Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Firefox 2.0

Firefox 2 has been released. I've been waiting until the official release before installing it on my system. I don't like to install software that is progressing towards release. It's not that I mind installing Beta software. It's just that when Firefox is moving towards an "Official" release they tend to put out several betas and RCs. I've gotten tired of making several installs and updates. I did install RC2 in a Virtual Machine that I was using to test IE7 (It's okay, they got along alright).

So far I like Firefox 2 pretty well. I decided to go for a "clean" install. I backed up my bookmarks, un-installed my existing FF installation and deleted my Profile files.

After the install I quickly re-installed my basic extensions. These include Gmail Manager, NoScript, IE Tab, Restart Firefox, Nuke Anything Enhanced, Linkification, Adblock Plus, Adblock Filterset.G Updater, and Download Statusbar. My browser just isn't a browser until I've installed these. So until there comparable plug-ins I don't think I'll be able to switch back to IE as my primary browser.

Being a web developer I also installed Html Validator, FireBug, Tamper Data, and View Source Chart. I use FireBug regularly but the others are on the edge of being un-installed since I rarely use them. But it's nice to have them ready when the need arises.

I'm giving a couple new extensions a try this time around which are FoxyTunes, All-in-One Sidebar, and MeasureIt. FoxyTunes is cool but I just got my Multimedia keyboard buttons working and it's much easier to use that. MeasureIt is very interesting and I think I may use it when first laying out my sites, but it seems like it should be merged with another extension web development extension (its the same for the Color Picker extension). I'll probably end up removing it after not using it for several months (just like Color Picker).

The All-in-One sidebar is great. It is a little weird and kind of hijacks the Addons, Download, and a few other windows. I think I've finally got it configured about right for my use. It does 2 things that I really like. It adds a vertical toolbar strip for bookmarks, history, downloads, etc. (which is customizable like the other FF toolbars) and it provides Toolbar buttons for the Error Console and the DOM explorer. I may never have to use the Tools menu again! Too bad many of the configuration changes require a browser restart (but I have an extension for that!).

The built-in spell checker is already working great. It even checks the spelling in the Compose window for this post. I've read that it only automatically checks the spelling in Textarea fields. I can understand the reasoning behind this design but I wish there was an option to have it check all text fields. I can't even find a setting in about:config. I'll just have to wait for an extension.

I installed a "CTRL-Tab" tab viewing extension. It's idea was original (something different than all the Expose clones) but didn't work correctly on my dual monitors. I usually have FF on the second screen and that's where it didn't work. I removed it but it seems to have left my CTRL-Tab shortcut hijacked and I can't switch tabs.

I tried a couple of the "Popular" themes from addons.mozilla.org but they didn't really compare to Firefox's default theme which is excellent.

The only changes left that I wanted to make were to the Tab clicking options. The tabs now include a close X on each tab. I have mixed feelings about this. I've used Xs on tabs before I tend to accidentally close the tab that I am trying to switch to. This usually happens only when there are many tabs and the tabs are small. Also, I use the middle-click and double-click shortcuts to open and close tabs so an X just kind of takes up space.

I tried a tab options extension (I can't remember its name) which allowed me to remove all the Xs on tabs or just the Xs on background tabs but it didn't let me modify the tab clicking options. I am now using "Tab Clicking Options" instead. This doesn't let me get rid of Xs but it does let me set what middle and double click does to tabs. I don't understand why the default settings are double-click to close tabs and middle-click to open tabs.

I found that in about:config you can change a settings and remove the Xs on background tabs without an extension. There is also an option for disabling background close but it doesn't seem to prevent you from clicking the X on background tabs so I'm not sure what this setting is for.

I'm going to give the Xs a chance since I've heard that once you get used to them you like them. But I think middle-clicking will be hard to beat.

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