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Keywords: Mozilla Firefox, web browser, XUL, open source

Title: Firefox Hacks

Editor: Nigel McFarlance

Publisher: O'Reilly

ISBN: 0596009283

Media: Book

Level: All

Verdict: A useful resource, particularly for developers wanting to delve deeper into Firefox


We've been fans of Mozilla's Firefox for a long while here at TechBookReport. Although we've not done a more recent review, our feelings were made clear when we reviewed version 0.9.x. It remains a shining example of what open source software is capable of. However, as friendly and as useful as it is, there's a lot more functionality locked away or available in the form of plug-ins and extensions. Firefox Hacks aims to help unlock the additional functions and to turn the average user into a Firefox superuser.

As with the other books in the Hacks series, each of the 100 hacks that is listed solves one problem or illustrates one topic. Each hack comes with a clear statement of the problem followed by a working solution. In the case of this book those solutions generally involve delving into the innards of Firefox and its extensions. For those who have wondered if there were more to Firefox than the relatively light selection of options available from the tools menu then prepare to be enlightened.

The book opens with a chapter on basics which gives a run through of how to use Firefox more effectively. Even for seasoned users there are likely some gems worth picking up even in the first few pages. Security is the next chapter, with hacks covering topics such as web proxies, ports, managing digital certificates etc.

The third chapter looks in more detail at configuration, and again the average user is going to pick up a lot of useful information about settings, profiles and preferences, rolling out Firefox across a network and more. The hack on migrating profiles, for example, is an absolute must if you ever want to move your installation to another system.

Chapter four, on web surfing enhancement, is really the last chapter that is directly aimed at the average user. From chapter five onwards the hacks are increasingly of interest to developers and programmers. Chapter five itself is about using Firefox as a web development and test tool. Chapter six moves the focus to XML, from display to XSL to web services to RSS, XUL and more. It's more specialised content not likely to be of interest to the average user but more than a little interesting to developers and geeks alike. There are two chapters worth of hacking chrome and then it's on to working more closely with Mozilla in developing Firefox.

Overall this book contains a real mix of content, with material designed to help everyone, from the Firefox newbie to the would-be hacker to the web developer wanting to get the most out of the browser everyone's talking about. For developers in particular there is a lot of useful content packed in these pages.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2005. Published June 27 2005