10 Web Developer Firefox Add-ons

I am an amateur Web developer who has tinkered around with the design of websites and I have even taken classes to learn more about the subject. Every Web developer has their own style and tools to build websites, but his primary tools are usually a text editor and a browser. A browser not only helps with testing a design, but it can even help in the design of the website itself. When I first got started developing websites, I used Firefox as my primary Web browser because it was versatile and offered many skillfully created add-ons to assist in my development.

If you want to learn Web development or you’re just getting started, I’ve got a list of Firefox add-ons that may help. Firefox is the browser of choice for many Web developers because of its simple platform and popularity across the Web. These add-ons might not only help you with developing, but even day-to-day tasks.

Web Developer has a very obvious name, which also happens to provide a pretty clear explanation for what the app does. It’s a suite of tools that are essential for every Web developer to have when modifying and designing websites. The add-on gives you a toolbar of many useful functions to design your website without any hassle and even allows you to change things in real-time to tweak what you’re looking at without having to keep going back and changing the code and refreshing the page. This tool gives you options to block storing cookies so you’ll always have the most up to date information on the website when tweaking it. The set of CSS options that gives you a wide range of settings — from disabling certain styles and editing the CSS in real-time — might be the add-on’s most powerful feature. Whether you need to modify the CSS or validate the website to be in compliance with W3C standards, this add-on is essential.

10 Web Developer Firefox Add-onsMeasureit is a great tool for checking dimensions of elements and ensuring that they all fit on the page properly and are sized to fit. So, instead of holding up a ruler to the screen and hoping that you measure accurately, this add-on gives you a virtual ruler that measures in pixels — both horizontally and vertically at the same time — to make your job easier.

Firebug is by far one of my very favorite add-ons for Firefox because it’s not only open source but it has an active community that create extensions for this add-on. Firebug is mostly a frontend development tool like Web Developer, but it can help you diagnose existing problems. It can help you figure out what CSS elements are affecting other elements on the page; this can be very useful when you’re having trouble with a style rule that isn’t showing up right on your page. Firebug can even inspect the page to tell you about the structure of the page and can determine a wide array of elements such as color, height, width, and many other HTML based elements.

CSS Usage, a Firebug add-on, is a very powerful CSS tool that can find unused elements in your CSS code to clean it up and remove unused or straggling code that shouldn’t be there. CSS Usage analyzes your page and finds everything that isn’t being used or referenced in the HTML and lets you know how to trim the excess fat off your website.

ColorZilla is one of those tools that every Web designer uses because a website is just plain ugly if it doesn’t have a splash of color somewhere. To make the page attractive, you need colors that complement each other, and finding the HEX code for these colors can be very daunting. ColorZilla is just like the color picker inside of Photoshop where you see a gradient of colors and a color slider on the right to select the correct hue of color you want. You can manually enter colors into the tool to see where the color is and then use that reference to pick a complementing color to go along with it.

HTML Validator is a nifty tool to check that all of your HTML coding is correct and up to par on HTML standards. HTML Validator will check your code for compliance, and if it finds something not up to par it will alert you and tell you what you can do to update the code to be compliant.

Page Speed checks your website and grades it on loading performance. Nobody likes a slow loading website that hangs when loading images that are of super high quality. Web design is not only about the look of the website but the load speed of the website. It’s said that every 100 milliseconds increased in load time at Amazon.com decreases sales by 1%. Page speed is everything, and this Firefox add-on will grade your website’s performance on a 100 point scale. It’s a Google developed add-on and uses its PageSpeed API to judge your performance. I use this tool constantly to check my websites and a grade of 80 points or above is generally the best for a normal website. Not only will it check your website, but it even gives recommendations on what you can do to improve its performance.

IE Tab 2 is useful because there are still a majority of users who use Internet Explorer. This add-on simulates an Internet Explorer window to check your design in a different browser without actually having to open a new browser. This add-on is very simple to use; after installing it you right-click on the tab and select to view the tab as an Internet Explorer window.

Screengrab is a great tool if you need to collaborate with a client or other developers to show off a design in progress or even a mock-up. This add-on has three different options for taking a screen shot of the website. It can take a picture of just the visible area on the website, so if your page is longer than the browser window it will only take a picture of what you can see. The second option offers to take a picture of the whole webpage; this is great when your website scrolls and you need to get the page from top to bottom in a single image for a client. Last, there is the selection option that will allow you to highlight just what you want to take a picture of. It’s simple to use and highly recommended.

SEO Doctor should be an essential tool in the final design stages of a website. If you want people to find your website when they are searching for it, this tool is what you need to get recommendations on how to improve performance of the website. SEO Doctor analyzes the page and gives you a score from 0% to 100% based on SEO. It will even highlight some areas of the website that can be optimized better for search engine traffic. One of the best features about this add-on is that it can export the data into a spreadsheet for logging and analysis.

These are just some of the most used tools out there for designing websites. Firefox has a vast array of different add-ons from which you can search. What development tools do you use for designing a website?

Firefox 5 Still Plagued by Memory Issues

Firefox 5 Still Plagued by Memory IssuesMy experience with the Firefox Browser began with its release of version 1 and, while even then a memory hog, I found it to be an excellent browser that loaded Web pages quickly. However, when version 4 became available, its memory issues caused me to change my default browser to Google’s Chrome browser, which seems to be able to better manage the memory issues that plague Firefox.

Last night I decided to give it another try and downloaded the latest browser from Mozilla, Firefox 5. After using it, I must admit that the team at Mozilla has done an excellent programming job with this latest version. One of the immediate things I noticed was that the GUI was easy to use and that even when opening multiple Web pages I was impressed with the speed and ease of this latest version of Firefox 5.

However, after about 10 minutes using the browser, I checked the memory usage using Process Explorer, a program that replaces the task manager, and found it disturbing that in just 10 minutes of use, Firefox was using a whopping 276 MB of memory. I cannot speak for, nor did I compare any other browser, to Firefox 5, but in my opinion, 276 MB of memory usage is excessive for any browser no matter who makes it. Sadly, that means, in my opinion, that Mozilla has not addressed one of the biggest complaints that users have had against Firefox regarding excessive memory usage. However, I must note that many of these users have stated that they don’t believe that it is the browser that is using this excessive memory but rather the add-ons that come with it. If this is in fact the case, however, one would think that the folks at Mozilla would test the add-ons and reject any that use an excessive amount of memory.

Since I believe that the people at Mozilla have a good product, I hope that they will address this issue because if they don’t, I believe that the company will continue its market share slide as consumers choose Google’s Chrome.

Comments welcome.

Hands-On With Firefox 4

Early Tuesday, Mozilla released Firefox 4. This is a full two years after the last major release of 3.5.

Since Firefox 3.5, things have changed, and we aren’t talking about small changes. No, the whole landscape of browsing has changed and Mozilla Firefox is here and showing off those new Web standards.

When Firefox first hit the market in 2000, it revolutionized the way people browse the Internet. Mozilla was the first of its kind to be open source and have a cleaner UI. Since the first release, Mozilla has brought innovative features like tabbed browsing and add-ons to an extent that hadn’t been seen before.

Sadly, over the last few years, users have shifted away from it. Most add-ons started to slow down the users’ systems and Firefox experienced periods where the program had a memory leak. Firefox was also using an outdated layout engine called Gecko, but with the introduction of WebKit, every other browser was using it; Firefox neglected to switch and started losing the browser market because of it.

This hugely important release from Mozilla fixes these problems. There hasn’t been an extensive beta test period of this version of Firefox; the developers have been very thorough and spent countless hours getting up to this final release.

User Interface

Mozilla 4 first hit the Internet back in 2009 when Mozilla released some screen shots of the new browser with the tabs on top of the application. The minimalist design is exactly what users want in a browser and Mozilla seems to have built upon that common thought in browsers.

Tabs are a nice size and don’t blur the line between the tabs and top of the application so users won’t drag a tab instead of dragging the window. Cycling between tabs within Firefox has gotten even easier.

