If you’re still using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser, shame on you! While Microsoft was busy reveling it its browser war victory over Netscape the open source community was quietly building alternatives to IE. Mozilla’s Firefox leads this group and has caused Microsoft to pay attention and begin to innovate and add features to IE. Competition is finally back!
One of the greatest of Firefox’s features, and probably least used, is its extensibility. Firefox users can install “add-ons” to customize the browser to their needs and make web surfing more powerful and personal. I only use a couple but there are hundreds of these add-ons available and installing them is so simple even a caveman could do it.
The must-have add-on for Firefox is Greasemonkey. Greasemonkey allows users to install scripts that customize individual webpages. It is possible to move page elements around, insert additional information, and remove unwanted elements such as advertisements. My Google.com and my Flickr.com can look completely different than your Google.com and your Flickr.com. The coolness of this can not be overstated.
Installation of add-ons and user scripts is a breeze. You simply click on the link, wait for the install dialog to pop-up, and click the “Install” button. Viola! User scripts are available immediately while extensions require a browser restart.
My favorite add-ons:
Customizegoogle – This little gem allows the user to add links to perform searches in other search engines, remove the spam counter in Gmail, remove ads in Google Maps, and many other wonderful customizations.
My favorite Greasemonkey user scripts for Flickr!:
Buddy Icon Reply – This adds links which, when clicked, automatically add code for a user’s name or Flickr icon into the comment block.
Move Additional Info – Moves the additional info to the top of the right panel so the user doesn’t have to scroll to get the photo’s technical specs.
More EXIF Info – Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) information is useful to those of us who like to know how a camera was set-up when the picture was taken. This user script allows the user to select which information should be displayed on the picture page without having to click More properties.
Rich Text Editor – Easily add links, bold, italics, etc. to comments.
Flickr PM – Adds useful links next to each user’s name.
Photo Page Enhancer 2 – Adds links to a photo’s other sizes (even if you don’t have permission) and gives you the code to paste a picture in a comment.
Referer Comments – This automatically adds code to your comment to let everyone know how you found the picture.
Groups Organizer – This should be standard in Flickr! It allows the user to sort their groups alphabetically. The Flickr staff obviously reads The Rhetoric and liked my suggestion. This user script is now redundant.
Find many more wonderful Flickr extensions and user scripts at the Flickr Hacks group.