Mini Personas Plus Test Day! (Friday)

add-ons, Browsers, Firefox, Mozilla, Personas, Work 2 Comments

We’re just about ready to release an updated version of Personas Plus for both Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4, so we’re holding a somewhat impromptu testday for it on Friday (but feel free to start early if you like).

Where to get it…

If you have a few minutes to spare, please grab Personas Plus RC4 from the FTP site and install it on Firefox 3.6 or Firefox 4. You will have to “allow” the site to install the add-on in the dialog that pops up:

How to help…

Please test a few of the activities listed below (and anything else you can think of). If something appears odd or broken, either post a note here, leave a comment on the Personas forum thread or send an email to me directly at


If you’re on Mozilla IRC, feel free to join the #personas and #qa channels — I’ll be online for most of the day, so look for me (dria) there if you have any questions or think you have found a problem.

Some stuff to test…

  • Does the add-on icon (Fox Mask) appear properly in your status bar (Firefox 3.6) or add-on bar (Firefox 4)?
  • When you click on the Fox Mask icon, does the menu appear to be complete and correct?
  • Do all the menu items seem to do what they should?
  • When you open the “My Favorites” menu item, does clicking the “Sign in to Access your Favorites” take you to the correct page on (the account sign-in and creation page)?
  • When you select the “Random Selection from [galleryname]” submenu item, do you get a new, randomly selected Persona?
  • If you have selected the “Random Selection from [galleryname]” submenu item, does your Persona change periodically (every 60 minutes or so)?
  • If you are logged into your account, does clicking on “Go to My Favorites” do the correct thing?
  • If you are logged into your account, are you still logged in if you click any of the “#### More from [galleryname]” menu items to visit the galleries?
  • Go to Preferences and check the “Show Custom Persona in menu” checkbox. Does this add a new “Custom Persona” menu item?
  • Are you able to create and apply a custom persona using the Custom Persona menu item?
  • Does uninstalling the add-on from the add-ons manager work properly?

Did we miss something?

If you can think of anything else that we should test, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!

Personas Plus RC4 (yep, we found another bug)

add-ons, Browsers, Mozilla, Personas, Work No Comments

A fourth (and really hopefully final!) Release Candidate of the Personas Plus add-on for Firefox 4 is available on the FTP servers. The RC works with Firefox 3+, current nightly builds, and Firefox 4 beta releases.

You can download the add-on here: — you want to get personas-1.6.2rc4.xpi.

If you find any issues (or if you test and everything seems OK), please post a comment here! Thanks!

This RC fixes an interaction with, so is relatively minor. There are still some known issues, some of which will be fixed in a future version and others which are server-side. Thanks again for all your help!

Personas Plus RC3 – Please help test (again)!

add-ons, Firefox, Mozilla, Personas, Work 2 Comments

A third (and hopefully final!) Release Candidate of the Personas Plus add-on for Firefox 4 is available on the FTP servers. The RC works with Firefox 3+, current nightly builds, and Firefox 4 beta releases.

You can download the add-on here: — you want to get personas-1.6.2rc3.xpi.

If you find any issues (or if you test and everything seems OK), please post a comment here! Thanks!

Repost: Help test Personas Plus RC2 for Firefox 4!

add-ons, Firefox, Mozilla, Personas, Work No Comments

A second Release Candidate of the Personas Plus add-on for Firefox 4 is available on the FTP servers. The RC works with Firefox 3+, current nightly builds, and Firefox 4 beta releases.

The more testers the better, so we could really use your help. You can download the add-on here: — you want to get personas-1.6.2rc2.xpi.

If you find any issues, please post a comment here or in the bug. Thanks!

Help test Personas Plus for Firefox 4

add-ons, Mozilla, Personas, Work No Comments

UPDATE: Please test personas-1.6.2rc2.xpi, not rc1, thanks!

A Release Candidate of the Personas Plus add-on for Firefox 4 is available on the FTP servers. The RC works both with the current nightly builds and Firefox 4 beta releases.

