I remember when I first heard of Google’s new browser, dubbed Chrome. I was sitting at my desk at work, reading the news and for a moment I thought I could almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from clear across the other side of the world at Redmond.
Beyond the pros and cons of Chrome, I had been a Firefox man for a long time by then and while I immediately had to download and try out this new browser, I knew that I wouldn’t be switching full time to Chrome at least until it had the same add-on support and evolved add-on ecosystem that I enjoyed with Firefox. Chrome has had the ability to support add-ons for some time now and I haven’t really had the time or the inclination to investigate how the current crop of Chrome extensions and features stack up against Firefox for my purposes. That is, until now.
Looking at my Firefox add-ons currently, I’ve got:
That’s a fair list, though I’m guessing not as full as some people’s Firefox installs. There’s probably at least a few add-ons in that list I could get rid of and not really notice any difference. But some I can no longer live without.
There’s an unsurprising theme evident: many of these add-ons are related to web design and development. ColorZilla, DOM Inspector, Firebug, Live HTTP Headers, MeasureIt and the Web Developer toolbar would all fall into this category for me. Out of these tools, Web Developer and Firebug I cannot do without.
Of the add-ons not directly related to web design/development, probably the five I use the most are 1Password extension for Firefox, All-in-One Gestures, Backpack Pages, Dictionary Search and Google Reader Watcher.
Mouse gestures are awesome. When a friend first recommended All-in-One Gestures, I remember thinking this was like using the mouse gestures in Peter Molyneux’s ambitious game Black and White to cast miracles, but in your browser! I don’t even often use the full plethora of gestures available. Probably 99% of the time I’m just using back/forward (draw a line right to left/left to right) and drawing a line up over a link to open in a new tab. But I’ve gotten so used to just these three simple gestures that I’m always momentarily confused when I go for a gesture and happen to be working at a foreign computer, using a browser that does not have a mouse gestures add-on installed.
Does Chrome have mouse gestures? Yes it does. But apparently not yet for Linux or Mac. That dog don’t hunt.
Backpack Pages is a Firefox add-on that lets you access your Backpack from an icon on the right hand side of the Bookmark Toolbar in Firefox. I’ve been a Backpack user since 2005 when I read an article on Salon.com. I wanted to see what this Ruby on Rails stuff was producing and I liked what I saw.
I’ve found one extension for Chrome that allows manipulation of Backpack reminders, but I’m looking for a bit more than that.
However, I seem to be something of a browser monogamist. Part of this I’m sure is just habit. But part of it is because for me there’s often a pretty blurred line between development browsing and general browsing. Often I’ll be surfing along, come to a site, see something cool and think ‘I wonder how they did that.’ At those times I like to be able to have my arsenal of web development add-ons at the ready to delve into the site and see what I can find.
It felt kind of like this before Prototype and jQuery too, but the monkeys had Rabies. ↩