There has been a bothersome trend in software in general lately to strip things down. It used to mean that a new version of software contained new features on top of those you already had but lately there has been a push to remove things that are viewed as used by only a small percentage of the user base. Sadly many of those things are used by the more 'advanced' segment of the user base.
FF4 is removing the RSS icon and also the bottom status bar which are the two that irk me. Not just turning off, removing entirely. The status bar functionality has to be restored by a plug-in now, which only serves to bog the browser down. The RSS functionality I'm sure will be the same but again, more plugins to replace what was native functionality.
I fully understand catering to the bulk of the market but this should apply to default settings, not removing features entirely. Default them to off if you want an uber clean interface, don't gut existing features.
I have always avoided Chrome (even with its speed) because I can't stand its UI but once FF4 ships I may just make the leap since really I'm not seeing much difference anymore. (though FF does let me put the tabs back down where I like them) Just a word from one old school guy... if you have features, don't remove them just for the sake of streamlining. Someone out there relies on that... and that someone may just be one more rat that jumps ship.
It's not removed entirely, it's just hidden. And that's what I love about Mozilla. Even if they remove it entirely, there will always be an extension to put it back.
And that's a thing Google will never let you do with Chrome because they thing they know better about how you use your browser than you.
Status-4-Evar plugin restores the functionality in the way it should have been done from the start. Make the Status bar a full toolbar, and make the Status Label an element you can drag in and out like every other toolbar element. No functionality lost, no plugins required, native code, and lots of choice for the user.
Anyhow, I've digressed enough off the OT.
I also don’t understand why you have a problem with turning the RSS button into a toolbar button that’s not on the default toolbar.
And I don’t understand how you go from that to the conclusion that removing features is always a bad idea.
I even like that the menu bar has been rolled up into the Firefox button. There is no reason to display those menus all of the time.
I don't understand how putting tabs above the location bar can be equated to stripping the browser down. It just makes more sense, because the location bar is specific to the tab, so it should be contained "within" the tab.
Wait so there's no way to see where links are pointed now?
In sum, the icon is another example of a broken UI for RSS, which is otherwise a great technology.
Sites evolved away from having links to the feed in the HTML text BECAUSE browsers got this feature, led by Firefox.
I also agree the icon's useful for indicating an existing feed. It's easy not to think about this use, because most of us probably just notice it when we need it but rarely click on it.
Other than the icon being an indicator, I don't find the way Firefox handles feeds too useful (that mix between bookmarks and news feeds).
I did. I never actually clicked on it, but I find telling me that a site has feeds valuable, because if I'm interested in the site's content I can just paste its URL in Reader and know it will work.
A browser that lacked unessential features was the original appeal for firefox and if anything chromes popularity is in a large part because people see it as a speedy lean alternative to an ever bloating firefox.
I dont see why a plugin is less user friendly than yet another neglected preference feature, optional value added features is exactly what plugins are for
It is in a sense like developer tools, if you know where they are you can easily activate them and use them, if not, they are out of the way.
In fact, of course, using an RSS feed is a very simple concept, which turns out to be extraordinarily useful to normal, non-geekly folks who just want to read a lot without being pestered by all the normal encumbrances of the web.
So, your argument strikes me as weak.
I bet less than 80% of ordinary people even use bookmarks, being way simpler than feeds in concept.
Edit: Some are claiming that you can still add the button to the toolbar, it’s just off by default. That sounds extremely reasonable and confuses me at the same time because I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
If you want to re-enable it, you just have to configure your toolbars, and find the feed icon, then position it where you want it. Sorry, this is non-descript, I don't currently have access to Firefox so that I could provide the complete steps.
It does seem a bit silly to remove the RSS icon without any data on its usefulness. Then again, maybe Mozilla has some data we're not privy to on how many people actually use that button besides Dave Winer.
Participants had to opt-in, the study collected data for five days from 9,667 people.
7.3 percent of all participants clicked the RSS button at least once in those five days. That places it behind the favicon (those seem to be accidental clicks , 9%), the Go button (11.4%), as well as the New Tab button in the tab bar (12.7%) and in front of the New Tab button in the toolbar (not displayed by default, 5.2%) as well as the Site Identity button for websites with SSL (4.8%).
A participant clicked the button 0.3 times on average, the 9,667 participants clicked about 3,000 times. Since we know that 7.3 percent of all those participants clicked the button, we also know that those who clicked the button did so about four times on average.
 If a website doesn’t use SSL, clicking the favicon does nothing in Firefox except displaying a short note that the current website doesn’t use SSL. Since only 4.8% click when a website actually does use SSL (and when the favicon turns into the Site Identity button which is clearly identifiable as such) the majority of those who click on the favicon when it doesn’t look like a button which will display information about certificates seem to be clicking accidentally. Clicking the favicon selects the whole URL in some other browsers (Safari, Chrome, I don’t know about Internet Explorer) so my suspicion is that many of those 9% expect Firefox to do something similar. (I would and it drives me crazy.)
I've now removed it and will no longer be using Firefox.
Seriously, it is that bad, and will probably never get any better.
RIP Firefox. We hardly knew ye.