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Night Launch Companion

Night Launch Companion is an experimental Firefox add-on for customizing the NASA Night Launch theme.

This add-on enables advanced styling and optional enhancements not possible with theme technology alone.

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URGENT -- March 1, 2015 -- Your help is needed. Learn more.

Overview
  • What is this? A Firefox add-on that you install and use along-side the theme NASA Night Launch.
  • What is this for? Styling improvements and optional enhancements for NASA Night Launch that can't be done in the theme itself.
  • What exactly does this do? See description of specific features below.
  • Compatibility? Works wherever NNL itself works.
  • What about other themes? Only takes effect when NASA Night Launch is in use. Does nothing when using other themes or the default theme, and doesn't appear in the UI other than as an add-on listed in the Add-ons Manager.
  • Also works with beta versions of NASA Night Launch. NNL betas are actually a separate theme (with a different add-on id from NNL), but they're treated by this add-on as if they were NNL itself.
Current Status
  • This is an experimental add-on, not yet ready for general release on AMO.
  • When it's ready, we'll look at releasing it on AMO and possibly packaging it with NNL itself.
  • Available with beta builds of NNL, packaged up with and part of the theme installer.
  • Also available as a stand-alone extension (the same as in the NNL beta).
Where's the UI?

Night Launch Companion includes an Options/Preferences window, accessed through the Add-ons Manager add-ons list.

This add-on also integrates itself into Firefox's existing menus and toolbars in the main browser window. Several features controlled by the Options window can also be controlled there. Look for it in the following locations.

  • Right-click context menu on the Location Bar go button
  • Right-click context menu in the Firefox toolbar area
  • In the Firefox app button menu (under the Options submenu; for Firefox 4 and up)
  • In the View menu of the Firefox menubar
  • In the View menu of the desktop toolbar if on a Mac
Partial Screenshot of Night Launch Companion Menu UI in Firefox Toolbar Area

Features and Options

Here's the complete list of all features and options offered by this add-on.

Night Launch Go Button

For Firefox 4 and up, this restyles the existing in-location-bar go/stop/reload button to offer more-impactful, NNL-specific styling. This also gives a larger, wider click target which makes it easier to click the button. For Firefox 3.6, this restyles the existing in-location-bar go button, and makes it persistent for easy access. If you used NNL with Firefox 2 (back in the day), you'll recognize this, since we're restoring the styling that was once the default with NNL.

Screenshot of Location Bar with and without Night Launch Go Button
  • Turn this on and off by right-clicking the go button, then checking or unchecking Night Launch > Show Go Button, or go to the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.
Customize Titlebar Overlap

Important note: this option is only available in Night Launch Companion for Firefox 28 and down. This option was removed when the Australis UI was added to Firefox.

This setting controls whether the toolbar area overlaps the window titlebar area. By default, the toolbar area slightly overlaps and snugs up against the bottom of the Firefox button in the titlebar. However, you may want a different amount of space there, so this allows you to use a different overlap amount or none at all.

When NNL was first released for Firefox 4, in March of 2011, the default and only behavior was for the toolbar area to overlap the titlebar area by 7 pixels. We've made this an option to increase the chance that it'll match your desktop settings, whatever they may be. People using third-party Windows desktop themes may find this especially useful.

Screenshot of Window Titlebar Area Showing Overlap
  • Only available for Firefox 28 and older.
  • This option is controlled with the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • This option only applies when the following are all true:
    • only when using a glass-capable Windows version (i.e., Vista or W7), and
    • only when the desktop is actually set to Aero Glass, and
    • only when the Firefox button is shown in the titlebar (i.e., when the menubar is hidden), and
    • only when the window is neither maximized nor fullscreen.
  • Also applies with some third-party desktop themes on Windows Vista and up (if they self-report themselves as being Aero Glass).
  • By default, NNL makes the toolbars overlap the bottom of the titlebar by 7px.
  • When this option is checked, you control the overlap amount, from zero on up to the maximum.
  • The checkbox for this option will be disabled if Firefox is running on an OS version not capable of glass or with Firefox versions older than 4.0.
  • This can also be useful for people using third-party desktop themes on Windows Vista and up (not XP), like WindowBlinds or ones you can download from deviantART. You may or may not want NNL to overlap the toolbars over the titlebar, based on your particular desktop theme. (Some of these desktop themes self-report that they're glass, even though you might not think it, meaning this option will be enabled in Companion.) One of the main reasons we changed the default styling in NNL was to be more compatible with more third-party desktops (by not plastering over the titlebar area). So, give it a shot and let us know how this is working for you. This is a new feature and we need the feedback.
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.
Draw Background Image in Titlebar

Important note: this option is only available in Night Launch Companion for Firefox 28 and down. This option was removed when the Australis UI was added to Firefox.

