Performancing for Firefox

If there isn’t a geek corner for DC Metroblogging then sign me up. For my debut post, I’d like to see if I can make your life as a blogger a little easier. And this isn’t limited to DC members, or even Metbloggers in general. If you use WordPress, Movable Type (which is the system we use) or Blogger, then keep reading.

First off, if you’re not using Firefox then I recommend installing it. If you’re not familiar with Firefox, the key feature of the browser is its extensibility—and that’s exactly what we’re going to leverage. The advice that I’m about to suggest requires version 1.5 or greater, so if you are already running Firefox but have an older version then you’ll need to update it. There are way too many cool things about 1.5 not too.

Once you have Firefox running you’ll want to add the SpellBound Development extension. This tool will give you spell check as you type, plus context menu spelling corrections (Ctrl+click on a misspelled word to select one—you can’t miss them since they’re underlined in red). This not only provides spell check in the next tool you’ll install, it also works in any form input on any site you visit. Visit my tech blog for gory details about the SpellBound Development extension.

Which brings us to Performancing for Firefox (PFF)—which is an extension that allows you to post to your Metroblogging (or any other compatible blog system you may be using) from within Firefox. How is this different than the native environment provided by Movable Type? A lot, PFF provides a rich formatting experience like a word processor, it allows you to copy, drag and drop chunks of content from other Web pages, it allows you to automatically ping Technorati with your post, add a bookmark to, and lots more. Best of all, if you have multiple blogs, you can post to any of them from one consistent user-interface from right inside your browser.

The key to all of this is configuring your account once you have PFF installed. To do this you need to first visit your Metblogging account, and once you’re logging in visit your profile page by clicking on your login name in the upper right. On the next screen, down at the bottom, is an input for your API password. Enter one and save your changes. Now you’re ready to add your account to PFF.

There are two simple ways to launch the extension, hit F8 or click on the PFF icon located on your status bar at the bottom of the browser. Select the Blogs tab on the right, then click the Add button below to launch the Performancing Account Wizard. From the dropdown list select Custom Blog, click Next then select Movable Type. Below this is the URL to the MT API interface. Just change “myserver” to “metblogs” and hit Next again. Now enter your user name and the password you created earlier and PFF will log you into the system. Save your changes and you’re ready to start posting.

There’s lots more to go over, and if you have problems or want to learn more I recommend reading the PFF Handbook. I’ll also be happy to answer questions if I can, just post a comment here.

Happy blogging!

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8 Comments so far

  1. Doug (unregistered) on February 9th, 2006 @ 6:24 pm

    Just as I finished my post an update for PFF came in which fixes some things. So if you’re already running 1.1 you may want to upgrade to 1.1.1.

    Also, the entire post was created with PFF (naturally) and I can vouch for how much easier it is to use than the MT interface.

  2. misschatter (unregistered) on February 9th, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

    I agree it’s a nifty little tool – I’ve been trying it out since it first launched. My only complaint is that it messes up the formatting of my posts for WordPress (and doesn’t have a “more” button). Works fabulous for blogger accounts, though.

  3. Doug (unregistered) on February 9th, 2006 @ 6:53 pm

    I haven’t tried it with WordPress, and my own personal blog is built with Serendipity (which I am pretty sure will not work with PFF). If anyone knows otherwise, I’m all ears.

  4. jen m. (unregistered) on February 10th, 2006 @ 9:55 am

    can you explain in dummy language what all that stuff will do if i somehow manage to decode it?

    not being a computer person, i didn’t make it past the first paragraph before my eyes glazed over and i heard a whistling noise pass right over my head. i think i might be able to force myself to figure out what you said, but i’m not sure what the motivation is — how will it be better?

    what i’d really like is to figure out how to spell check in movable type. my next wish is to learn how to put in technorati tags. (does that give you an idea of how much you need to dumb it down?)

    welcome aboard to metroblogging dc!

  5. Doug (unregistered) on February 10th, 2006 @ 11:18 am

    What browser are you using now? With Firefox you can install the SpellBound extension and it will work in any input form field. For instance, as I’m typing this reply it catches misspelled words and underlines them and then provides suggestions if I need to make corrections.

    Perhaps it would be best to start from there, and if you want to continue to get into things like the Performancing blog editor we can take it from there. What I can do to give you a “demo” of sorts is make a screenshot of the thing running inside Firefox so you can get a better idea how the interface differs from what you’re used to using to post articles on DC.

  6. jen m. (unregistered) on February 10th, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

    i do use firefox on my ibook. i tried to read the instructions on your blog for adding spellbound and i got really scared and overwhelmed. can’t i just spell check in movable type? (although it is tempting not to have to deal with the movable type interface anymore. i don’t like it.)

    my experience has been that it’s not worth it for me to try to figure stuff like this out. you know what i’ve realized? there are two kinds of technological advancement. in the first kind, utilizing the advancement requires more and more knowledge and technological savvy. but then the second kind of advancement inevitably follows, in which the technology is simplified and made user-friendly so that it can be adapted by the masses (like myself) with a minimum of knowledge and technological savvy.

    it’s like how back in the day you had to be really computer savvy to use that pre-world wide web dos-based thingy. some people were really into that, but most of us were happy to wait a few years for microsoft explorer and other user-friendly ways to access the world wide web.

    so i think i’ll just wait for the dummy version and leave firefox extensions up to the computer geeks. thanks anyway!

    it’s odd that reading your blog i feel like a luddite. it’s not like i’m one of those people who can’t program a vcr. (actually i never did really master vcr-programming, but luckily now that i have tivo i never have to worry about that again. another example of how technological advances eventually translate to improved user friendliness.) i think i do ok, considering that when i was born there was no such thing as personal computers and now i use two different blogging platforms, know some basic html, maintain my bookclub’s mailing list, use bluetooth to upload pictures from my cell phone to my ibook, etc. but jeez, this subject really does make me feel like an idiot.

  7. Don (unregistered) on February 10th, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

    If it makes you feel any better Jen, I went to school for computer science and have now worked in the industry for about thirteen years. It still makes me feel like an idiot, roughly daily.

  8. Doug (unregistered) on February 10th, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

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