Firebug Beta 1 Released

The beta of Firebug 1.0 has been released and comes with some amazingly useful features. For those unfamiliar with this Firefox extension, Firebug provides a wealth of tools for developers to debug, monitor or edit portions of a site. Portions of it overlap the Web Developer’s toolbar, and in several cases, Firebug surpasses it hands down. Some of the features include:

  • Inspect & edit HTML & CSS within the browser to see how changes will impact the current page.
  • Visualize CSS metrics, including box model shading, measurements for each edge of a box (and the ability to edit those measurements in-line) , rulers and guides
  • Monitor network activity to see why a page takes too long to load, broken down by type. You can also see which items are cached or not and examine HTTP headers and XMLHTTP Requests.
  • Debug JavaScript, including the ability to set breakpoints and conditional breakpoints and line-at-a-time code execution. Additionally you can view JS stack traces broken down into the functions within the stack. Use tooltips to see the value of any variable within the JS, log function calls and profile the performance of the scripts. The improved JavaScript logging is amazing in its own right.
  • Explore the DOM and edit as you go (including auto-complete) with handy JS code navigation.
  • Vastly improved error handling and details.

This extension will actually reduce the need for several others you may have installed.

Another Take: Firefox Extensions

Stuart Robertson of Design Meme has posted a concise write up of his Top 5 Firefox Extensions for Web Designers. I wasn’t aware of Aardvark, but it looks to be quite useful. The other two extensions that aren’t on my list of Firefox Extensions, are ones that I continue to monitor. Hell, the geek in me has happy little daydreams about each of ‘em.

GreaseMonkey has grown in popularity in a very short time, and while I like the idea of having the ability to script other sites, I just haven’t taken the time to install and play with it. I think it will be very addictive for someone like me…

I haven’t used del.icio.us for a couple of reasons. The first is the fact that I don’t like the idea of relying on an external entity to host my bookmarks. I need to spend some time researching the ability to sync my local bookmarks with del.icio.us. For now I keep my bookmarks synchronized using my own server. The second, reason is the same as the one I noted for GreaseMonkey. I think I would spend a lot of time tagging and tinkering.

Perhaps I will add these to my list o’ things to do on my holiday time off…

FireFox Extensions – Updated

As it has been over a year since I initially posted my list of Firefox extensions, I think it is time for an update. I have added and removed many in that time, and while I can’t remember them all, here is my current list of active extensions for your perusal. I hope to keep this list up to date as I modify my usage, though I haven’t decided exactly how as of yet. Perhaps I will make use of InfoLister‘s ability to upload the information, but I don’t know how I will be able to associate comments with each item. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Also, if you know of any killer extension please let me know as I would love to try ‘em out!

Firefox Extensions

Note 1: All of the links point to the home page for the extension which can be problematic at times. If you run into issues finding or installing an extension, you may want to search for that extension on the official Firefox extensions site.

Note 2: At the time of writing, several extensions have yet to be updated to be usable within Firefox 1.5. There are a couple of hacks that may solve this problem for some extenions, but some plugins will require updates to the core code.

