Turning off the ‘friendly HTTP error messages’ in Firefox

Get Firefox By accident I stumbled upon this Firefox somewhat equivalent of IE’s ‘Show friendly HTTP error messages’ option. Any webdeveloper should have this turned off by default. How else will you know what the problem is? So here’s how to do it:

  1. Open up a new tab (CTRL+T) or window (CTRL+N).
  2. Type in de addressbar: about:config.
  3. In the filterbar type: error and press enter.
  4. Now set the value of the ‘browser.xul.error_pages.enabled‘ to ‘true‘. Double clicking will do.
  5. Restart Firefox.

Now you’ll get extended warnings instead of the simple warning dialogs when, for example, you accidentaly link to a non-existant domain. Or, like me, the dreaded ‘The document contains no data’.

If you don’t know where to find this in IE: ‘Tools’ > ‘Internet Options…’ > ‘Advanced’-tab > Near the end of the ‘Browsing’-section. > Uncheck.

The end of IE 5

IE LogoI’ve given up on IE 4 and Netscape 4 a while ago. Meaning I won’t do anything extra for them anymore. They’ll just have to take the page as-is, no unnecessary or fatal script errors though, but that’s where it ends. If it doesn’t work or looks horrible, too bad.

So how about IE 5? Will I say goodbye to that one too? Well, as long as there is a substantial public I will support it. But a quick scan of some statistics is showing a decline. Take a look at the W3Schools stats, which states a 2.8% audience of IE 5 in June. Looking at my own stats, I have to look hard to find any record of IE 5. But this will differ from site to site, so I haven’t written it off yet. So give it another half year or so?

Microsoft itself has a helping hand in the decline by pushing IE 6 with it’s Windowsupdate service, pulling support for Windows 2000, pushing XP and Server 2003. There is even the upcoming IE 7. And more importantly it doesn’t support IE 5 no longer (or at least will do so very, very soon).

Gervase Markham has a nice post about the IE 5 decline. He even invites us, web developers, to drop support for it already. I wouldn’t go that far, yet. Although with so many alternatives available I wonder why anyone will want to keep hanging on to IE 5.

If you’re still using IE 5, please take a look at IE 6, Firefox or maybe Opera. Oh and for those on a Mac. There’s Safari, Firefox or Camino.

Tabbed browsing in IE is here

Well, you’ll have to download and install the MSN Search Toolbar first. But this is the official Microsoft add-on to IE that does make the browsing experience tabbed right now. No longer do you have to wait for IE7. Plus you get the added bonus of desktopsearch, auto form fill and a popupblocker. And it’s not even XP Servicepack 2 only.

Ok, there are other 3rd party tools available to make IE tabbed and the first reviews aren’t that nice. Why don’t you install it now and tell me what you think. I’ll try it later. 😉

IE 7 around the corner…

Looking back at my blog I see that I post a lot about Firefox. But there is another browser around that is even more popular. Yes, Internet Explorer!

Unfortunately IE6 has been around since 2001(?) and hasn’t been updated since. Apart from the occasional Service Pack or Security Update, IE6 has basically remained the same for about 4 years.

You say: “Hold up. The sites I visit are getting more advanced! So IE6 is up-to-date.”

Yes and No. IE6 is a capable browser. It has been ever since its release in 2001(?). But… back then IE6 was just a newbie. The majority of the browsing public was using IE4. And every webdeveloper/-designer can tell you that although the technology was there, ‘we’ had to consider making our pages visible in IE4, and God-Forbid NS4. So there was no way we could use all the nice ‘cool’ features of IE6.

Now that no-one is using IE4 or NS4 anymore (If you do, consider upgrading! Please!) we developers are using more & more sophisticated techniques. Like CSS, XHTML and/or XMLHTTPRequest. The latter was originally conceived in IE4’s RDS, but back then no-one used it. Nowadays Google’s GMail revolves around it. But I digress.

