(Gawkwire.com) – When people ask me what is the best of the best, better than all of the rest tool that I use for my web development and design needs the answer I give them is simple. It is something that we all have at least tried, and I am willing to bet a lot of us already use. I tell them to go get Firefox. There are a plethora of tools, services and extensions for Firefox that just makes a web designer’s life (no matter your expertise level) easier.
Web Developer Toolbar
As the Holy Grail for many web designers who use Firefox, the Web Developer Toolbar has just about every design and editing tool you would ever need all tied into one single toolbar in the browser. It is designed for Firefox, Flock and Seamonkey, and will run on any platform that these browsers support including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Why have an FTP client and a browser when you can merge the two into one. For people who like to simplify the number of programs they run, this extension is also a must have. Once installing, FireFTP will act as any other regular FTP program would allowing you to FTP into sites with that familiar FTP interface as well as allow you to save FTP address and login details.
If you find yourself taking a lot of screen shots for design or even just as something to stick in your blog post, FireShot is your screen capture key on steroids. FireShot allows you to quickly capture and edit web page screen shots and save them out as PNG, JPG or BMP. One more checkmark is you can insert text and graphical annotations.
As a replacement to Firefox’s proxy configuration, FoxyProxy supercharges your proxy details. Once installed you can ditch the limited interface Mozilla gives you to work with and automatically switch an internet connection across one or more proxy servers based on URL patterns.
One thing I know designers hate to do is switch from browser to browser to make sure everything looks "just right" while they are working on their digital masterpieces. With IE View installed you can quickly launch pages from Firefox into Internet Explorer. If you want to open a page using just Internet Explorer’s engine in a new Firefox tab you might also look at the IE Tab extension.
Finding the right color and colors that work well together is no easy task. For me the perfect color companion is the ColorZilla extension. It includes a dropper tool to allow you to capture a color from anywhere on a web page. As a bonus, it can also act as a page zoomer and color picker.
Saving scrolling web documents from top to bottom is a perk that many designers wish they had. When it comes to capturing layouts or saving past work, you no longer have to stitch web sites together that are too big for the screen. You can also resize the space your are capturing so you can save a little or save a lot. The choice is up to you.
You want your web page to uphold to all the standards, right? The HTML Validator extension adds an icon to your status bar to tell you if your HTML is standards compliant according to the W3C. If you do have an error it will let you know how many so that you can get them fixed up.
Using Yahoo’s own rules for high performance web sites, YSlow will tell you why your web page might be loading a little slower than you would like for it to. This is handy when trying to figure out the age old debate of is it my network connection that is too slow or is in the multitude of dancing .GIFs I have on the web page.
Most people would not think that measurements have such an important part to play in the web design and development process. Having a ruler on screen to tell you the pixel height and width of any element is handy to have and is delivered with the MeasureIt extension for Firefox.
This extension is aimed at helping webmasters determine where certain links stand on the web as far as search engine optimization is concerned. Broken into two parts, the toolbar will give you handy links to find out where any link measures up in SEO juice. The second part adds SEO details to your search results so you can see the same results all layed out for you on each link.
View Source Chart
Everything in the world would be better if it was just color coded. For an example, just look at what View Source Chart does for your web site’s source code. It categorizes everything by color to make it easier to understand what goes with what. Don’t worry guys, having things all colorized does not make you any less of a man. It just makes you a little more of a colorful coder.
CSSViewer lets you see what is "under the hood" at your favorite Web sites. Once installed, it provides you with a simple CSS property viewer. Once you get past some of the visual and personal preferences, there is not much I would change. The extension does what it does, and does it well.
There is no doubt that when it comes to the browser wars going on these days that Firefox delivers you more when it comes to helping you be the best you can be. You can find these helpful tools on Mozilla’s own web site for all of their themes and extensions, (http://addons.mozilla.org).