Super Start adds Opera's new tab page grouping feature to Firefox - gHacks Tech News

Super Start adds Opera's new tab page grouping feature to Firefox

I usually set the new tab of the browsers that I'm using to about:blank, a blank page. I do so for a number of reasons. One, the data displayed here by default may help me out when I want to visit one of the few sites displayed here, but does not do anything but slow down the loading of the page otherwise.

I'm also usually faster when I type the address into the address bar as I just have to enter a couple of characters until it is displayed as a suggestion so that I can hit return to load it.

If you like to use the new tab page as a launch pad for often used websites, you may have compared what different browsers have to offer in this regard. I'm not only talking about the default pages but also about extensions that can modify those pages significantly.

One feature that I came to like recently is the tab grouping feature on the new tab page of the Opera browser. It enables you to group a number of websites into a single tab unit.

Super Start for the Firefox web browser brings that feature to Firefox, and a lot more.

super start

The new tab page is empty after you have installed the extension with the exception of  a small row near the top. You can add websites right away to the page if you like, or right-click on the top row first to look what the options of the extension have to offer.

super start options

Here you define when the Super Start page is displayed in the browser and how it is displayed in it. You can change the number of sites that are displayed in a line or switch to text only mode which preserves lots of space on the page so that you can add more visible websites to it.

You can also hide the navigation bar or only the search form here, and define which buttons appear when you hover over a link or thumbnail on the page.

firefox tab page customization

The UI customization page lets you add a background image to the page and select how it is displayed here on the page.

superstart

To add websites to the page either click on the plus icon in the top nav bar, right-click on the page and select add a new url, or use the import feature if you have already configured the extension on another system and want to import its settings to this one.

The program creates a snapshot of the website in question automatically which you can change to Firefox's native thumbnail creation if you prefer that. This can be defined for all sites individually in the options dialog that is displayed during creation or when you are editing an existing item.

input url

You can alternatively load a custom image from your local system and use this instead to represent the website on the new tab page of the browser.

Existing websites can be reordered by dragging and dropping them to  a new position on the screen. To create a group of sites, drop one onto another.  You can launch one or all websites of a group in the browser then which is great feature.

Note: The default search engine uses Conduit which has not the best of reputations. It is unclear how deep it is integrated in the app. What we do know for certain is that the default search provider is Conduit. You can modify the search engine in the following way:

  1. Type about:config in the browser's address bar and hit enter.
  2. Search for extensions.superstart.searchengine.name.
  3. Double-click on the name and enter google to switch to Google search.
  4. Alternatively, disable search on the page completely in the UI options.

Verdict

Super Start is a useful extension for Firefox that should appeal to users who want more control over the browser's new tab page. The option to create groups of websites is definitely useful in this regard, as are the customization options that the add-on provides you with.

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Comments

  1. Kneyfield said on June 7, 2013 at 11:32 am
    Reply

    I’ve been using that extension for about a year now and I agree with you, in that it is a great (and most importantly fast) likeness to Opera’s speed dial page.

    My only frustration with the page grouping feature is the lack of an option to open all links from a group/folder at once. Both Opera and Firefox allow that in their bookmarks, so the lack of it in Super Start is a bit of an annoyance.

  2. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm
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    And to call it free is not quite right .. any addon that makes you go into the depths of the about:config to change your default search engine is not free.

    More disturbing is this line in config (line 183 or so)

    http://search.conduit.com

    Umm… didn’t see anything disclosed on this front!

    So make changes to search engine difficult through having to use about:config, AND other non-disclosed transmissions of your browsing = deemed untrustworthy and definitely undesirable.

    1. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm
      Reply

      Forgot to mention … encoded .js file that does all of the work: sample below

      zs•¥>}êtZÅC¹˜60,œkm_Q–nD½Æ•_¨;q¤ÅB©M¶&·ÎЧMdöºô—VT+†Ûno•§wÝ™€èÖ¯üÔÏ4¢L^¦tÏCÜõ†c!mcØÐÆ YZµI+
      ë·‚ÂdïFGš,­•_ø¡§n­•hE™Nmå7rÁÜÂûþÄC…J&å“

      Why hide the code if there isn’t something we aren’t supposed to see? I can only wonder if this is another one of the addons that has been acquired by a few of those larger nasty dudes that are scooping up existing addons and injecting their “special code”.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on June 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm
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      Which parameter is set to http://search.conduit.com?

      1. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 12:31 pm
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        It’s in a javascript file and not accessible from the about:config parameters.

        File: super\modules\ssConfig.js

        I haven’t followed through the script, nor do I intend to. There is no reason for this to exist other than ….

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on June 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm
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        Thanks Rick. So, this Conduit search seems to make the current owner of the script money when users search I assume? I add a note to the article right away.

  3. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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    I would assume so. Like I said I didn’t follow it through, but conduit is indeed a pay per click service. They would also collect your browsing history (whether it’s just when you use the addon, or it could be your entire activity as this a script that could be global).