Mozilla has even done something radical and changed the location of the home button to the very right hand side of the address bar. The minimalist design can be built upon and the bookmarks bar can be expanded to its own line for the users who use bookmarks frequently. All components can be customized simply by right clicking on the area and choosing “customize.”

Firefox has even done some innovating and created what it calls Panorama, which is a way to group tabs. It creates different groups of tabs and lets you switch easily between them. Power users will find great use of the new grouping system while others who might not care for it can just ignore it.

Speed

It used to be commonly known that Mozilla Firefox was the fastest browser on the Web. But that was back during Firefox 3. Over the years it has become bloated and slowed down significantly. Since earlier releases, other browser makers have opted for a more powerful JavaScript engine and focused less on the rendering engine.

With Firefox 4, Mozilla claims it to be six times faster than its predecessor. It does have some amazing speed improvements and pages are loading faster than ever compared between Firefox 3.5 and Firefox 4. Compared to Chrome, they both launch in about the same time and load pages just as fast.

Add-ons

Within this new release Firefox gets a totally redesigned add-on system. Add-on installation and browsing now takes place in its own full browser window, rather than a pop-up screen. This is not only easier on the eyes but makes reading, finding, installing, and removing add-ons a breeze.

Most of the major mainstream add-ons are compatible with Firefox 4. Users may run into an add-on or two that are incompatible. But add-on developers seem to be on the ball with this new update. Since this is a new browser, give developers a week or two to make their add-ons compatible. If your favorite add-on isn’t updated in the next week or two, it might be time to look for a replacement — it probably indicates developer abandonment.

Since the release of this major version, Firefox will be pushing for lighter weight extensions, like those for Google Chrome. These add-ons are usually built using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and tend to use less resources on the browser.

Add-ons have been Firefox’s best strength in the browser market but it has also been its weakness. The impact of most of these add-ons have affected performance of the browser, which seems to slow down with each new add-on installed. It is safe to say that not all of Firefox’s downfalls come from the quality of the add-ons available for it.

It is tough to find the line between utility and performance: users want to try every new add-on under the sun and the cost of doing so tends to cast a bad image when the users’ computers and browsers start to crash. But from what I understand about the Firefox add-on APIs and toolkits, it is an area Mozilla has spent a lot of time working to make better; with the new API and add-on options, the browser might make a huge come back.

Conclusion

With the massive changes of Firefox 4, old users might come back and existing users can take a deep breath and start anew. My personal answer is mixed; at home I will continue to use Google Chrome, but when I am traveling and not at my work or home computer I will keep Firefox close to me on a USB drive. I will keep Firefox 4 on my computer for those off chances that Google Chrome crashes.

The new UI is exciting and a great relief from past versions of Firefox. Its new feature, Panorama, is something I could potentially use and the performance improvements are remarkable.

Firefox users are gonna love this. Developers are gonna be overjoyed with having this on their computers. And the obsessive compulsive clean freaks will be pleased with this simple layout.

As far as competition goes, Firefox is getting up there. Like Google Chrome and Safari before it, they have these cleaner interfaces and smooth browsing experience.

Mozilla Plans On Including Do Not Track Tool For Firefox

The FCC is proposing that browsers include a do not track tool and Mozilla is taking the proposal serious. The company has announced that it will include a do-not-track system, but when it will be available is not known. Mozilla has been working on their new Firefox 4 browser for some time, but it is not known if the tool will be ready when the browser release to the public. Currently Firefox 4 is still in beta testing.

So what will the new tool accomplish? In theory the tool will be able to allow a user to opt out of being tracked on web sites. But there is just one small problem. In order for the tool to work, tracking companies would need to allow the tool to function on their web sites. Mozilla is urging the trackers to jump on board, but currently there are no takers.

In a recent article it further stated that:

Mozilla’s move comes amid growing privacy concerns about the online-tracking industry. Last month, the FTC called for the creation of a do-not-track system and the Obama administration called for an online “privacy bill of rights” focused on the commercial data-gathering industry.

