Microsummaries – a new feature in Firefox 2

Ever felt that the title of bookmarks should be more lively, just like the pages themselves? Microsummaries are just that.

I just hit upon this wonderful feature when I was reading my feeds.

The idea behind Microsummaries is to have some service in the browser periodically fetch the most important content in a page and then use this as the page title.

Some places where this is useful is stock quotes, front page news stories etc.

Here's a screenshot:



I tried to create a Summary bookmark, which fetches the most recent bookmarks from the del.icio.us RSS feed. Although I expected it to work, it didn't. 🙁 Firebug showed an exception everytime the back-end service was called. The browser is still in the Alpha release, so I am pretty confident the feature will be better when the browser is released.

There are a host of other new features in the next version of Firefox, but what I am specially interested in, is the Places system of bookmarking (scheduled to be released with version 3).

Bookmarking is indeed undergoing a revolution in the way they are used in the browser!

Firefox extensions – my picks II (a web developer’s heaven)

Are you into development of scripts using JS and DOM? Do you do AJAXian scripting (using XMLHttp etc)? Then you might have realized the pain of not being able to debug them when faced with problems. A set of 'alert's is not always elegant.

So here's what you do:
1. First things first : Use Firefox
2. Install these extensions.

* Venkman Javascript Debugger : https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=216&application=firefox
If you start using this, you will forget that you are using a browser. You will see how the browser is changing into something like an IDE. More about it here.

* Firebug : https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=1843&application=firefox
This extension shows you errors that occur during rendering of a page. Click on the line no and it will transfer you to the appropriate line in the appropriate file. Not just this, you can also use this to inspect different values of the HTML DOM, by just clicking inspect element and then clicking the item that you want to inspect and find request/responses of XMLHttp Requests.

* Hypertext DOM browser : https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=1584&application=firefox
Yet another cool extension that helps you view the DOM values. This is more 'navigable' than the one that Firebug provides. It also has an evaluator, which helps you to navigate to the appropriate node and then start inspecting the values.

HTML scripting has never been as much fun before!

Firefox extensions – my picks

Recently I have developed a craze for Firefox extensions. Although I knew about the extensibility of Firefox, I was not aware of the different extensions that helped me use the browser JUST the way I wanted to.

I use Firefox 1.5 and although some extensions don't have extensions compatible with this version, some hacks can be done to make 1.0 extension work in 1.5.

Here is the list of extensions that I recommend (alphabetical order):

* Fasterfox 1.0.1: http://fasterfox.mozdev.org/
This extension speeds up the loading of pages.

* FoxyTunes 1.1.5.4: http://www.foxytunes.org/firefox/
Use this extension to control virtually any player from within Firefox.

* Gmail Delete Button 3.3: http://www.arantius.com/article/arantius/gmail+delete+button/
This extension adds a (much expected) Delete button in the Gmail interface.

* IE Tab 1.0.7: http://ietab.mozdev.org/
Open pages that REQUIRE IE from within Firefox at the click of a button.

* Image Zoom 0.2.2: http://imagezoom.yellowgorilla.net/
Helps you zoom in/out images (this feature is otherwise not available in Firefox).

* Live HTTP Headers 0.11: http://livehttpheaders.mozdev.org/
Very useful for HTTP users to find out the exact HTTP headers of all incoming/outgoing requests.

* MR Tech Local Install 4.0: http://www.mrtech.com/extensions/
This has a lot of features, one of them worth mentioning is the Firefox restart option, that can be used to restart Firefox when you install themes/plugins.

* RSS Panel 1.18: http://www.xs4all.nl/~jlpoutre/BoT/Javascript/RSSpanel/
If there is an RSS embedded in a page, this extension displays a panel containing the titles of the RSS feeds and also allows you to open the RSS link.

* ScrapBook 0.18.4: http://amb.vis.ne.jp/mozilla/scrapbook/
Another beauty. This extension makes your Firefox like a grabber.

Other than its use as a grabber, there is another interesting way of using it:
Consider that you want to grab all IEEE papers related to topic XYZ. Usually these papers (the freely available ones) are published in the PDF format. So Google for:

filetype:pdf IEEE XYZ

and then use Scrapbook to grab all PDF's. Voila, all PDF's are now downloaded in a jiffy.

* Scrollbar Anywhere 0.8: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/marc.boullet/ext/extensions-en.html
If you are using a 2 button mouse, then use this extension to scroll the window, by right-clicking in the browsing window and then dragging the mouse.

* SessionSaver .2 0.2.1.030.4: http://adblock.ethereal.net/alchemy.cgi/SessionSaver
My favorite. 🙂 This extension, combined with the MR Tech Restart magically transforms your browsing experience. You can use this extension to restore your session the way you left it. You can also re-open an accidentally closed tab.

* Tab Mix Plus 0.2.5.2: http://tmp.garyr.net
Adds several options to the tabs. PS: Instead of installing different extensions for single tab related features, use this ONE extension for all your TAB needs.

* Viamatic foXpose 0.2: http://viamatic.com/firefox
This extension helps you to see all the open tabs in neat little tiles. You then click on a tile and move to that tab.

* Web Developer 1.0: http://chrispederick.com/work/webdeveloper/
A breeze for web developers. This allows you to work with your Firefox browser to perform various checks – like image properties, form properties and you also get to use it like a dynamic CSS editor (my favorite option).

Some others that are good – this list has those extensions that are really good, but I use them less frequently:

* Answers 1.24: http://www.answers.com
* DownThemAll! 0.9.8.4: http://downthemall.mozdev.org
* FlashGot 0.5.9.99: http://flashgot.net
* Gmail Manager 0.4.1: http://www.longfocus.com/firefox/gmanager
* Super DragAndGo 0.2.4: http://morphis.eu.org/
* Tab Mix Plus 0.2.5.2: http://tmp.garyr.net

And yeah, before I conclude, let me tell you this:

There is an application called MozBackup (http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/) that helps you in saving your configuration so that you can restore it in case of crashes, or transfer it to a different system.

Yahoo open shortcuts

This is a superb gift from Yahoo for the new year. This allows you to use the Yahoo search box like a command line via Yahoo Open Shortcuts. Although this is quite similar to the Yubnub tool, I found this very interesting.

In fact, with a small tweak, you can use this from the Firefox address bar.

Here's how you do it:

1. Create a bookmark (Bookmarks->Manage Bookmarks… and then New Bookmark…) with the following entries:

Name: Yahoo
Location: http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=%s&ei=UTF-8&fr=sfp&fl=0&x=wrt
Keyword: yahoo

2. Now enter the following in your search bar:

yahoo !set ljupdate http://www.livejournal.com/update.bml

and press enter.

3. You should get the following message:

Open Shortcuts allows you to use custom keywords to directly search or jumpstart a task on any site from the convenience of a Yahoo! Search box. Please confirm that you would like to add the following Open Shortcut:

* !ljupdate http://www.livejournal.com/update.bml

Press “OK”.

4. Next time you want to update your lj, you just enter:

yahoo !ljupdate

and voila!

This is a simple example I have given. You can try out many things similar to this.

For example, I have created shortcuts to open my bookmark archive, search it. In fact, Yahoo has provided shortcuts to open a particular wikipedia article, compose a mail using Yahoo mail etc.

Some problems though:

* It does not work in AJAXian interfaces or even with POST URL's.
* You cannot have atmost one parameter defined.

Anyways, save time in the new year. 🙂