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Posts Tagged ‘extensions’

Make your old Firefox addons work

July 5, 2009 2 comments

Since Firefox 3.5 has just come out I noticed that some of my addons were refusing to work with the new version. Having found out that this is generally down to the addon installer file containing version numbers for older versions of Firefox, I decided to embark upon a quest to make some of my older addons work with Firefox. The steps I’ve used are outlined below. However, before you start you’ll need to download and install 7-Zip (a review of this can also be read.) I’ve provided a video below which shows you how to install addons which were written for older Firefox. There’s also written instructions below in case you don’t quite see what’s happening in the video.

ffaddonsplayvideo

1. Download the addon:

Unless you already have the addon saved in your files somewhere, you’ll need to download it again. However, you’ll have to use a different browser to Firefox. This is because Firefox checks to see what version you’re using, and references this against the addon compatibility. You won’t be able to install it from within Firefox if you’ve got a newer version than the addon specifies. Therefore, use something like Internet Explorer or Chrome to download the file.

2. Open the file using 7-Zip

Since that single file contains many other files all hidden away inside a single .jar, you’ll need to open it up using 7-Zip to see the innards. Once it’s downloaded, right-click on it, hover over the item in the context menu which says ‘7-Zip’ then click on ‘Open archive’. A new window will now pop up which lists the files which make up the addon.

3. Open the install file

If the file doesn’t automatically open with Wordpad or Notepad, you will need to instruct it to. Copy the file to somewhere else (the easiest location is your desktop)  by right-clicking on the install.rdf file and clicking ‘Copy To’. Choose a location and then click ‘OK’. Now navigate to where you copied the file to, right-click on it, and click ‘Open With’ and choose Wordpad. On XP you will need to click ‘Choose Program’ in the menu which appears. In either XP or Vista, select ‘Wordpad’ and make sure you tick the box which says ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’. Now click ‘OK’. You will now need to go back to your 7-Zip window, and should be able to double-click on the ‘install.rdf’ file to open it. If it doesn’t work, close 7-Zip, and open the file again as outlined in step 1. You can then come back to step 4 below.

4. Edit the install file

We now need to alter the version number in the file so it will let us install it into Firefox. In 7-Zip double-click the ‘install.rdf’ file. It should then open in Wordpad. You now need to scroll down until you see something like below:

<em:minVersion>2.0</em:minVersion>
<em:maxVersion>2.0.*</em:maxVersion>

You will need to change the second version number to this. You can miss off the final ‘.*’ on 3.5 if you wish to, but it may not work with future updates to version 3.5, eg 3.5.1.

<em:minVersion>2.0</em:minVersion>
<em:maxVersion>3.5.*</em:maxVersion>

Then save the file and close Wordpad. 7-Zip may pop up a message asking if you want to update the file. Click ‘OK’ to update it.

5. Install into Firefox

Finally we’ve reached the end. First you need to open Firefox, and open the addons window (Tools > Addons). You also need to locate the original location that the addon downloaded to. Ususally a downloads folder or your desktop. This is the single file that you extracted in step one. You need to drag that file over to the addons window. Firefox will then ask you to confirm that you want to install it. Click ‘OK’ and it should do it for you. You’ll then need to restart Firefox for the installation to complete.

I hope that this worked for you! Let me know if you had any trouble getting it to function. If the addon doesn’t work right, you can still disable it in the same way you would any other addon; through the addons window in Firefox.

Backing up your browser – part one – Firefox

We do an ever-increasing amount online; there’s a good chance that your web-browser is one of your most used pieces of software. However, if something goes wrong you’re at risk of losing your bookmarks, settings, and extensions. It could take quite some time to get the browser back just the way you wanted it. The other option is to back-up your browser settings occasionally, so you’ll always be safe if something goes kaput. In addition, having a backup will allow you to transfer your settings and addons to another computer, allowing you to keep your user experience consistent.

FEBE – Firefox Environment Backup Extension – is an addon which will allows you to perform backups of your profile, history, settings, addons, and other such jazz. Once installed a new item will appear in Firefox’s tools menu which allows you to fiddle with FEBE settings, run backups, or restore files if something has imploded and gone wrong.

Setting the backup options before starting the backup.

Setting the backup options before starting the backup.

I thought setting the options seemed to be the best place to start, turned out it was. Doing so allowed me to choose what I wanted to be backed up;  I selected just about everything. After creating a folder for the purpose of storing the backups, I also changed the location that FEBE saves them to. In addition, I was able to instruct it to create a time-labelled folder for each backup. This means that I can keep older backups, and have each new one in a separate folder. Therefore, if I decide to revert back to the settings earlier than the most recent backup, I can easily do so.

After I’d finished tweaking I ran the backup manually from the tools menu. The process was quite fast; it only took about 20 seconds or so, but this time will vary depending upon your computer and how much data FEBE is backing up. However, Firefox tends to feel a bit dejected during the backup, and will usually not let you browse whilst FEBE does its thing. You can also schedule backups to run automatically at specified times if you’d rather not have to remember to do it.

Restoring items is done through the same menu. The restore section lists the various areas which you can copy back into Firefox – you can choose as many or as few as you wish to depending on just how badly things have gone wrong. You could also use this feature to transfer your settings from one computer to another, making it simpler to use Firefox elsewhere.

Jolly good stuff. I suggest installing it, performing a backup, and then disabling it again until you want to run another backup or restore something. You can download it from www.addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2109. If you get confuzzled, instructions are also available.

Part two, which focuses upon Internet Explorer,  is still to come.

Annotate with Diigo

I’ve stumbled across a smashing tiny application which allows you to add notes to webpages. This becomes very useful if doing research for homework, coursework, papers, or other such jazz. It could be used if you simply want to add notes when you find useful stuff.

Diigo adds notes and highlights to webpages - either for research or discussion with others

Diigo adds notes and highlights to webpages - either for research or discussion with others

Diigo allows you to add these notes in the form of post-its to webpages. You can either download and install the Diigo Toolbar which is a fully-featured toolbar addon for your browser; or you can simply add the Diigolet link to your bookmarks or bookmarks toolbar for easy, quick access without installing anything. With either of these options, you can add annotations to anywhere on a webpage. You can also highlight and annotate specific areas or words. You can either make these annotations public – anyone with Diigolet or Diigo toolbar running – can see them and add to them, or private – only you can see them.

You can also add this to multiple computers, allowing you to see your annotations after you  sign with your Diioglet account. It’s also compatible with just about every browser, so you won’t need to fear not being able to see your notes when using someone else’s PC. This would allow you to add notes at home, and then see them at school or work as you continue the research you were doing.

Whilst the fully-fledged toolbar adds extra functions, oddly, it seems to slow down the simple process of adding notes quickly. Rather than simply clicking the button, you must go through a small drop-down list on the toolbar in order to highlight text and add sticky notes. However, the toolbar does allow you to add things to online bookmarks, share things with others, and provides functionality similar to Internet Explorer 8’s new accelerators when highlighting text. Despite this, I would suggest that most users would be better off with the Diigolet bookmarklet, since it provides the basic functionality, but sans the hassle which the toolbar brings with it.

I’d highly suggest signing up at www.diigo.com and adding either the bookmarklet (bookmarks button for quick access) or, if you’re feeling adventurous, going for the whole shebang and getting the Diigo Toolbar. Give it a go and see what you think.