Last updated on November 21st, 2015
Firefox Add-ons: What is an Add-on?
First things first. It’s now well known among the more savvy internet users, that the Firefox web browser is a fine piece of kit; secure, innovative and with a burgeoning user base that has seen Microsoft rise from it’s slumbers and put some serious damage control development into it’s venerable Internet Explorer.
But part of the reason for the rise of Firefox, is it’s ease of installing small lumps of code by the user – called Add-ons. These can do many things – weather, stocks, pictures, FTP clients….. there are thousands now. Visit the add-ons page and they are grouped into various categories.
Add-ons are made by a host of mainly unpaid software designers. The code is generally open source so that anyone can modify it for their own needs. The reality for me is that I use something if it works, and ditch it if it doesn’t! I haven’t the spare time for code work…
So What to Choose?
Now there’s the rub! The best thing is to install some that fall into your area of interest, have a play, remove them and try some more! You’ll soon find out which have the features you want, are fast, and don’t crash your browser!
To install, just click on the add-on link, wait a couple of seconds for the countdown timer and then install. Usually that’s all there is to it.
For myself, I’m not that interested in the many ‘consumer’ type add-ons (like music listings and Facebook notifiers etc) , but I’m interested in things that improve my coding and browsing life, or help me produce articles like this one!
British English Dictionary – link
Used when blogging or commenting to correct spelling! That’s a screen-dump above of it working.
Words can also be added – and it’s all on the right-click!
Screengrab – link
The best ‘printscreen’ utility I’ve come across. Use it to get screen captures of dodgy websites before they are closed down!
I have it set for an icon in the lower right corner of a window, then the two menus shoot out sideways.
As with the dictionary, the menus are on the right-click as well.
SearchStatus – link
I have the info strung out at the bottom right of my window again. The maker’s description says most of it,(copied verbatim below), but it doesn’t say how useful and fast some of these features are!
Display the Google PageRank, Alexa rank, Compete ranking and SEOmoz Linkscape mozRank anywhere in your browser, along with fast keyword density analyser, keyword/nofollow highlighting, backward/related links, Alexa info and more
In essence, for me, it’s a neat, quick and configurable WHOIS lookup for any domain you’re visiting plus a wodge of bells and whistles.
TinEye Reverse Image Search – link
Another right-click menu system! The add-on looks for images that have been found in it’s web trawling that match the image you right-click selected.
This works even when the image has been edited, cut, cropped, renamed or resized!
This is the menu applied to a picture from the Crawling Chaos ‘The Gas Chair’ page. After a few seconds, the TinEye website fires up in a new tab with a list of pages that include the picture. It’s catalogue isn’t complete but it’s getting bigger all the time…
Web Developer – link
The enormity of the menu systems and the features it includes mean that there’s no way I could do justice to it in this small piece. As a small example, let’s see it show all the web colours on the same Crawling Chaos page above….
Again, all features are available as a right-click,but also as a tool-bar menu if desired.
If I now check the ‘View Color Information’ entry, after a second or so, another tab fires up in Firefox and displays all the web-page colours defined in code using the colour code RGB hash style.
You can get all sorts of information about a web page and it’s images.
One neat thing I use all the time is the “Resize” feature which means I can set the browser to various pixel dimensions to see how web pages look at these different sizes!
But really, check out the menus for yourself. there’s just TOO much to list!
#6 Add-on: Firebug – link
Not quite top 5 for me, but Firebug offers a wealth of coding opportunities and allows you to see the code that generates the various on-screen elements, and also allows real-time editing to see what changes would do to a page – but without opening the page up in an editor locally, or otherwise. It’s all on-the-fly. I don’t always have it installed as sometimes their codebase doesn’t work properly when Firefox upgrades….
IE8 has similar inbuilt feature now – perhaps Microsoft are trying hard with the developer community and can see that this is a good way to regain the initiative?