firefox extensions

I’m browser-agnostic (apart from IE, obviously), mostly using Safari or Camino.

However, I’m starting to get mildly interested in the possibilities of Firefox extensions.

Any particular favourites out there? Are they a good/bad idea?

Extensions are great, and the only reason I can never find myself happy switching to other browsers that might be faster or less resource intensive. If you are a web developer, life without Aardvark, Web Developer toolbar, and Firebug feels like developing applications without a debugger.

For security, and keeping the marketers at bay, I like Adblock in combination with the Adlblock Filterset.G Updater, which automatically updates Adblock’s filters. I rarely have to add my own blocking rules. Once you are used to that, browsing in other browsers can often feel like strolling down the Strip in Las Vegas. I also use NoScript, which is a whitelist based program. It is like turning off Javascript entirely, and only allowing some sites to use it if you wish. Greasemonkey is nice for those sites where you wish it did something it doesn’t do, or you wished it looked another way. Greasemonkey lets you execute client-side Javascript, automatically altering web pages after they have been loaded. Greasemonkey users have had a delete button in Gmail a lot longer than normal users, for example. There are thousands of Greasemonkey scripts available. I also like Remove It Permanently, (R.I.P.), which lets you select a component of the site and forever choose to not see it. For example, I never use the header area in this forum, so I have that part of the HTML specified in RIP and all I see is the forum data itself. All of these plug-ins in this paragraph are about controlling the web so that it is what you want, rather than what the site wants. If you use the web a lot, it only makes sense to customise it and fine-tune it the way you would anything else. Also Aardvark, mentioned above, comes in very handy as an easy to use temporary page customiser. When you start it, a red rectangle surrounds the HTML element under your mouse, which you can expand or contract the scope on with two keys. My favourite usage is to select the text area of a news article and hit Isolate which removes everything else on the page except for the text. No more reading cramped columns, nestled in a massive page of ads.

Then some miscellaneous stuff. Gmail Manager is nice if you use Gmail, and especially if you use multiple accounts. It is a little email notification deal that sits in the bottom of the browser window. ReloadEvery for feed sites and such, reloads the browser by a specified time interval. I used to use del.icio.us’ extension for integration, but then I found Pukka (a Mac app) and I like that better.

The ultimate time waster: StumbleUpon. Rate each page you visit, and it will match you up with other Stumblers who rate similarly. After a while click the Stumble button. If you have your topics set up well, and a good bank of positive and negatives, you’ll 9 times out of 10 get some random page that you’ll really like. Time wasting aside, I love it because it gives me inspirational ideas. I have my topics loaded up with photography galleries, philosophy, and so on.

That’s it for what I use regularly. There are so many extensions though, of varying quality. My Firefox browser reflects the way I like to approach the web. Another person’s might act totally differently. Given the level of control that I am accustomed to when visiting sites, I find using other browsers to be very restricting.

My favorite extensions:

Google Browser Sync – saves previous session, provides synchronization with other computers. Requires a Google account.

ChromaTabs – color codes tabs by site. Useful if you have lots open at once.

All-in-One sidebar – provides Opera-like sidebar functionality.

Rikaichan – pop-up Japanese hints.

Katherine