Firefox Secrets

Posted by
samzenpus

on Friday December 23, @01:27PM
from the revealed-at-last dept.

Craig Maloney writes „By
now most readers have probably heard about Firefox, the Open Source
browser that poses a serious challenge to Internet Explorer. They’ve
probably even installed it on a few machines, and no doubt have
customized it pretty much to their liking. They’re pretty comfortable
with how it works in their day-to-day browsing activities. Plus,
Firefox is pretty open, and about:config, extensions, and themes have
many pages dedicated to their use. What more could there be to Firefox?
Firefox Secrets is a collection of tips and tricks to help wring
out that last kernel of performance from Firefox, with specific ways to
increase users productivity with Firefox. It also contains plenty of
tips for new Firefox users to guide them to learning what Firefox is,
and how it can improve their browsing experience.“ Read on for Craig’s review.

Firefox Secrets
presents the material in a well thought out manner. Each chapter starts
with a specific task in mind, with helpful tips in performing that task
listed throughout the rest of the chapter. In the chapter entitled
„Revisiting Web Pages“ (something we are all bound to do at some time
in our lives), Firefox Secrets starts the chapter with sections
on importing bookmarks from other programs, creating new bookmarks, and
using the bookmark manager. (Pretty basic stuff which most Slashdot
readers have no doubt mastered). The power, though, lies in the rest of
the chapter, where the book lists out how to add a bookmark for a group
of tabs, how to create several types of keyword bookmark, how to use
the bookmarks tool bar, and how to use the bookmark manager and
sidebar. It then talks about Firefox’s RSS and Live bookmarks, and how
to create them using the RSS icon, and create them manually. Finally
the chapter finishes off with the cookie and history managers, as well
as the password manager. Each section is described in detail with clear
directions on how to use the feature, and clear explanations on why
readers would want to use the feature.

Expert users need not worry, though, as this book has plenty
for them too. One of the more powerful features of Firefox are the
Extensions, which allow incredible recognizability in Firefox. The
chapter on Extensions starts with an introduction to what Extensions
are, and why they’re so important. Next the author describes installing
an extension, and uses the miniT extension (an extension that allows
drag-and-drop tab placement) as a sample extension to install. The
author begins by directing the browser to the extensions site,
installing the extension, and configuring the extension once the
browser has recognized it. From there the author discusses installing
from sites other than the Mozilla Extensions site, installing from a
local file, and using the extensions manager to track and configure
extensions. As someone who has installed many extensions that proved
less than useful, or prevented Firefox from even starting properly, the
next section on uninstalling and entering Firefox’s safe-mode could
prove profile-saving. (I have had several occasions where knowing about
safe-mode would have saved me a half-hour’s work in rebuilding my
profile). The author moves from this introductory material to a list of
his personal favorite extensions. Unless the reader has an RSS feed
tuned to the Mozilla Extensions site, there’s bound to be several
extensions that the reader will find useful. (I downloaded the
Spellbound Spell Check, and Download Status bar extensions during the
course of this review).

Of course no book on the secrets of Firefox would be complete
without mentioning about:config. about:config holds a treasure-trove of
configurable options for Firefox, many of which are not self-evident
without a guide of some form. Firefox secrets does not provide a
comprehensive look at about:config, but instead shows what about:config
is, shows how to use it, and presents a few neat tips that can be set
by about:config. Other somewhat hidden preference features include the
.css and .js files under the user profile. Firefox Secrets
quickly glosses over some key tips, such as CSS examples for marking
unread tabs, and shifting the sidebar to the right. Also included are
tips for customizing the user interface, and incorporating web
development features which developers will no doubt find extremely
handy in their daily development rituals. The book finishes off with
best practices for downloading and using the Firefox nightly builds,
and what sorts of issues to expect.

Some people out there may feel that Firefox Secrets
doesn’t offer any tips that can’t be found on the web. It’s a fair
assessment that some of the ideas presented in the book should be
pretty routine for expert Firefox users. However, unless you have RSS
feeds to every Mozilla development site, and maintain an encyclopedic
knowledge of every configurable doo-dad and Extension, you’ll likely
find many good tips and best practices for enhancing your browsing
experience. I’ll admit I was skeptical this book would provide me
anything of value, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how insightful
this book is. Firefox Secrets balances between beginning users
who have yet to install their first extension, and experts who want to
take their browsing to the next level.“


You can purchase Firefox Secrets from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers‘ book reviews — to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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