Ultimate Simplicity For Firefox 3 Full Screen

Firefox 3.0 Looks Much Better Full Screen. That was written by Geoff Fox of PC Magazine and I think he has got it exactly right.

If you are a Firefox user and have upgraded to Firefox 3.0, then just hit that F11 key to see what he means. If you are working with a 1024 x 768 screen, then the effect is particularly good. The whole screen is taken up with the window content of the webpage you were visiting. If the page is particularly long, then you may have a scrollbar down the right-hand side. The rest is exactly what that website owner was hoping you would see. There are no toolbars along the top or a status bar along the bottom. It is all just visual content.

If you do wish to see which tabs are open, then just move your mouse to the top of the screen and the tab bar will appear. If you were working with the Navigation toolbar visible, then this toolbar will also appear at the top above the tab bar. All the other toolbars you may have had visible still remain hidden in this Full Screen view.

If you are hooked on having these bars permanently visible along the top, then Percy Cabello has some advice for you on how to Tweak Firefox 3 full screen mode. That will make the tabs and navigation toolbar a permanent visible item in your Firefox 3 Full Screen mode.

I very much prefer keeping that clean simple look. Indeed by an approach that I am about to describe, I will suggest to you how you can stay in Full Screen mode probably 95 percent of the time. I work fairly extensively on the Internet. However if I analyze my behavior on any given day, I am probably working within a very restricted list of web pages or URLs. The problem is that from a Full Screen mode webpage, I cannot access my Bookmarks Toolbar.

I raised this problem with my colleagues on the Cre8Asite Forums, in a topic which was titled Maximizing The View Window. There was a suggestion that the Bookmarks or Favorites could be put on a web page. This in turn raised the possibility that such a HTML file could be held on my local computer, which gives the most rapid and reliable access. The following image shows some of the final product. It’s a Demo version of my new computer-resident Home Page.

Home Page Favorite Links

With what is there, I can work most of the time in the Full Screen version and rarely need to put all those toolbars back. You can download it, if you wish to check the code or modify it to create your own, from this link: Home Page Links Demo.

Some of the features you will note are the clock at the top right, a Google search field and a Quote Of The Day. Below that arranged in a table are some of the links I use for much of the day. When working for a specific client, I often add a few links that are specific to that client.

For those who are novices with HTML, it is a very simple matter to modify the code to remove or add a link. You just open the homepagelinksdemo.htm file in Notepad or something equivalent that can handle text files. The HTML code for a table entry looks like the following:
<td><a href="http://www.mysite.com/">My Site</a></td>
To change the link, put the new URL between the ” ” and add the appropriate name between the > and <.

When using such a Home Page, it really becomes very handy if you arrange that opening a new tab shows that Home Page. This can be achieved by using the New Tab Homepage 0.4 Firefox Add-on.

If you wish to select a link on this Home Page, <control>T opens up a new tab with the Home Page showing. Clicking on a link on that Home Page opens the URL in the same tab. Throughout you are working Full Screen. If you no longer want that web page, <control>W will close that tab.

I’m finding this increases my effectiveness and viewing pleasure significantly. Try your own local Home Page and perhaps you will be equally impressed. Unfortunately a similar set-up does not work so smoothly for Internet Explorer. The security features blocking ActiveX controls prevents single click opening of new web pages. Often two clicks are required to remove the blocking feature. The only sensible suggestion for Internet Explorer users is to switch to Firefox.

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Internet Explorer Dilemmas

Which Internet Explorer dilemma affects you?

The Internet Explorer browser causes dilemmas for many people. Let me count the ways.

Which browser should I use?

The biggest group with an Internet Explorer dilemma are the Internet surfers. They’ve mostly used Internet Explorer but now Microsoft is suggesting that they upgrade to version 7. Some accept Microsoft’s advice with reluctance and in this case some commentators have expressed concerns with version 7. So the take-up rate has been slow.

Often techy friends may be recommending some other browser to avoid security issues with Internet Explorer. Often that other browser is Mozilla Firefox. So it’s not surprising to see a headline such as Firefox now a serious threat to IE in Europe. Anyone in North America will be somewhat surprised to see the figures:

A study of nearly 96,000 websites carried out during the week of July 2 to July 8 found that FF had 27.8% market share across Eastern and Western Europe, IE had 66.5%, with other browsers including Safari and Opera making up the remaining 5.7%. The July market share represents a massive 3.7% rise since a similar survey in March.

A particularly worrying sign for Microsoft is that in some key European markets FF is threatening to overtake IE as the market leading browser. In Slovenia (47.9%) and Finland (45.4%) FF usage has reached parity with IE, while in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Ireland, FF has either reached or is nearly at 40% market share.

These figures may well presage the growth that Firefox usage will show in North America.

Which browser should I design for?