So is this just a bunch of hype or is it really going to become a reality? It depends if a law is passed forcing companies to adhere to the do-not-track system. There is no doubt in my mind that the FCC will be challenged in court and that this is years from ever becoming a reality. On the WJS site they have a poll asking readers if they supported a no tracking tool and 92% responded that they did.

So there is public support not to be tracked. But of course there is also public support for not being spammed either.

Is there anyone reading this that hasn’t received spam? :-)

Comments welcome.

Source – WSJ

An Inquiring Mind Asks – Is Thunderbird Getting Harder To Use?

In my quest locating articles of significant interest that will keep my readership in tact, one reader sent me a list of potential topics he thought I should tackle. Being the humble man he his, he has chosen to remain anonymous , so I promised not to mention Richard Krohn by name. LOL

I was kind of surprised when Dick brought up the subject about Thunderbird getting harder to use. I actually think it is easy to use and is one of the better email programs.

I use two email software programs on my personal computer. I use Microsoft Outlook for both my personal account from my ISP and also a MSN account I must have as a requirement from Microsoft as a MVP. I use Thunderbird for my Google Gmail account in which I received and monitor Gmail alerts throughout the day. On average I receive approximately 250 emails a day from my Gmail account and Thunderbird handles the flow perfectly.

I started using Thunderbird after I upgraded my laptop from Vista to Windows 7. After the upgrade I was required to add an email program, because for some strange reason, Microsoft no longer thought it was necessary to keep Outlook Express as a part of Windows 7. In fact they changed the name of their email program to Windows Live Mail which I personally didn’t like. So I downloaded a copy of Thunderbird and have been using it now for well over a year.

I personally found Thunderbird easy to install and configure. I also like the uncomplicated user interface that is very similar to what I had previously used in Outlook Express. I don’t need a lot to monitor my Gmail account and only need the basics.

But there is one reason that I like Thunderbird and that is because it is free.

Comments welcome.

OK, Dick. Your turn.

Open Web App Ecosystem

One of the biggest gripes among those who want to use more web apps is that there is no centralized, standard means of discovery, management and even just installation. Seems like everyone has a different way of handling web apps. And there can be little doubt that this poses a real problem for everyone looking to succeed within the web app space. Enter Mozilla’s proposal for dealing with the problem.

According to this article, Mozilla wants to create an open web app ecosystem of sorts. I like the idea, as it would provide a set of rules for others to follow which would provide for more cross-brand opportunities without the usual headaches of Microsoft-like lockdown that make the Web, suck. Obviously, this is a bit of a poke at Apple’s way of doing things where it’s all Apple, all the time. But with mutual cooperation, this open web app ecosystem could very well be a real hit.

After examining the criteria for where Mozilla wants to go with their open web app ecosystem concept, I think the biggest factor that will need to be addressed is making sure that we see a strong community develop early on. Without such a community, I don’t believe there will be enough participation for anyone to really benefit here. Oh, one other area that needs to be addressed. Getting developers involved. With so many being bent on doing things their way, we may see some friction here. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have to kiss a few frogs before finding devs who are on board.

Mozilla New CEO – Can He Keep Firefox Going?

There should be an image here!So Mozilla has named a new CEO for its future endeavors. This is interesting, as the browser wars are heating up like never before. It appears that this new CEO is being brought in with his insights to the mobile world being front and center at the core of his skill set.

Personally, Firefox has lost me on both Windows and Linux due to the fact that I can do everything faster and easier with Chrome. I honestly never thought it would happen, but there is simply no question of it at this point. While Mozilla is looking to embrace the future, it seems to be losing ground to Chrome and Opera, among others.

I’ve been using Mozilla browser products since Netscape, Mozilla Browser, and even Firebird. But recently Firefox has really dropped the ball on my machines with performance. Maybe this changing of the guard is just what Mozilla needs to get back to its roots?

[awsbullet:Nigel McFarlane]

Mozilla Firefox 4 Beta 1 – New and Improved Or Just Borrowed Ideas?