Back to the story. Seemingly to Firefox’s success the developers at Microsoft woke up. Back in january the development team was brought to life again. And they promised a beta version would be available mid-2005. (It’s june already.) I’m not trying to sound negative. But having Firefox as default browser for over half a year I’m anxious to see what comes from Redmond. I see they promise tabs, maybe RSS, …

BUT it will all be ONLY available for people running on Windows XP Service Pack 2! Way to go Microsoft. No longer available for Mac, Windows 2000, Windows 98SE, Windows ME. I personally think that’s not a good strategy. But that’s me.

To do: Upgrade family to Servicepack 2…

Codename: ‘Strippenkaart’

Catching up with my feeds tonight this one caught my eye. Codename: ‘Strippenkaart’. It makes me smile. 🙂 Why?

For non-Dutch this would probably mean nothing. Except for ‘some’ who went to the XTech conference last week. And for those who know there’s a developer preview release of Firefox 1.1 available. So why am I smiling?

Well, the developers of Firefox all went to Amsterdam last week to visit this XTech conference and they chose to name this release ‘Strippenkaart’. A ‘strippenkaart’ is nothing less than a pre-paid public transport ticket. So it is funny, for Dutch, to see something so mundane to be chosen as a codename. Or maybe the Firefox development team were struck in awe with our public transport system… (I think not)

@Firefox developers: I suggest to name Deer Park Alpha 2 ‘Codename: Tankpas’. Or if that doesn’t sound right: ‘Leaseauto’. Just a suggestion. 😉

For more entertaining reviews of The Netherlands take a look at Daniel Glazmans weblog.

Firefox is Product of the Year 2005

PC World published their ‘The 100 Best Products of 2005‘ and made Mozilla Firefox the Product of the Year:

WEB BROWSER (Free) Let the browser wars begin anew: This open-source program is streamlined, customizable, and just plain better. No wonder it has attracted millions of users in just a few months. Is it merely a coincidence that Microsoft finally plans to give the aging Internet Explorer the major overhaul it has needed for years?

Don’t forget to check out the other 100 best of breed. 😉

[Via: blakeross.com]

Viewing WAP sites with Firefox

Screenshot CitiWiz WAP site.In a follow up to my previous post about RSS2WAP I got curious. Is there a Firefox extension available that would enable me to view WAP sites? Well, yes there is!

The wmlbrowser extension makes Firefox a fully-fledged WAP-browser. (See screenshot of the CitiWiz WAP site to the right)

Although every mobile device will present the content visually different, this is a nice interpretation of what you can expect. Further pro’s in no particular order are:

  • Cut development time by serving up pages locally instead of uploading every change to your WAP site.
  • Develop in your favorite browser. 😉
  • Browse your site using a mouse instead of a quirky phone-keyboard.
  • No telco costs.
  • No slow connection.
  • No need to install a, buggy, third-party WAP-browser.
  • Browse *any* WAP-site there is. Ringtone anyone?

You can get the extension from Mozilla Update.

Safe browsers don’t exist. True.

According to David Sheets they don’t. He has written a column about the safety of browsers. And I think he’s right. Partialy…

Safe browsers do NOT exist. Agreed. Just as bug-free software doesn’t exist. How hard you try, there is always a funny/strange/malicious kind of input possible, putting your normal day of business off. Due to a novel way of using your software. Be it ‘code’ injection, buffer overflow, social engineering, … As a developer of any kind, you’ll never, EVER, quite anticipate your user’s actions. And that’s just your users. (You don’t design a hammer to kill people do you?) I’m not even talking about the evil hacker dude. You can test your baby till death, but you can never be fail-safe enough.

Or can you? There are many methods of testing your software (web or desktop). I personally like the ‘Berzerk’ testing. 🙂 But basically, let your software be tested by end-users. Or if they aren’t available by some third party. NEVER your client. Do not try to attempt to test your baby yourself. Well, maybe only during initial development. Because? You know your click-paths, your feedback, ‘oh well, that will be fixed during launch’, ‘who on earth will do THAT!’. Subconsiencely we all have a tendency to avoid pittfalls and short-term memory. As does your client. They only want to see what happens what they initially invented (read paid for).

