Archive | Add-ons Reviews

Better Tab Switching with FoxTab

foxtab3 Want a new way to quickly and elegantly switch between tabs in Firefox?  FoxTab is a new experimental add-on for Firefox, and it makes switching between tabs a very unique experience. 

You can view your tabs in a number of different ways:

  • Wall – like a TV store. select the desired tab (“TV screen”) from a wall.
  • Grid – the tabs are aligned on a grid.
  • Row – the tabs arranged in a row.
  • Cycle – rotate between tabs.

Activating it is easy.  Either hit the toolbar button for it, or hold the Ctrl key down and then hit the Tab key.  If you want to keep it front and center, just hit Ctrl + Q.  From the options, you can also set the size of the tab switcher (just in case you don’t like it being full screen). 

foxtab foxtab2

All in all it provides a new visual method for quick tab switching that is both useful and beautiful at the same time.  Currently FoxTab is only for Windows users, and is an experimental add-on.  If you wish to download it, and try it out – you can do so at the Firefox Add-ons site.

Grab Color Palettes in Firefox

icon_big Sitting in the left corner of your status bar, until you are ready for it to jump into action Palette Grabber for Firefox, will grab the color scheme for any site on the web you are viewing.

Here is a little more about the extension from the developer:

Palette Grabber is a Firefox extension for web designers. It adds an “Export color palette” command to your Tools menu; selecting this command will extract a color palette for the current page and export it to a Photoshop/Illustrator color palette file. It’s useful for creating mockups of new designs which share a color palette with an existing design.

The Palette Grabber extension supports Photoshop, Flash, PaintShop Pro, GIMP, Adobe Fireworks, and Mac OS X Color Picker palette formats.  You can pick it up from the official web site at http://www.gusprevas.info/palettegrabber/.

Open Documents Online via Firefox

open-it-online Open IT Online, an add-on for Firefox, delivers you what you want.  Well, it delivers you what you want, if you are one of those people who love all these new Online services such as Zoho’s office applications or Google Docs.  Open IT Online allows you to open your documents and images online without the need of any software to be installed.

Here are some of the extension types it can recognize and handle:

  • Documents (*.doc, *.rtf, *.odt, *.sxw)
  • Spreadsheets (*.xls, *.csv, *.ods, *.sxc)
  • Presentations (*.ppt, *.pps, *.odp, *.sxi)
  • Images (*.jpg, *.gif, *.png)

How do you use it?  Well whenever you face a document with the “Open With” option, it will also give you the option to open it Online.  From there you can choose one of the various Web 2.0 tools to view and edit the document in question.

One last really nice feature is that Open IT Online gives you the ability to also see the file size of the document you are about to view.  This is handy in determining if you want to open the file, or not.

You can pick up the Open IT Online extension from the Firefox Add-ons site or learn more about it at OpenItOnline.com.

Does Devo for Firefox Whip it? Whip it Good?

Now we took a look at Ubiquity, which looks to be the next mashup tool plus launcher for the Firefox browser.  There is another one, and it’s name is Devo.  Here is a little more about Devo from the developers of the Firefox extensions:

Inspired by Enso and Quicksilver, Devo is a command launcher for Firefox. This extension allows you to perform complex actions & searches on webpages, Firefox and other Firefox extensions in just a few keystrokes.

Now we all know when a problem comes along, you must whip it.

devo-for-firefox

It is easy to see why Devo was un the running for the Extend Firefox 3 contest.

Devo does a darn good job at whipping up a nice launching extension for Firefox.  You can pick it up on Firefox’s Addon web site.  It is still an experimental add-on, so you will need to register at mozilla.org or steal a login from bugmenot to pick this addition to Firefox 3 up.

Badges for Favicons

Think of that wasted space in your tab bar.  You know, where the favicon for the web site your visiting rests.  Isn’t there enough room there to fit in a little more information about the web site you are visiting?

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The new Firefox add-on Badges on Favicon takes advantage of that idea very well.  It allows you to put a rounded badge over the tab favicon of some pages.  Where does this come in handy?  Well what if you could see in your tab the number of unread Gmail messages you had?  Or how about if it told you how many new posts were in Google Reader?

Nuggets of Information for Your Tabs

The extension uses little scripts, called badgets. The badgets define both the appearance of the badge (color, position, size of the text, etc.) and how to get the data from the current page. The extension comes with three sample badgets that work with Gmail, iGoogle Reader Gadget and Zenbe. But you can install your own badgets and even create your own for your preferred site.

