The Firefox 3 status meeting minutes have an interesting note. One of the items discuses what extensions should be included in the final release of Firefox 3 as part of the core browser. The list includes numerous extensions such as Firebug, TableTools, and Searchbar Autosizer (note that the full list of nominated extensions is at the end of this post).
I am not a heavy add-on user as I believe that, by default, Firefox provides almost everything needed to browse the web with. Outside of a few extensions, such as the BlueOrganizer and Scrapbook extensions, most of the extensions I use are small add-ons that provide for an increase in browsing efficiency and speed. This is the type of extensions that should be folded into Firefox. Those extensions that have little impact on users who choose not to use them but which provide increased productivity for those who do.
Too many of the nominated extensions do not fall into this category. For example, Firebug is a shining example of the power of extensions (I use it almost everyday in my web development profile) but it is of little use to the average Firefox user. Of the nominated list, only the URLFixer and additional improvements to the searchbar add any real productivity enhancements to the non-power user. An enhanced TableTools extension or Site Specific Prefs extension adds value to me but would only serve to be confusing to and never used by a majority of users.
There are, though, several other extensions that I believe would be worthy to be included on the list. They include the following:
- Copy Plain Text – Copies the selected text without any formatting.
- Context Search – Allows the user to use all of their search engines in the “Web Search for…” context menu item.
- Duplicate Tab – Clone a tab with its history when a new tab is created.
- Minimize to Tray – Minimizes Firefox to the system tray where from it can be quickly recalled and used.
For any developer there is a real temptation to add functionality to an application based on those preferences that use desire or that the most vocal segment of your user base desires. The Mozilla team has thus far done a good job balancing between keeping a solid and lean browser and adding additional functionality that Firefox users need and desire. As the list of extensions get whittled down I see no reason why this cannot and will not continue.
List of Nominated Extensions
- Firebug â€“ Provides numerous web tools for development and testing.
- LocationBarÂ² â€“ Uses the location bar to provide more information in helping to prevent phishing attacks and provides easier navigation within a web site.
- Print Hint â€“ Indicates when the webpage has a ‘Print’ stylesheet attached to it.
- Searchbar Autosizer – Automatically resizes the search bar as the user types in a search term.
- Site Specific Prefs â€“ Allows the user to save preferences on a site-by-site basis.
- TableTools â€“ Allows the user to perfrom certain operations on a table of data, such as sorting.
- URLFixer â€“ Attempts to correct typos in URLs that are entered into the address bar. For example, google.con will be corrected to google.com.