10 Best Firefox Plugins for Web Developers

I use many of these plugins on a daily basis and would recommend them to any web developer.

1. Firebug

Firebug allows you to inspect elements on a web page and see the associated attributes. You can edit in real time allowing you to quickly make changes to an elements colour, position, border or behavior. 

 Firebug

Firebug has a number of extensions that will be covered later on in this article.

2. Web Developer Toolbar

The Web Developer toolbar has various web developer tools. The most useful I find are for disabling certain elements on the screen such as JavaScript or clearing cookies and session data.

 Web Developer

Clicking display alt tags under the images menu is a quick way to see if you have missed any. The resize menu lets you test your site in different resolutions.

3. Extended Statusbar

Extended statusbar is useful to way to see how large a page is to download and how long it takes to load. I often use this to help monitor slow loading pages.

 Extended Statusbar

4. Colorzilla

Colorzila allows you to mouse over elements on the screen to see the colour. Its very useful if you need to match a colour or check a colour is correct.

 Colorzilla

(Note US spelling 'color').

5. MeasureIT

MeasureIT simply allows you to measure elements on a screen and gives you the measurement in pixels. Very useful for checking the height of objects, text spacing and the overall width of the page.

 MeasureIT

6. Screengrab

An easy way to take screen shots of a page. Especially useful if the page includes scroll bars as it saves you copying and pasting multiple screen shots together.

 Screen Grab

7. YSlow

YSlow shows you various options on how to speed up your website. Clearly not all are suitable/cost effective for a website such as ImAFish however many are very relevant. Each item is given a rating from A to F and a full explanation on how to implement. YSlow is developed by Yahoo.

 Yslow

8. Page Speed

Page speed is similar to YSlow however covers slightly different criteria. As you can see for ImAFish it highly recommends combing external JavaScript.

 

9. Linkification

Linkification is a simply little plugin that converts any URL on the screen into a clickable link. Quite useful for those times someone has forgotten to turn a URL into a link.

 Linkification

10. IE Tab

IE Tab is a nice plugin to test your page in Internet Explorer without actually having to open the Browser. It's also useful if you want a fresh session for a website without having to open another browser.

 

TinyChat - Free Chat Rooms

TinyChat is a funky flash based chat room that allows you to chat, view webcams, share desktops and commnicate with a microphone.

You can invite people through email or by simply sharing your rooms URL.

Pro accounts allow you to use high quality video.

For more visit www.tinychat.com/

My New Twitter Account

I started following too many people on Twitter and ended up with a feed of junk marketing posts, all the people I actually wanted to follow became drowned out.

Therefore a few weeks ago I setup my new Twitter account:

http://twitter.com/kingpetey

 

Five Essentials for any Online News Website

I often read comments on Digg and Slashdot about the poor quality of some news site therefore I've come up with five golden rules for any news site:

1. Put the Entire Article on One Page

This must be one of the main gripes when it comes to reading articles on-line. It frustrates me, you start reading an article then for some reason it stops and you have to wait for the next page to load. There is no logical reason to it, almost everyone has scroll wheels and the concept of scrolling is well know with operating systems so why do news sites think they need to break up an article into two or more pages?

Rarely do I click past the first page of an article unless its really good, surely their site statistics tell a similar story for most users.

Good: BBC, Techcrunch

The BBC among others get this right providing the whole article on just one page

Bad
: Reuters

Reuters do have a 'read as one page' link however if its only a two page article it is defunct anyway. It's sites like Reuters that make me sympathise with Adblock users.

2. Use Large Images

Good: Boston.com

Boston.com's big picture features are an amazing way to display images. Their recent Earth Hour article even allowed you to click on the images to see a before and after shot.

Bad
: BBC

In a recent BBC survey one of the main points that came up was the size of the images within their articles so in their redesign the BBC added 20% to the size of the image. Unfortunately this is still 200% too small, I wouldn't mind if it was a thumbnail link or they made use of a lightbox like on the DailyMail website.

3. Don't use Slide shows for Images

This is mainly aimed at Forbes.com, their content is good but they display it in the worst way possible.

Good: Almost every site apart from Forbes.

Bad: Forbes

Its bad enough that they use a slide show in an inappropriate way but to make it auto run and the controls barely work is a total waste of what could be good content.

4. Provide External Links Within the Article

Good: Mashable, Techcrunch, Cnet News.com
Bad: BBC, Yahoo, ITN

The BBC waste precious sidebar content with an 'External Links' section, rather than reading the article and clicking on something that interests me I have to search the sidebar for a potential link.

5.Write about something on-line without Linking to it

Bad: BBC

A number of news site do this, especially when they are covering something slightly controversial. For instance the article talks about a video on YouTube yet fails to provide a link to it. Its like talking about an architecturally stunning building/landmark without providing a picture.

This article from the BBC about Two students who dressed up as the TV character Borat then put the video online is a prime example, the BBC talk about the video online yet fail to provide a link to it.

Why I have A Second Twitter Account

When I joined Twitter several months ago I instantly started following as many people as possible, the idea being that they would follow me back and I could post links to ImAFish for them to visit. It turns out that 90% of everyone else on Twitter also has this idea and quickly my Twitter page turned into a spammy mess. The 5-10 people that I actually wanted to talk too were drowned out in all the chatter about social marketing, SEO, marketing classes online, life coaching and anything else that can be sold.

Rather than unfollowing 300 people I decided to start fresh and just follow the people I was interested in.

My new Twitter account: http://twitter.com/kingpetey

Last night I went to a talk with local BBC Shropshire radio presenter Jim Hawkins, I will admit I've never listened to any local radio because of the idea its only for old people, while Jim confirmed this, what was interesting was his approach to Twitter.

Every day his show covers a range of issues where people contact the show to discuss the chosen topic however by also posting this topic on Twitter, Jim can get replies based on this topic through Twitter and just as importantly people who don't listen to his show can contribute. Giving him a wider audience in a slightly difference sense. 

Main stream media has been jumping on Twitter recently as an important tool for breaking news however as Jim has discovered its just as important to encourage local discussion and break local news.

Shropshire based media has never taken much interest in local blogging even though ImAFish gets hundreds of thousand hits per year and has proven blogging can be profitable, in fact I only know one other serious local blogger in Shropshire - Scott Patterson from UKMac. I'm sure there are more however there is no sense of community between local bloggers. Shropshire has always been behind when it comes to social media, perhaps with the BBC pushing services such as Twitter in the county it will be good for us all.

Twitter Hits Mainstream this Week

Twitter the micro blogging service finally hit the mainstream this week in the UK. It started last Friday with Jonathan Ross discussing the service with Twitter power user Stephen Fry. The discussion lasted about 40 seconds but launched a weeks worth of media attention. A lot of this came from BBC Radio 1 with some of the DJ's including Chris Moyles using and discussing the service on air.

Twitter was featured in national newspapers including the Daily Mail when Stephen Fry used the service to Tweet about being stuck in a lift (and to post picture of the experience).

UK based TweekDesk has also found itself in the news this week for the way it works with Twitter.

You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/imafish .

ImAFish TV Pilot

This is the pilot episode of our technology based ImAFish TV show. The show uses the same format as Revision 3's Diggnation and aims to give a British/European touch to a US show.

 

Let me know what you think as we are always looking for improvements. The show is 40minutes long and we discuss a range of this weeks top topics from the social new site www.digg.com.

Email us at tv@imafish.co.uk with your comments and suggestions

 

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