Browsers, Uncategorized, Web Development

Firefox’s about:config and Add-on Compatibility Reporter


I wanted to try out a really I (and I mean *really*) cool web app testing tool that I came across quite some time ago, Selenium IDE. I had almost totally forgotten about this tool. Its basically a Firefox plugin that lets a developer record and playback UI interactions on a webpage. It has enormous potential for automated testing. My knowledge about Selenium IDE is thus far very very limited…I must confess 😉

But this blog is not about Selenium IDE (more on that probably on a future blog…further knowledge about it permitting).

I had recently upgraded to Firefox 4.0.1 and interestingly enough when I wanted to install the Selenium IDE plugin the installation was not successful saying something in the lines of “Java IDE formatter is not compatible with this version of Firefox.”

After some Googling…there were two solutions to my problem that kind of gave some interesting insight regarding the Firefox browser itself.

1) about:config – Entering this in the browser and ignoring the scary warning message you will be taken to a kind of “Firefox registry”, There seems to be a huge number of parameters that you can set here. But the suggested parameter (extensions.checkCompatibility.4.0) and it ‘s setting (false) still didn’t install Selenium IDE. Having come here I tried changing some other existing settings which seem to work. For example my AVG antivirus search box (never wanted it in the first place) used Yahoo as the search engine but I was able find and change the relevant preference to use Google by filtering the preference list using “AVG” (screenshot below), I’m sure you can do more cool stuff using Firefox’s about:config but be careful not to break the browser 🙂

AVG section of the Firefox "registry"

2) Add-on Compatibility Reporter – Installing this add-on into your Firefox browser enables you to install “incompatible” extensions to your browser. The reason I mention incompatible within quotes is that most of the time plugins written for previous versions of the browser may still work with a newer version although the plugin still “mentions” the previous browser version as its “compatible” version. For my problem with Selenium IDE this was the solution. It allowed me to install the Selenium IDE plugin which was probably certified for previous versions of Firefox but not 4.0.1, the logic behind the Add-on Compatibility Reporter is to check and report if plugins written for previous versions of Firefox still work in a newer version of the browser.

So there you are two interesting features of Firefox; about:config to tweak its many settings and the Add-on Compatibility Reporter to try out older plugins with the newer version of the browser.

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