Firefox Rising

Out in the mainstream, a lot of people seem to think Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the only game in town. That’s not surprising, given the huge number of people who use it, but there are alternatives, and after having played with it for the last two weeks, I think Firefox is one of the best.

Firefox is the successor to the Mozilla Web browser. It’s designed to be a lean, light Web browser that’s not bogged down by excessive features, as is the case with its big brother Mozilla. It’s presently at version .08, which still places it at the beta stage, but I’m already enjoying it more than Internet Explorer and I found I’m using it almost as much as my preferred browser, Safari 1.2 for Macintosh.

Why? Well, the browser lives up to its billing as a fast, light, quick-to-download browser, and even on my aging iBook its still very spry. It also has excellent standards implementation, built-in pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing and a clean, refined look. The primary reason I like it, however, is the “Web Developer Extension”, an add-on that equips Firefox with all manner of useful tools.

The WDE appears as a toolbar within Firefox, and has 10 pulldown menus: Disable, Forms, Images, Information, Miscellaneous, Outline, Resize, Validation, View Source and Options.

“Disable” allows you to quickly turn off JavaScript, images, styles, cookies and other Web technologies. As a developer, this saves me a trememdous amount of time since I no longer need to go digging around through Mozilla’s options to complete these tasks.

“Images” can hide all the graphics and photos on a page, display the image dimensions for every graphic on the page, and highlight images that don’t include “Alt” attributes.

“Information” can gnerate information about styles and cookies, as well as a “speed report” of how long it takes for the page at different connection speeds and offers advise on how to speed things up.

“Outline” allows you to quickly highlight block elements and table cells, which is something I do regularly. “Validation” is equally useful, and allows you to submit your page for XHTML and CSS validation.

%d bloggers like this: