I’m not going to rant on about how Firefox is a better browser, although in my opinion it is, or cry over flaws in Internet Explorer that give me head aches almost every day. What I would like to explain is why Firefox should have a place at the heart of every web developers process.
Firefox is an invaluable, time-saving tool regardless of weather you’re designing standards compliant visions of pure css beauty or, at the other end of the scale (more on that in another post) , customising templates for enterprise CMS products targeted exclusively at corporate environments running Internet Explorer.
So why is Firefox so invaluable? Well, firstly it renders pretty reliable standards compliant output which is a good starting point but more important is its extensibility. The combination of this open extensibility and some very smart web developers willing to contribute has led to a tool-set that no other browser has been able match, not that many (if any) seem to really be trying.
Firefox add-ins that should be in every web designers toolkit:
- The Web Developer Toolbar by Chris Pederick
- FireBug by
And a couple of less developer oriented add-ons I have found useful on a daily basis:
An eye-dropper colour selection tool that runs from the status bar.
A complete, full-featured FTP client inside Firefox.
Allows you to create custom style sheets for websites you regularly use that override the default styles for the site. Handy for fixing browser bugs, accessibility issues or just plain ugly sites!
- IE Tab
Allows you to switch the current page to Internet Explorer inside Firefox. Great for quick comparisons.
And finally, in the interests of fairness and to show my openness on this subject, if you’re absolutely determined NOT to use Firefox (you poor poor fools! ) then here are some (lesser) solutions for the IE oriented among you:
- XRay by WestCIV
- Web Accessability Toolbar by Vision Australia
As the toolbars primary focus is on accessability rather than development it also comes with some pretty nifty features such as a colour contrast analyser, gif flicker checker, the ability to switch to greyscale.This is actually a REALLY powerful tool and a vast improvement over some other attempts at a web developer style toolbar for Internet Explorer.