Planet Anarky – George's blog

George Rosier's portfolio & blog site

New Firefox 3.6 themes: completely pointless?

March 18, 2010GeorgeAll posts4

I am a long-time user of Firefox, and generally think it to be a good browser. I’ve toyed with Google Chrome, but generally find myself coming back to Firefox.

As such, I recently updated my version of Firefox to 3.6. Having successfully upgraded, I am taken to this page:

Firefox has updated: woohoo!

Click to enlarge

(http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/3.6/whatsnew/)

How pretty! It proudly tells me:

Thanks for supporting Mozilla’s mission of encouraging openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web!

It’s here that I start to have issues (other than the ones you are abundantly aware of).

Issue 1:

How exactly have I “supported Mozilla’s mission of encouraging openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web!”? Because I’ve updated my browser? Feels like Mozilla are disappearing up their own sockets.

Issue 1a:

In addition to the above, if you click the link for ‘Mozilla’s mission’, you’re taken to a page that explains who they are and what they do. Point #2 on that page says:

We’re a public benefit organization

dedicated not to making money but to improving the way people everywhere experience the Internet.

Um: so what about all that kick-back revenue Mozilla get from Google by having them as the default search engine for Firefox? :P

Issue 3:

From a web usability angle, this is the bigger one. On this ‘update’ page, the user is informed they can choose from over 35,000 themes for Firefox. At first, you think “That’s awesome!”

And then you mouseover some of these themes to try them out – only to realise that, for anyone other than a basic user with no bookmarks on their toolbar, or any toolbar extensions – the majority are unusable. Check out the screenshot below of how one of these themes looks on my version of Firefox with various extensions:

Firefox toolbar fail

Click to enlarge

How is that any use to anyone?!

Rant over.

Firefox 3.5 becomes most popular browser…but for how long?

December 21, 2009GeorgeAll posts0

So it seems that Firefox has become the most popular browser, overtaking IE 7 for the first time in terms of market share – see the lovely graphic below (click to enlarge):

The chart image. Click to view an enlarged version.

This is great news, of course…but how long ’till IE 8 overtakes?

Firefox web development & usability tools

November 25, 2009GeorgeAll posts2

Firefox has become largely synonymous with web-savvy users and web developers as the browser to use: its combination of speed and expandability via the raft of addons make it perfect for getting the most out of your web experience.

I thought I’d share with you the various Firefox addons I’m using, and why I think they’re worth a look. It’s by no means definitive, so feel free to comment with other useful plugins you use.

Adblock Plus (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1865)
A fairly standard one to start off with: this addon stops unwanted ads ruining your web experience. Install it, point it towards one of the Adblocker lists (rather like a directory of sites/URLs that serve up ads, so it knows which ones to block), and away you go: no more ads. Reading sites such as The Register instantly becomes much more palatable.

Bit.ly (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10297)
You’re all likely to be familiar with Bit.ly, the URL shortener – this is the official Firefox addon. It allows you to enter your Bit.ly API code, allowing you to shorten URLs on the fly, and mouse-over bit.ly links to see where they’re going to take you (and how many clicks they’ve had). Great if you’re a prolific Twitter user!

Colorzilla (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/271)
A seriously useful (in my opinion) colour-dropper. Need to know what colour an element or image is on a webpage? Click the Colorzilla icon, then click on the colour you want to copy. It’ll then give you loads of options, including the ability to copy the hex or RGB value to the clipboard, a DOM inspector, palette options and more.

Download status bar (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/26)
A simple little plugin that allows you more control over the standard Firefox download manager. Using this addon, I run mine in the status bar as a tiny little download indicator. Much more manageable.

FEBE (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2109)
An awesome backup addon that allows you to backup all of your Firefox settings (including all your other addons, history, cookies, form data, passwords…everything!) into one file. It’s completely customisable, so you can backup as much or as little as you like – and it’s particularly useful if you switch machines a lot, or want to make your favourites and history available to yourself over the web (or if, like me, you worry about losing all your web access that you’ve carefully built up over the months/years and just want to back it up somewhere safe).

