Saturday, April 15, 2017

Firefox mouse-less addon workflow

Today I had some time to tweak my Firefox workspace and came up with an addon combo which might be useful for somebody. The combo's purpose is to enable internet navigation almost completely without mouse.

Normally I have many open tabs on Firefox, and when there were that many they become invisible and only reachable by some kind of scrolling. This sucked because I do not have the habit of being organized and grouping tabs by theme, although I should.

The scrolling problem is removed by accepting that the tab bar can be multi-row. There just happens to be a cool addon called Tabmix Plus which allows multi-row tabs. It brings lots of other functionality which I do not care. If anybody is interested I exported it's settings for further reference are available in this link. To import it just go to TabMix Plus's settings and import the file.

This enables me tab visibility and knowing where the Tab I wanted was relative to my current tab, I coudl use the Ctrl-PgDn/PgUp trick switch tabs. The thing is, I have normally 30 tabs or more. Going one-by-one until my desired tab took sweet time. Also along the way it loaded all the tabs that were just lazy loaded.

I knew that there was a shortcut to go directly to a tab number. The problem is that this shortcut only goes up to the 9th tab. I found a very basic, but functional plugin to allow me to go to any tab number, "GoTo Tab Number". The plugin is very basic and with Ctrl-Shift-O I am able to raise an ugly dialog to write the tab number. Even so yet another problem came up: How do I know the tab number in 30 tabs?

I found yet another slightly abandoned addon caled "TabNumber". This one, I felt I had to modify it as the position of the numbers overlaying the tab just looked out of place. It took me quite long to adjust and find what I was comfortable with. This was because my addon development workflow to reload the changes was quite shitty:
  • Make changes to the extracted .xpi.
  • Zip the plugin contents into a xpi.
  • Copy the plugin to the where Firefox expected it.
In the end it worked and I created a repository in github to store it. I tried to contact the author about it and if he wants he can publish my changes although I doubt he will. The changes are GPL because the license is GPL. To install it, as stated in the README:
  • git clone https://github.com/ptsneves/TagNumber
  • cd TagNumber
  • zip -x "TagNumbersPTSN.xpi" -r "TagNumbersPTSN.xpi" .
  • Install the .xpi manually on Firefox.
For the navigation the VimFX plugin makes the honors. Very clean and I have yet to have any annoyance with it. My favourite and most used functionality is the F key to get a key combination for each possible link. When you type the appropriate key combination, firefox follows the link.

Normal Ctrl-LeftArrow allows to return to the previous page, and O allows the address bar to get focus with all current content selected. This way you can just start typing and what was there gets deleted automatically if you do not care about it. The Address bar also works as a search bar which makes it basically the only text are you need.

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