Why is it that when software companies try to improve an already established product, the first thing they want to do is change everything around? What I am talking about are the buttons, tool-bars, and menu features that we finally have become familiar with. This was my first impression of the new and improved Firefox browser from the folks at Mozilla. Is it just me or does Firefox now look like a combination of Opera and Chrome?

I realize that many of the improvements are hidden in the background to adhere to the latest technology changes on the Web. For this I say, ‘yippee!’ But it has taken me almost five years to adjust myself in using Firefox and these changes, IMHO, are not necessary. Improvements to the engine, yes. Changing the GUI, no.

Just my two cents.

Comments welcome.

Mozilla Intern Tackles Browser Startup Speed

There should be an image here!It’s an interesting query as to why Chrome feels faster that Firefox. And perhaps the real question then is less about the browser being faster than Firefox and more about Chrome being more efficient, overall?

So it seems there is less emphasis on true speed of loading a page as there is how the page is loaded. Whatever is taking place here, one thing is very clear: Chrome is doing it better.

Worse are the differences on other platforms such as Linux. On Windows, the difference in performance isn’t all that terrible. But for Linux users, Firefox is terrible. And this is considering sizable resources — a rather poor implementation on Mozilla’s end of things.

What is truly sad is that it took an intern to call attention to what appears to be obvious. Worse is the lack of clear understanding as to how Mozilla is to answer this problem. Will it answer the call and make Firefox run more efficiently or, instead, continue to opt for second best?

[Photo above by Randy Zhang / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:google chrome]

Who Else Wants A Faster, More Powerful Firefox Browser? How About Super-Duper?

The folks over at Mozilla are promising that the new Firefox 4 browser will be faster and offer better performance. But I had to laugh when I read what the new browser will offer:

The primary goals for Firefox 4 will be making a browser:

  • Fast: making Firefox super-duper fast
  • Powerful: enabling new open, standard Web technologies (HTML5 and beyond!),
  • Empowering: putting users in full control of their browser, data, and Web experience.

Super-duper? Wow, that sounds really fast! I don’t believe any other browser will be able to match a super-duper speed, since I believe that super-super is as fast as one can go! LOL

There was also this:

That said: please understand that these plans are fluid and are likely to change.

This tells me we are not going to be seeing Firefox 4 for a long, long time. Don’t get me wrong. I love my Firefox browser because, well… it is super-duper!

Comments welcome.

Source

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Has The Growth Of Mozilla Firefox Slowed To A Crawl? You Decide

A recent article over at Tom’s Hardware brings up an interesting point about Mozilla Firefox. The author seems to feel that Firefox growth has slowed down dramatically compared to the years 2007 and 2008. The article also concludes that Firefox is coming under fire by other browsers such as IE 9 and Chrome that continue to improve. But according to the report, Mozilla commands about 30% of the browser market. So though the growth may be slowing, I see no relationship in the report that Firefox is losing market share any time soon.

The report states the following:

Could Mozilla be squeezed out of the market?

Mozilla calculated the numbers by averaging different estimates from Net Applications, Quantcast, NetApplications and Gemius. There is only public access to detailed browser usage data at NetApplications, which can provide some insight in browser usage trends, while the actual market share estimate varies enough to make you question the accuracy of any of these reports.

NetApplications for example, believes that the market share of Firefox is in the neighborhood of 24%, while Gemius puts it closer to 46%, StatCounter at 32%, and Quantcast at 36%. Interestingly, Mozilla itself says that NetApplications claims a 35% market share for Firefox, which this is not what NetApplications publicly states (about 24%). Obviously, the actual market share is almost impossible to pin down as you can spin the number in any direction you want by using the statistics that suit your purpose best.

There is the problem. Whose numbers are we to believe? How accurate are any of the numbers? I believe until a method is developed that can be 100% accurate, it is just smoke and mirrors, plus wishful thinking, for some.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Source

Yet More Mozilla Woes – Infected Firefox Add-on

Just when Mozilla could not end up with any more bad news… or so we thought, that is. Seems that while the Mozilla devs have been hard at work making sure that Firefox 3.6 was to be all it could be, things were not all well on the add-on front.