The more testers the better, so we could really use your help. You can download the add-on here: — you want to get personas-1.6.2rc2.xpi.

If you find any issues, please post a comment here or in the bug. Thanks!

Better than adblocking

add-ons, Browsers, Design & Usability, Firefox, Mozilla, Web, Web - the Industry, Work 3 Comments

Just jumping on the adblocking yea/nay blogging train: I don’t block ads. I could but I don’t bother. Most of the time they don’t bother me unless I’m trying to read a long article, at which point I use Readability, which is infinitely better than an adblocker for that situation.

Before Readability

After Readability

Note: Readability runs fine on Minefield if you use Nightly Tester Tools to force-install. There’s also a bookmarklet version if you don’t want to install an add-on.

Why I love Readability, with screenshots

add-ons, Design & Usability, Firefox, Innovation, Productivity, Reading, Web, Work 5 Comments

Readability is a Firefox add-on that improves the experience of reading long articles in your browser by getting all the extraneous cruft out of the way. I use it every single day and love it to bits.

Here, for example, is a screenshot of what a typical Harvard Business Review article looks like in Firefox (Persona: Save the Bees Plz by monorail cat):

Old Crufty

With the Readability add-on installed, all I have to do is hit a quick keyboard shortcut (alt-cmd-R) and the page will reload and be reformatted by Readability. It looks like this:

New Clean

It’s just so, so much better. arc90, you have made a great thing. Thanks :)

Feedly – Awesome feed reader add-on for Firefox

add-ons, Firefox, Innovation, Internet, Web, Work 2 Comments

I read a lot of web feeds. Hundreds of feeds bring me thousands of stories on all manner of topics every day — Mozilla stuff, food and cooking, photography, gaming, news, technology, literature, writing, politics, business, innovation, design, etc. Feeds are how I get almost all of my news, whether it be local, national, or international. It’s how I view my friends’ blogs and my Flickr contacts’ photo streams. Feeds keep me up to date on most forums and newsgroups I follow, and they’re the first place I turn when I want to waste some time catching up on my entertainment news or to see what’s up at the renovation/interior design blogs I read. Feeds are, by and large, how I access the vast majority of the Web content I consume.

Until a few days ago I have been using the Vienna feed reader for Mac OS X. It’s a pretty decent workhorse of a reader with a standard email-client-like user interface, the ability to group feeds into folders and subfolders (and sub-subfolders), and all that. It has always frustrated me, however, that my feedreader — through which I consume the majority of my Web content — wasn’t part of Firefox. In fact, I could go so far as to say that Vienna was on close to equal footing to Firefox as my core tool for accessing the Web. This has always struck me as somewhat ridiculous, so I’ve played with all sorts of tools for reading feeds via Firefox, whether they be add-ons or web-applications or what have you. None have ever been compelling enough to switch me away from Vienna until now.

Feedly Screencap

I’ve discovered Feedly, you see, an incredibly slick Firefox 3 add-on that’s been in development for quite some time.

While I’ve only been using Feedly for just over a week now, it has already completely streamlined how I manage, view, and deal with my feeds. Brilliantly, Feedly leverages the existing Google Reader web application as its back end, and throws in added functionality, other service integration points, and a significantly improved UI for good measure. It installs as quickly and easily as any Firefox add-on, displays your feeds in their own tab, and essentially integrates your entire feed reading experience right into your Firefox. Feedly is almost exactly the sort of tool I was hoping to find, and while it does still have a few bugs and rough edges, it’s by far the best feed reader I’ve used to date.

Check it out: Feedly at Mozilla Add-ons.

20 top add-ons that are ready for Firefox 3

add-ons, Firefox, Mozilla, Software, Work 83 Comments

Being involved with Firefox development and testing is both an honour and a privilege. The one major drawback to being on the bleeding edge of the Mozillaverse, however, is that none of your add-ons ever work. Sure, I’ve had the absolute joy of using the Smart Location Bar (aka: Awesomebar) for ages, but I’ve also been living without any of my add-ons for months. It’s been hard. Very, very hard.