General Web Browsing

  • Adblock – Provides the ability to block advertisements – not just pop-ups, you can block the ads displayed in the middle of a news story too. The best part about it, is the fact that you can set up blocks using wild cards, so after some configuration, you discover that the vast majority of the sites you browse are now ad-free. As the blocking happens within your browser, the site still generates revenue from the ads, which is a nice bonus – well, for everyone but the advertisers I guess. This is a must have!
  • SpellBound with the Mozilla SpellCheck Libraries – A straight forward, but feature-rich spell checker for form fields. Check out the screen shots to see it in action. A Must have for anyone who leaves comments, posts to forums or runs a blog!
  • Google Toolbar – Adds a toolbar to Firefox, which provides the ability to search the currently viewed site, search word/phrase highlighting within the page, access to a cached copy of the page, the ability to navigate the directory tree, spell check and word translation.
  • Bookmarks Synchronizer- Allows you to synchronize your bookmarks across multiple machines, even across operating systems. I have set it up to automatically synchronize my local bookmarks with a copy on my Web server each time I open and close Firefox, ensuring I have a backup. Sadly, the developer takes a while to update the extension after new releases, often forcing me to implement a hack. As of 1.5, the hacks don’t seem to work either.
  • Nuke Anything Enhanced – While Adblock does an amazing job of removing adveritisements from a site, there are times when you really want to eliminate other pieces of a page. Enter Nuke Anything. Don’t want to see the sidebar, you can Nuke it. Want to be rid of the looping demo, but don’t want it included within Adblock? Nuke it.
  • Forecastfox – Provides the current weather, forecasts, severe weather alerts and a lot of other weather-related information in a compact and unobtrusive package.
  • InfoLister – The handy extension that made it possible for me to create this post so quickly. It generates a file with all of your installed extensions and themes, which makes upgrades of Firefox as well as moving to a new machine quite easy.
  • IE View – A super simple, but very useful extension. IE View adds an item to the right-click menu which lets you open the current page in Internet Explorer. Some sites are poorly developed, and only work with Internet Explorer, so you can use this extension to quickly switch to IE for viewing. For those of us in Web development, it speeds up cross-browser.
  • IE Tab – A new addition to my extension list, which provides similar functionality to IE View (above), though it opens Internet Explorer within a Firefox tab, instead of opening IE in a new window. This redundancy will most likely push one of these two extensions off of my list, but that will require some time to test the two.
  • Tab Preview – “shows a preview of tab contents when you move your mouse over a background tab.” I’ve just installed it and will post an update after I’ve used it for a bit. It looks exciting though!

Web Development

  • Web Developer – An amazing set of tools for Web developers. Indispensible for Web Developers.
  • Image Zoom – Provides the ability to zoom in on an image within the Web page, saving the trouble of saving the image and opening it with a different application.
  • ColorZilla – A handy color picker that sits in the status bar of the browser and provides an easy way to select a color from the page being viewed. Extremely useful for Web designers and developers.
  • MeasureIt – Adds a ruler to the tools available within your browser. It also servers quite nicely as a straight-edge for those times when you aren’t quite sure if two borders are truly aligned, or one pixel off.
  • SpellBound with the Mozilla SpellCheck Libraries – A straight forward, but feature-rich spell checker for form fields. Check out the screen shots to see it in action. A Must have for anyone who leaves comments, posts to forums or runs a blog!
  • User Agent Switcher – Useful for Web development, and getting around sites that require a specific browser, this extension let’s you spoof the site into thinking you are using a different Web browser and/or operating system.
  • IE View – A super simple, but very useful extension. IE View adds an item to the right-click menu which lets you open the current page in Internet Explorer. Some sites are poorly developed, and only work with Internet Explorer, so you can use this extension to quickly switch to IE for viewing. For those of us in Web development, it speeds up cross-browser.
  • IE Tab – A new addition to my extension list, which provides similar functionality to IE View (above), though it opens Internet Explorer within a Firefox tab, instead of opening IE in a new window. This redundancy will most likely push one of these two extensions off of my list, but that will require some time to test the two.
  • CookieCuller – Provides additional control of the cookies placed on your machine by Web sites.
  • DOM Inspector (comes with Firefox – choose custom installation, and ensure ‘Developer Tools’ is checked) – Extremely helpful for Web developers

Tab Preview

Tab Preview “is an extension for Firefox 1.5 that shows a preview of tab contents when you move your mouse over a background tab.” I’ve just installed it and will post an update after I’ve used it for a bit. It looks exciting though!

Thunderbird 1.0 Takes to the Skies

As reported on mozilla.org, Thunderbird 1.0 has been officially released! This is great news!

