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Firefox 3 beta 3

Firefox 3 beta 3 finally has updated their add-ons dialog window. I ranted about this way back in 2006. Goes to show that typing blog posts is a good replacement for fixing things yourself. (No it isn't.) You can now sort of download some Firefox extensions in the Tools => Add-ons window.

Firefox3b3

I say "sort of" because it still doesn't do nearly as much as I wish it did. For example it only seems to offer you a few of the top "recommended" extensions for immediate download. It still retains the magic link that takes you to the Firefox addons website if you want to view more than those. And there's now a search box for searching plugins, but doing the search in the window only shows a few results, and if you want to see ALL results you still have to go to the Firefox website.

Also this new magic add-ons-browser only seems to work for extensions. Not themes. Oops. Another annoyance is that when searching themes on the Firefox website, it shows themes for all versions of Firefox, including old themes that don't work with the version of Firefox that I'm using. This is highly annoying. It'd probably be hard to write a web page to automatically filter out themes and extensions I can't use based on my browser, but it doesn't seem like it'd be hard to do that if everything was in a window in Firefox itself.

And installing extensions still pops up an annoying Vista-like "ARE YOU SURE I SHOULD INSTALL THIS?" dialog, which counts down from 3 to 0 just to make sure the annoyance is complete. And installing themes still requires me to restart the browser before I can use it. Opera doesn't require a restart. Early versions of Firefox didn't require a restart, but admittedly if you didn't restart, horribly bad things happened until you did. Maybe no one can figure out how to get Firefox to do it right, or maybe there's some technical reason for it, but it's still annoying.

So Firefox 3 beta 3 is a bit better than before in the add-ons-installing department, but still oh so far from optimal. Why do I need to go to a web page (a clumsy webpage that seems to be perpetually changing its interface) to download themes and extensions? Opera has this solved beautifully for themes. Even many KDE apps (e.g. Amarok) let you download themes and plugins via a popup window in the app itself. Why do I need to restart Firefox (thus losing all my session authentications, thus forcing me to re-type a billion passwords for everything I was doing) just to change how the buttons look?

This is just a minor nit-pick. Firefox 3 beta 3 is looking pretty good in general. Bookmarks work better now. No more annoying focus-grabbing yes/no dialog boxes about saving passwords. And so on.

In other Firefox news not related to the beta, I finally figured out how to turn off Firefox's God-awfully annoying form auto-completion. Note to self: browser.formfill.enable in about:config. Formfill is the bane of my existence. I can't remember how many times I've typed a google search, then accidentally clicked the formfill dropdown and replaced my carefully crafted search string with something from the formfill history. Argh. Well now I need worry no longer.

(Took me forever to figure out what to search for in about:config to locate this option. "Text field"? "Drop down"? "Auto complete"? The term "formfill" somehow never occurred to me.)

February 17, 2008 @ 6:34 AM PST
Cateogory: Linux

2 Comments

lxgr
Quoth lxgr on February 17, 2008 @ 9:54 AM PST

I don't know how you missed this, but Edit -> Preferences -> Privacy -> "Remember what I enter in forms and the search bar" does the same thing as changing browser.formfill.enable in about:config. Also, if you want to remove the delay when installing extensions, check out the MR Tech Disable XPI Install Delay extension: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/775 .

Brian
Quoth Brian on February 17, 2008 @ 8:15 PM PST

Interesting. I never saw that option, or never realized what it did.