Google Chrome: which are the most useful extensions for web designers?

There are indispensable instruments a good web designer cannot do without, both during the development process and after, for the analysis as well as the maintenance of one’s own works.

Among these instruments there are obviously many of the extensions which have been developed for the browser which over the last couple of years seems to have been the protagonist (continuing to gnaw pieces of the market always more and more substantial towards direct rivals): I’m obviously talking about Firefox.

In addition to security, lightness and speed which characterized this browser, even the multiple extensions which have been developed throughout the years – for excessively expanding the functionalities – have had a fundamental role in turning it into one of the most used browsers, especially by insiders. But now that also Google has launched extensions for the last version of its own browser, Chrome, will there be a change in the scenery of browsers utilized by the users?

Will Google Chrome be the browser of 2010?

Browser usage statistics of the last months start giving a signal already; for the first time Firefox seems starting to lose something just in favor of the newcomer, Google Chrome. Can it be the beginning of a trend inversion which might see Google within a short time win even the fierce battle of the browsers?

If we analyze the characteristics of the last version of Chrome, still in beta phase, we notice that the performance has further improved and that the loading speed of the pages now is noticeably faster even compared to Firefox. Besides the separate management of every single tab – every single tab in Chrome is a separate process, so that if a crash occurs on one tab it is not the entire  browser to be rebooted but it is the single tab which has generated the error to close down – renders it slimmer and more modular from its main rivals.

But so that a decision to migrate to this new promising browser is taken it is necessary for a web designer that all those extensions usually used in development phase are made available.

Which are the Google Chrome extensions already available for web designers?

Although at the moment the same choice availability which exists for Firefox is not offered, within a very short time the main extensions have already been developed and it might be the latter who can make you use for good the new browser bearing a Google license plate. Let’s take a look then at an overview of the main extensions which are already available (for the time being for Linux and Windows users only) which you might find useful.

1. Speed Dial

Today it is possible to follow your own bookmarked websites through the rss feed subscription, but if you really cannot do without visiting some daily, you can make use of this useful extension which allows you to group together on the initial tab of Chrome the thumbnails of your websites (it’s up to you to decide how many of them to display, how to arrange them, the thumbnail size, etc.) that you visit frequently every day. You can also configure an interval within which the thumbnail of each added website has to be synchronized and updated.

2. Xmarks Bookmarks Sync

How many times has it happened that you get back home to discover that you are no longer able to find the website you had bookmarked last week? Maybe it’s because you bookmarked it on your work computer. This extension allows you to synchronize your bookmarks on every computer in a simple and automatic way. Thus, regardless of whether you are in your office or at home, your bookmarks will always be available to you. Xmarks is available also for Firefox, IE and Safari, in this way it allows you to keep your favorites synchronized and updated even on more browsers at the same time, totally useful.

3. Firebug Lite

Firebug allows you to correct and verify the HTML code, CSS, Javascript of a web page in real time. A web designer cannot do without such an instrument.

Worth mentioning that Google Chrome has already integrated a functionality very similar to Firebug called: “Developer Tools”. For accessing it enough clicking with the right button of the mouse on the page you wish to analyze and then choose the option “Inspect item” from the contextual menu that comes out.

4. Speed Tracer

This extension enables you to measure in details the loading performance of the web page you are displaying, another indispensable instrument for a maximal optimization of your works.

Always inside the instrument “Developer Tools” of Google Chrome there is a tab named “Resources” which enables you to perform something very similar.

5. Resolution Test

This extension allows you to test the development of your web pages on the main video resolutions available today, with the possibility of adding further personalized resolutions on the basis of your actual needs.

6. MeasureIt!

Another very practical extension which allows you to measure the dimensions (width, height, margins, etc.) of various elements inside the web page you are developing. It can be very useful during the development phase by avoiding to insert dimensions at random during the array of various elements.

7. Chromed Bird

Among the activities of a web designer the interaction with the social networks is inevitable, here’s an extension which allows you to follow and interact in real time with your Twitter account.

8. Delicious Chrome Extension

Always regarding social networks, this extension allows you to add with extreme ease the page you are visiting on the favorites of your Delicious account. Once again the speed and simplicity rule.

9. Google Mail Checker

The e-mail is another indispensable instrument which allows you to stay in touch with clients, friends, collaborators and everything else that has to do with your activity. If you own a Gmail account this extension informs you about eventual unread messages in your Inbox and with a simple click on the extension button at anytime, it is possible to directly access your account.

10. Pendule

For developers the list wouldn’t be complete without this extension corresponding  partly to the beloved “Web Developer” of Firefox.

11. Eye Dropper

What color will be the one used in the footer of this website? Have you ever asked yourself a similar question? Inside the web page you are displaying Eye Dropper allows you to obtain the color in a hexadecimal format simply by selecting it with the proper instrument put at the disposal by the extension.

12. SeoQuake

We couldn’t do without mentioning a SEO instrument for analyzing in detail everything with regard to the field of search engine optimization. The SeoQuake extension, already among the best plugins in the SEO area developed for Firefox, now is available for Chrome also.

13. Webpage screenshot

This extension allows you to capture the screen of the web page you are displaying and to save it as an image on your computer.

14. HTML Validator

Another indispensable instrument for validating in real time your own works during the development. HTML Validator, in fact, is an extension to validate the HTML code of the current web page. It is possible to choose to obtain the confirmation of results directly on the running page, or to display a new tab scheda with the results of the W3C validator.

15. YouTube Video Downloader

And what in case you wanted to download a video tutorial you came across on YouTube? Here’s an easy way of doing it.

Conclusions

The browser is one of the fundamental elements for a web designer, that’s why the choice regarding which one to use should not be underestimated, it being understood that in each case it’s always good to have installed (even virtualized, for whom develops under Mac or Linux) all the main browsers on which to test one’s own works.

I want to remind you that it’s only a couple of months since Google gave the go-ahead for the development of extensions for its own browser, therefore their number is surely destined to increase and on some you might encounter also any malfunctioning since everything is still in beta phase.

In this article you saw a round-up of the main extensions you might find useful. Now I’d like to know your opinion with regard to what was said, what will happen according to you? Will Google really succeed in becoming the most used browser by stopping the inexorable growth of Firefox occurred over the last couple of years? Or is it just a flash in the pan? Tell me what you think.

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The Author

Nando is administrator of Edi Group, a Sicilian web agency founded in 2005. He deals with the development of web applications in php language and the implementation and administration of databases. And besides Microsoft Trainer with years of experience in regional and private training courses as a designer and lecturer.

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