Firefox Friday Five: 4.0 news round-up, 2 billion add-on downloads, Thunderbird 3.1, and making text editing on websites easier
Moving swiftly along: this week was a big one for Mozilla! Not only did they release Firefox 4.0b1, but there was tons of other goodies too! Ever heard of Bespin? Thunderbird's Quick Filter or Mailing List Manager add-on? How about the fact that over 2 billion Firefox add-ons have been downloaded in just five years?
In fact, let's lead with that one.
1. Firefox reaches 2 billion add-on downloads; 150 million add-ons in use every day
It took three years, from 2005 to 2008, to reach 1 billion downloads. Now, just 18 months later, the counter has reached 2 billion. I think it's safe to say that add-ons are very much a primary feature in Firefox!
The more important statistic is the the every-day usage figure, though. I'm sure a large number of those 2 billion downloads are by bleeding-edge users, like you and I, who update their add-ons regularly -- but 150 million add-ons are being used every day. I wonder if Mozilla has statistics on how many add-ons the average user has installed -- I wonder how many of those 150 million add-ons are installed by regular users.
Incidentally, Mozilla pointed me to a site I've never seen before: Rock Your Firefox. It's a great (and easy) way to get your friends and family using highly-rated Firefox add-ons -- send them the link!
This week saw the release of Firefox 4.0 beta 1. Die-hards will know that it's nothing more than a re-branded 3.7 with a Feedback button tacked onto the UI, but still: many of you will have been holding off until the beta before jumping in.
There's a ton of 4.0-related news, but I'll start with our own stories. First, we showed you how to remove or change the big orange menu button -- and then, if you're the mean, selfish type, we also showed you how to remove the Feedback button. If you're unable to install software on your computer, or you're looking to try-before-you-buy, there's already a Firefox 4.0 Portable Edition available.
Next, we have all the news from the Mozilla team itself. They were quite keen to highlight all of the ooh-shiny bits of Firefox 4.0, from the UI changes to the new Add-Ons Manager. Check the complete list of resources on The Mozilla Blog.
I don't know if this sudden burst of Thunderbird news was planned for the same week as Firefox 4.0 -- but who cares! After months and months of nothing, any Thunderbird news is good news.
Quick Filter, previously an add-on, is now a built-in feature of Thunderbird 3.1 (yes, 3.1 was released last month; download it!) I'm not a Thunderbird user, so I can't comment on its functionality -- but it looks like it works really well!
Mozilla Labs also released Mailing List Manager, a Thunderbird add-on. It does what you might think (automagically organize mailing lists) and, if you watch the video, it looks like it handles them even better than Gmail. Maybe it's time to give Thunderbird another chance...
(Ah, but am I being ironic? You'll never know...)
Rejoice! You can now 'like' any page on the Web. Facebook Like puts a tidy little button down in the bottom right corner of your browser window -- simply click it to Like a page. One caveat: you need to log into Facebook manually beforehand -- it doesn't prompt you to log in (but it does show you how many people like a page, as you can see in the screenshot!)
If, for some semi-lucid reason you run Chrome, there's an extension that does the same thing.
Let's face it: HTML input elements suck. Those buttons, select boxes and text areas, stuck inside a browser, are the quadriplegic cousins of the UI family. Just how many times have you hit 'tab' while in a text box and hoped beyond hope that you'd actually get a block of white space?
Bespin, one of Mozilla Lab's newer projects, hopes to fix our ailing text boxes. It comes in two flavours: a bookmarklet that anyone can use to alter any website, or an embedded version that webmasters can install on their sites. The bookmarklet simply offers you an always-there rich editor for when you come across those nasty sites with bog-standard textareas.
Alternatively, Bespin also offers a standalone in-the-browser-or-tab text editor -- but read the user guide first, because it looks almost as daunting as Emacs.