    1. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm
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      I have added a review / comment on the moz addon site for the author to comment – he seems to be pretty fast. Maybe he will shed some light on this.

      1. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm
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        it is the default seach engine. if you want to use other search engine, you can change “extensions.superstart.searchengine.name” to “Google” or any other search engine you installed before , do you need more explain ?

        email I got from the developer (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/super-start/reviews/474556/)

        Indeed a reason to change the search engine – conduit does not even pretend to protect your data / privacy.

  4. Kneyfield said on June 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm
    Reply

    Having just updated from version 5.3 of the script to the current 6.0, I don’t have (many) issues with the search. The search field on the Super Start page looks well disguised and can be deactivated completely. This is very helpful for people, who use their navigation toolbar for search, whether directly in the address-bar or the search-field.

    Furthermore, despite extensions.superstart.searchengine.name being set to ‘superstart’, I didn’t get some strange search provider shoved down my throat as another comment here implies. In my case, the extension seems to have fetched my preferred engine name from browser.search.selectedEngine once (when the extension is installed or was upgraded from 5.3) and it keeps using that, even after I change my search preferences.

    Since I use InstantFox anyway, the search-field got deactivated in Super Start and everything is golden (again).

    In the end, despite all the short-lived drama, I don’t see so much of a problem with it. Yes, adding some strange money-making search engine is a big no-no, when there’s no way to change it in a nice menu somewhere. Your average browser user will certainly not look into any about:config settings without much direction. But that seems less of a malicious move to me and more like some missing options for a new feature, as the extension didn’t change any of my browser settings negatively and even offered the use of my preferred search engine from the beginning!

    1. Kneyfield said on June 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm
      Reply

      I have to correct my post above: Super Search doesn’t care about my preferred or default search engines, it seems to use Bing by default. At least that’s what I found on the developers’ site in a news entry (enjoyfreeware.org). I can’t understand where this search.conduit.com stuff is coming from, then?!

      1. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm
        Reply

        That’s the thing. Says Bing as default, but when asked, the developer said it was Conduit. Google Conduit.

        Most consider this malware or at best adware. I don’t know if what included here is the full installation of it, but the normal conduit installation comes bundled with other adware offers etc.

        Conduit is not a search engine .. it piggy-backs on the other ones; so the developer’s answer that it the default one is complete nonsense.

        You should definitely take a critical look on this one. Not all that is going on is visible I do believe.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on June 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm
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        Google was in boat with Conduit before, now it is Bing. Maybe he is confusing things.

      3. Kneyfield said on June 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm
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        Hmm, after a bit more research, I have to admit you’re right Rick.

        http://search.conduit.com/Results.aspx?ctid=CT3299106&searchsource=69&UM=2&q=searchterm

        redirects with a location-header to

        http://www.bing.com/search?q=searchterm&pc=conduit&ptag=AE3608B70D8D445109FF&form=CONAPP&conlogo=CT3210127&ShowAppsUI=1

        I didn’t catch on to that, since I was already using Bing, saw the Bing logo on the search bar and never got an indication of the redirect, before I captured the http headers involved in the search.

        Thanks for clearing that issue up!

  5. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm
    Reply

    Could be Martin; but it isn’t necessary. I have a few apps in development and there is no need to use conduit to incorporate Bing searches.

    1. Rick said on June 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm
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      With the redirect noted – it’s not a Bing thing. It’s the developer making $ from your searching.

      I find nothing wrong with this inherently; but when it is done without consent and as hidden as possible….just naughty.

  6. Jan said on June 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm
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    I too have been using this one for quite some time with great satisfaction. First thing I did was change the search engine to DuckDuckGo but I agree, directing people to about:config is not the most desirable option.

    His answer on Mozilla is rather evasive:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/super-start/reviews/474560/ Doesn’t look like it’s something he’ll change immediately in a next release.

  7. Lindsay said on June 10, 2013 at 8:25 am
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    Hah, tab grouping.

    The Opera feature I’d most like to be able to disable but can’t.

  8. Steven Foxley said on June 14, 2013 at 10:36 am
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    I’ve been using FVD Speed Dial for almost a year.
    It is highly configurable & comes with online syncing & exporting/importing to a local file for those not wishing to rely on the online sync.
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/fvd-speed-dial/?src=search

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm
      Reply

      Great tip Steven, thanks.

  9. Jan said on June 14, 2013 at 7:37 pm
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    Most will probably have seen this but I thought I’d pass it along just in case: the creator of the add-on has added this comment:

    “version 6 is removed, i will update a new version soon, and the search bar will be removed also.”

    Clearly there’ve been more than a few complaints. Look forward to the new version.

  10. Sarah said on November 19, 2013 at 5:46 am
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    Dirty deeds these ppl are making money from our lack of paying attention and knowledge… I noticed it right away, but after googling and trying to figure it out, I’m still stuck… thanks for you post and research. Could you kindly explain the steps to an advanced lay-woman on how to remove this http://search.conduit.com/?ctid=CT3315039&searchsource=69&UM=2& – from redirecting me? Please and thank you! :-)

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