First look to Firefox 3’s new download manager

The revamped download manager, one of the expected features defined in the Firefox 3 product requirement document has been added to the development code today and will be available in tomorrow’s nightly (development release).

At first glance the main change is that downloads are now organized in active and inactive (completed or canceled) so it is easier to see what’s going on. Also, pause and cancel text links have been replaced for pause and stop icons for quicker recognition, to save space and make it more coherent with overall Firefox interface style: text links should take to a web page and not perform an action.

Completed downloads get an information icon (i) that pops up details including the download finish time, the address of the downloaded file and its location in your hard drive. Canceled downloads get a retry icon while completed ones show an open button that launches the downloaded file.

Download junkies will be happy to learn about the addition of a search function. As you type in the DM’s search bar, past and present downloads are filtered to show only matching files.

Of course there are some corners to cut. For example it’s not pretty obvious what the search bar is for as it’s currently presented and there’s no clear button to delete downloaded files history. And I had to apply a quick hack (thanks Guden) to see the download manager icons as intended. All of this will be solved in the next few days.

An important change that may also come soon is the option to show the download manager in the status bar or the sidebar, a frequently requested feature and the download manager title bar may become more informative too, showing the combined download speed and remaining time.

This week has seen the addition of important user interface improvement including a resizer element for the toolbar and a plugins section in the Add-ons Manager. And the next ones will be even more interesting as Places, one of the most important additions, gets its user interface and other features keep landing.


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