as a hidden option.
- The main change is that the mode remains enabled for users who have it set. In the previous plan, these users would be moved to the default density automatically.
Mozilla plans to make it clear that Compact Mode is unsupported by adding (not supported) to the string in the customize menu.
The decision feels shortsighted, especially since it angered Firefox users who are using Compact Mode and prefer it over the other modes, especially with Proton coming along soon and making everything bigger. Removing features, regardless of how few users are using them, is always going to infuriate some users. If you do it too often, you are frustrating more and more users of the browser.
Mozilla could have reversed the decision, maintain the mode, and display a customize prompt to new users that would allow them to set compact mode among several other options on first run.
Now You: what is your take on all of this?
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