Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nifty extension for Firefox: Link Target Display

I hate every browser's Status Bar. That's right, I said it. Give me back my screen real estate. Why show the status of things like, "Hey dude, the page you wanted to see is done loading", in the status bar when I am smart enough to see that the "Reload" button is now visible? Well, I'll give you at least one reason why we still need the status bar: to get a quick look at the URL that you're about to visit when clicking on a link.

I scratched my head for a long time (and no, that's not why I am bald) to find another reason for the Status Bar; I couldn't conjure one up. Yet, Firefox and IE persist with the decision to have a Status Bar occupy valuable screen real estate. If I could figure out that the bar is superfluous, why couldn't their crack team of designers? Browser users everywhere continued to put with their screen being occupied by something they needed only momentarily and not that often - come on now, I'm not always hovering over links! And then, we all got a reprieve...

The folks building Chrome blazed a trail - like they were reading my mind, they figured that the Status Bar was useless and did away with it all together. To satisfy my desire to view URLs before I click on a link, they came up with a nifty solution - URLs appeared in a small toaster like window at the bottom-left corner of the screen. If I moved my mouse away, the toaster disappeared. Q.E.D. I tried to build an extension that did this myself, but got sidetracked by Elasticfox. Then I got busy with the .NET SDK. Yet, like a loyal dog, I didn't quit using Firefox; the browser had been good to me through the years that IE languished. I commented and voted on the bug to bring Chrome-like functionality to Firefox to no avail. Finally, someone out there heard the requests of the masses and built an extension that did just what I wanted.

It is: Link Target Display, built by Dão G. He's the man. Everyone, give this man the praise he deserves. And of course, install the extension so that you can "Take Back Your Screen!"

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