Tag Archives: firefox

Awesome Firebug Tricks You May Have Missed

Firebug is probably the most invaluable tool in my web development arsenal. (Well, aside from Photoshop. But that has a value: freaking expensive.) I’m not terribly picky about my text editor—after all, I used Notepad for years—though BBEdit is my tool of choice. I still haven’t found anything that works nearly as well as Firebug, and that’s probably the biggest reason why I couldn’t give up Firefox for Chrome.

Everyone who uses Firebug regularly knows the basics. They know how to inspect and edit HTML and CSS, analyze page loading times and the like. There are a few neat tricks, though, that aren’t quite immediately apparent, but are very handy.

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How to Bring Back “http://” in Firefox 7

Firefox 7 is out now, bringing with it much-welcome memory usage reductions and speed improvements. It has one annoying UI change, though: URLs in the address bar no longer have the “http://” protocol prefix. While that may be okay for casual users, it will annoy a lot of power users.

To fix it, just follow these steps:

  1. Open a new tab and type about:config into the address bar.
  2. Search for browser.urlbar.trimURLs
  3. Double click on the browser.urlbar.trimURLs key to change its boolean value from true to false.
  4. Close the tab and enjoy your unhidden URL protocols.

This is the second time in two versions Mozilla has made an unhelpful UI tweak. In Firefox 6 they added “domain highlighting,” which greys-out the URL text, while leaving the domain in darker lettering. Fortunately, it was just as easy to fix.

Firefox 7 to Use 20-50% Less Memory

Mozilla engineers have began and effort known as “MemShrink” to reduce Firefox’s rather large memory footprint, with the changes being made in Firefox 7. (I still haven’t quite figured out Mozilla’s new version numbering scheme, and Firefox 5 is the current release…)

In short:

Firefox 7 uses less memory than Firefox 6 (and 5 and 4): often 20% to 30% less, and sometimes as much as 50% less. In particular, Firefox 7′s memory usage will stay steady if you leave it running overnight, and it will free up more memory when you close many tabs.

Also, there are already some early mock-ups of what the UI in Firefox 8 might look like.

Firefox 7 is lean and fast [Nicholas Nethercote]

Disable Domain Highlighting in Firefox

If you just upgraded to Firefox 6, you probably noticed the new “domain highlighting” feature. The address bar now greys-out the protocol and path in the URL, leaving the domain highlighted in the darker black text. The theory is that it will help less-savvy users easily spot phony phishing domains.

I find it annoying, though. It looks a bit weird, and it makes the path less visible, which is something I work with on a regular basis. If you’re like me and want to turn off the feature, here’s an easy way to do it:

  1. Open a new tab and type about:config into the location bar
  2. Search for browser.urlbar.formatting.enabled in the filter field. (It searches as you type.)
  3. Double click on the browser.urlbar.formatting.enabled line to change the value from true to false.
  4. Close the tab and enjoy your lack of domain highlighting.

Mozilla Plans Chrome OS Competitor “Boot to Gecko”

Mozilla is in the early stages of planning a project that would not only compete with Google’s Chrome OS, but would go a bit beyond. Boot to Gecko—named for Firefox’s Gecko rendering engine—would be a bit of Android-based software (primarily the kernel, drivers and other low-level bits, I assume) designed to boot hardware to the web in order to run a web-based operating system.

Mozilla believes that the web can displace proprietary, single-vendor stacks for application development. To make open web technologies a better basis for future applications on mobile and desktop alike, we need to keep pushing the envelope of the web to include — and in places exceed — the capabilities of the competing stacks in question.

Mozilla wants to develop new APIs that would allow web-based applications to access hardware such as USB, Bluetooth, cameras, SMS, NFC and telephony. These would, of course, have a “privilege” system to ensure that potentially malevolent applications wouldn’t be able to access the hardware without your consent.

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. Google, with Chrome OS, seems to be primarily interested in the development of cheap hardware that boots into a browser. Mozilla, on the other hand, is currently more focused on enhancing web applications to make that sort of device more viable. And some of the APIs would likely be implemented in full-featured mobile operating systems like Android and iOS sooner or later.

