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5 Useful Web Design Browser Plug-ins

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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I was recently asked by a friend what my most used applications are when I start up my computer each day, here is list of applications and sites I can`t live without.
I was recently asked by a friend what my most used applications are when I start up my computer each day. A browser factored into 2 locations in my top list:

  • FireFox
  • Google Chrome

However, I have recently made the move from Firefox (FF) to using Google Chrome as my default browser. I have noticed that FF has been crashing for some unknown reason that I have not yet had the time to research.

My reason for selecting these 2 browsers is because FireFox, and more recently Chrome, have the ability to extend their functionality with plug-ins or extensions. Many FF and Chrome users like these browsers for the same reasons. So I thought I would highlight my Top 5 Browser Plug-ins that I find useful on a day to day basis.

1. FireBug

This tool has made web development so much easier since I have started using it. When ever I test out a web page, Firebug allows me to inspect individual elements so I can better determine the cause of any formatting problems. Better yet, this plug-in allows me to make changes within the console so I can determine the best fix for the issue before committing the changes into the associated CSS file or PHP script.
FireBug FireFox
Firebug was developed primarily for FireFox (get the plug-in here). But a version for Google Chrome is also now available, FireBug Lite.

2. XMarks

This isn’t really a plug-in specific to Web Development but as I tend to move around a lot during the week in meetings, I found it useful. I use XMarks to sync all of my bookmarks on my computers to a central location. This is not a new service and there are many others that offer something similar, even Google bookmarks. XMarks was originally called Foxmarks and changed their name once they started providing the plug-in for other browsers.

I like this plug-in because it has saved my bacon on a few occasions when I have had a computer crash. It not only Syncs my bookmarks, but my passwords and browser tab configurations as well. You can get the XMarks plugin here.

3. MeasureIt

As a web developer, I do a lot of tweaking of elements by moving them a few pixels to ensure a good, tight design. But, I have never had the gift of being able to look at the screen and magically come up with a starting number to determine the size of an element. MeasureIt allows me to activate a dynamic ruler on any web page and measure an area in pixels. Again, this is another “bacon saving” plug-in. You can get the MeasureIt plug-in here (MeasureIt Firefox or MeasureIt Chrome).
measureit firefox

4. YooNo

yoono google chromeAnother quirk of mine is that, with my many online business ventures, it is important that I maintain various identities relating to the appropriate line of business. While I maintain only one Facebook account, I do keep an active Twitter account going for each area (web development, wine club, personal interests, etc.) to assist with Online Marketing. This plug-in allows me to do just that, all within one window. I had been using Hootsuite. But I found the load times and memory overhead were just slowing down everything to a crawl at times.

There are a couple of things I don’t like about this plug-in that I hope will be fixed in upcoming versions.

The Firefox version allows me to change my Twitter identity before I tweet or Follow someone. Very handy! This is not a feature I have been able to locate in the Chrome version. Also, the Chrome version re-sizes my browser window when I launch the plug-in. I am very picky about the size of my browser window and I really get irritated when a web page or plug-in thinks it knows better than I do how to format my screen. Regardless, I continue to use the plug-in on both environments and really enjoy it. You can get the Yoono plug-in for either version here.

5. FireShot

This is a fantastic plug-in for developers. This allows you to take capture of a web page (a portion or the entire web page), make comments or annotations, and then email it off to someone. Unfortunately, Fireshot is not available for Chrome. It is available for both FireFox and IE however. I am sure there is a Chrome equivalent that is just as good. I just haven’t had the time to investigate as yet. You can get the Fireshot Firefox add in here.

So there are my top 5 browser plug-ins. What are your favorite browser plug-ins? How do they help you with your online ventures? Drop us a comment, I would love to hear from you.

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