Personas experiment, an add-on designed to simplify the process of skinning and theming your Firefox web browser. It's been downloaded 2.5 million times, to date, and currently exceeds 1 million active daily users. The latest version of this add-on finally introduced some fresh themes to the mix, welcoming over 3000 new designers and 5000 new designs. If you haven't heard of Personas before or have ignored them in the past, we think it's time you checked them out.Recently, Firefox released an update to their
Personas, Then and Now
Back when Personas launched in late 2007, we liked the idea, but found the initial crop of designs...well..."ugly as sin." Yikes! Since then, the add-on was seemingly ignored for some time, receiving little attention or improvements. Today, that has changed.
When staring at our bland, boring browser this morning, we decided it was time to take a fresh look at the new Personas and see if the theme selection had really improved. As it turns out, it has - and by leaps and bounds.
Although the category list itself is still somewhat limited, we see a few more options than before. But within each category, where there used to be literally only a handful of choices, there are now at least 10 items to choose from as well as a feed that lets you set Firefox to choose a random theme from that category. Still, didn't Mozilla promise us thousands of designs? Where are they?
Getting More Themes
The majority of the themes are not within the add-on itself, but in the Personas Gallery.
The online gallery is where Mozilla has stashed all those new designs. You'll find the same category lists on the web site, but with far more options...pages and pages of them, in fact. So now, if you can't find any worthwhile designs built into the extension itself, you can easily add more from the gallery.
Make Your Own
Still not satisfied? Think you could do better? You can. The Personas extension lets you design your own custom themes, too. You may not have known about this option because you first have to set "Custom Persona" to show in your Preferences. (Click on "Preferences" and then check the appropriate box.)
Once this feature is enabled, you're given a simple form where you can upload your own Firefox header and footer as well as change the text and accent color. We're not designers ourselves, so we were pleased to find out that this option works even if you don't use an image sized correctly for the browser. For example, we made this nifty custom theme using one of the new wallpapers from the Windows 7 release candidate:
We understand that not everyone is into customization, and that's fine (we guess), but for those of you who are, the Personas add-on is now officially worth the effort.