31 January 2008

Improvements to Panic Button

I've played with Panic Button a bit more since I released a beta version of it earlier this month. There are a few things I've observed with it; one of them is an annoyance, the other is something that seem out of place for an extension that fulfills a relatively narrow, specific purpose.

First off, minimizing all windows isn't exactly instant -- in fact, it's painfully slow, on Windows at least. When hitting the Panic Button, the windows animate one by one as they shrink themselves to the taskbar. If you have a lot of open Firefox windows, this can last a few seconds. And by then, the boss will have already noticed that, at which point he would then stop by your desk and demand to know what you're up to....

The shortcut keys for window operations (minimize, maximize, close all) don't fit in with Panic Button's sole purpose of hiding all browser windows and concealing your Web surfing. They are especially redundant when users could configure them using the handy Keyconfig extension.

What to do

The minimize window behaviour is platform-specific and cannot be changed from within the Mozilla environment. So that leaves me with the following options:
  • Leave it the way it is
  • Use the session API to save the state of each open browser window, and then close all of them. That means the browser windows will truly be hidden instead of merely being minimized to the system taskbar. Have a toolbar appear that allows the user to click on a button (after the boss walks by) to reopen the browser windows and restore the browser session.
  • Give the user the option to configure the behaviour of the Panic Button: minimize all, hide all windows (with the toolbar appearing so that they can be reopened later), or exit Firefox entirely.
The redundant shortcut keys will be eliminated -- except for F9, which is a useful alternative to the Panic Button button. Another reason for eliminating them is that some of them may already be mapped to other system functions on the user's desktop environment -- in particular, ALT+F5 and ALT+F10 are system keys in Gnome which perform the same window actions as Panic Button.

And yes, I know... the Panic Button icon is ugly and needs improvement.

26 January 2008

Clippings 2.99.5 development milestone released

This is the fifth development milestone release leading up to Clippings 3.0, intended for early adopter users who crave the latest and greatest. Users not comfortable trying out pre-release software and tolerating its many bugs should stick with Clippings 2.6 for now.

Clippings 2.99.5 is a feature-complete release. This milestone release will, for the most part, contain all the great new features that you will see in Clippings 3.0.

» Download: Clippings 2.99.5 (146 KB; English (United States); compatible with Firefox 2.0-3.0b2 and Thunderbird 2.0-2.0.0.x)

If you already have a previous release of Clippings installed, you must uninstall it first before installing this release. Because this is a development snapshot, no automatic upgrades to this release will be available to current Clippings users.

What's New
  • Removed support for Firefox 1.5 and Thunderbird 1.5. These versions are obsolete and Mozilla Corp. is no longer supporting them.
  • Added support for Firefox 3.0 beta 2.
  • Clippings' first-run initialization has been improved.
  • Bug fix: No auto reload after migration completed (bug 18197)
  • Bug fix: Common Clippings command should be hidden after migration is completed (bug 18368)
  • Bug fix: "Clippings Error" command on Clippings menu not removed after successful automatic recovery on Thunderbird
Known Issues

Regressions occurring when Clippings is installed on Firefox 3.0 beta 2:
  • In Clippings Manager, it is no longer possible to adjust the width of the tree list.
  • Export as HTML from Clippings Manager doesn't work (bug 18519)
  • Many message boxes from Clippings will have the oddly generic title bar caption "[JavaScript Application]"
Other issues outstanding:
  • Clippings Manager status bar item count isn't updated if Clippings with packaged datasource is installed on to another host application (bug 18552)
  • Shortcut key assignments are lost after migrating to the common data source.

Help and Support

Send your questions to the Clippings mailing list at clippings@mozdev.org. Enter a new bug here (Bugzilla account on Mozdev required - or you can just post your bug report to the mailing list). Remember to check the bug list first to see if an issue you want to report has already been filed.

Stay tuned for a release candidate of Clippings 3.0.

07 January 2008

Introducing Panic Button

After searching in vain for an extension that hides all browser windows to prevent the boss from snooping in on your Web browsing, I quickly put together Panic Button... a cool, useful Firefox extension that adds a toolbar button to the browser window -- literally called "Panic Button." Now you can minimize all browser windows -- as well as any open Firefox windows such as the help viewer, Bookmarks Manager, View Source, Error Console, etc. -- with just one click on a toolbar button!

You can also invoke the same action as the Panic Button, um, button, by pressing F9.

A beta version of Panic Button is now available for download. Support for languages other than English will be available soon.

» Download: Panic Button 0.9 (4.7 KB; English (United States); compatible with Firefox 2.0 - 2.0.0.*)

After installing Panic Button, add the Panic Button button to the browser toolbar by choosing View → Toolbars → Customize on the Firefox menu bar, and then dragging the Panic Button to the desired location.

What Else?

Panic Button also introduces a few additional shortcut keys for the browser window. The shortcut keys are summarized in the following table.

ActionShortcut Key
Minimize AllF9
Close AllCTRL+Q

Note that pressing CTRL+Q will function the same as if File → Exit was selected from the browser menu bar.

You can change the shortcut key bindings using a Firefox extension called KeyConfig.

Known Issues
  • The Restore key binding (ALT+F5) conflicts with a system-wide shortcut key on KDE that displays the desktop window list (bug 18411).

Help and Support

Feedback on this extension is welcome. General comments and bug reports may be submitted by going to the AE Creations home page and clicking Contact. If you have a Bugzilla account on Mozdev, you may file a bug report here.