Boot to Gecko [wiki.mozilla.org]

How to Remove the Bookmark Toolbar Icons in Firefox 4

Prior to Firefox 4, the Mac version didn’t display favicons beside items on the Bookmarks Toolbar, unlike its Windows counterpart. I’ve become accustomed to this behavior, as it uses significantly less space. (I tend to use the Bookmarks Toolbar not just for frequently-used links and bookmarklets, but as a sort of “in tray” for things I need to keep an eye on temporarily.)

Some people will probably be happy about the addition of the favicons in Firefox 4, but if you’re like me you prefer to cram as many three to five letter bookmarks in as possible, which is significantly less with the icons included. But what can be done about it?

Fortunately, someone has already whipped-up a handy extension to revert back to a text-based bookmark bar. You don’t even need to restart your browser after installing it.

Bookmarks Deiconizer [Firefox Add-ons]

Extensions are the Source of Slow Firefox Startup

Firefox 4 has made the browser faster and much more responsive, but its startup time can still be a bit on the slow end. According to Mozilla, the root problem is definitely extensions. In a new blog post, they stated that on average each add-on you install will increase startup time by 10%. So installing ten add-ons could double your browser’s startup time, assuming that none of them are real heavyweights.

They also released a list, based on automated performance testing, of the slowest performing add-ons. Apparently Firebug adds around 74% on to startup time and StumbleUpon 19%. (Unfortunately, it seems like a few of my favorite add-ons are on the list, the indispensable Firebug included.)

Mozilla plans to update their extension repository with warnings that display for add-ons that increase startup time by 25% or more.

Firefox 4 is Here, and it’s Fast

Just yesterday Mozilla released version four of Firefox, bringing with it a new UI and many changes under the hood. It looks and feels a bit like Chrome, but without losing the customizability that has always set it apart from other browsers.

The most noticeable change over Firefox 3.6 is that everything is so much more responsive, and pages render very quickly. The Features page on Mozilla.com lists some fairly impressive V8 and SunSpider benchmarks, which Download Squad says are slightly better than Chrome’s results. It seems like Firefox has finally caught back up to the competition, and hopefully will remain in contention thanks to the more frequent release cycle Mozilla plans to move toward.

The new “App Tabs” that you can pin to the left side (much like the Faviconize Tabs extension) are nice, as well.

The complete list of user and developer features is available in the announcement.

JSONView: View JSON Data in Firefox

JSON is a popular way to format AJAX responses, as it’s more compact than XML and essentially a JavaScript object, but it can be a real pain to work with due to uncooperative browsers. It’s easy enough to view XML in a web browser, which is good for testing, but JSON responses cause a download prompt to open. This makes it harder to verify that an AJAX request is working properly.

Fortunately, a clever developer has built a Firefox extension to solve this problem. JSONView renders a plain-text representation of the JSON object, complete with indentation and color-coding whenever you access a URL that outputs JSON data. For example, the Twitter API. If you click this link in Firefox, you will be prompted to download the file. With JSONView installed, you would see output from the following image.

If you do much JavaScript work, be sure to install JSONView. It will save you some headaches when you have AJAX requests that aren’t working quite right.

Firefox 4 Beta 1 Released

The first beta of Firefox 4 is now available (and can be downloaded here). It features plenty of new functionality and web standards support, including hardware-accelerated video and additional support for the evolving CSS3 and HTML5 standards.

I’m already impressed by the speed improvements. The browser launches a little bit faster and overall seems more responsive. Pages seem to render a lot faster, as well.

I am a bit disappointed that the Mac version, so far at least, looks much more like Firefox 3 than the wonderful mockup from before. I really like the cleaner interface, despite it’s slight deviation from the norm on OS X.

If you want to try it out, keep in mind that it is an early beta release. Beta software is generally full of bugs and glitches, as the whole point of a beta test is to find problems so they can be fixed before the final release. Do not remove your existing Firefox installation and do not use it for anything mission-critical. Also, don’t judge the application too harshly. It will likely be much different by the time of the final release.

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