CyberNotes
Web Browser Wednesday




The other day Netscape took the plunge and provided a completely reworked version of their browser. The new Netscape 9 is based on the Firefox 2 browser, and therefore has some really nice features such as inline spell checking. It kicks things up a notch by including several features you won’t find in Firefox, well, not by default that is.

Most of the features in Netscape 9 aren’t really innovations, and really only demonstrate how well the Netscape developers are able to integrate existing Firefox extensions into the browser. So it really poses the question “why would you want to install Netscape?” Honestly, I have no idea. By using Firefox you are guaranteed to be among the first to get security patches, the same ones Netscape users may have to wait awhile for until they are ported over.

We didn’t write a review of Netscape 9 because we covered it pretty in-depth when the first Beta was released. Since then there has been hardly any changes, and so we thought this time around it would be better to show where you can download many of Netscape’s best features for Firefox.

Note: All screenshots have been taken in Firefox 2 using the Netscape theme.

–Netscape 9 Theme (Download)–

Inevitably one of the first things that we have to do is grab the Netscape 9 theme. It is available for Firefox as the Netstripe theme, and you’ll quickly see the resemblance. In fact, the theme was actually posted by the Netscape team. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Netscape 9 Theme for Firefox
Click to Enlarge

One of the major differences is that in Netscape the Stop and Reload buttons are combined, but in this theme it just hides the Stop button when it’s not needed. It will show up when a site is loading though, and will appear immediately to the right of the Reload button. We’ll show you how to circumvent this problem later on.

–URL Correction (Download)–

Netscape 9 monitors the URL that you type into the Address Bar with your fat fingers just waiting for you to make a stupid mistake. If you misspell something it will automatically correct it, and if you so desire it can show a confirmation before it does so. This feature was essentially yanked straight from the URL Fixer extension for Firefox.

An example of where this works is if you type in cybernetnews.con into the Address Bar it will automatically change it to cybernetnews.com:

URL Fixer 

–Link Pad (Download)–

This is one of the more unique features that Netscape 9 does have. It provides a quick way for you to save a link to a website without actually having to store it in your bookmarks. It’s a nice feature, but I have “junk” folder in my bookmarks that serves this very purpose.

ScrapBook

There is a Firefox extension, however, that does virtually the same thing as Link Pad plus some. It’s called ScrapBook, and with it you can “bookmark” sites. ScrapBook also lets you add notes to sites.

–Sidebar Mini Browser (Download)–

This feature doesn’t have an exact counterpart, but the Firefox alternative is a little bit better. In Netscape you can show full navigation controls (forward, back, stop, etc…) in the sidebar so that you can truly browse a website from there. In Firefox you can open sites in the sidebar, but navigating around can be a little bit of a pain.

Split Browser

To conquer that issue we turn to the Split Browser extension. With it you can “split” a window as many times as you would like, which can lead to some pretty crazy collages. It also lets you tile tabs, which is one of the reasons I think it is better than Netscape’s offering. And since this doesn’t use the sidebar to display the secondary site you can still have your bookmarks, or other things open there.

–Restart the Browser (Download)–

Ahh, it’s amazing what a difference the simplest things can make. The “Restart Navigator” option that was added to the File Menu in Netscape is really nice because it keeps all of your current tabs intact after a restart, but likewise there is an extension to do it in Firefox.

File Restart

–Resizeable Textarea (Download)–

Don’t you just hate when you’re commenting on a site or in a forum and it only has a small box to type your reply? That’s one of the reason I added the expand/contract option to our comment box below, but what about sites that don’t have such a feature?

In Netscape 9 all you have to do is grab the corner of a text box and drag it until it’s as big as you want it to be. And Firefox users, yep, there’s an extension for that as well called Resizeable Textarea:

Resizable Text Field

–Tab History (Download)–

Picture this, you’re doing a search on Google and you open one of the search results in a new tab. When you try to hit the back button it does nothing, which is expected because the search result was the first thing to be opened in that tab, so there is no history associated with it.

That’s all in the past now (no pun intended)! The Tab History extension will let you retain the history of any parent tab. In this example screenshot I was on our site, and opened the “Live Search 411″ link in a new tab. You’ll notice that it retained the history of the originating tab:

Tab History 

–OPML Support (Download)–

OPML files are commonly known as the primary way for importing and exporting RSS feeds from a feed reader. Seeing that Firefox supports Livemarks (a.k.a. RSS feeds in your bookmarks) it would only seem natural to be able to import and export items to/from your bookmarks, right?

OPML Support is an extension that will do just that, and it lets you choose whether to just do Livemarks, bookmarks, or both.

OPML Support

–Combined Stop/Reload Button (Download)–

This extension works wonderful with any theme, and is needed if you want to mimic how the Netscape 9 theme works. Once installed the Stop button will only be shown when a website is loading, and the Reload button will show the rest of the time. It works perfectly as you can see here while our site was loading:

Stop Reload Button