At work and even at home I get beat up quite a bit for using the Firefox web browser. I know Firefox (FF) only is only used by about 10% of the web surfing population and that most of the world – especially the corporate world – runs on Internet Explorer. My work is no different, we’re standardized on Internet Explorer (IE). But that doesn’t stop me from using Firefox because Firefox is a tool.
Prompted by a recent quick article over at Joel, I feel the need to share my uses of Firefox. I started using Firefox for one real reason – tabbed browsing. This was well before I learned about extensions and other add-ons that make Firefox extremely valuable. I just liked having tabs to surf multiple pages at once instead of Alt+Tab-ing between open IE windows…but then I found extensions.
It is because of the extensions that probably continue to use Firefox as my regular browser – because the extensions turn Firefox into a invaluable resource for a web developer like myself.
The first extension is the Web Developer toolbar. As Joel says, I can’t imagine doing development without this toolbar. It has so many helpful things that give you mounds of data about the web page you’re on…or the web page I am creating. You can use to resize the window, switch between device views, and get image and color information in a nice report-style page. By far, my #1 extension for Firefox.
The other extension that I have found to be critical to development is Firebug. This subtle add-on lets you see what your browser is doing on any web page. This includes inspecting the DOM and, most importantly, see what is going on in Ajax world. You can easily see the Ajax calls being made by your application so you know what variables have been sent and what data has been returned. Without this extension I would still be using your standard issue alert() function. No more!
As a designer, I am always looking at web pages to “borrow” ideas and methods. One of the biggest aspects of design is color. Beyond a good layout, color is the other thing that catches my eye first and foremost. Then, naturally, I go, “Wow, I love that color. What is it?” Thankfully, ColorZilla lets me take an eyedropper and get the color just like that. It’s as easy as copy-and-paste and just makes design life a heck of a lot easier.
Another handy extension that I recently just discovered is the IE Tab that Joel pimps. Since IE is so prominent around the office, I need to constantly check Ie for design and functionality of my software. IE Tab lets you switch any tabbed web page to use IE so you can see how it looks and functions. Nice.
As you can see, when you pimp out Firefox it’s not just a window to the web, it’s a feedback system that allows me to do my job better. Is my using Firefox some anti-Microsoft protest? No. I don’t mind Microsoft – they make good stuff, especially when you put it all together. But even sans bling, Firefox is a great little browser.