Freeware Files: Five Mozilla Jetpack Add-ons to Fuel Your Firefox

TheMurph

What, you ask, is Jetpack?

Right now, it's just an add-on for Mozilla Firefox. But it could also represent the future of browser-based extensions as we know it, depending on how much developers can twist and craft this new open framework to their advantage. Unlike normal Firefox add-ons, which require a decently skilled knowledge of Javascript and XUL, Jetpack add-ons use a combination of HTML, CSS, and Javascript to deliver new features and functionality directly through the browser. According to Mozilla, one could theoretically write an easy-to-use Jetpack add-on in "under a dozen lines of code." And the benefit for the casual Web browser? Jetpack add-ons promise universal compatibility with different versions of Firefox and , the kicker, require no browser restart to function.

Mozilla just launched the official gallery for this new framework last week. As you might expect, there aren't a ton of browser add-ons to play with. However, I'm going to take a look at five of the more innovative, interesting, and downright install-worthy of the Jetpack add-ons that are currently available in this week's freeware roundup. And remember--you can install and uninstall these add-ons without mucking up your browser session whatsoever, so feel free to be a Firefox Rocketeer and grab as many as you want to try out!

Thumbtabs

One of the fussier points of Firefox is that you can't natively get a thumbnail view of a site when you hover your mouse over its tab in your browser. Thumbtabs adds this functionality into your Web surfing experience by building a little, clickable arrow on the left-hand side of your tab toolbar. When you jam it with your mouse, a sidebar pops open to show you exactly what the pages represented by your various tabs look like. It's not quite as slick as, say, a mouseover window popping up, but Thumbtabs certainly gets the job done.

Download it here !

JetWave

If you're one of the many who use some variant of the Firefox Gmail Manager add-on to show you when you have new messages in your Inbox, you'll love JetWave. In short, it borrows the same functionality from Gmail Manager and pops a little Google Wave icon in the lower-right corner of your browser. When someone adds a message to one of your Google Waves, a little window pops up and lets you know. Clicking on the icon itself will take you right to the Google Wave home page, giving you a quick, easy way to add a reply. You can also access individual waves via a handy little sidebar on the left side of your screen.

Download it here !

Jetstatus

That didn't take long. Of course, Jetstatus is the Twitter tie-in of Jetpack add-ons. Just like JetWave, little pop-up windows appear in the lower-right hand corner of your browser whenever one of your Twitter followers posts a link. If you're popular like Associate Editor Nathan Edwards, then your browser should be a flurry of activity each time you open the window. Although you can't reply or otherwise engage your "Tweeps" via these Jetstatus pop-ups, you can at least use the add-on's built-in sidebar window to jump to the homepage of any of your followers, as well as any links they've posted in their Tweets.

Download it here !

ClicktoFlash

Are you ever bothered by Web sites that just bombard you with Flash content when all you really want to do is navigate a page? Yeah. ClicktoFlash is perhaps the world's easiest method for turning Flash on and off at your leisure. When you toggle the little button on the lower-right corner of your Firefox window to "off," or the big "F" with a circle and a line through it, then no Flash content will load on any page you surf to. If you change your mind and really want to see what a site looks like with the Flash content going crazy, then just click on the "Flash" button that now appears where Flash content used to be. Presto--up it loads!

Download it here !

Image Editor

This add-on is, in a word, crazy. All it really does is add a little menu option, "Edit Image," to the right-click context menu whenever you click an image on a Web page. From there, Image Editor loads said picture into a Lightbox of Pixlr. It's no Adobe Photoshop, but Pixlr is nevertheless a great way to accomplish a number of editing tasks--from drawing, to resizing, to screwing-up-with-lots-of-filters--straight out of your browser window. When you're done playing around, you can save the image directly out of Pixlr to your desktop just as if you were doing it in a standard, installed program. Awesome.

Download it here !

David Murphy (@ Acererak) is a technology journalist and former Maximum PC editor. He writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source as well as weekly roundups of awesome, freebie software. Befriend him on Twitter, especially if you have an awesome app or game you're dying to recommend!

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