More competent web designers have been designing Web pages to give a satisfactory user experience with all the common browsers for some time. Others took the view that since Internet Explorer is by far the majority choice for browser, then this was the only one to check. Within the last 12 months there has been a significant change in website traffic. Although Internet Explorer version 6 is still most often the majority browser used, Internet Explorer version 7 and Firefox taken together will probably deliver more traffic. The dilemma here is that web pages that display well in version 6 may not do so in version 7.

The recommended approach is to design based on Web standards and such web pages will display well in IE version 7 and Firefox. Such a web page may or may not display well in IE version 6. However there is an increasing literature on the ways of getting around the typical problems. One practical problem is that it may be difficult to have two versions of Internet Explorer (version 6 and version 7) running on the same computer. A small help is given by IE NetRenderer. This allows you to check how a web page is rendered by Internet Explorer 7, 6 or 5.5, as seen from a high-speed datacenter located in Germany. (Tip of the hat to Henry.) It only shows the webpage “above the fold” but this will alert the designer to any major problems.

What should we do now?

This of course is the dilemma that faces Microsoft. It has accepted the legacy commitments imposed by websites designed for prior versions of Internet Explorer. The ideal would be to bite the bullet and help the world to move as quickly as possible to IE version 7. However the legacy of all those IE version 6 web pages is an onerous burden. There are no easy answers.

Related:
Trial by Firefox
Standards Lose Their Star Rating

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Favicons – How To Make Them Work For You

A previous post, The Favicons Are Coming, provides a short introduction to favicons. It was written in the fond hope that Internet Explorer Version 7, in trying to emulate Mozilla Firefox as it so often does, would perhaps make favicons a robust feature of Internet surfing. In Firefox, you’ll find these small 16 x 16 pixels icon images for a given web page appear in several places, namely the address window, on a tab and also in your Favorites or Bookmarks list. They provide instant recognition of a web site and for the ones I know well are all I display in my Bookmarks toolbar in my default Firefox browser. Here for example are the ones associated with this and related websites: BPWrap Strategic Marketing Montreal The Other Bloke's Blog StayGoLinks

Well now Internet Explorer Version 7 is officially released. After some thorough testing, the IE v.7 way of handling favicons seems no better than previous versions. You can get the sense of frustration of many others in a forum entry, Keeping The Favicon in IE Favorites, which started in November 2005 and still has not produced an answer. In The Favicons Are Coming, we paid tribute to Microsoft as the inventor of the .ico favicon file and set out the advice accordingly. It was largely correct, but here we re-present the information in a more practical fashion. The first part will detail how to make favicons work in Firefox. The second part (optional and provided only for the really keen) will detail how you can try to make them work somewhat in IE and other browsers.

Making Favicons Work In Mozilla Firefox

1. Make your 16 x 16 pixel icon image as a .png or a .jpg file. For example you might call it myfavicon.jpg Load it into a suitable place on your domain, say http://www.mysite.com/images/myfavicon.jpg
2. Add the following code in the HEAD section of any web page for which you wish the favicon to appear.
<link rel="shortcut icon"
href="http://www.mysite.com/images/myfavicon.jpg" type="image/x-icon">

3. The favicon image will appear correctly in all the places it should.

Trying To Make Favicons Work In Internet Explorer

1. The IE way involves an icon image file with the extension .ico A .ico file is not just a .bmp file renamed with the extension changed to .ico. It is a much more complex file that holds two icon images, a 32 x 32 pixel file and a 16 x 16 pixel file. You can if you wish only include the 16 x 16 pixel image. A somewhat old article, Making a Favicon, describes the process well. You normally can start with a .bmp file or .jpg file and convert it to a .ico file. The AxiomX Pixel Toolbox 1.1 is free software that will handle this conversion, usually without too much trouble.
2. You then load up the .ico image file to the root folder of the website, i.e. at http://www.mysite.com/
3. The favicon image will sometimes appear the very first time you visit a website and sometimes will persist in your Favorites list. More often it disappears after a first appearance and is replaced by the generic IE favicon. Since Firefox will correctly handle such a .ico file, this is a worthwhile thing to do if you have the time. It may also be helpful for other browsers.

How Well Will Your Favicons Work?

Always in Firefox: rarely in Internet Explorer

However much effort you put into creating and loading favicons, other browsers than Firefox may still handle favicons unreliably. For example, Opera will sometimes display them and sometimes not. It will also use the favicon.ico image in the root file if it exists for some purposes and will use the favicon identified by the HEAD link tag for other purposes. Other websites may also use favicons in an unpredictable way too. Normally Bloglines should show favicons correctly but even when viewed in Firefox will not always do so.

The favicon is such a useful identifier for those who see it that the effort is certainly worthwhile. Hopefully as time goes on, more and more browsers will come in line with the Firefox approach to favicons.

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