What I’m trying to say. You’ll never know what some person at some time is going to do with your product. Surely enough any good designer will try to anticipate abuse. But that can never be fail-safe. As for software, wouldn’t it be nice that the platform it runs on could jump in where the software failed? Something like SoftX has a buffer overflow, trying to take control over the OS and install this spyware thingy, and the OS would just reject the overflow of the application? Along the lines “Your lack of security, doesn’t mean I will let you!”

Now to the real world: Firefox has a problem on may 9. May 11 there’s a fix. That’s just 2 days. 3 for the general public, OK. But that’s just quick isn’t it? IE patches generaly are released weeks after. So it’s quite a record. Oh no, I’m sorry, that record is held by Netscape 8.

Lesson learned:
try {
fnTest(myBaby) {
bResult = fnRunTestRound(myBaby, aUsers, nTestRounds);
if (bResult == 'OK') {
return bReadyForRelease = True;
} else {
fnReleasePatchASAP(myBaby);
return bReadyForRelease = False;
}
} catch {
fnReworkApp();
}

XTech 2005 Conference

This week, from 24 till 27 of may, the XTech 2005 Conference is held in the Amsterdam RAI. So what is it about?

” XTech 2005 is the premier European conference for developers and managers working with XML and Web technologies, bringing together the worlds of web development, open source, semantic web and open standards. This year’s tracks include:

* Core Technologies
* Applications
* Browser Technology
* Open Data

Formerly known as the XML Europe conference, XTech has widened its scope to incorporate neighboring technologies from the web and business. As the use of XML broadens out beyond traditional core topics, we want to reflect that in the conference. As well as XML, XTech 2005 will cover web development, weblogging, search, the semantic web and more. “

Although I normally work with XML on a sideline (RSS and hacking XSLT), it sounds interesting.

Also interesting to see is that a lot of attendees are bloggers. All the updates can be seen at Planet XTech – Aggregated coverage from XTech 2005. They even have a wiki.
Nowadays its becoming even more common to have an online live coverage of events.

Favorite browser?

Yesterday I furled a CNET article which declared Mozilla Firefox victorious. Ok, ok, firefox won from contenders like IE, Opera & Netscape (8). All of which I didn’t suit me.

Here’s the real story. I’ve been using IE ever since IE3. Why? Well, I’ve won a cd-rom with IE3 along with a videotape of ‘The Net‘. Really! Well IE4 beat NS4 hands down… Ancient history.
Nowadays I’m a webdesigner and somewhat of a webdeveloper and I could use some no-name, obscure, backwards browser. But then I would be cutting myself in my fingers wouldn’t I? Who needs CSS anyway…

As a webdesigner you have to follow the flock. And if the herd is using IE as their preferred browser, you have to design accordingly. I would be happy to design for Konqueror if 90% of the population had installed it. But it’s IE. So? No problem. That’s what they are using, that’s what i’ll design/develop for.

Well a few months ago I did something bold. I had phoenix/firebird or what it was called back then. Nevermind, I had this option in the ‘Tools’ > ‘Options…’ > ‘General’ section with a checkbox to make Firefox my default browser. So I clicked it. Just to see if my Outlook would open links in Firefox instead of IE. It did. Having grown to IE I turned back to it to make IE my default browser again, who wants a beta version of a browser as their default? But… someone please, NOT, show me where the option is hidden… I couldn’t find the damn checkbox to make IE default again. 🙁

Having being stuck with Firefox wasn’t that bad. 🙂 I found that when there’s a javascript error, Firefox could show me the EXACT line of code that was bad. In IE times it was just guess and trackback. How sweet the alert(“over here”); was. 😉 It showed me what kind of HTML I was missing, or at least put in the wrong place (HTMLTidy). Where that &*(#&*$-div went, or didn’t went. What Google & Co could make of my pages. Well as a developer, I’m happy.

I’ll think I make a series of the goodness that came with firefox. But later…