by Malcolm Rowe

Firefox add-on woes

I’ve never had any problems with Firefox before, but recently I’ve been bugged by two separate extension-related problems:

  1. Once or twice a day I’d press Ctrl-T and Firefox would crash. That’s really annoying when you’re doing most of your work through the browser (but thank goodness for session restore!).

  2. Ever since I upgraded to Firefox, I’ve been unable to use the inline spell-check, because the British English dictionary on addons.mozilla.org doesn’t support this version of Firefox(!).

I know that most crashes are the result of bad extensions, so I checked with a co-worker who wasn’t seeing the problem and disabled the extensions that were unique to my installation, specifically:

I did that a day or two ago, and so far, so good — no crashes. Firebug rocks, and I’ve used it on my home machine for a while, so I’m guessing it’s probably User Agent Switcher that’s at fault. But I’ll find out next week: after I’m sure that the crashes are gone, I’ll re-enable the extensions one-by-one and see when things start going wrong.

Update: Turns out it was Firebug after all! It looks like the problem is fixed in the 1.05 release (since I upgraded, it’s not crashing for me any more). Unfortunately, the Firebug release notes don’t appear to have been updated since 1.0.1, so I don’t have any way to check for sure.

Also, today, I finally got annoyed enough about the spell-check problem to do something about it. I found some instructions on MozillaZine describing the problem and how to fix it, which basically boils down to:

  1. Download the dictionary XPI file and save it locally.
  2. Unzip it somewhere (despite the extension, it’s just a standard ZIP file).
  3. Edit the included install.rdf file, and change the text inside the <maxVersion> element from 2.0b1 to 3.0a1 for the Firefox application (the first one listed, though you could also check for the right GUID). I chose 3.0a1 rather than the suggested value of 2.0.0.* simply because the en-US dictionary uses 3.0a1 — I suspect both would work equally well.
  4. Rezip the XPI and open it using Firefox (either by dropping the file onto the content area or via File⇒Open File…).

You can also make it compatible with Thunderbird or Seamonkey using a similar trick, of course, just by changing the other <targetApplication> blocks.

For the record, here’s the other extensions I’m using at the moment:

(plus DOM Inspector and Talkback, which shipped directly with Firefox).