Firefox Extensions: Never a Dull Moment!
Extensions, by nature, are chancy at best. For example, here's the good:
Many, many extensions are available to Firefox users.
Extensions are easy to add and easy to remove.
Extensions are, by design, specific to a user profile. If multiple users are sharing the same computer, each can have his own personal set of extensions.
Extensions are easy to write, and the ability to write an extension is not limited to a specific group or company.
Extensions can save you an incredible amount of work.
However, here's the bad:
So many extensions are available that users frequently have a difficult time choosing which ones to use.
Because extensions can be written by almost anyone, there is no quality control. You might not realize that a certain extension is problematic until you have installed it.
Because extensions are specific to a user profile, if more than one user on a computer wants a give extension, every user must install that extension.
There is little documentation for most extensions! Why is it that programmers believe users know all?
And here's the ugly:
There are few, if any, standards for extensions. Extension development is driven by what the developer wants. Take what is offered, or do it yourself.
A badly written extension could cause serious malfunctions within Firefox, and maybe even cause problems with Windows.
Extensions can break when there is a new release of Firefox, especially when the release is a major change.
Sometimes extensions interfere with other extensions. Extension writers might not know about all the other extensions and what these other extensions modify in Firefox.
Firefox extension names have no controls with regard to ownership. It has happened that two similar extensions have been released with either the same name or a very similar name. This problem can create confusion in the user community! Installing the wrong extension can lead to unexpected, and often unintended, results!
Mozilla organizes Firefox extensions into about 20 categories (see Table 8.1).
Table 8.1. Firefox Extension Categories
Tools that maintain and update weblogs
Enhance managing bookmarks
Assist in XUL and website design
Ease the downloading of files
Editing and Forms
Editing and forms
Fun and games
Extensions on the lighter side
Aids in browsing sites that are mostly images
Useful in web kiosk environments
Language packs and translators
Additional navigation between related pages
News and RSS readers
Privacy and Security
Useful for protecting your privacy
Help you find information
Enhance the tabbed browsing features
Get rid of annoying content while you surf
Full applications posing as extensions
Before we discuss each of these categories, let's first show what you must do to find, download, and install an extension. And, just to be complete, we'll also examine how to remove an extension you no longer want.