I’ve been developing Firefox themes for the past few years and, as I see Firefox change and evolve, I’m beginning to wonder if themes are going to become a thing of the past.
- Firefox is pushing personas. They are now standard in Firefox 3.6.
- Themes are complex with lots of pieces to edit and are not easy for users to create.
- Getting them to work cross platform is tricky. Testing cross platform is even harder.
- Themes have to be tweaked often to work with Firefox updates. On major releases, possibly completely re-created.
- One wrong file, or line of code, and you can cause major Firefox display issues.
- It takes extra work to theme extensions; and there are way to many to keep up with.
- Users have to know how to install a theme and how to un-install, or deactivate, a theme.
- They can cause usability issues as one persons idea of beauty is a train wreck to the next.
So what’s next? Personas.
Personas are more like skins than themes. They are easy to create, easy to install, and Firefox 3.6 is ready to use them with no additional addons.
Yes, the customization is limited, but with limited customization, there is less likelihood of creating usability issues with Firefox or conflicts with extensions.
Overall, it takes very little knowledge to create and use personas which is why they may just become the standard way of theming Firefox in the future.
I’m hoping that either themes don’t die completely or that personas start to allow additional items to be customized, but either way, I think we’ll start seeing fewer and fewer full blown themes come out and the Personas community continue to grow.