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April 03, 2008
How did I get by before Firefox Add-Ons?
Last night, whilst catching up on my RSS feeds, I discovered Paul Fenwick's video, "How to Fix the Web with Greasemonkey in 3 minutes." The video offers some clever tips on how one can use the Firefox add-on, Greasemonkey, to make Web sites (not just yours) behave the way you wish. I was particularly amused by the way he made MySpace content disappear. But it also reminded me of just how dependent I am on Firefox add-on's.
What are Firefox add-ons?
According to Firefox Support:
"Firefox add-ons are small pieces of software that add new features or functionality to your installation of Firefox. Add-ons can augment Firefox with new search engines, foreign-language dictionaries, or change the visual appearance of Firefox. Through add-ons, you can customize Firefox to meet your needs and tastes."
There are countless add-ons available that will let you do anything from tracking your trades on Ebay to validating the code on your Web site. Add-ons are categorized by type or function and offer tools for both casual Web browsing and development.
A sampling of my Firefox add-ons
I just counted, and apparently I have 35 add-ons installed on Firefox. Some I rarely use, some I actively use and others work passively in the background to add value to my browsing experience. I think I take the latter for granted, but they offer some interesting insights. While I'm not going to discuss all 35, here are a few (in addition to those mentioned in the video) that you may find interesting:
- Web Developer
- Delicious Bookmarks 1.5.44
- Adding bookmarks to del.icio.us is pretty easy to begin with, but sometimes I forget. With this installed I don't have to think about it. When I add a bookmark to Firefox a box pops up asking if I would like to add it to del.icio.us as well. It then lets me add the bookmark and relevant tags in the same box and continue on my merry way. Now I don't have to worry that I can't access the bookmark on computer A because I only saved it on computer B.
- StumbleUpon 3.18
- The StumbleUpon toolbar is inherent to the StumbleUpon experience. If it's 2:00 a.m. and I can't sleep I can hit the Stumble button to be shown sites in areas that interest me. If I come across a cool page, that I think others should know about, I can hit the thumbs up, either to promote it or to be the first to write a review. If I want to know if a blog entry or news release has been stumbled, I can click on the reviews button to see who (if anyone) said what. And if I find a nifty new recipe that I want to share with my friend Josh (an avid Stumbler) I don't need to bother with e-mail, I just click "send-to," select his username and it will be shown to him next time he goes Stumbling.
- SEO for Firefox
- This is an interesting tool for Web marketers. When you do a search with this turned on you'll find data ranging from Google page rank to the age of the site underneath each result description.
- Social Media for Firefox
- When you install Social Media for Firefox, icons appear in the bottom status bar of Firefox to indicate how many users have bookmarked or reviewed the page you are viewing on Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Delicious.
- KGen lets you scan a page to see which key words are strongest on a page—handy for search engine optimization.
This sampling should give you a good idea of the power of Firefox add-ons, needless to say there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) more to choose from. To learn more, visit the resources listed below.
Are you already an add-on fan? If so, leave a comment listing some of your favorites. I'd be interested to see how readers are using these handy tools and which great add-ons I may have missed.
More Firefox add-ons resources
- Customizing your Firefox with add-ons (Firefox Support)
- Firefox Add-ons: All You Need To Know
- Tech Notes: 16 Must-Have FireFox Add-ons
- Spread Firefox: Firefox Add-Ons/Extensions
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