NNL makes the main browser window dark by drawing a background color on the window. By default, the top edge of that background color is below the Firefox app button, leaving the titlebar area glassy-transparent behind the Firefox button. With this option, you can choose to, instead, draw the background color from the top edge of the window frame on down, filling in the area behind the Firefox button.

When NNL was first released for Firefox 4, in March of 2011, the default and only behavior was for the background color to start at the very top of the window frame, filling the titlebar area and on down from there. After a while, though, enough people said they'd rather see the glass there that it became worth it to make the background color start below the Firefox button, and to make this an option with Companion.

Screenshot of Window Titlebar Area Showing Background Position
  • Only available for Firefox 28 and older.
  • This option is controlled with the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • This option only applies when the following are all true:
    • only when using a glass-capable Windows version (i.e., Vista or W7), and
    • only when the desktop is actually set to Aero Glass, and
    • only when the Firefox button is shown in the titlebar (i.e., when the menubar is hidden), and
    • only when the window is neither maximized nor fullscreen.
  • Also applies with some third-party desktop themes on Windows Vista and up (if they self-report themselves as being Aero Glass).
  • By default, NNL starts the background color below the titlebar, leaving the titlebar clear so you can see whatever's behind it (glass, probably).
  • When this option is checked, the starting point of the background color is moved to the top of the window, so it fills the titlebar area too.
  • The checkbox for this option will be disabled if Firefox is running on an OS version not capable of glass or with Firefox versions older than 4.0.
  • This can also be useful for people using third-party desktop themes on Windows Vista and up (not XP), like WindowBlinds or ones you can download from deviantART. You may or may not want NNL to color in the titlebar, based on your particular desktop theme. (Some of these desktop themes self-report that they're glass, even though you might not think it, meaning this option will be enabled in Companion.) One of the main reasons we changed the default styling in NNL was to be more compatible with more third-party desktops (by not plastering over the titlebar area with the background color). So, give it a shot and let us know how this is working for you. This is a new feature and we need the feedback.
  • Try it out .. you'll see right away what it does, and it won't do any harm if it doesn't apply.
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.
Disable Location Bar Domain Highlighting

Night Launch Companion gives you the option to temporarily disable in-location-bar highlighting of domain name whenever NNL is in use. Firefox 6 adds domain highlighting as a new feature, and it's a nice feature, but the result can be hard to read with dark themes like NNL. Therefore, you now have the option of turning it on or off with this add-on.

Partial Screenshot of Location Bar with and without Domain Highlighting

The UI for controlling this option is in the Night Launch Companion Options/Preferences window. The setting "Temporarily disable domain highlighting" will turn it off whenever using NASA Night Launch, and leave it alone otherwise. Alternatively, you can also just turn domain highlighting on or off and leave it on or off, for all themes at all times, with buttons in the same window, in which case Companion won't do anything further with highlighting until you go back to the Options/Preferences window and tell it to do something different.

  • This option is controlled with the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • Leaves highlighting alone by default, but you have the option to disable it.
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.
  • With certain versions of Firefox, if you turn domain highlighting on or off, you won't see this take effect in the current tab until you switch away from and back to that tab.
  • This automatic disabling requires Night Launch Companion; NNL can't do it on its own.
  • Does nothing if not using Firefox 6 or above. (Domain highlighting isn't done at all by Firefox 5 or older.)
Location Bar Popup Color
Screenshot of Location Bar Background Color Option

This option lets you change the color of the popup that opens from the Location Bar (a.k.a. Awesomebar), showing matching and frequently-used addresses. Before Firefox 4, NNL styled this with dark text on a near-white background color. For Firefox 4 and up, NNL changed styling to use light text on a dark background color, to better match the rest of the theme. For people who prefer the older near-white styling, we offer this as an option in Night Launch Companion.

  • This option is controlled with the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.
about:home

This option lets you apply NNL styling to Firefox's about:home page. The about:home page was introduced in Firefox 4 and has been present ever since, with significant changes (adding a launcher bar at the bottom) for Firefox 13. As implemented by Mozilla, this page can't be styled by themes, and only partially with Stylish, so we take care of this in Companion, where we can use JavaScript and do what needs to be done.

Screenshot of about:home With Companion

Before adding this to Companion, we offered Stylish userstyle "NASA Night Launch - Firefox 4 about:home" to do the same thing, but that has never been able to restyle the search engine logo, so we're discontinuing that userstyle and offering this instead.

Note: for about:home restyling, you need either Companion OR the Stylish userstyle "NASA Night Launch - Firefox 4 about:home", but not both. If you're using Companion for about:home restyling and you also have the userstyle, you should disable or uninstall the userstyle. You don't need both, and each conflicts with the other. Using Companion for about:home is the new and better method, and you should just use this.

  • For Firefox 4 and up.
  • This option is controlled with the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • Disabled by default. You have the option to enable it.
  • Applies only when the theme is NASA Night Launch. Automatically temporarily disables itself while you're using other themes.
  • IMPORTANT: use this instead of userstyle "NASA Night Launch - Firefox 4 about:home".
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.
Always Use Firefox Logo on about:home

This option lets you lock the big Firefox logo in place on Firefox's about:home page. Some promotional campaigns replace the Firefox logo that's normally there with alternate content that isn't necessarily designed for viewing on a dark background. Enabling this option will, in most but not all cases, hide that alternate content and simply show the Firefox logo like usual instead.

Screenshot of about:home With Companion, Showing Before and After Locking the Big Firefox Logo
  • For Firefox 24 and up.
  • This option is controlled with the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • Disabled by default. You have the option to enable it.
  • Applies only when the theme is NASA Night Launch. Automatically temporarily disables itself while you're using other themes.
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.
about:newtab

This option lets you apply an NNL background image to Firefox's about:newtab page.

about:newtab is what you see when you open a new and empty tab. about:newtab shows you a grid of frequently-used pages, with controls to show or hide the grid. The about:newtab page was introduced in Firefox 13 (and in Firefox 12, although disabled there by default and not fully supported by either Firefox or us) and has been present ever since. about:newtab takes the place of about:blank, which is what used to show in empty tabs before about:newtab was added.

Companion's background image works whether the grid is shown or not, and Companion uses styling rules to make sure you can see the grid clearly, whether showing the background image or not.

Screenshot of about:newtab With Launch Image

Before adding this to Companion, we offered Stylish userstyle "NASA Night Launch - Launch Image for Empty Tabs" to do the same thing (with about:blank). The method used by Companion is better because it only applies when using NASA Night Launch, and not with other themes, so we're discontinuing that userstyle and offering this instead. You should just use this instead.

  • For Firefox 13 and up. Does nothing if using Firefox 12 or older.
  • This option is controlled with the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • Disabled by default. You have the option to enable it.
  • Applies only when the theme is NASA Night Launch. Automatically temporarily disables itself while you're using other themes.
  • IMPORTANT: use this instead of userstyle "NASA Night Launch - Launch Image for Empty Tabs".
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.
Subskins

Important note: subskins are only available in Night Launch Companion for Firefox 28 and down. Subskin support was removed when the Australis UI was added to Firefox.

A subskin is an optional mini-theme that adds to an existing theme. Subskins change the look of one small part of Firefox (like changing colors or background images, or anything a theme can change on its own, really), beyond what a theme already does. Subskins are used by theme authors to make parts of a theme optional, instead of the same for everyone.

In NNL, subskins are part of and packaged with the theme itself. NNL has long included subskins. Night Launch Companion makes these easier to try and use by adding UI to control some of them.

Screenshot of Menu-based UI for Selecting Subskins
  • Only available for Firefox 28 and older.
  • Select and apply subskins with Companion menu UI in the toolbar area, or use the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • Subskins are part of NNL itself. Before Companion, these were (and still can be) applied by editing userChrome.css and/or userContent.css.
  • IMPORTANT: If you've been using subskins in userChrome.css/userContent.css, then you need to understand a few things.
    • Any single subskin should be applied with either Companion or with userChrome.css/userContent.css, but not both. If you try to use both methods, it'll just mess things up. Your browser won't asplode, but it won't look right, either.
    • Companion does not read or know about what's in your userChrome.css/userContent.css.
    • The list of subskins supported by Companion UI may change over time, so keep an eye on that.
    • Right now, the subskins supported by Companion UI are: style-1, style-2, and style-3. If you're using Companion to apply these subskins, you should take them out of userChrome.css if they're still in there. You can just comment out their use.
  • Companion UI allows you to change only certain subskins (the ones most people use); however, NNL offers several other subskins you might want to check out. Read more about the complete list of subskins in NNL.
  • userChrome.css/userContent.css changes required restart, but Companion applies them instantly - restart NOT required.
Australis Nav Bar Icon Size

This setting controls whether large or small icons are shown in the Nav Bar. As of Firefox 29 (the Australis redesign), Firefox itself no longer allows a choice of large or small icons, so Night Launch Companion restores this choice for people using NASA Night Launch.

Screenshot of Nav Bar with Small and Large Icons
  • This option is controlled with the Companion Options/Preferences window.
  • Only applies if using Firefox 29 or above. (Firefox 28 and older have the choice of icon size built into Firefox itself.)
  • Applies instantly - restart NOT required.


Artwork: External Tank in Freefall

Sometimes, a fuel tank is just a fuel tank.