Professor X and the Pleasure of Firefox Add-Ons

Last week on Tuesday, 21st June 2011, Mozilla Firefox 5 was released and I was curious about the differences between the older version Firefox 4.0.1 and the new one.

However, before I am going to tell you what I found out and where my research was leading me, we all need to be on the same page. If you don’t know what makes Firefox so special, watch this lovely video, but don’t forget that it features Firefox 3.6 and was created by Mozilla itself, therefore, it might be focusing solely on the good stuff.

I am quite positive that between version 3.6 and 4.0 there were a lot of changes. Especially the newly designed user interface gives it a new look and is meant to make it faster. I don’t want to tell you all the changes but I think it is sufficient to say that I noticed from own experience that there were a lot of changes concerning the ‘stop’, ‘reload’ and ‘go’ buttons and the location of the tabs was changed.

And by the way, I searched for ‘tab’ on wikipedia and found out that it is short for tabbed documented interface (TDI) which means that multiple documents can be contained in one window.

To have a better view over the changes take a look at this two links showing picturs of  Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4.0.

Firefox 5 on the other hand has apparently not changed a lot but that might not be such a huge surprise considering that the 4th version was just released on the 28th April.

George Wong, who is the associate editor at Ubergizmo, a blog that was designed to write about technology and design and which is under the Top 100 blogs of USA Today argues that there some improvments concerning the support for CSS (check out the CSS Zen Garden ), for HTML and other minor things, but a real noticable change will probably only come with the 6th or 7th version of Firefox which are said to be released this year.

Now that we know what differences there are in terms of design I actually wanted to know what makes Firefox so very special.

I think that one of the most beautiful things about Firefox is the possibility to make it personal. Who will have the same bookmarks, the same personas and the same add-ons and plugins like you have? You really can adjust the browser to your liking.

I always thought that I had some idea about add-ons and plugins, since I had computer science in school, but I wanted to know more about them and I discovered very quickly that I actually knew just a little bit of what is interesting.

I found a gorgeous website called The site has currently 200 active members including people who have a Master in Computer Science , but also those, who have philosophical and literature degrees from Berkeley. Not to forget authors, who have a Bachelor of Arts in Film from UCLA.

Because of the vast diversity of interests, the site manages to have a beautfiul overview over technology related questions, without talking too much tech gibberish.

The article about Firefox Add-Ons explaines that these are so-called ‘miniature programmes’ that work within the Mozilla Firefox browers to customise and personalise it.

Also, they once again add, that Firefox is an open-source browser, meaning all of its programming codes are available freely to developers.

Because of that, a lot of Firefox add-ons are created and posted at the Firefox add-on site.

Add-Ons can be Extensions  like CSS or JavaScript, things that make it possible to change the design of websides when programming; or Plugins like Flash Player, Java or RealPlayer, that can help the browers to perform different functions like showing videos or images. Additionally to that, one can use the so-called Personas, which will change the header of the browser and once again, created a totally different design.

And now comes the fun part!

I searched for ‘interesting firefox add-ons’ on Google and found huge lists, compromising the most important add-ons. Taking into consideration that after the Mozilla Firefox add-on main page there are more than 5000 add-ons and new ones coming every day, I needed to narrow down my search parameters.

I now searched for ‘firefox add-ons web design’ and found this beautiful list of the ‘25 Time Saving Mozilla Firefox Addons for Web Designers and Developers’  from the CrazyLeaf web design blog.

Take a look at this list and find out what is most interesting for you.

To begin my quest into the unknown area of Firefox add-ons, I wanted to try the Professor X add-on, which will display the contents of the page’s head element, including Meta, Script and Style content, which is very nice for a web design amateur like me.

(Also, to get a little bit geeky, it is probably named after  Charles Xavier , a mutant from Marvel’s X-Men comics, who is a telepath and can read and influence people’s minds. I am just saying that, because I was quite the X-Men Movie Trilogy fan and after X-Men: First Class was released, I have to admit that I became a Charles fangirl in no time… 😀 I love Erik as well…

(It’s because of the Fassbender/McAvoy dynamic, I can tell you… it kills you dead…)


Therefore, what is better, than starting in an unkown area when having at least something familiar and loved?

On the Mozilla Firefox site, I clicked the link to install Professor X. After restarting your browers you can click on ‘Tools’ (in German Extras) and there you will see it: Professor X is there!

Normally, when you wanted to know more about the source code of a website, you needed to right-click and then click the ‘show source code’, now you don’t need that!

I really was quite happy to see that one only had to click on ‘Professor X’ (which is in the Firefox menu point ‘Tools’) and then, one will have it much easier to look at a collection of information about images, content and source code, which is displayed in a black box on top of the website’s content.


Take a look at Professor X through Professor X’s eyes!

I have to admit that this kind of exploration was so lovely that I was not able to stop. Hopefully you had a nice overview over the Mozilla Firefox browers and what one can do with add-ons.

In the next days, I will post a second part, in which I am going to to try to explain to you what other great add-ons there are; and how you can use them to maximise your internet pleasure and learn for your life!

Hopefully you liked that first part!

PS: I didn’t think I could work better while listening to music, but this one blew my mind. If you want, listen to it while reading the blog… (I love the score to pieces.)

4 thoughts on “Professor X and the Pleasure of Firefox Add-Ons

  1. wow, as a professor i conclude that i should get this add-on. i’ve been using google chrome in the past but this article made me want to go back to firefox. nicely detailed & very loose, great tech-writing here, thank you!

  2. Sophie!
    I have just read your post and…. of course I uploaded Firefox 5 and now I have a lovely design!=)
    Thank you! Now I see, that instead of searching everything – we can read the posts of each other.
    Great! great!!!

  3. Hey Crazy Girl! =)

    I just LOVE reading your articles – you always manage to make your posts so very interesting and informative but also somewhat funny and geeky at the same time! It really is a pleasure to read!
    I also wrote about Add-ons in my post about “fear of technology” ( and I have to agree with you that they can be pretty useful and exciting.
    Anyhow concerning the Firefox updates and related changes I had to experience that not only the design seems to be different after each update. At least with the last update they seem to have made some more important changes in the details of the programming because some of the add-ons I tried to install weren’t yet adapted to those changes and thus didn’t work. I think that shows pretty well how the add-ons are linked to the functioning of Firefox itself and that even small programming changes can result in an error concerning the add-ons.
    Now I’m really curious about your second part of Professor-X… Thank you Sophie! =)

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