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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Firefox extensions

(The extensions visible on the screenshot are: Googlepedia, Customize Google, Gmail Notifier, Google Calendar Notifier, StumbleUpon, VideoDownloader, Colorful Tabs, and maybe some more if you look close enough)

The best browser

Out of the box, the best web browser ever is Opera. Firefox in default settings is slow, eats too much memory, and lacks half of Opera's functionality. Everything else (Konqueror, Safari, and that weird Microsoft thing that people sometimes confuse with a web browser) isn't even close.

That could kinda end this blog entry, but Opera lacks one small feature that Firefox has - the extensions. Firefox with enough extensions can be better than even Opera. Well, at least if you have enough RAM. So as I've just installed a new system, I had to configure Firefox. Here's an overview of the extensions I installed, I hope you'll find some of them useful too :-D

The big things

Before proceeding any further I had to fix the memory leak feature. Sorry, but I only have 256MB RAM and I sometimes use other programs besides Firefox. The fix is to go to about:config and change browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers from -1 to 0.

As I didn't remember names of everything I wanted , I went to Firefox website and browsed extensions in order of their popularity. The most important one is of course SessionSaver. With this great extension Firefox can finally do what Opera could do since forever, that is - stop forgetting which websites were open in case of a crash or closing the browser. I hope they integrate it with Firefox 2.

UI tweaks

Then, a few things that are small on their own, but together they really improve the web browsing experience.
  • Download Statusbar. The place for the progress bars and of the downloads and their context menus is not in a separate windows per download (the yuckiest thing ever) or in a separate window/tab. It's in the status bar. You won't know how great it is until you try it. It's my pick for "what should go into Firefox 2", just after they get SessionSaver integrated.
  • Adblock and Adblock Filterset.G Updater. There are too many ads on the Internet. Let's just block some.
  • Colorful Tabs. They tab handles are colored, so it's easier for the the human visual system to localize the right one when switching tabs.
  • Fission. A progress bar integrated with the address bar. It makes downloading slow websites slightly less annoying. I've heard they took it from Safari.
  • Restart Firefox. Firefox needs to be restarted when one changes any extensions. This one adds a Restart Firefox option to the File menu.
  • VideoDownloader. Can download embeded video files, like on YouTube or Google Video. It's not used very often, but it would be nice to have it integrated.

Website integration

In addition to the general extensions, I use some website-specific extensions.

  • CustomizeGoogle. Does all kinds of cool things to Google. Enable Google Suggest, disable ads (or leave them only on Froogle), add search links to Wikipedia, Yahoo, LiveJournal etc., use anonymous cookies, filter out spam from the results. It really improves your googling experience.
  • TinyUrl creator. Can create TinyUrls from right-click menu. Very useful.
  • Googlepedia. Display side by side Google results and Wikipedia article on a subject. They're synchronized, so clicking on links in Wikipedia part will update Google part. I haven't played much with it, but it looks cool. Check the screenshot above. It seems to work fine with CustomizeGoogle.
  • Gmail Notifier. It tells you when you have new mail on Gmail. Extremely convenient.
  • Google Calendar Notifier. Similar to Gmail Notifier.
  • rikaichan - for people who read Japanese websites, but sometime miss a word or two. Translates words and kanji on the spot. This is really a must-install extension if you learn Japanese. Not of much use otherwise.
  • StumbleUpon. Want to find cool websites ? Let yourself be clustered. It's the best thing that happened to web browsing since Firefox.
  • and Complete. Integrates with social bookmarking service I've noticed that there were two such extensions on the list, and I don't know yet which one I want to use.

Other extensions

A few things that didn't fit in either category:
  • ChatZilla. A really nice IRC client. I don't think it beats irssi or xchat yet, but can be easily installed on virtually every machine.
  • View Source Chart. I haven't used it yet, I've just noticed it on the list. Makes a nice chart with website's DOM structure. Potentially useful for JavaScript debugging.
I hope you've found something for you on this list.

Or did I miss some cool extensions ? Go on and tell me about them :-D

PS. It's also a good idea to change dom.max_script_run_time from 5 to something like 30 in about:config, to avoid spurious script too slow warnings on Gmail and other Javascript-heavy websites.

1 comment:

Pomyk said...

Mouse gestures and firebug.
I still prefer Opera for browsing and firefox is only for devel work.