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User Agent Switcher 0.6.7

Version 0.6.7 of the User Agent Switcher extension has been released. This release adds Netscape support and some code optimization as well as being compatible with Firefox 1.5 Beta.

Note: The Netscape support was not working and I am not really sure why, so I have removed it for now and will look to add the support back in for a future release.

Update: The localized version was not working correctly and has been updated with a new version.

Firefox 1.5 Beta Compatibility

This is really just a placeholder post for now as I am starting to receive emails and forum posts asking about Firefox 1.5 Beta compatibility for the User Agent Switcher and Web Developer extensions.

Update: The User Agent Switcher and Web Developer extensions are both now compatible with Firefox 1.5 Beta.

My usual stand is that I do not support nightly, alpha or beta builds for either extension—as noted in the User Agent Switcher and Web Developer FAQs. This is because too many little bugs appear in these builds that can affect the behavior of an extension and I just do not have the time to debug an issue to work out if it is a problem with that build or my extension.

However, with Firefox 1.5 Beta offering significant improvements over Firefox 1.0 I suspect that many people will be trying it out—myself included. Therefore I am planning on making both the User Agent Switcher and Web Developer extensions compatible with Firefox 1.5 Beta, with the caveat that I will not be providing any support for issues that are only related to Firefox 1.5 Beta and do not occur in Firefox 1.0.

Changes Required

Making the User Agent Switcher extension compatible should be straightforward enough and I hope to release version 0.6.7 this weekend. This will not include any new functionality, but will merely add Firefox 1.5 Beta and Netscape support along with some minor code optimization.

Unfortunately, the Web Developer extension is a little more tricky. I have spent the last few months working on the next release of the extension and version 0.9.3 is effectively frozen. If version 0.9.3 can be made compatible with Firefox 1.5 Beta by just updating the supported version then I will do that this weekend. Otherwise people will have to wait for the beta of the next release for a version of the Web Developer extension that is compatible with Firefox 1.5 Beta, which should not be too far away if everything goes according to plan.

So please stay tuned—I will be updating this post with the latest information as I work on making the User Agent Switcher and Web Developer extensions compatible with Firefox 1.5 Beta.

Web Developer Rip-Off

Someone sent me an email the other day with a link to the AEVITA Web Inspector. Web Inspector is described as “an add-on component for your Internet Explorer browser…for testing and optimizing HTML pages without complexity”. It sounds like an equivalent to the Web Developer extension only for Internet Explorer instead of Firefox, but a quick glance at it’s home page reveals it is more of a rip-off than an equivalent.


The first thing I noticed was that the icons used in Web Inspector are identical to those in Web Developer. These icons were not created by me, but are part of the default Firefox themes on Windows and Mac OS X, and I believe these icons are copyrighted by Mozilla.

Looking at one of the Web Inspector screenshots it was clear that not only had the icons been taken from Web Developer, but that the menus had an almost identical structure in terms of naming and order, with only a few items added and removed.

I also noticed that most of the text on the Web Inspector home page had been copied from the Web Developer documentation. For example, from the Web Developer documentation:

The disable features allow the disabling of various browser behaviors including disabling the cache, JavaScript and CSS.

And from the Web Inspector home page:

The disable features allow the disabling of various browser behaviors including disabling the cache, JavaScript and CSS.

What is particularly amusing about this is that the text was copied verbatim even though there is no feature that disables the cache in Web Inspector! The Web Inspector home page also claims that the program allows “an unlimited number of configurable tools” and “custom sizes” in the resize feature, but these are features of the Web Developer extension and are not included in Web Inspector.

I downloaded and installed the program and it behaves in almost exactly the same way as the Web Developer extension. This makes me suspect that much of the logic was probably taken from my code, although this is most likely hard to prove as I would guess that the internal code of an Internet Explorer add-on is very different to that of a Firefox extension.

No Response

I sent AEVITA support a polite email pointing out what appear to me to be clear violations of the GNU General Public License that the Web Developer extension is distributed under and the copyright of the Mozilla icons. At the time of writing I have yet to receive a response.

I find it sad that there are people who would abuse open source software in this way and even charge $24.95 for a license. This is certainly not about trying to stop any competition for the Web Developer extension—I have always been fully supportive of the Web Accessibility Toolbar.

I am not sure what my next steps will be, but I will post any follow-ups here.

Update: Asa Dotzler from Mozilla has picked up the story on his blog and is encouraging people to contact AEVITA and express disapproval.

Update 2: Web Inspector is also available from and ZDNet Downloads. Feel free to add your opinion to the user reviews of the tool.

Update 3: Davenport points out that Web Inspector appears to have been removed from the AEVITA web site.

Update 4: Audoin points out that the AEVITA web site is now simply showing a “Bandwidth Limit Exceeded” message.

Update 5: The AEVITA web site is back up again and all references to the Web Inspector have been removed, although James says that the images can still be accessed by URL. AEVITA have not contacted me, but I now consider this matter closed and want to thank everybody for their support.

Web Developer Alpha

Today I released an alpha version of the next release of the Web Developer extension to a select group of individuals to get their initial thoughts and bug reports.

Note: Before the comments and emails start coming in requesting to be a part of the alpha release—I am sorry, but I will not be releasing the alpha to any other people.

This alpha release contains most of the core functionality that will be included in the next release and the to-do list shows what has already been built. There are a few extra features that I want to include in the final release, but I am not looking to add in anything too major at this point.

Being an alpha release there are a few known issues—most notably unlimited customizable bookmarklets and ‘Validate Tided HTML’ not being complete—as well as almost certainly a number of bugs. The plan is to get feedback from this alpha release on the new features and any bug reports.

Release Plan

Once the necessary changes and fixes are made I will then be releasing a public beta for anyone to try—with the caveat that there will most likely still be some bugs, but hopefully nothing too major. Again bug reports and feedback will be incorporated before the final version is released.

As for the inevitable question around the timing of all of this—I cannot commit to dates as I only work on the extension in my free time and it really comes down to how busy I am.

So that is the latest news on the extension. Sorry if you wanted to try the alpha release, but hopefully the beta release will be available soon.

User Agent Switcher 0.6.6

Version 0.6.6 of the User Agent Switcher extension has been released. This is a patch release that fixes a bug where user agents containing backslashes did not work.