In the Beginning..
Over a year ago, I posted an article recommending over fifty “essential Firefox extensions.” Excited to have discovered the miraculous joys of extending Firefox with such amazing functionality, I loaded my primary copy of Firefox with just about every potentially useful extension that I could find. Several weeks were spent playing with new features, customizing preferences, and configuring options to gel together in an orchestrated chorus of blissful browser harmony. After experiencing the functional firepower of my newly equipped technological terror, I was completely convinced that I had assembled the ultimate collection of Firefox extensions. And, as the power went straight to my head, I was determined to enlighten the masses by publishing a complete, unedited list of 51 “essential” Firefox extensions.
Soon after posting my amazing list, the apparent popularity of the article reinforced my enthusiasm for Firefox extensions. I became obsessed with finding the best extensions I could find. As I scoured the Web for the “Ultimate Firefox Extension,” I quickly realized that Firefox extensions were becoming extremely popular. It seemed that everyone was publishing their own list of “Ultimate Firefox Extensions,” “Absolutely Essential Firefox Extensions,” and “Must-Have Firefox Extensions.” The excitement spread like wildfire. The lists and reviews provided a wealth of information that soon inspired another wave of Firefox converts to install, use, and share their own favorite extensions. Even today, new articles recommending Firefox extensions continue to populate the blogosphere — and here is yet another..
Since installing my initial collection of Firefox extensions, most have been upgraded, several have been replaced, and many have been eliminated. While integrating a plethora of new features into my browsing routine, some extensions proved highly useful, while others failed to provide substantial benefit. Throughout the experimental process, I developed the habit of uninstalling unnecessary or otherwise useless extensions. This practice continues today, as I strive to maintain a dynamically evolving, streamlined collection of absolutely essential Firefox extensions. Now, after 15 months of critical evaluation and optimization, I have refined and condensed my Firefox arsenal into a powerful core of ten extensions that I could not live without.
The Ten Extensions
Working as a Web designer, developer, and blogger, I use this minimalistic set of 10 extensions every day. Taken together, these extensions serve to enhance efficiency and improve productivity by providing the control, flexibility, and information needed to turn Firefox into a bona fide miracle worker. So, without further ado, here are the 10 Firefox extensions that I use every day:
- Colorful Tabs
- Coloring every tab with a different color, the Colorful Tabs extension distinguishes pages and helps me to stay organized while browsing with multiple tabs. Colorful Tabs provides endless configuration options, making it easy to customize, organize, and beautify your browsing experience. Options include random colorization, URL-specific color generation, color-fade level, saturation, luminance, and more. Even better, throw Tab Mix Plus into the mix and enjoy the ultimate tabbed-browsing experience.
- del.icio.us Bookmarks
- Managing my bookmarks online with del.icio.us enables universal access to me entire collection. The del.icio.us Bookmarks extension for Firefox streamlines the entire process of saving, organizing, and accessing my favorite sites. This plugin enables easy tagging, integrated searching, localized bookmarks, and much more.
- FireFTP streamlines Web workflow by providing robust, fully functional FTP access from within Firefox. FireFTP is a “free, secure, cross-platform FTP client for Mozilla Firefox which provides easy and intuitive access to FTP servers.” Load a tab with FireFTP and enjoy seamlessly integrated FTP functionality. Features include SSL/TLS support, synchronization, directory/subdirectory comparison, automatic reconnect, and just about everything else. ;)
- HTML Validator
- HTML Validator is my favorite Firefox extension. Using validation algorithms originally developed by the Web Consortium W3C, HTML Validator integrates continuous (X)HTML validation locally, from within the Firefox browser. While browsing, the extension quietly checks every page according to your specifications, and displays a status-bar icon indicating the results. Clicking the status icon opens the (X)HTML source of the page, which then provides complete validation and/or error information. Highly recommended.
- As a blogger, managing dead links, broken links, and link rot takes an incredible amount of time. Fortunately, the LinkChecker extension simplifies and streamlines the process by locally scanning your web pages for bad links. As LinkChecker scans your page links, it employs a set of user-specified colors to highlight and classify four different types of links: broken links, forwarded/forbidden links, good links, and skipped links. LinkChecker helps you maintain happy, healthy links throughout your online empire.
- Working on the geekier side of the internet, I find the LiveHTTPHeaders extension extremely useful. LiveHTTPHeaders displays the HTTP headers of pages as they are processed by the browser. Real-time display of HTTP activity greatly facilitates the debugging process by revealing server configurations, caching directives, cookie information, and much more. Additionally, LiveHTTPHeaders provides static header data and now features a tool that enables users to “edit request headers and replay an URL.” Powerful stuff!
- SearchStatus is great because it provides an automatic, customizable summary of search-related information for every site that I visit. Aimed at SEO experts and marketing heads, SearchStatus reveals a wealth of search data, including “Google PageRank, Google Category, Alexa popularity ranking, Compete.com ranking, Alexa incoming links, Alexa related links and backward links from Google, Yahoo! and MSN.” An excellent tool for general overviews and detailed analyses as well. Check it out. Update: the SearchStatus has been removed from the Firefox website.
- For busy webmasters, serious surfers, and informed netizens, the ShowIP extension is absolutely essential. ShowIP works quietly in the background, revealing each page’s IP address in the Firefox status bar. Right-clicking on the displayed address provides quick access to various database queries, including whois, timing, traceroute, and ip2country. Further, IP addresses are color-coded and classified according to user preferences. Definitely handy..
- Web Developer