Review of Firefox Recommended Add-ons
This week the spotlight is on Firefox as it launches its milestone 2.0 release. We’ve covered the launch with a Firefox 2.0 product review, an interview with Mozilla exec Chris Beard and a Firefox marketing discussion post. Today we bring you a review of the top twenty add-ons (aka add-ons) selected by Mozilla for the Firefox 2 launch. We’ve categorized the add-ons and analyzed them, to bring you what are hopefully the pick of the crop.
Since its inception, Firefox has been a great platform on which web developers can build on top of. Recognizing that the core browser must be lean, the Mozilla team put together the infrastructure for creating add-ons. In this single decision, Mozilla created not just a fine browser – but a thriving community and a free marketplace, which links add-on developers directly to browser users. The developers are free to be creative and the users are free to choose the add-ons that they like. Such an ecosystem gives rise to innovation and helps Mozilla shape the future of web browsing.
Add-ons point to the future of the web browser
Looking at the add-ons that were selected for the Firefox 2 showcase, in some ways they show us what the browser of the future may look like. Indeed that is something that Chris Beard himself alluded to – they view add-ons as a kind of test bed, pulling ideas from the best of them into the core product over time.
The majority of add-ons are focused on integrating web services into the browser, to boost user productivity. In a nutshell, add-ons are about shaving off clicks – but to be fair they do so much more. They create an enhanced, smarter, better browsing experience and ultimately save users’ time.
Music, Weather and Maps
The FoxyTunes add-on integrates with your favorite music player and allows you to control the music you are listening to, right from within the Firefox status bar. There are a lot of handy features, my favorite being the ability to change the language and encoding – so that if you are listening to music in a language other than English, the title and the artist are displayed correctly.
Forecastfox brings the weather channel right into Firefox. On the install you select the zip code or city and the add-on does the rest. It relies on AccuWeather.com to bring you the latest current weather conditions, as well as a forecast of the upcoming weather. It is highly customizable and just perfect for the status bar.
Maps+ uses the Yahoo! Maps API to help the user look up addresses. To see it working, highlight any address – we tried a restaurant on this page – then right click and select View map from the context menu. The layered popup with the map appears right next to the address. You can control the zoom level of the map and customize the add-on in various ways.
Storing and sharing web content is one of the most fundamental online activities. del.icio.us started the web 2.0 revolution by introducing tagging and social bookmarking. Since then del.icio.us itself and many other companies have enhanced bookmarks in many different ways. Let’s look at the latest add-on advancements featured in the top twenty add-ons – and note there are a lot of bookmarking services amongst the add-ons.
Yahoo! released an updated version of the del.icio.us plugin, which replaces browser bookmarks with a view of del.icio.us posts. The StumbleUpon add-on is essential for fans of this service – it features a handy toolbar that lets the users rate and discover web sites. The Clipmarks add-on lets you clip pieces of the page, instead of bookmarking them. This is useful when you are not interested in the entire page but just want to store a paragraph or an image.
The Foxmarks add-on is seemingly simple – it synchronizes your bookmarks between all your Firefox browsers. What’s great is that it works in the backround and does not require any input from the user, beyond creating an account. The JetEye addon in some ways is similar to Clipmarks, because it allows the user to collect clips. But it also enables arranging these clips by topic. Yoono is a social recommendation engine for discovering interesting or related sites. The BlueOrganizer add-on, developed by my company AdaptiveBlue, helps users to interact with books, music, movies, restaurants and other everyday things.
The developer add-ons
The showcase also contains three add-ons that help Firefox developers.
Blogging and RSS
Performancing add-on is a fully fledged blog editor built right into Firefox, which integrates with TypePad, Blogger, WordPress and LiveJournal (amongst others). Sage is a powerful feed reader – with the ability to subscribe to feeds, manage them and import/export via OPML.
There are some very nifty utilities that can be integrated into Firefox:
- FireFTP integrates FTP into Firefox
- ChatZilla integrates IRC into Firefox
- Download Statusbar helps you manage downloads right in the status bar
- FlashGot is another download productivity add-on
- Adblock Plus lets you do away with advertisements
Other add-ons in the showcase
- Pronto is comparison shopping add-on which alerts you to potential price savings
- Jaja wires telephony right into the browser
- LinkedIn integrates the popular professional social network into the browser
- Cooliris lets the user preview a page by hovering over links
- Answers is a time saver add-on that lets you lookup information on Answers.com
Fun, useful and exciting
This Firefox showcase is full of interesting and useful add-ons that focus on helping users save time, by integrating web services into the browser . These add-ons point in the direction of smarter, better browsers – that will be more aware of the patterns and use cases of interacting with information online.
So that’s our take – let us know which of these and other add-ons you use and recommend!