Saturday, October 1

Firefox 1.5b1 - Update (Verdict - much better, but not ready yet)

I just tried Firefox 1.5 beta 1 again, and I'm really impressed. A lot of extensions have been updated, but I'm still not quite ready to make the switch (I downgraded back to 1.0.7 to write this post).

I can get almost everything I want out of the new browser, except for a few Greasemonkey scripts. TextZoom isn't yet updated for FF1.5 (because momokatte, the extension's author is notorious for dropping off the face of the planet for extended periods of time and hasn't yet gotten around to it). It's possible to install TZ by either modifying the extension's install.rdf file (which I mentioned previously) or by a new method I'll explain later on in this post. Well, it's new to me, anyway.

In any case, TZ still works only erratically. Pages accessed via the https:// protocol don't follow your zomm percentages. However, I found that telling the browser to keep its minimum text size to 15 point (accessible by clicking "Advenced..." in the Font preferences) helps to make all text readable. This has the added benefit of leaving sites alone if their text is already big enough.

There is a new version of Greasemonkey for FF1.5b1 (v0.6.2) at the greaseblog, but it changes the way scripts work and breaks many of them. The Secure Gmail, Gmail Tweaks, and Gmail Smart-Delete Button are all broken with the new version of Greasemonkey. Secure Gmail makes sure that you're always running gmail via the encrypted https:// protocol, Gmail Tweaks adds a "persistent searches" similar to OSX10.4's "Smart Folders," and Gmail Smart-Delete adds a "delete" button to the interface that is grayed out except when email is selected or opened. Gmail Tweaks also includes a feature that allows you to switch between variable-width and fixed-width fonts; I have modified the script to make fixed-width the default.

Installing most other extensions is a lot easier than I thought. You don't have to unpack the extension, rename a file, and repack it. It's much easier to just go to about:config from the address bar and add in a new preference value. Right-click inside the window and add a String value called "app.extensions.version." Initially make its value 1.0, buy you'll probably play around with it while you're installing extensions. What this does is change the value that extensions look at to see if they're compatible with the browser. So if you're installing an extension that only installs on versions 0.7+ to 1.0, just give app.extensions.version the value "1.0" and it'll install without a hitch even though the browser is actually version 1.5. One of the extensions I use would only install on versions 1.0+ through 1.0+ (which seemed pretty silly to me), but changing the value to "1.0+" made it work perfectly.

Firefox 1.5 is *almost there* for me. I'm not sure if the "minimum font size" will be an acceptable solution, so it may take until TextZoom is updated for me to be fully comfortable with it. Also, I'm going to get in touch with the authors of the Greasemonkey scripts that break to see if new versions can be issued. The Greasemonkey extension developers say it shouldn't be much of a change to the scripts themselves, so hopefully that goes smoothly and quickly.

Oh yeah, and one other thing. FF1.5 changes the default behavior when you click on the location bar. 1.0.7 and below all select the entire text of the bar when it is single-clicked, while 1.5 just inserts a cursor. I like the old way (it makes it easy to just select all and type in a new destination address), so I searched around in about:config and found a way to change it back. If you change "browser.urlbar.clickSelectsAll" to "true" (just double-click it), it will go back to the earlier method.

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Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.