Naturally, when faced with the choice between using the new Firefox 3 features with no add-ons and reverting to Firefox 2 and getting all my add-ons back, I stuck with Firefox 3. I’m not kidding when I say that Firefox 3 is better than Firefox 2 in pretty much every possible way. It’s awesome and there’s no way I’m going back. Now, however, I don’t have to choose one over the other — with the recent delivery of Firefox 3 Release Candidate 1, I get to have my cake and eat it too.

Release Candidate 1, you see, coincides with the (AMO) site adding support for the final add-ons MaxVersion update. This means that all Firefox add-ons can now finally be updated such that they will work with the final release of Firefox 3. Lots of add-on developers have been waiting for this, so a huge number of add-ons are now getting updated. I spent yesterday going through the list and playing with some of my favourites, and it’s like Christmas has come seven months early.

I know a lot of folks are waiting for add-ons to get updated before diving in to help test the Firefox 3 release candidate, but now’s your chance. Dozens of add-ons are being updated to work with Firefox 3 every day, and there are hundreds already set to go. Here’s a list of 20 I’ve installed and checked out (arranged conveniently in alphabetical order):

Adblock Plus – This one does pretty much what it says on the box: Adblock blocks ads, and does so with grace and aplomb. This is one of the universals that pretty much every Firefox user I know has installed, and is one of the hardest to live without. Also updated for Firefox 3 is the Adblock Filterset.G Updater add-on companion for Adblock.


Download Statusbar – While the Firefox 3 download manager has been revamped, some folks have slightly more hardcore download requirements, which is where Download Statusbar comes in. Freshly updated for Firefox 3, this is one of the more popular Firefox add-ons out there.


Faviconize Tab – This is the one add-on I really have a hard time living without, and I’m unbelievably happy it’s finally updated for Firefox 3. I danced a dance of joy when I was finally able to stop overriding my add-ons compatibility check (which is generally a terrible idea) and could actually install Faviconize Tab for real. Such a simple thing, but such an incredibly useful thing. I love this add-on.


Firefox Companion for Ebay – I’m still a little afraid of Ebay (impulse shopping habits + credit card + 24hr access to a world of awesome things to buy = fear), but I do use the Companion to watch some of the more interesting auctions I run across.


Flashblock – One of the more infuriating things about trying to read on the Web are the flippy flashy animated doodads that hover around the margins making it impossible to focus. This is pretty much what Flashblock is created to fix, blocking the animated fiddlybits until you click a button on each to display it. This is a vital sanity saver for me, and I’m really glad it’s updated now.


FlashGot – If you do a lot of downloading, FlashGot is a must-have Firefox add-on. This being updated for Firefox 3 is going to save me a ton of time and mouseclicks.


Forecastfox – Being Canadian and currently on the edge of summer, I’m a little obsessed with the weather these days. When it’s not raining, or cold, or too windy to stand up, or dark, it’s actually gorgeous out, and keeping close track of when that sun is going to shine is a vital part of day-to-day life in May. Forecastfox being ready for Firefox 3 means I don’t have to obsessive-compulsively reload the Environment Canada website any more.


GooglePreview – This is actually a “new to me” add-on that I discovered yesterday, but it’s really great. Again, it’s simple and unobtrusive, just quietly enhancing your Web experience without getting in your way. What it does is add a small preview thumbnail to your Google search results. It’s just neat.


Live HTTP Headers – This one’s for the Web Developers in the audience, as it lets you view the running stream of HTTP headers of the pages you browse. Very useful, and ready for Firefox 3.


Mouse Gestures – This is another “new to me” add-on that I was playing with yesterday that may change how I use the Web. I never really thought much about mouse gestures until I started using them, and it turns out they’re actually pretty awesome. I’ll definitely be messing around with this one for a while to see if the novelty wears off, or whether it’ll be a long-term sort of add-on for me.


