Tag: firefox

The essential Firefox Plugins for the Web Developer

Posted by – August 15, 2008

Nick has already posted about Firebug and Firebug Extensions and in my own experience in setting up my workstation I too found this to be an essential Firefox Add on. In addtion to Firebug, here are the other Firefox plugins I’ve already installed in my first few days of work on this new computer.

  • Delicious – An agile webmaster might know thousands of online resouces and having them on one computer in the form of browser book marks is not very agile is it? Using delicious you can take your bookmarks with you, and this was one of the first things I missed having: all my bookmarks.
  • SearchStatus – This plugin is essential for the SEO professional. It gives you Google pagerank, Alexa Rank and Compete rank information for the websites you visit and also has a useful keyword density analyzer and quick access to searches to find indexed pages, backlinks and cache. It’s one of the tools I use the most when investigating a website.
  • Web Developer Toolbar – While this was originally a must-have tool for its live css editing, Firebug has become much more useful for that purpose. But this tool is still very useful for a variety of other information and I also tend to use it a lot to quickly disable cache, cookies, or JavaScript.
  • ColorZilla – This gives you an easy color picker and an eyedropper that can be used to quickly get the color of anything on any webpage.
  • And of course, Firebug and YSlow as Nick has already blogged about.

Setting up an Agile Webmaster workstation

Posted by – August 10, 2008

My last Windows XP workstation died on me and I am replacing it with a new Vista box. I decided to take note of the programs I found myself needing so that in the future I could set it up more quickly and spend less time installing software when I need it by installing it before I do.

A few days into my use of this workstation here are the things I’ve already installed.


  • Firefox 3. Nick found where my keyword search feature was hidden so I’m happy with this as my default browser. I’ll post about the various extensions I needed in another post.
  • Opera – Latest version only
  • Safari – Latest version only

Together with IE 7 and IE 6 and Firefox 2 these are the desktop browsers that an Agile Webmaster should support.

Version Control System

  • Code Co-op – “Abstract through a standard protocol” is a mantra of mine, and one I used frequently in the Relisoft forums when trying to convince them to use pop/smtp as the tansport for their p2p Version Control System Code Co-Op. There are a lot of options out there for this but I like this one for its relatively low network topography needs. With the p2p system comes conflict from latency and some complication but I like how decentralized this is.

Whatever you choose to use is fine if it works. But don’t code without a Version Control System.

Text Editor

  • Edit Pad Pro – Text editors are very personal things for the agile webmaster. The hardcore geeks tend to be almost religious about their choice, and it’s no wonder, we spend much of our day in a text editor. Edit Pad Pro is my choice, with its integration with Jan Goyvaerts’ other great tools such as RegexBuddy and PowerGrep that I also use.

Note: one of the Agile Webmasters, Steve Levithan, is writing a Regex book with Jan that I’d be all over if I didn’t know Steve and couldn’t just ask him my occasional regex question myself.


  • Photoshop – Ok, being on a more textual end of the development spectrum, I got away with Paint for a few days but installed an old copy of Photoshop CS. No link here because I honestly think most webmasters can use a host of other tools that are perfectly fine for web design without the Photoshop complexity and pricetag. Back when I did more of this stuff I liked Macromedia Fireworks (now Adobe Fireworks) but you shouldn’t take too many graphics recommendations from me.

File Utilities, Networking, Sync and Backup

  • Syncback SE – A very useful tool for a variety of things ranging from deployment to backup. The on-change syncronization feature is the glue to our PHP IDE (I’ll tell you about it one day) around here.
  • 7-Zip – Because agile webmaster cannot live by Windows’ built in Zip support alone but needeth other compression algorithms and stuff.
  • SSH Secure Shell 3.2 – Yes I know of Putty (what I use whenever on a guest computer) and just about any other SSH client. But this one’s my choice for the file transfer GUI (like FTP clients). It used to be available as a free download here but now you have to search the web for it (it’s free for non-commercial use). Here, I’ll save you some time.

Last but not least, I installed Microsoft Office 2003. I use browser-based applications (Google mostly) for most of my needs but because many of the corporations I work with don’t I often need this suite around to open their files. In addition, the PIM world is still far behind the Exchange/Outlook powerhouse. Apple’s Mobile Me is promising but I still use Outlook as my contacts backup and syncing center.

I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface, and will continute to write up my agile development enviroment in future articles as I run into more cases for tools I need to install.

Extending Firebug through plugins

Posted by – July 30, 2008

It’s happened. My favorite Firefox plugin, firebug, is so useful and well-designed, that developers have decided to add on to it’s functionality through plugins. While these are still installed and managed the same as a normal Firefox plugin, they require firebug to be installed first. In fact, they are not extending the functionality of Firefox, they are extending firebug itself. They are plugins for a plugin.

It started (AFAIK) with Yslow. This plugin, developed by Yahoo!, analyzes the page, and determines why it is loading slowly. It is based on their own best practices for high performance websites. This is most likely not the type of tool you will use daily, but when you get to the optimization stage of a project it is very handy.

Just the other day, I had the need to analyze the cookies one of my sites was using, and to do so installed Firecookie. Overall I was impressed. It provides a dead-simple way to view, edit, and delete any cookies associated with a page. The one feature I wish it had, was the ability to temporarily disable cookies, without deleting them. This is handy if you want to quickly check what something looks like while logged out of a site, without having to actually log out, and then back in.

There are other firebug plugins I have yet to use, and I’m sure more are currently being developed. All of this added functionality strengthens my belief that firebug is becoming less of a nicety for developers, and more of a necessity. It is definitely one of the larger tools in my development toolbox.