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Firefox to make your life easier

Most of you who are doing heavy web development work have told us that you're using Firefox as your browser of choice, and if so, there's a few absolutely indispensable extensions that we'd recommend adding to your toolkit. (If you're not familiar with installing or using extensions, the Mozilla foundation has documentation available.)

First, for anyone who uses the web interface of their blogging tool or edits text online for any application, the resizeable textarea extension will let you size text entry boxes to whatever dimensions you prefer.

Once you're set up for resizing text areas, there's a suite of astoundingly powerful tools available for web developers, particularly those who work with CSS, Javascript, and the DOM. Chris Pederick's web developer extension is a whole suite of functions that make quick work of common tasks like validating content and display information about page elements, while including powerful options like the ability to edit the CSS of a page with live updating of the page's display.

A new and powerful partner to this toolbar's functionality is the Aardvark Firefox Extension. A slick set of functions that let you highlight page elements in realtime just by hovering, and to change the formatting and display of the page to simplify debugging, Aardvark's as fun to play with as it is useful.

As soon as you've gotten a taste for the power of extensions, you'll want to start building some yourself. The easiest way to get started is with Greasemonkey. Greasemonkey is an extension that lets you add user scripts to any page you visit, giving you the full power of DHTML that automatically executes when you visit any page. The Greasemonkey User Scripts wiki details the dozens of user scripts available. A good one to get started with is Gina Trapani's Movable Type upload directory script, which we'd mentioned in the past here on the Professional Network blog.

If you're making user scripts but want to simplify installation for users who might not have Greasemonkey installed, check out Adrian Holovaty's new Greasemonkey compiler, which makes a true Firefox extension out of a Greasemonkey user script, simplifying the user experience for Firefox users.

And finally, if you want to dig in and start creating Firefox extensions yourself, you can check out this tutorial detailing exactly how to get started.

Whether you're just making creative use of extensions, creating your own user scripts, or building new extensions on your own, we'd be glad to hear about your ideas. Get in touch and we'll share your ideas with the rest of the Professional Network.