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Firefox, Safari, Lion and prototype ideas spreading

1 minute read

I think it’s always great when people contaminate each other with ideas, implicitly or explicitly, and it happens to improve something for all of us. This is exactly what seems happening recently.

Limi, a great person and UX designer, was working on the design of the Download manager for Mozilla Firefox. In 2010 he wrote a very detailer article on “Improving download behaviors in web browsers”, that summarized the concept with a sketch by Stephen Horlander, this one:

Fast forward to 2011 and it Limi notices a post by  Dustin Curtis, that shows Apple’s work on a new download manager for Lion. How does it look like? Here it is:

What makes me particularly interested in this is that in 2009 I worked for a bit on a few concepts for a redesigned web browser download manager and I had a brief mail exchange with Limi himself, where at the end I sent him a couple of wireframes. In these tried different solutions to avoid the nasty popup window warning (my first issue in order of priority), and one of the proposals removed the download window entirely. Here you can find the full wireframes pdf with all the ideas, while here’s a summary of the one that’s very similar:

Being 2009, the only problem of this approach is now evident: today the bottom status bar disappeared even from the latest of all the browser, Internet Explorer (9.0). But what’s is interesting to me is that the interaction model is still that one, even if Limi and Apple’s solutions have it positioned in the top right corner.

I’d like to make two more considerations:

  1. I think that the animation is quite important in making it obvious without any “added” complexity, and I wonder if the current Lion’s version of Safari does that.
  2. I think that the idea itself isn’t really novel, so I’m not posting this piece to claim anything but to show how similar idea have at the same time a connection and have been replicated in “isolation” from different people.

In the end, however, I think that the “download” concept should become transparent for the final user, and that’s something that should be provided as both a system service and interface from the underlying operating system.
But that’s probably a topic for another time… ;)