Making the most of Firefox

The web development community is positively buzzing at the moment with news of the release of Firefox 0.8, the latest release in the Phoenix/Firebird/Mozilla browser line. The release marks the third and final name change for the Mozilla project’s standalone browser, brought about due to a naming conflict with the Firebird open source database project. The name change FAQ explains the reasoning behind the new name.

The main download URLs have been pretty much saturated all day, so if you want to grab a copy of the browser your best bet is to try one of the mirrors.

I’ve been putting the latest release through its paces today and my overall impressions are very positive. The browser seems noticably faster than Firebird 0.7, which itself was certainly no slouch. The new icon set (designed by Jon Hicks) is superb, as is the rest of the work invested by Steven Garrity’s Mozilla Visual Identity Team.

From a web development point of view, the most exciting addition in Firefox is the DOM Inspector. This invaluable tool for exploring the browser’s Document Object Model has long been a killer feature of the full Mozilla suite, and its inclusion in Firefox further strengthens that browser’s position as an essential development tool.

To really make the most out of Firefox, you need to explore some of the excellent extensions that are available for the browser. My all time favourite is Mouse Gestures, which can dramatically improve the speed of your web browsing once you take the time to learn how to use them. LiveHTTPHeaders is another essential install, although it is mainly useful as a debugging tool for server-side development. Finally, no Gecko-engine browser install would be complete without a healthy dose of Jesse Ruderman’s Web Development Bookmarklets which have saved me literally days of time, thanks mainly to the powerful combination of “test styles”, “edit styles” and “ancestors”. If you haven’t tried them yet you really won’t believe what you’ve been missing.

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  • rick

    hey, don’t forget the EditCss extension! Um no pointer because it looks like the extension site is down?

  • http://www.phppatterns.com HarryF

    Does seem faster, from first impressions.

    What freaked me out this morning was being told to use Firefox… on the radio: http://fm4.orf.at/daddyd/155784/main [FM4 is an Austrian radio station, usually broadcasting in English and the "hippest" radio I've ever listened to]

  • http://www.fentrax.com lieut_data

    I’ve never been so intrigued by the launch of a new browser — the minute I launched the application, I knew it was finally up to being my Mozilla replacement (something didn’t quite stick me to using < = Firebird 0.7). Thunderbird... is still a work in progress IMHO -> it has the smell of Outlook Express with it’s huge icons (by default), and what not. Not sure when I’ll move to TB.

    Anyone know if Firefox is still an application we can run out of the box (i.e. a zip file to extract). We use(d) Firebird 0.7 a great deal at work (I work at an ISP) to quickly distinguish when a customers’ Internet connection wasn’t working, and when their browser (usually IE) wasn’t. Great “little” download!

    When are the plans to have Firefox merged as the main browser of the Mozilla suite?

  • http://www.vinniegarcia.com/ vgarcia

    [QUOTE=lieut_data]
    Anyone know if Firefox is still an application we can run out of the box (i.e. a zip file to extract). We use(d) Firebird 0.7 a great deal at work (I work at an ISP) to quickly distinguish when a customers’ Internet connection wasn’t working, and when their browser (usually IE) wasn’t. Great “little” download!
    [/QUOTE]
    There aren’t any official zip builds yet, but some will be coming soon according to the development team.

  • http://www.silentflute.co.uk worchyld

    Firefox? Hmm – I assume I won’t have to think in Russian to make it work. (link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083943/)

  • http://blog.codefront.net/ redemption

    In reply to the comment on EditCSS, you can get it from the Extension Room if the Texturizer site is down.

    Another useful one for Windows users is the IE view extension, which adds a right-click context menu option to view the current page in IE. Great for checking that IE hasn’t choked on something you did (that probably was legitimate anyway).

    As for official zip builds for Firefox, they are now available here -> http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/0.8/ Don’t expect it to be linked to on the Mozilla.org website because the devs intend to promote the installer.

  • http://www.flippedout.net Bryce

    FireFox is definately cool. A big improvement over other browsers such as IE, purely because it is tabbed.