Asa announced that Phoenix nightly builds are available, so naturally I went and snagged one. Way back in May I had tested a build of Mozilla/Browser, the predecessor to Phoenix. Other than customizable toolbars and the ability to run it at the same time as Mozilla, I didn’t notice much progress. (Yes, I know the developers have had other things to do in the meantime.) The prefs dialog is much cleaner than in Mozilla; it doesn’t have the messy tree control and only has five panels. Menus are trimmed down and are virtually identical to the Mozilla/Browser build I looked at.
I’d hoped that Phoenix was going to be a browser that focused on users. Perhaps it will be. Based on the differences between it and the earlier Mozilla/Browser, I’m concerned that it’s going the wrong direction. The more usable separate address and navigation bars are joined again. Distinctive icons have been replaced with the round ones from the Orbit theme, which have fewer visual differences. Not only has the throbber been eliminated (not a bad idea by itself and you can add it back by customizing the toolbar), but all page loading progress indicators are gone. The search, history, and bookmarks sidebars are missing as well.
So that’s where it is now. Since nightly builds just started, I plan to wait and watch. (As I understand it, that’s about all we can do now… Last I heard the developers didn’t want feedback or patches, although there are a number of bugs for phoenix in bugzilla.) I’m looking forward to watching this develop. I’d love if some the improvements were applied to the mozilla trunk.