It seems that the world and his dog now have a Twitter, Facebook, Jaiku or Plurk account. Some of us see these services as an extension of our mobile phone or our blog, some as a way to get into internet communications. Whatever you like to call it, microblogging has propelled itself into the internet limelight. It seems that people just can’t get enough of posting 140 characters of text.
Perhaps the reason these services have become so widespread is that the creators of these networks have released public API’s, allowing third party developers to utilize the services these networks offer. Examples of these API’s at work can be found inside our very favourite internet browser; Mozilla Firefox. Eliminating the need to install software and run it on your desktop, Firefox allows you to install powerful add-ons that add to the functionality of pre-existing websites.
Today I wish to share with you four Firefox add-ons that will add microblogging functionality to your browser meaning you will never miss a beat when it comes to updating or interacting around your microblog.
Pingfire is an add-on that connects to your Ping.fm account to allow the updating of services such as Facebook, Jaiku, Pownce, Twitter, Plurk, even your Wordpress blog simultaneously.
Sitting nicely on your toolbar, a simple click will bring up a Pingfire input box, allowing you to specify where you wish to post to, the title of your post (if you are posting to your blog for example) and of course the message – which features a visual counter, alerting you if you exceed your 140 character limit on Twitter, Plurk et al.
You can select which network you wish to post to, using @fb to post to Facebook and @tt for Twitter, it doesn’t just work as a mass status updater.
One of it’s most useful features is the ability to quote text on any given webpage. All it requires is you to highlight the text you wish to post, click the Pingfire button on your toolbar and selected text and the URL to that page is added to your message.
Yoono touts itself as a tool that can “socialize your browser”. Weighing in at two megabytes, Yoono is deployed in your Firefox sidebar, allowing you to interact with people on your social networks, view their updates and also update your own. After sharing your login credentials, Yoono routinely updates your feeds, allows universal status updates and opens up your instant messaging networks to communicate straight from your browser.
Yoono currently supports MSN, Yahoo!, Gtalk, AIM, Facebook, MySpace, iMeem, Flickr, Twitter, Youtube, Last.fm, Seeqpod, Picz and Friendfeed.
It also boasts browser enhancements such as bookmark synchronisation, content sharing via its drag and drop interface and more recently integrates a shopping widget. Shopping portals such as eBay, Amazon, Buy.com and Shopping.com are supported.
Simply put, Yoono is a social aggregator that, combined with it’s recommendation system, allows you to keep your finger on your friends activity without any extra software or even leaving your browser.
Although there is currently an unofficial one, there is not a publicly available Plurk API. This has led to many “workarounds” when it comes to building add-ons that compliment the service. That said, there is a Plurk Firefox add-on which is aptly named Plurk Sidebar.
Plurk Sidebar doesn’t feature the layout and interaction that is featured on it’s website. It does however bring a more Twitter-esqe feel to Plurk, using the Mobile version of Plurk as its foundation.
Installation of the Plurk Sidebar requires you to download the addon to your desktop and to physically drag and drop it into your Firefox Addon’s window.
Once installed, drag the Plurk icon onto your toolbar. As the sidebar uses Plurk’s mobile site, you will not need to supply this add-on with any login credentials, it should use your Plurk cookie for this.
The FriendFeed Sidebar is not technically a Firefox addon, more of a Firefox tweak. Many readers will be aware of MySocial 24×7, an addon that incorporated FriendFeed functionality into a Firefox sidebar. Unfortunately development was halted as Firefox released the third version of it’s browser, meaning most users were left without the ability to interact with FriendFeed without visiting the site itself.
Recently FriendFeed released their “Real Time” feature, an update that allowed users to see updates on their friend’s activity as it happened without the need to refresh. This Firefox tweak harnesses this new feature and incorporates it into a sidebar without the need for the installation of a third party addon.
The process is easy. Simply follow these simple steps:
1) Add the following link to your bookmarks: http://friendfeed.com/realtime?embed=1
2) Right click the bookmark inside and select properties.
3) Tick the “Load this bookmark in the sidebar”.
Once this has been done, select the bookmark from your list and it will display the FriendFeed real-time updates in a sidebar.
Many of these add-ons have a direct crossover and it may mean you won’t need to install these four tools mentioned inside the same Firefox installation. Some of these tools have greater practical applications inside the workplace as they don’t require you to visit the actual website in question.
Do you have any tools that you think would warrant a place on this list? If so, the comments section is your friend.