According to this, one infected Mozilla add-on managed to slip through Mozilla’s safeguards. If this is freaking you out right now, I can only come to one of two conclusions. First, you are using Chrome and simply don’t care. Second option, you are insane and entirely too trusting.

Based on the number of installations seen in the article, Sothink Web Video Downloader 4.0 and all versions of Master Filer were infected with Trojan horses designed to hijack Windows PCs. Yes kids, all of the security suite stuff in the universe is not always enough. Sometimes you are simply going to find yourself up a creek without a paddle.

What do you think? Is this a sign of things to come or, perhaps, merely a friendly reminder than no single browser is immune to attack? Hit the comments; let’s hear your thoughts.

[awsbullet:Tom Robbins]

Google Chrome Browser – Time To Make The Switch?

I have been a Mozilla Firefox user for about 6 years or more and I have come to trust Firefox over I.E. But I have also been testing Google Chrome for about 9 months. The main reason I have not made a change was that Google Chrome lacked some of the extensions that I use in Firefox. During my testing of Chrome, I really liked the speed of Chrome. It is fast, extremely fast. Pages pop up on my screen in milliseconds and switching between tabs is also fast.

But the one thing that is making Google Chrome more and more attractive is that there are now over 2,200 extensions that increase the functionality of the browser. I have been going through the list of extensions and have added some of the ones I like to the browser.

Before I go on and tell you how wonderful Chrome is, let there be no mistake that Mozilla Firefox is still my favorite. For those of us who use Firefox it is like an old comfortable pair of shoes. The fit is right and you enjoy how the shoes make your feet feel. With that being said, if you use and enjoy Firefox stick with it.

However, if you are looking to try something new, give Google Chrome a try. Now that there are a boat load of extensions, it has improved on the browser experience from when Chrome was just a plain Jane browser with no available extensions.

I am personally hoping that the Colorful Tabs extension becomes available for Chrome since I enjoy using this add on in Firefox.

You can download a copy of Google Chrome from here.

Comments welcome.

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Mobile Firefox – Only For Nokia

Recently, I found myself battling mixed feelings on the news of Firefox mobile coming to the Nokia Maemo platform. While this is great for those of you who are using Nokia phones, it still leaves other mobile platforms out in the cold.

Worse is the fact that users of the iPhone are not likely to see the browser any time soon. Call it a hunch that Apple is not going to quickly make Firefox available when the iPhone giant is quite happy to continue forcing Safari down your throat.

Based on the product description seen from the latest announcement page, I have come to the conclusion that I’d love to see Firefox on the iPhone… one way or the other. With functionality like Weave sync, location awareness, and tabbed browsing, how could one not want to try this browsing option?

The real issue I see is that having this for platforms such as the iPhone is simply not all that far-fetched. Here we see an article demonstrating the proof of concept fairly early on. Maybe here in the future, we’ll see the mobile browser reach over to something besides Nokia phones?

[awsbullet:Firefox Hacks]

Everything But The Kitchen Sync

Mozilla announced recently that the much-anticipated Weave Sync is finally ready for the general market. Using it will allow you to sync your Mozilla experience across all of your supported devices, including your desktop, your laptop, and your mobile phone.

Any pages open within Firefox on your desktop will automagically open in the mobile version. At the end of your workday, you can walk away from your desk and continue right where you left off from your phone. All of the information is encrypted and sent through the Cloud between your desktop and your phone. This could potentially increase productivity, allowing you to finish up last-minute details and projects while riding home on the bus or train — but not while driving!

This is excellent news for many Firefox fans, and I was very happy to read this news. There have also been many excellent things posted in our community. I’ve gathered together some of the best, in the hopes you don’t miss out on anything!

Yours digitally,

Chris Pirillo
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What types of hobbies do you have that involve your computer?
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What electronic devices can an iPad replace?
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Should Punxsutawney Phil be replaced by a robotic groundhog?
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Could the iPad be an in-flight dream come true?
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Do you need open source tax preparation software?
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Where do you turn when looking for compatible hardware to buy?
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Smokers are at risk from their own second-hand smoke.
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