Firefox Extensions: Never a Dull Moment

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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


Extension Description


Tools that maintain and update weblogs


Enhance managing bookmarks

Developer Tools

Assist in XUL and website design

Download Tools

Ease the downloading of files

Editing and Forms

Editing and forms


Fun and games


Extensions on the lighter side

Image Browsing

Aids in browsing sites that are mostly images

Kiosk Browsing

Useful in web kiosk environments


Language packs and translators


Other extensions


Additional navigation between related pages

News Reading

News and RSS readers

Privacy and Security

Useful for protecting your privacy

Search Tools

Help you find information

Tabbed Browsing

Enhance the tabbed browsing features

Web Annoyances

Get rid of annoying content while you surf

Website Integration

Website integration

XUL Applications

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.

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    Firefox and Thunderbird. Beyond Browsing and Email
    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage
    ISBN: 0131870041
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 245

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