NoScript – NoScript is a hugely popular security-related add-on that gives Firefox users very fine-grained control over what JavaScript, Java, and executable content is allowed to run in the browser.


ScribeFire – Formerly known as “Performancing”, ScribeFire is a very cool and full-featured blog editor that integrates with Firefox. Now that it’s ready for Firefox 3 I’m going to start using it again — it makes sense to have a blog editor integrated with a browser, in my opinion, because blogging is so absolutely tied to the Web. ScribeFire has come a long way since its original launch, so if you haven’t checked it out lately, you should take it for a spin.


Shareaholic – If you’re like me and spend a whole lot of time looking at things on the Web, you end up finding piles of things that you want to share with other folks. Shareaholic is a fantastic add-on for this, integrating with digg,, facebook, foxiewire, friendfeed, google bookmarks, google reader, magnolia, reddit, stumbleupon, tumbler, twitter, and more. Jay Meattle, the developer who also happened to win the Extend Firefox 2 contest with this add-on, has recently updated it to work with Firefox 3. And there has been much rejoicing.


Speed Dial – The Speed Dial feature was originally debuted by the Opera web browser, but several add-ons mimicking the functionality very quickly came available for Firefox. I like Speed Dial in particular because it’s very straightforward, super easy to customize, and is now completely up to date for Firefox 3.


StumbleUpon – I didn’t actually start using this add-on until my Dad told me about it one day, and now I’m a bit of an addict. Be wary, however — StumbleUpon is a bit dangerous in that it can eat days of your life if you’re not careful. I’m just glad the toolbar can be toggled on and off, else I’d never get anything done. Fun stuff, extraordinarily popular, very slick.


ThumbStrips – ThumbStrips creates a browseable graphical timeline of your surfing history that is displayed along the bottom of the browser. Originally I figured it would be like another, fancier version of tabs but it’s not that at all — it makes flipping back and forth through your recent browser history really easy, which can be great in situations when you’re checking out Google search results and so forth. Neat stuff.


TwitterFox – Being slightly unnerved by social networking in general (FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc.) I generally don’t spend much time on such sites, but I’ve made an exception for Twitter. Twitter is simple and fun. It’s also useful, believe it or not, and (if you keep your “Following” list pared down sensibly) it can be super interesting and informative. TwitterFox is a neat little add-on that integrates Twitter right into Firefox that works well and generally does what you expect it to do.


Video DownloadHelper – If you’re interested in saving Web videos to your local machine — for example, to watch while on a plane or otherwise offline — Video DownloadHelper is a great add-on to use. Sites it works with include YouTube, MySpace, Google videos, DailyMotion, iFilm, and others.


Web Developer Toolbar – Chris Pederick’s Web Developer Toolbar is one of the absolute must-have Firefox add-ons if you’re a Web Developer. It’s been around for years and puts a world of useful utilities at your fingertips, saving time, effort, and frustration.


Wizz RSS Reader – If you’re a bit of a Webfeed junkie and LiveBookmarks aren’t enough, you’ll probably want to check out the Wizz RSS news reader add-on. By way of the sidebar, Wizz lets you subscribe to Webfeeds and quickly flip through new posts or updates to those sites. Wizz is, in my opinion, a great middle ground between LiveBookmarks and a full-featured desktop Webfeed client like Vienna.


So, there you have it — 20 top notch add-ons that are ready to go for Firefox 3. If you’re curious about Firefox 3 and would like to check out the Release Candidate and play with some of these, Friday afternoon seems like a perfectly reasonable time to do it.

Alex Polvi is doing a weekly update about the “State of the Add-ons” that need help getting updated for Firefox 3. If you’re an add-on developer (or would like to be one!) and would like to help, head over to Polvi’s blog and he’ll point you in the right direction.

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