FireFTP (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/684)
A tiny FTP client, built into Firefox. Simple, free, and really rather good. Can’t say any more than that.

The Google Toolbar (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6249)
If you don’t know what this is, you should probably stop reading. I strip everything out from mine so the only thing left is the Pagerank bar and the search box.

Live HTTP Headers (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3829)
Great little addon for seeing the flow of HTTP information from one link to another. Useful for seeing where redirects are going, what information is being called/sent, and other little bits and pieces.

Screengrab (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1146)
Probably my most-used addon, since I do a lot of mockups and screenshots. Allows you to copy to the clipboard (or save to a file) either an entire web page, just a selection, or just the visible portion of a page.

Sidebar Companion for Sidewiki (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/46311)
Google’s Sidewiki is here to stay, and this is a little (non-official) browser addons to support it. Click it to instantly access the Sidewiki for any given site.

WCAG contrast checker (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/7391)
Great for accessibility, this addon allows you to check colours (usually background & font colours) against each other to ensure contrast/brightness is accessible according to the WCAG guidelines.

Web Developer Toolbar (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/60)
Open a myriad of options to you as a web developer – almost too many to list. Among the most-used for me are the CSS code element inspector, the ‘Disable’ commands (for seeing how sites will react without JavaScript, for example), and the ‘Resize’ option that allows you to (predictably) resize the viewport for checking various browser resolutions.

Got any other recommendations? (Note: I’ve left Firebug out because I use the Web Developer toolbar.)

Adblock Plus
A fairly standard one to start off with: this addon stops

unwanted ads ruining your web experience with unwanted ads.

Install it, point it towards one of the adblocker lists

(rather like a directory of sites/URLs that serve up ads, so

it knows which ones to block), and away you go: no more ads.

Reading sites such as The Register instantly becomes much

more palettable.

Bit.ly
You’re all likely to be familiar with Bit.ly, the URL

shortener – this is the official Firefox addon. It allows you

to enter your Bit.ly API code, allowing you to shorten URLs

on the fly, and mouseover bit.ly links to see where they’re

going to take you (and how many clicks they’ve had). Great if

you’re a prolific Twitter user!

Colorzilla
A seriously useful (in my opinion) colour-dropper. Need to

know what colour an element or image is on a webpage? Click

the Colorzilla icon, then click on the colour you want to

copy. It’ll then give you loads of options, including the

ability to copy the hex or RGB value to the clipboard, a DOM

inspector, palette options and more.

Download status bar
A simple little plugin that allows you more control over the

standard Firefox download manager. Using this addon, I run

mine in the status bar as a tiny little download indicator.

Much more manageable.

FEBE
An awesome backup addon that allows you to backup all of your

Firefox settings (including all your other addons, history,

cookies, form data, passwords…everything!) into one file.

It’s completely customisable, so you can backup as much or as

little as you like – and it’s particularly useful if you

switch machines a lot, or want to make your favourites and

history available to yourself over the web (or if, like me,

you worry about losing all your web access that you’ve

carefully built up over the months/years and just want to

back it up somewhere safe).

FireFTP
A tiny FTP client, built into Firefox. Simple, free, and

really rather good. Can’t say any more than that.

The Google Toolbar
If you don’t know what this is, you should probably stop

reading. I strip everything out from mine so the only thing

left is the Pagerank bar and the search box.

Live HTTP Headers
Great little addon for seeing the flow of HTTP information

from one link to another. Useful for seeing where redirects

are going, what information is being called/sent, and other

little bits and pieces.

Screengrab
Probably my most-used addon, since I do a lot of mockups and screenshots. Allows you to copy to the clipboard (or save to a file) either an entire web page, just a selection, or just the visible portion of a page.

Sidebar Companion for Sidewiki
Google’s Sidewiki is here to stay, and this is a little (non-official) browser addons to support it. Click it to instantly access the Sidewiki for any given site.

WCAG contrast checker
Great for accessibility, this addon allows you to check colours (usually background & font colours) against each other to ensure contrast/brightness is accessible according to the WCAG guidelines.

Web Developer Toolbar
Open a myriad of options to you as a web developer: