Add a scrolling minimap to Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 8, 2017
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Minimap Scroller is a new browser extension for the Firefox web browser that adds a minimap that you can scroll to the web browser.

Minimaps are best known from computer games; they are used to provide orientation in games, and also often for navigating to certain locations using the map.

The browser extension adds a minimap of the active page as a sidebar to Firefox. This gives users some flexibility when it comes to the functionality, as you may display the sidebar in different locations and hide or show it on demand.

Minimap Scroller

The extension displays a zoomed out copy of the active web page in the sidebar when enabled. It highlights the active part of the page with a rectangular shape that it overlays on the minimap.

This shape changes position automatically when you scroll the page using normal means, for instance by using the scrollbar or keyboard shortcuts.

You can however use the shape as well to scroll quickly to a specific part on the page. This is usually a lot faster than using traditional means of scrolling, especially on very long pages.

The page scrolls automatically when you move the rectangle to a new position on the minimap. The minimap uses the same design as the actual web page which improves orientation significantly.

You can identify images and headlines for instance, and depending on the screen, sidebar width and browser resolution, may also be able to read the actual content on the minimap directly. Since the minimap displays more content than what is displayed as the visible part of the page in the browser, this provides you with options to read on directly using the sidebar.

The minimap may not display the whole page depending on its length. This means that it too will scroll when you move the rectangle on it. The width of the sidebar in Firefox affects the minimap sidebar. A wider sidebar makes text more readable, but it does reduce the area of the page that is visible without scrolling.

Note that you may need to reload a page if you change the width of the sidebar, as the typography is not adjusted automatically when you do.

software image
Author Rating
3.5 based on 3 votes
Software Name
Minimap Scroller
Software Category
Landing Page

Tutorials & Tips

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  1. IPonymous said on December 9, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    This is very similar to Kate the text editor for the KDE desktop. Its very useful on pages that are very long, to quickly find a target ‘area’.

    hope more applications offer this such as office type products.

  2. WTD4XMAS said on December 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    I remember an addon used to do this in the before the rejection of xul, you would hover over a tab and get it to pop up that way. I ran with it but in a day or two found it’s not for my production loop personally. Not that it ain’t good for someone else, just that the kind of stuff I do with the browser she’s not really working for my productivity personally.

    Scrolling maps remind me of the long ansi’s when we logon to a BBS. (yes there are still bbs’s)

  3. Clairvaux said on December 9, 2017 at 2:08 am

    Interesting concept. Will try it.

    Just after writing this, I noticed the developer says : “Note that this add-on is fairly experimental, and probably not very useful.”

    Then I noticed that Mozilla’s add-on site does not say whether this extension is a Web Extension. This was stupid when Firefox 57 launched, it has not been changed and it still is stupid.

    Then I installed the extension. It shows on the installed add-ons page all right, but there’s no way to launch it. No instructions. No icon. Nada.

    Now I’m doing this under Firefox ESR 52, because I alternate between three Firefox editions, 57 being one of them.

    So maybe this does not work because it would be compatible with 57 and not 52. There’s no way to know, except quitting ESR 52 and launching 57.

    Someone wrote here that the older Firefox repository was full of crap add-ons. Has it really changed ? Has Mozilla really changed ? Or has it changed for the worst ? In the last months of the former-era Firefox, at least there were compatibility indicators all over the place on the site. Not any longer. Mozilla creates compatibilibity problems, then removes the information that helped navigate around them. I think there’s a stupidity contest going on with Microsoft. The respective CEOs must have bet a significant amount of money between them, trying to be the one who will annoy his users the most.

    Edit : now I’ve clicked on the link Version History / See Other Versions on Mozilla’s site, and that brings you to the old, and better AMO site, where there is a semblance of compatibility indicators. All versions there have a yellow Add to Firefox button, which is supposed to mean… what ? Danger ? Rather shitty extension, but go on if you must ? Half compatible with your crap old Firefox version, half incompatible ? There’s no explanation in sight.

    The stupidity goes on, and on, and on.

    1. foolishgrunt said on December 11, 2017 at 4:22 am

      That’s pretty vitriolic. Take a deep breath.

      If the addon page says “compatible with Firefox 57+” (which this one does), then it’s a WebExtension. Simple as that.

      As far as launching it, just open your sidebar and select “Minimap” from the drop down menu. Simple as that.

      1. Clairvaux said on December 11, 2017 at 4:42 am

        I don’t need to take a deep breath. My ventilating capacity much exceeds that. And you don’t know anything about vitriol : that was olive oil as far as I’m concerned.

        The add-on page does not say compatible with Firefox 57+. It does not say anything about compatibility. And there’s no “Minimap” from the drop-down menu. Not on my computer, anyway. Not all people have the same setup as you.

        There are some compatibility indications on the other site, which is hidden behind the See All Versions link. No one can guess that you must click on See All Versions to begin to get some hints about compatibility. Of course this should be on page one as it was before.

        Furthermore, people who used to go to AMO before, and saw big flashy compatibility signals there, land on the new site, see nothing, so they presume the add-on is compatible with their browser. What’s so difficult with writing “compatible with x, y, z” on the home page ? All Windows programs do that.

    2. Anonymous said on December 11, 2017 at 3:08 am

      > All versions there have a yellow Add to Firefox button, which is supposed to mean… what ? Danger ? Rather shitty extension, but go on if you must ? Half compatible with your crap old Firefox version, half incompatible ? There’s no explanation in sight.

      You don’t need one, it means all three. These are outdated versions because it’s version history. They could have vulnerabilities (danger), nasty bugs (rather shitty), or incompatibility with the most recent Firefox version if they’re old enough (Half compatible/half incompatible). Yellow/orange universally means you can go on at your own discretion, but should rather not if you don’t know what’s up.

      For the last point though, old add-ons should not be half incompatible with Firefox version from the distant future because of WebExtensions.

      By the way this add-on is a WebExtension since it can be installed in Firefox 57.

      1. Anonymous said on December 12, 2017 at 12:04 am

        To illustrate how you didn’t need one because you got it all right point by point on your own

      2. Clairvaux said on December 11, 2017 at 10:05 pm

        @ Anonymous

        I appreciate your attempt at an explanation, but saying “you don’t need an explanation” to someone who has just said he needs one is the perfect illustration of the wrong attitude in software development (and many other things in life). Also, if I don’t need an explanation, why do you even bother to provide one ?

    3. Anonymous said on December 11, 2017 at 2:58 am

      AMO lets you install it on Firefox 52, which means the author explicitly marked it as compatible. I think he set it to 48 and up.

      But he is wrong because the sidebar is not readily accessible on Firefox 52. (Maybe there is a way, I don’t know)

      On the old version of AMO, it would have been the SAME. The mistake is the author’s.

      An author who released this add-on 2 days ago and marked it as experimental.

  4. Tom Hawack said on December 8, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Martin, could you provide the source/link please? I’ve searched on AMO for ‘Minimap Scroller’, ‘Minimap’, ‘Scroller’ unsuccessfully.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 8, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Tom the link to the source is in the summary box below the article ;)

      1. Tom Hawack said on December 8, 2017 at 7:24 pm

        Thanks Martin. The summary box was hidden because of inappropriate filters :=}

  5. Dave said on December 8, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Like wow man. Ya know, there’s this thing on the right that does exactly the same thing man. It’s called “The scroll bar” man. Like you put the pointer thing on it man. The you hold down the left button and drag it up and down man. It will scroll any size page in the same amount of time man!

    Sorry, it’s my intention to “sound” like Tommy Cong while stoned. This addon seems less than useless to me.

    1. foolishgrunt said on December 8, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Like, you know the best part about addons man? You don’t have to add them!

      But seriously, there have been many times when I’m on a very long webpage and I want to scroll down to a specific part of the page way down there. I have a general idea of what the part I’m searching looks like, but don’t remember exactly how far down it is. So I guess how far down I need to send the scroll bar, take a look, guess again, take another look, and finally scroll up and down with my mouse wheel until I finally find it. Would have been a lot easier if I had a mini graphical representation of the page, then I could have navigated there first try. It’s the little things.

  6. foolishgrunt said on December 8, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Very interesting concept. I wouldn’t mind at all browsing the web with that at my side, but it occupies the same spot as TreeStyle Tabs. If only there were a way for both to be up, or a hotkey to switch back and forth.

  7. Daniel said on December 8, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Interesting find Martin!
    Wish there were a hotkey to call it up.

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