aHrefs SEO toolbar

I’m testing the freshly released Firefox 64 and just realised that this means I can finally download and test the SEO toolbar from my search engine optimisation tool of choice: aHrefs.com

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The toolbar is pretty neat and does exactly what I expect it to:

  • shows backlinks to current page and root domain
  • shows number of referring domains (RD)
  • shows estimates of monthly search traffic (seems lower number than what I’m actually getting in my website stats)
  • highlights the number of keywords (KW) that the page is ranking for

Overall, pretty cool and a nice extension to the already awesome aHrefs toolkit. Keywords is a particularly useful thing – when clicked it opens an aHrefs dashboard page where I can select and bookmark certain keywords for later targeting.

In addition to the toolbar, this add-on seems to be updating Google SERPs with similar information – so when I’m researching a technical topic for my Unix Tutorial blog it should help to assess quality of backlinks much quicker:

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Firefox 3 Memory Usage Better Than Other Browsers

Firefox 3 logo

Sam Allen from Dot NET Pearls has written a great program to observe the memory taken up by each of the 5 most popular browsers. His experiment was to taken snapshots of memory usage numbers every 3 seconds for a period of 3 hours. The graphs posted on his Firefox 3 Memory Benchmarks and Comparison page are quite interesting, particularly showing that Firefox 3 is ahead of all the competitors with its rather stable and humble memory requirements.

I’ve been using Firefox 3 full-time since RC2, and must say I’m really impressed with its stability and performance.

Link: Firefox 3 Memory Benchmarks via Slashdot: Real-World Firefox 3 Memory Usage.

Firefox 3 Download Day!

Just a reminder: today, June 17th 2008, is the official Firefox 3 download day – Mozilla foundation attempts to set a new Guinness record by having the latest release of Firefox downloaded the most within 24 hours.

You still have the time to make a pledge and download it: Firefox 3 download day.

Firefox 2 release already available for download

Thanks to Ryan from CyberNet Technology News, I've just downloaded the latest Firefox 2 build from the releases folder. It has no RC in the filename, so it's as close to the release (scheduled for tomorrow) as it gets :)

You can download Firefox 2 release from here: Firefox 2 @ releases.mozilla.org.

Internet Explorer in your Firefox Tab: IE Tab

I've been a Firefox fan since the early versions of this wonderful browser, and while I absolutely love most of its features, what it really lacked all the time is a set of Internet Explorer-only features some really stubborn websites still require. I found my way around most of such limitations, but after I joined my current company I had to suddenly start using lots of ActiveX-powered websites, and this meant having a whole set of pages I would browse in IE only…

Well, not anymore! Meet IE Tab – a wonderful Firefox extension which allows you to transparently open IE-only websites in a separate tab of your browser. All you do is maintain a list of websites which will always be rendered using the IE engine and not the Firefox one, and that's it. This list is accessible from the IE Tab options menu. I dare you – go on and give it a try: IE Tab.

3 Ways to Make Old Extensions Compatible with Firefox 2.0

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So, I’ve had some more time to play with the latest build of Firefox, and I liked it so much that I couldn’t use the 1.5 version anymore. And this left me with a problem: hardly any of my extensions were compatible with the latest and greatest Firefox version.

I’ve made a bit of a research out of it, and here we are: I present you with the 3 ways to make extensions compatible with Firefox 2.0.

Firefox Books

If you like Firefox, you will find the following books extremely useful:

First though, I’d like to give you a few warnings:

  • not 100% of your extensions will work,some of the older ones would really be incompatible. But if you had Firefox 1.5, than I doubt you’ll have any problems.
  • if you update any of the “made compatible” extensions using the automatic update function of Firefox, you may easily end up with an incompatible version again. This means you’ll probably have to make it compatible once more.

That said, I hope you will find useful at least one of the following ways to make old extensions Firefox 2.0 compatible. I’ve also given you the main advantage and disadvantage of using each of the methods.

1) Making Extensions Compatible – THE EASY WAY

All you have to do is to go and download a wonderful Nightly Tester Tools extension. Not only it is compatible with your newest Firefox version, but it will also add a button to your Extensions manager (Tools->Add-ons):

Just click this button and restart your browser. Please note that this is a screenshot taken AFTER making all the xtensions compatible – so as you can see they’re all active already.

The advantage of this way is that it’s really easy to make all your extensions compatible with any Firefox until Firefox 3.0 (that’s what this extension puts as the MaxVersion for each of the extensions it fixes)

The disadvantage is that there is no equally easy way to revert the changes, so once “made compatible”, your extensions will stay this way – there is no button to make them uncompatible again. However, disabling the extension seems to restore the versions.

2) Making Extensions Compatible – THE FIREFOX GURU WAY

What you can do is open the configuration (about:config) in your Firefox browser, right click the list and create a boolean extensions.checkCompatibility option there. Set its value to false and restart the browser.

Most of your extensions should work now. If you go to the Add-ons dialog, it will look like this:

As you can see, extensions which would otherwise be incompatible, are flagged with the exclamation mark. You can also see a warning message which suggest you enable the compatibility check again.

The advantage of this approach is that it’s really simple to make the change which affects all the extensions.

The disadvantage is that this way can be used as a temporary solution only, as it may lead to unpredictable consequences (some really old or really new extensions may malfunction).

