Tuesday, July 25, 2006

13 Great Firefox Extensions for Web Professionals

Like most web developers or SEO professionals, I use a vast array of tools to get the job done. I use a combination of desktop and web applications, some purchased and some free. Everyone I know has downloaded a free copy of Mozilla Firefox, but few realize that by installing some of the 1,500 free extensions they can eliminate the need for most of the other applications they currently use. Below are my 13 favorite extensions for web professionals (in no particular order):

HTML Validator (http://users.skynet.be/mgueury/mozilla/) – validates web pages to the W3C HTML standards with a simple green check in the corner of the page if the page validates, a red check if it doesn’t, and a yellow exclamation point if there are warnings. It also includes an enhanced view of source code that allows you to see where errors are within the code.

FireFTP (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/684/) – free, secure, cross-platform FTP client that provides easy and intuitive access to FTP servers. This eliminates a piece of software for those of you who use a separate program for FTP.

Professor X (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2823/) – lets you view header information without having to view source code. The page “slides” down and Professor X shows you the contents of the page's head element, including Meta, Script and Style content.

NikkelWHOIS (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2646/) –view the WHOIS information for any page by clicking the button on the top-right of the browser.

IE Tab (http://ietab.mozdev.org) – sick of swapping between Internet Explorer and Firefox when testing out a web page you’re developing? With IE Tab you can view Internet Explorer in a Firefox Tab!

FireBug (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1843/) – an advanced debugger console that lets you monitor your JavaScript, CSS, HTML and Ajax.

Codetech (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1002/) – web page editor that has the feel of Dreamweaver. An amazing extension for anyone doing web design that doesn’t want to fork out a few hundred dollars for Dreamweaver.

Server Switcher (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2409/) – easily switch between sites on your development and live servers by clicking the switch server icon.

SEO for Firefox (http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/seo-for-firefox.html) – pulls useful market research data right into Google's and Yahoo!'s search results, including Google PR, Age, links, Alexa rank, WHOIS, and more. It also adds a few helpful links to the top of the search pages, including Google Trends, Google Traffic Estimator, and the Overture View Bid tool.

Yet Another Window Resizer (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2498/) – allows you to resize browser window to default screen resolutions.

AdSense Preview (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2132/) – preview the Google AdSense ads that would appear on that page. This is incredibly useful if you are considering putting AdSense on a page and don’t want to go through the hassle of signing up for an account and putting the ads up just to see what type of ads will show.

Screen grab (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1146/) – takes a screenshot of the webpage and saves it as an image file. This saves a ton of time compared to the method I used to use – take a screenshot and open Adobe Photoshop to crop the image.

Server Spy (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2036/) – indicates what brand of HTTP server (Apache, IIS, etc.) runs on the visited site on the lower-right side of the browser.

Adam McFarland owns iPrioritize - simple to-do lists that can be edited at any time from any place in the world. Email, print, check from your mobile phone, subscribe via RSS, and share with others.

Making The Move From Microsoft Internet Explorer To Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox was the solution to so many problems I encountered with Microsoft Internet Explorer. I had an effective browser that dealt with annoying pop-ups and spyware. The best of all was that it performed much better than its counterpart. On a security side you had a better solution than Internet Explorer. Firefox is the result of an open source project and as all of you know, the open source community provides solutions to the vulnerabilities of its software much faster than Microsoft does for Internet Explorer.

Firefox has dealt with various security issues long before Microsoft even discovered similar issues in their browser. There has also been a joke circulating among Firefox fans that there is only one thing that is more secure in Internet Explorer than in Firefox and that is a feature that has not been implemented yet in Internet Explorer. I’m not sure what the specific issue was that this joke referred to, but it is ironic that Firefox is still more secure while providing much more functionality than Internet Explorer and therefore has more possible areas for security holes.

After discovering that so many visitors to my site was Internet Explorer users, I immediately browsed my site with Internet Explorer to see if there were any critical issues I had to deal with. To my surprise I only found that certain images were not completely aligned in the same positions, as they appeared in Firefox, but not so much that they looked out of place, to be honest if you never saw the site with Firefox you would not have even known that the images were out of place. The reason for this misplacement was Internet Explorer’s lack of solid support for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

Another problem was my toolbar. All the buttons was glued together, while they are spaced apart from each other when you view the site with Mozilla Firefox. This was easily fixed, ironically with a specific CSS statement that Internet Explorer does not have support for. The last problem was the appearance of a button when you hover with your mouse over it. The last button of every toolbar was broken so that the hovering effect did not display correctly in Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer is so bug ridden that you simply can’t have a work-around for every issue. The point I’m trying to make is that the site looked not to bad after all, if you kept in mind that it was only designed and tested with Mozilla Firefox.

