Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesdays on the Web: Firefox Add-ons

Have you entered the $50 CSN giftcard giveaway? Go here!!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Hope you have a party planned, or at least a trip to Taco Bell. :) How did your homework assignment go? Thanks for taking the assignment without grumbling.

Because I will admit, my week got away from me and I haven't yet had a chance to dedicate a full day's time to my other browsers. {hangs head in shame} I promise to reform my ways. For those of you who were able to do this, what did you notice? Did any sparks fly during your browser one-day fling? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Many of you expressed interest in Firefox add-ons. I loove Firefox add-ons because they help me customize my browser to be the most useful for me. For the things that I do every day, not the things that my mother uses or a hard-core web developer finds absolutely necessary. For me. Forgive me for being a little self-centered today. :)

I use the add-ons I rave about below. You can install and manage your Firefox add-ons (also called extensions) as well as your themes and plugins (such as coupon printers and Adobe Acrobat) by selecting Tools > Add-ons in your browser.

AdBlock Plus (download here) is one of the most popular add-ons for Firefox. AdBlock Plus allows you to set up filters on ads (based on their sources) so that you don't even see them. The ad-blocking isn't automatic, though -- you choose which ads to block. It does take a little bit of time after installing to create your filters so that you see only what you want to see, but, for me, it's worth a little time investment. Your Facebook page will never be the same again.

Colorzilla (download here) makes my tinkering that I call "web design" so much easier! On any website, I can use Colorzilla to extract the hex code (the crazy #000000 numbers) and RGB makeup of ANY color on that site. So, if I see a color scheme I just adore, I can duplicate it. I usually use pre-made blog backgrounds, and Colorzilla allows me to make sure that the blog header I create and the colors that I change in my blog template match the colors in the template exactly, instead of just guessing.

MeasureIt (download here) is another add-on that makes my web tinkering easier. I have trouble judging distance (yes, I walk into stationary objects frequently), and pixels aren't really a measurement of distance anyway, so spatial reasoning online is a huge struggle for me. This is a problem because I tend to be a little bit anal about things being just the right size, not too big and not too small, lined up juuuust right. Enter MeasureIt. All I have to do is click the icon and then click and drag to create a rectangle that matches the area in question. Then I know its exact dimensions in pixels and I can stop with the guess-and-check-and-pull-my-hair-out method.

Firebug (download here) is a dream come true if you are building your own websites using hard-core HTML, on your own, no Blogger/Wordpress. If you are hand-coding and doing *real* web developer stuff, Firebug is awe to the some. I discovered Firebug while I was working with my favorite web developers ever. These guys know their stuff (such as building sites like this and apps like this), and they all use Firebug to fine-tune things. Once you open Firebug on a web page, you can toggle on/off different CSS rules and add temporary code and see what difference your changes make. While I was building my web portfolio (which, sadly, never went live and now is in need of a major update), Firebug was my BFF. If you do web stuff outside of a blog, you might want to try it and the Web Developer toolbar, too.

I also use Delicious Bookmarks to store my bookmarks and the Swagbucks toolbar to help me earn Swagbucks, a digital currency that I can spend on gift cards and other fun things. I would use both Delicious and Swagbucks regardless of the add-ons, but the add-ons make it so much easier to add the functionality of these services to my browser. (I'll be talking more about Delicious and other bookmarking apps in another post.)

But don't just take my word for it: see what these sites have to say about the best Firefox add-ons:

Because your browser does what you want, your add-ons will be different than mine. In reading the 4 articles above, I found two more add-ons that I have installed and will be using henceforth: Firegestures and Fireshot. I'll let you know how I like them.

What add-ons do you love or are you dreaming of? Personally, I'd love a Firefox add-on that can tell me when I have 10 minutes left to finish up my blog stalking before my baby will wake up from his nap...
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