As most people know, if you’re not taking advantage of the many Firefox add-ons and plug-ins then you’re not making the most of this browser. Even so, where do you start? I’ve read several blogs recently listing the ‘best 20′ Firefox add-ons with others running the list to 50. But if you genuinely want to take your research to the next level you need a few hand-picked additions that will help you do more in less time. If that sounds too good to be true – here are a few ideas.
1: Scrapbook: This add-on is an incredibly powerful research tool that enables you to save web pages, page snippets and whole sites. You can organise your saves just like bookmarks (by dragging and dropping in trees) but, crucially, scrapbook saves the page (or pages) not just the link. If you need reliable access to sources, this is the add-on for you.
- save pages using a drop-down menu or by dragging the page favicon into the Scrapbook Firefox sidebar.
- drag and drop page snippets and save linked pages just by dragging the links to the sidebar.
- highlight sections in saved pages.
- annotate pages.
- use ‘in-depth’ capture to save whole sites and create site maps (see below).
Scrapbook is the answer if you need access to a range of pages and sites offline and to ‘capture’ a whole site and its links to external sites. Scrapbook even comes with a filter tool that means you can capture only the pages belonging to a target site while ignoring external links.
2: Picnik: Not necessarily a research tool, but beautifully simple and useful. Picnik is a quick way to do what you want with pictures – online, in your browser. You can create files of pictures, pull them from you own accounts on sites such as Flickr and your own hard drive. But, from a research and publishing perspective, you can download images from sites, give them a quick edit, change their format ready for use within seconds.
The Firefox add-on makes life even simpler. Right click on an image (or ‘ctrl’ click for Macs) and you can ‘edit image in picnik’. The image then automatically loads to your library in Picnik. No need for the laborious task of saving images to a photo editing application then exporting locally before you can upload online.
3. The Evernote Webclipper:
This add-on creates a handy button on your Firefox browser that you can use to quickly save a selection of a web page or an entire page to your Evernote account. If you need some background on why Evernote can transform your online life then check my recent post on this app.
4. Juice: This add-on is one of a new wave of intelligent search tools that let you access linked content without you having to navigate away from the pages you are viewing. By highlighting and dragging a selection, Juice searchers for reference material, movies, news and pictures and presents the content clearly in a separate Firefox column. You can switch Juice on or off easily by using a simple button on your browser bar.
5: Semantic Radar: For those of you interested in the development of the Semantic Web then Semantic Radar is another tool that gives us a glimpse of what semantic tools are bringing to the web. Semantic Radar recognizes all RDF content and displays custom icons in Firefox to indicate presence of the data in languages such as SIOC and FOAF. This screengrab shows how Semantic Radar has detected RDF content on a Livejournal page. Click on those icons and you can access the RDF content directly. For more on the Semantic Web see my interview with John Breslin.
Tags: EverNote, filter tool, intelligent search tools, John Breslin, juice, Linkool Labs, picnik, RDF, research tool, scrapbook, semantic radaer, semantic tools