Another interesting thing I discovered from my visitor statistics was that 95% used a screen resolution of 1024x768. I’m still designing on a 14” screen with an 800x600 resolution but always make sure that my site displays correctly on a 1024x768 resolution. I have made the mistake in the past by designing sites for an 800x600 resolution only, because I simply did not think about a higher resolution at that time. This was a very stupid mistake to make, I was chasing visitors away, unknowingly, because I was too reluctant to get myself a bigger screen that could handle a higher screen resolution.

This is maybe the most ironic part of my discoveries. People don’t mind to spend money upgrading their screen in order to comply with the newest trend of screen resolutions, something that does nothing to enhance the security of your online activities, but when they get the opportunity to obtain a free browser, that provides better security than their current browser, they simply refuse to make the move. I have seen Internet Explorer fix common HTML errors, like using two double quotes next to each other while there should have been only one. Firefox did not display the image referenced after these two double quotes and pointed this error out when you viewed the page source.

Internet Explorer ignored the second double quote and displayed the image as if there was no error at all. It did the cover-up work for the coding error, while Mozilla Firefox exposed it. Internet Explorer is therefore not the type of browser a web designer would use to validate his or her HTML code. You would rather prefer an alternative like Firefox, which tells you when you are making coding errors. But this even holds a threat for the normal user. Would you continue to trust a browser that attempt to correct a designer’s mistakes, or would you rather trust a browser that does not allow the faulty code to execute at all? Hackers are always on the lookout for common mistakes to exploit. You have a bigger chance to exploit faulty code than code that never got executed in the first place. After all how confident are you that Internet Explorer will make the right choice when correcting HTML errors?

Mozilla Firefox has a much better track record, not only with security issues, but also various other features, many features that the current version of Internet Explorer does not provide for. Why should web developers waste hours of their precious time to make up for the shortcomings of a browser while they could have spent their lost time making their websites more solid, better and more entertaining to explore with a browser that really works? So next time when you get the opportunity to switch over to Mozilla Firefox, be clever, don’t hesitate, you will be making the right move if you decide to make the switch.

Coenraad de Beer

Webmaster of Cyber Top Cops - The Cyber Security Specialists

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Firefox use growing around the world, study says

After a brief period of little growth this spring, The Mozilla Foundation's open-source Firefox web browser is again gaining ground on Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE).

In its latest study on web browser usage, Netherlands-based OneStat.com says that Firefox gained 1.14% in June and is now used by 12.93% of surfers. That's up from 11.79% who used Firefox in May, while IE use declined by 2.12% to 83.05%.

"We thought that Firefox growth had slowed down," says Niels Brinkman, a co-founder of OneStat.com. "It seems it's increasing again. That's a little bit of a surprise to us."

The study results were released just before Mozilla.org released the first public beta of the next version of Firefox. Beta 1 of Firefox 2.0 was made public last week.

Last November, OneStat.com's survey pegged Firefox browser usage globally at 11.51%, up 2.82% from April 2005. IE at the time had a global usage share of 85.45%, down 1.18% from April 2005.

OneStat.com uses real-time web analytics to look at which broswers are being used to view websites and to determine their popularity across the internet, Brinkman says.

The other popular browsers globally, according to OneStat.com, are Apple Computer's Safari, with 1.84% usage; Opera, with 1% usage; and Netscape, with 0.16% usage.

In the US, the most popular browsers are IE, which is used by 79.78% of surfers; Firefox, which is used by 15.82%; Safari, which is used by 3.28%; Opera, which is used by 0.81%; and Netscape, which is used by 0.2% of web surfers.

Usage rates for IE and Firefox in Canada and the UK are similar to the U.S. statistics. But in Australia, Firefox is much more popular and is used by 24.23% of web surfers. Microsoft's IE is used by 69.35% of Australian surfers, according to the study. In Germany, Firefox is even more popular: 39.02% of surfers there use it, compared with 55.99% who use IE.

Dana Gardner, an analyst at Interarbor Solutions in Gilford, N.H., says the growing use of Firefox arises from several factors, including better performance and fewer security problems than IE.

"I think it's been an astonishing ramp-up


Friday, July 14, 2006

Firefox 2.0 Beta available

The latest beta of the favorite alternative browser has been made available for download. This first beta release of Firefox 2.0 gives users a preview of some of the new features we can expect to be using when the final version of the browser is released.

In this early beta, new features include an anti-phishing tool, which allows the browser to warn you if a website is trying to steal your details. There is improved Web feed previews and subscriptions, built-in spell checking, better search engine controls for adding and organization, Javascript 1.7 support, a new Windows installer, a session restore feature if a crash occurs, and the ability to reopen accidentally closed tabs.

One more interesting feature is the Microsummaries, which allow for regularly updated chunks of useful information on specific websites. The information can fit within a bookmark label and aims to be more useful than a static page marker


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