This add-on was also a runner up in the Extend Firefox 3 contest.  It is still listed as “experimental” so you might need to visit BugMeNot for a user name and password (or sign up on Mozilla.org) to use before trying to download.

HandyTags – Useful Tag Suggestions for Bookmarks

HandyTag As another Extend Firefox 3 contest winner, HandyTag deserves a look.  This add-on for Firefox provides a complete set of the most relevant keywords when you bookmark a page.  Where do these keywords come from?  Many different sources from around the Web.

This comes in handy when you bookmark a page, and your not sure exactly with what words it should be tagged with (or you don’t want to take the time to think it out).  There is no need for straining your brain to think of descriptive tags any longer with this extension.

You can pick HandyTag up on the Firefox Add-ons web site and learn more about HandyTag on the official web site.  It is still sandboxed on Firefox’s web site, so if you need a login to try it out, be sure to checkout these bugmenot username and password combinations.

Drawing Diagrams with Pencil

After winning the Extend Firefox 3 contest, I thought it might be worth checking out Pencil to see what all the buzz was about.  This add-on for Firefox is an open source tool for creating diagrams and GUI prototyping that everybody can use.  As they put it, “With the power of the underlying Mozilla Gecko engine, Pencil turns your excellent Firefox 3 browser into a sketching tool with just a 400-kilobyte installation package”.

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Some of the features included are:

  • Built-in stencils for diagraming and prototyping
  • Multi-page document with background page
  • On-screen text editing with rich-text supports
  • PNG rasterizing
  • Undo/redo supports

If your a little lost, or just getting started, they also have a great series of tutorials to help you learn a little more:

Working with Shapes – Brief introductions to Pencil functionalities in dealing with shapes to create diagrams.

Working with Documents – Instructions on how to work with documents, pages and export them into rasterized images.

Working with External Objects – Details on the Pencil supports for external images, rich text contents.

If anything Pencil shows you the power of what Firefox can do, with a little creativity.  You can learn more about the project at the official web site and pickup the extension on the Firefox Add-ons web site.

Ubiquity – Mashing the Web Naturally

ubiquity Now when you hear mashing or mashups of services, you think of wacky combinations like Yahoogle or Microdigg. A web site or service that awkwardly brings two or more services together.  Ubiquity, a new Firefox add-on from Mozilla wants to turn mashing on it’s head.  How?  They are going to take a more natural approach to it.

Ubiquity takes language based instructions and turns them into action, right where you  need them to be.  This video goes a great job at explaining the add-on and showing it in action:


Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Here are a few more tutorials to get you started:

The initial prototype is a little rough, and not ready for prime time yet.  It does show a lot of promise though, and with a little creativity this type of tool could go a long way.  Ubiquity looks to be another amazing tool to add to the many that have come out of Mozilla Labs.

TraceMonkey

Thanks to a new JavaScript engine (named TraceMonkey) it looks as if Firefox 3.1 is going to be getting a major boost in performance.

Here are the benchmarks thus far:

assorted-benchmarks

Be sure to check out Brendan’s Roadmap Updates for more.  Also here are a few handy links from John Resig on the testing:

So the big question is, will Firefox be able to make Firefox 3.1 even faster in the area of JavaScript?  If you have the nightly build of Firefox 3.1 installed, you can turn TraceMonkey on by going to about:config and then toggle the javascript.options.jit.content setting from false to true.  For the rest of us out there though, this is just one more surprise to look forward to once Firefox 3.1 gets rolled out to the public.

For more info, be sure to check out Firefox 3.1 to Get More JavaScript Speed Optimizations – as the CyberNet team had done a good in-depth look into this and has done the best job at making it make sense to everybody.

Text Area Resizer and Mover

1 Isn’t there already a text area resizer add-on for Firefox?  Yes, there is. Text Area Resizer & Mover however adds some more functionality and class to an already great Firefox add-on idea.

To use the add-on, just resize by right-clicking anywhere inside of the text area.  With this, dragging becomes an really easy task and the often sensible site layout remains untouched.  Here is more help on how to use this extension from the author.

Additionally you can move whole text areas to another place. Double click inside of an area and all areas will get unlocked and movable. The repositioned area will stay fixed on the place of your choice even if you are scrolling the page. Double click once more to lock the areas again. The extension’s options allow some manual adjustments (e.g. use context menu item instead of double click or additional key modifiers for mouse gesture users).

You can pickup Text Area Resizer & Mover at the Firefox Add-ons site or the extension’s official home page.