Friday, April 11, 2008

Are You Using Firefox As Your Web Browser?

flickr displayed through Firefox with colored tabs

What web brower(s) are you using? The web browsing market has been dominated for several years by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, but Mozilla’s Firefox has made a lot of ground the last few years and it has been downloaded over 500 million times. Firefox is an amazing web browser that allows you to do so much more than simply view web sites. It has loads of features and allows for a lot of customization and a variety of uses beyond simply web browsing.

Firefox is the web browser unit of the Mozilla Foundation. Without getting into a lot of legalize, the Mozilla Foundation is not a traditional software company but a not for profit organization. They’re one of the newer corporate models that promote open source and community. Much of what they do is very transparent with product code being readily available to developers and much of the public. They have been a big driver in much of the open source efforts that you see today. In addition to Firefox, the Mozilla Foundation has several other projects running (email and calendar to name a few).

If you’re using Internet Explorer 6 (or an earlier version) or an older version of other web browsers, you have probably come to accept that you either have a lot of browser windows open at a time and or use your back button often, when you’re surfing the web. When I was first turned on to it, I just loved the tabbed browsing feature. Tabs allow you to open up multiple web pages within the same browser, without having to open up a new window for each web page. Prior to tab browsing you might have a million windows open from your browser, so navigating through them was clumsy at best. With tabbed browsing, a tab is assigned to all open web pages within your browser, so you can click on the different tabs to go to different pages that you have open within that browser, which is a lot more efficient that trying to find the web page you were at before. When you right click on a link, you can select the “Open Link in New Window” (the first option) or “Open Link in New Tab”. As Firefox became more a more popular, it made tabbed browsing popular and many other browsers are now offering their versions of tab browsing.

Because of an active developing community, Firefox has a whole host of handy extensions or plug-ins that you can use along with it. There is a good chance that if there is something that you would like to do when you’re surfing, that there is an extension that will help you do it. You can find some popular extensions here. At this site you’ll find extensions or add-on organized into. In a column of the left are a series of categories including things like, “Photos, Music & Videos”, “Privacy & Security”, “Search Tools”, “Toolbars” and so on. On the right side of the page you’ll find a box with headings for “We Recommend” and “Most Popular”, there are some specific extensions listed there and you can click on “View all” to see more. When last I looked there were 199 pages of extensions to be found under “Most Popular”. Here are some extensions/ add-ons that I recently found there.

Most web sites are now being written to be viewed within Firefox, in addition to Internet Explorer, so it is rare to come across a site that doesn’t load properly. If you’re using a browser that isn’t widely used, you’re more likely to come across web pages that either don’t load or don’t load properly and what you see on your monitor is probably not how the person that put that web page together imagined it would look on your screen. Because all the different browsers work differently, the standards necessary to make the web pages load properly vary, and it is often necessary for the people putting websites together to put in a lot more effort in creating web pages so that they work properly with the various browsers. For the web browsers that aren’t as widely used, it is less likely that the sites will be written to be displayed in the browser and/or that they will be tested in that browser. As new web browsers grown in popularity and usage, there will be more and more incorporation of that browser’s standards into web page design and usage, but you can kind of see a chicken and egg thing going on here. For most of your smaller sites they might test for how the page loads in different versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and occasionally in another more commonly used browser. Because the many web pages don’t incorporate all of the web browsers’ standards, you might not be able to enjoy some of the new and exciting features that you find today.

Another Firefox feature that I often use is the ability to “Bookmark All Tabs”. For those of you that are regular Internet Explorer users, a bookmark is the same thing as a favorite. This can be found under “Bookmarks” in the Firefox menu or you can you the keyboard short cut of [Ctrl+Shift+D]. To do the standard “Bookmark This Page”, you can use [Ctrl+D], or use “Bookmarks” from the menu. There are some web sites that I visit or use very often and by grouping them together in a “Bookmark All Tabs”, I can open them all up at once by going to that folder from “Bookmarks” in the menu and selecting the last item in that folder “Open All in Tabs”. This saves you the time of having to open up each site individually. It is also handy if you have done some browsing and have a lot of pages open but don’t want to bookmark them individually. if these are sites that you don’t want to keep in your bookmarks permanently, you can create a temporary folder and delete them later when you no longer need those bookmarks. It is also easy enough to manage your bookmarks through the “Organise Bookmarks” found under “Bookmarks” in the menu as well.

Lots of great features, tab browsing, customization through extensions and add-ons, and widely accepted usage that ensure most web page will load properly in Firefox are all reasons that I use Firefox. If you’re not using it, you should give it a try. Do you use Firefox? What web browser(s) are you using? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.
blog comments powered by Disqus