3) Making Extensions Compatible – THE HARD WAY

This is essentially a manual way of accomplishing the result of using the Nightly Tester Tools extension.

The advantage of this way is in total control over which extensions you’ll hack to become compatible.

The disadvantage is in the fact that every step of this method is rather hard: distinguishing extensions to make sure you’re changing the one you really want, and
manually changing the versions supported.

  1. Close your browser
  2. Go to the folder with all your Firefox extensions:
    C:\Documents and Settings\USER\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\PROFILE\extensions In this line, USER is to be replaced with your Windows login, and PROFILE will be the name of your Firefox profile (weird looking folder name, usually the only one found in Profiles folder)
  3. You’ll see a list of folders there, 1 folder for each extension. The names of the folders are the unique identifiers for extensions, so they may seem scary at first:
    {34274bf4-1d97-a289-e984-17e546307e4f} – this is the Adblock extension GUID.
  4. Go to any folder, and open the install.rdf file for editing with your favorite clear text editor. Notepad works, but using it will make things even harder cause it doesn’t part rdf files properly. Your choice :) Now back to the business. You need to look for 2 things:
    • name of the extension, to make sure you’re editing the right oneJust look for the em:name, and try to recognize the extension from the description that follows:

      <!– Front End MetaData –>
      <em:name>Adblock</em:name>
      <em:description>Filters ads from web-pages</em:description>
      <em:creator>The Adblock Crew</em:creator>
      <em:contributor>Henrik Aasted Sorensen</em:contributor>

    • a block of minimal and maximum Firefox versions the extension will work on.
      Warning: there could be few similar blocks with versions, so make sure you’ll edit the one which has EXACTLY this em:id, the one which belongs to Firefox browser: ec8030f7-c20a-464f-9b0e-13a3a9e97384.
    • <!– FireFox –>
      <em:targetApplication>
      <Description>
      <em:id>{ec8030f7-c20a-464f-9b0e-13a3a9e97384}</em:id>
      <em:minVersion>0.7</em:minVersion>
      <em:maxVersion>1.5</em:maxVersion>
      </Description>
      </em:targetApplication>

  5. Edit the maxVersion parameter (shown in bold to make it easier), and change it from 1.5 to 2.0b2.
  6. Remove the extensions.cache file from the C:\Documents and Settings\USER\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\PROFILE\ folder – this will make sure Firefox will read all the changes from install.rdf files and pick up the now “compatible” extension
  7. Restart your browser, enable the previously disabled extension you’ve just edited
  8. Restart your browser again to activate this extension

There you have it. Enjoy!

Firefox 2 Beta 2

At last, the second beta of Firefox 2 is finally released and available for download! I saw the first beta before but it wasn't stable enough, so this time around I'm hoping to give it a try again. Below is a list of things I really like and don't like about Firefox 2.

 

What I like about Firefox 2 

  • Built-in spell-checker – not only do you have your typos highlighted as you enter your text, but you can always right-click on any text field and spell-check it again to see all the suspicious words. I've been waiting for this, and had to keep Google Toolbar for this purpose.

  • Close button for each tab – again, you can't imagine how useful and effort saving this option is – you don't have to scroll to the right side of the Firefox window to close the currently open tab anymore

  • JavaScript 1.7 support – I don't really plan on using the latest and greatest features, but there's definitely been some work done in JavaScript space, as one particular plug-in for WordPress which is partially written in JavaScript finally started working properly, while in previous versions of Firefox it would not properly show some of the windows

  • Phishing protection – mostly I can tell a phishing site apart from the original one, but you can't be too careful these days. Apparently, this will work by having Firefox contact some online database to ensure you're not trying to connect to one of the well-known phishing sites.

  • Better RSS support – not only there are Live Titles support for websites which provide microsummary, but there is also a much better general support for RSS feeds. For instance, you can change settings so that Firefox will automatically add feeds to your feeds aggregator (like Yahoo! or Google Reader)

 

What I don't like about Firefox 2

  • Constantly moving release dates and deadlines – waiting for the Firefox 2.0 b2 beta was really painful, as the release date was pushed forward few times.

  • Very little support for existing extensions.
    While it really is more a task for the extensions developers to provide support for this version of Firefox, I still think some kind of Firefox version emulation  (Firefox 2 pretending to be Firefox 1.5) for the sake of backwards compatibility would be a great option to have

  • Options dialogue window is changed again – don't you just hate it when you have to learn location of all the setting options all over again? It's okay for new functionality, but I don't like the known settings to be regrouped and moved to a different tab.

Overall, I'm very happy to see another option of the most favorite and useful browser, and I hope the final Firefox 2.0 release is to follow soon enough.

 

If you want to learn more, you can read more about the new features in the Mozilla Firefox 2 Beta 2 Release Notes. If you simply want to download this beta of Firefox 2, please get it here.

Performancing Firefox 1.3 Final

The latest version of Performancing for Firefox (PFF) – 1.3 final, has just been released.

Performancing for Firefox is a great blog editor. It's a wonderful extension for your Firefox browser which has multiple blogs support

Jed Brown has an extensive post explaining new features and APIs of this Performancing Firefox version. Please have a look: Performancing Firefox 1.3 Final!

I've also created a page for Performancing Firefox in the Editors section of my Blogging Tools, just follow this link: Performancing Firefox.