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Front Page » August 14, 2007 » Tech Tips » Mozilla Firefox Addons: Author's 7 Favorite Extensions
Published 2,687 days ago

Mozilla Firefox Addons: Author's 7 Favorite Extensions


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By JASON BAILEY
Sun Advocate/Progress Network Administrator

Are all Internet browsers created equal? The answer to that question is definitely a matter of perception. When it comes to Mozilla Firefox, my answer is a definite no.

It's ability to extend its own functionality through the use of extensions (a specific type of Firefox "addon") is truly one of the things that sets it apart from other Internet browsers. With each extension, Firefox can do more than it could originally have done. And because Firefox is an open-source, community driven project, there are many great extensions to choose from.

So I decided to discuss some of my favorite extensions, all of which can be easily located on the Firefox Addons site at http://addons.mozilla.org/. Please be aware that general disclaimers do apply. In simple terms, although I have never had problems with these extensions, I, nor the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress cannot be held liable for any problems that arise from the use of these extensions.

So, without further ado, here they are:

Foxmarks

Foxmarks brings a certain amount of convenience and consistency to those that use Firefox on multiple computers by keeping bookmarks on each computer in sync. It does this by appropriately uploading (copying to) or downloading (copying from) a user's bookmarks from the free online Foxmarks service to each computer.

This means that no matter what computer a user is on, they see the same list of bookmarks. A bookmark added on computer 1 can also be seen on computer 2. Bookmarks added on computer 2 can be seen on computer 1.

This does require having Foxmarks installed on each computer that bookmark synchronization is going to take place. A unique Foxmarks account is required from the online service. With each Foxmarks installation, the user simply provides their account user name and password. This gives the Foxmarks extension access to the user's unique bookmarks and keeps them private from others. Providing account information is a one time effort per computer.

Firefox Showcase

Firefox Showcase is a wonderful addition that makes working with tabs much more visual. When the F12 key is pressed, Showcase displays a small screen shot (preview) of each web page that is open in each tab. The user can then click on one of the images and that tab will become active and visible.

So, suppose a user is running Firefox and have 6 visible tabs. Each tab constitutes a different web site. Suppose one of them is the NFL home page. When they press the F12 key, all 6 web sites (representing all 6 tabs) will be previewed. One of the previews will be a small rendition of the NFL website itself. If the user clicks on that image, they are taken to the tab that is actively displaying the NFL web site.

There is an additional Firefox extension that is similar to Showcase called Reveal, but it is often slow to keep up with the Firefox development pace (which causes compatibility problems with the latest Firefox), and in my opinion, is overly complicated, sluggish and less reliable.

All-in-One Sidebar

The All-in-One Sidebar creates a vertical window pane which sits comfortably on the side of the screen (located on the left side by default) and displays common items like the built-in download manager, browsing history, bookmarks, addons (extensions and visual themes) list and so on inside the sidebar itself.

The sidebar has a nice auto-hide feature which allows it to be tucked out the way when it's not needed. When the mouse hits the edge of the screen, it pops out, ready to go.

Another great feature of the All-in-One Sidebar is that it integrates well with Firefox Showcase. The screen shots (per each open tab) that Showcase displays can be displayed in a vertical list inside the sidebar itself.

FlashGot

FlashGot is a great addition for people who use a separate download manager to download their files. FlashGot provides integration between Firefox and the download manager.

FlashGot provides "out-of-the-box" support for many free download software programs, like Free Download Manager (FDM), GetRight, LeechGet, BitComet, DAP, D4X, KGet and others.

When a download link is clicked on, the Firefox download box shows an additional "FlashGot" option that when selected passes the download to the preselected download manager. Users can also press and hold ALT when they click on the link to bypass the Firefox download box all together and go directly to the preselected download manager.

FireFTP

FireFTP is a FTP client. FTP, which stands for Fire Transfer Protocol, is a means in which files are transferred from one Internet host or location to another. FireFTP provides complete, built-in Firefox FTP support.

Unlike the FTP support in many alternative browsers, FireFTP provides complete read and write capability, and the ability to save FTP site configurations for later use.

Tab Mix Plus

Tab Mix Plus is a welcome tool for those that frequently use tabs within Firefox. It allows the user to greatly customize the behavior and appearance of tabs. Tab Mix Plus even allows the user to edit the tab-related menus, to add certain options while hiding others.

One interesting feature of Tab Mix Plus is its ability to lock, freeze or protect open tabs, which helps prevent accidental closures or re-arrangements.

Web Developer

And lastly, the Web Developer extension adds a special web developer tool bar that provides a wealth of web page design and development tools.

One of my favorite parts of the web developer tool bar is the outline menu, which draws vivid, bold lines around various elements in the visible web page like tables, images, divisions and so on, so they are visible in the page.

The CSS tool bar options also are note worthy, as they make CSS styling easier to isolate. In fact all CSS support can be enabled or disabled with a single menu selection.

Have comments about this article, or suggestions for an additional Tech Tips article? Send an e-mail to webmaster@sunad.com.


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