I expect I will be installing it on several family machines over the upcoming month. Why? Because it has been a solid e-mail client throughout its beta period, and has gotten easier to use with every release. It also provides a wealth of great features, including:

  • Adaptive spam filters – “Thunderbird’s junk mail controls learn and improve from emails that you receive to stop spam.”
  • “Saved search folders and search bar – To help you find emails faster you can save common searches in virtual folders and find emails with the search bar.”
  • Extensions (just like Firefox)
  • Simple migration from other e-mail clients
  • Message grouping (I haven’t used this much, but plan to soon)
  • Cross-platform support – You can use it on a Mac, PC or *Nix without any problem

Download your copy today!

Using 'Incompatible' FireFox Extensions

One of the only gripes I’ve had with Firefox is that every new version number knocked out several extensions. Thus, I would have to wait for the extension’s author to post an updated version. Typically, the only change is an update to the version of Firefox that the extension supports (0.8 to 0.9 to 0.10 to 1.0…) Now that 1.0 is out, this should happen far less frequently, but, of course, 1.0 breaks extensions that I want to use. So, a quick bit of research lead me to this forum post which provides easy to follow directions for fixing these ‘broken’ extensions:
1. Close Firefox
2. Edit the file Extensions.rdf contained in %appdata% > MozillaFirefox > Profiles > randomname > extensions
(on my Windows box, I edited C: > Documents and Settings > Alex Jones > Application Data > MozillaFirefox > Profiles > r0cy7i5r.Alex > extensions > Extensions.rdf )
3. Change every occurrence of maxVersion=”0.10″ to maxVersion=”1.0″
4. Start Firefox and look at your extensions menu. If the extensions are still grayed out, right-click on each one and click on ‘Enable’. Once you restart Firefox, these should be available as well.

Firefox 1.0 Steps Up

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 has been released! This is great news for Web developers and users both. I highly recommend everyone grab a copy once the servers recover from the initial download frenzy. Remember to make a list of your extensions and back up your profile before installing!

These direct links to download the release, are still working:

The Extensions Mirror

One issue I have every time I upgrade Firefox is the loss of some of my favorite extensions due to incompatibility with the new version of the browser. Preview Release 1 is no different. Luckily I stumbled upon a link to theExtensions Mirror which is much more up to date than the standard Mozilla extension site. Many of the extensions that are unavailable on on update.mozilla.org, are already available on this site. And they work perfectly well.

Note: There are a couple of areas on the site where you might find the Firefox extensions you are looking for:

The same holds true for Thunderbird:

Update: As noted in a comment on another post, there is another extensions mirror available: Hedonist-X

ListZilla

As a follow up to the preview release of Firefox, and my recommendation that you keep track of every installed extension in case the install goes awry (as it did for Pamela), I am posting a link to a new extension: ListZilla
which “Outputs either a plain text, vB code, or HTML file that lists all installed themes or extensions.” That sounds much easier than doing it by hand!

One note, the description says that it is only for current releases of Firefox, so I am not sure if it will work 0.8/0.9, or just the preview release.

New Versions of Firefox and Thunderbird

Hoowah! New versions of Firefox (Preview Release 1.0) and Thunderbird (0.8) have been released by the Mozilla Foundation. This is a happy day.

Firefox Improvements

Live Bookmarks – Integration of RSS feeds in the bookmark folder. Not sure if I’ll use this one, as I really like Sharpreader, my new aggregator, but I could see it being very useful for people who don’t have/want a separate news aggregator.

Improved Find – “The Find toolbar (which shows at the bottom of the browser window) automatically highlights text in the page as you type and has a useful highlight feature.”

Improved Security & Block of Popups – ‘Nuff said

Bookmark Improvements – This has been one of the few weak areas of the program (well until you grab some handy extensions), so I look forward to seeing the changes.

Stronger Security for Password Manager – While I don’t use this feature, it is good to see they are adding more protection for those who do.

Note: I recommend that you make a note, of every extension you have installed for Firefox, as “all of your extensions will be disabled when you move to PR. If you were using 0.9, when you first run PR, Firefox will try and connect to update.mozilla.org to look for newer, compatible versions of your Extensions, and if they are available it will download and install them. If you were using 0.8, you will have to find newer compatible versions yourself.”

