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Firefox is your Friend

In my previous TechBits post, I described how Firefox can be your friend against the rising threat of Web-based scripting attacks, using the NoScript extension. But there are a lot of other reasons that you may--nay, will!--come to love Firefox if you don't already:

Firefox is the preferred browser for using the Koha staff interface.

Because of its open source nature and commitment to the support of proven international Web technology standards, Firefox is a natural fit for accessing Koha. Some parts of Koha currently don't work properly with Internet Explorer, much less look good on screen. While this is slated to be fixed in future Koha versions, the closed nature of IE means that its support may always lag in Koha development.

Firefox has universal cross-platform support.

Whether you are using a Windows PC, an Apple Mac, a Linux netbook, a FreeBSD server, a Google Android phone or a Starfleet Tricorder, Firefox is available for your platform of choice.

Firefox is the companion product to Thunderbird.Ffox_tbird_companion

Both Firefox and Thunderbird are sponsored by the Mozilla Foundation, and as such they share many design elements and some functionality. Thunderbird is replacing Eudora as the preferred SCLS email client this summer. All SCLS support for Eudora will end on September 30th.

Firefox has hundreds of Add-Ons that enhance its functionality.

Sure, the latest version of IE8 supports some add-ons, and IE7 supports tabbed browsing. But Firefox had these features a long time before IE did. Microsoft is clearly playing catch up to a more innovative design team.

Firefox has a built-in spell checker.

This can be very useful if you are filling out forms online, writing messages in a Webmail interface, etc. I'm using it to check this very blog posting.

Firefox has a built-in RSS Feed reader called Live Bookmarks.

You are using RSS to follow all these fun and useful SCLS blog posts, right?

Firefox security is generally much better than Internet Explorer.

No network software is bulletproof. There are even malware attacks out there that are specific to Firefox. However, in terms of the severity and frequency of vulnerabilities, Firefox has a pretty good track record. IE... not so much, really.

Firefox does not support ActiveX plugins.

OK, this one is kind of a double-edged sword. ActiveX is a closed, proprietary Microsoft technology that only IE fully supports, although some alternative browsers also do support it to some extent. Firefox does not even try, as a matter of principle.

ActiveX-based plugins are required to use some Web site interfaces, including the LibraryOnline reports module (via the Crystal Reports ActiveX plugin) and parts of AncestryPlus (via the Enhanced Image Viewer). So you might easily see non-support of ActiveX as a big negative for Firefox if you rely on those features or other ActiveX-dependent sites.

I view it as a big plus. The Internet was designed to have many heterogeneous pieces snap together seamlessly using open standards. It should be a place where anyone can play if they just follow the rules. Requiring a closed, proprietary piece for some Web application to work (especially a piece that is only available for some kinds of platforms), is considered by many to be a serious design flaw.

So I applaud Mozilla for their "just say no to closed systems" stance, even if it means Firefox cannot fully access some Web sites. Besides, I can still open ActiveX-dependent sites quite easily from within Firefox. I just right click and choose Open link target in IE from the context menu, a feature provided by the IE View extension.


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Interesting to know that Firefox is the preferred browser for Koha!

("Starfleet tricorder".... that one made me chuckle. You're showing your inner geek --- or maybe just appealing to ours...?)

OK. So firefox does not support ActiveX, and we need it to print Library Online reports. Obviously, we can still use IE for now, but will we still be doing that after the Koha migration? What other options are there?

Kristine, IE will always be available on Windows PCs, even after Koha goes live. It's just that Firefox will be preferred for some tasks and IE for others. The IE View extension for Firefox allows you to set a particular site to always open in IE. Once you set up the link, you can have the LibraryOnline reports page "just work" through IE, even if you use Firefox for everything else.

Kerri, total geeks don't have inner geeks. ;)

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