Thunderbird Improvements

Global Inbox – Combine all of your POP e-mail accounts into a single inbox.

Easier to Switch to Thunderbird – They have improved the migration of e-mail, addresses and preferences from the major e-mail clients.

RSS Integration – Deja vu… Well, it could be interesting to see how they have implemented it within Thunderbird. It seems like every program created these days wants to act as a news aggregator in addition to its main role.

Improved Privacy/Security – Always a good thing to see.

Note: If you are upgrading Thunderbird, pay attention to their install warning.

FireFox Extensions

Here is a list of the extensions that I have installed for FireFox There are some duplicates, as some extensions fit more than one category.

General Web Browsing

  • Adblock – Provides the ability to block advertisements – not just pop-ups, you can block the ads displayed in the middle of a news story too. The best part about it, is the fact that you can set up blocks using wild cards, so after some configuration, you discover that the vast majority of the sites you browse are now ad-free. This is a must have!
  • BugMeNot – Provides dummy login/password combinations for hundreds of sites that require registration. This is extremely useful when you need to read something, but don’t have the time or inclination to go through a lengthy registration process.
  • CookieCuller – Provides additional control of the cookies placed on your machine by Web sites.
  • Download Sort – Adds the ability to set up filters for downloads, so you can define where downloads are placed automatically based on the file type or the Web site from which you downloaded it.
  • Googlebar – Adds a replica of the Google Toolbar to Firefox, including the ability to search the currently viewed site, search word/phrase highlighting within the page, access to a cached copy of the page and the ability to navigate the directory tree.
  • GooglePreview / McSearchPreview – Each of these plugins enhances search engine results by providing a a preview image of the Web site, or an image of a product (from Amazon) next to each search result. I am testing both of these to determine which I like more.
  • IE View – A super simple, but very useful extension. IE View adds an item to the right-click menu which lets you open the current page in Internet Explorer. Some sites are poorly developed, and only work with Internet Explorer, so you can use this extension to quickly switch to IE for viewing. For those of us in Web development, is speeds up cross-browser testing as well.
  • Tabbrowser – Provides expanded functionality for the tab interface, ideal for those of us who tend to keep many sites open at once.
  • Image Zoom – Provides the ability to zoom in on an image within the Web page, saving the trouble of saving the image and opening it with a different application.
  • QuickNote – A handy little text pad extension, allowing you to store snippets of information so they are close at hand while browsing the Web.
  • Spellbound – A straight forward, but feature-rich spell checker for form fields. Check out the screen shots to see it in action.

Bookmark Management

  • Bookmarks Synchronizer – Allows you to synchronize your bookmarks across multiple machines, even across operating systems. I have set it up to automatically synchronize my local bookmarks with a copy on my Web server each time I open and close Firefox, ensuring I have a backup.
  • Flat Bookmark Editing – Let’s you skip a couple of steps when you want to edit the properties of a bookmark.
  • OpenBook – Improves the Bookmark dialog box, providing much more functionality, and making it easier to add and work with bookmarks.
  • Sort Bookmarks – This allows you to sort your bookmarks alphabetically, putting folders at the top. This functionality really should be built into Firefox, and I expect it to be in a future release.

Web Development

DOM Inspector (comes with Firefox – choose custom installation, and ensure ‘Developer Tools’ is checked) – Extremely helpful for Web developers

  • IE View – A super simple, but very useful extension. IE View adds an item to the right-click menu which lets you open the current page in Internet Explorer. Some sites are poorly developed, and only work with Internet Explorer, so you can
  • Image Zoom – Provides the ability to zoom in on an image within the Web page, saving the trouble of saving the image and opening it with a different application.use this extension to quickly switch to IE for viewing. For those of us in Web development, is speeds up cross-browser testing as well.
  • User Agent Switcher – Useful for Web development, and getting around sites that require a specific browser to view, this extension let’s you spoof the site into thinking you are using a different Web browser and/or operating system.
  • Web Developer – An amazing set of tools for Web developers, if you build Web sites, this is a must have.