FireStatus is a Firefox extension that aims to be a swiss army knife for dealing with various social networks, right from your browser, without visiting any particular website. Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, Delicious and Identi.ca are currently supported, but more are in the pipeline.
For starters, it allows you to simultaneously update your status to all or some of these services, so that all your friends see it, no matter what they are using. The notion of a status that is occasionally updated is familiar to Twitter, Identi.ca and Facebook users, since the text field that asks ‘What are you doing?’ is prominent in their user pages.
FriendFeed also allows posting links to web pages, accompanied with a short description, something that many Twitter and Facebook users have been doing by constructing status updates that start with the description text and are followed by an appended link, usually shortened. Delicious does not have a status but you can use FireStatus to quickly save a bookmark for the page you are currently viewing along with some tags and a short description.
FireStatus can ease the task of posting these messages or status updates, by being always available, instead of needing to have the service pages open and without a large memory footprint, like other similar applications, since it takes advantage of the fact that most people nowadays always have one browser open.
Clicking on the FireStatus icon, pops up a small toolbar window just above the status bar and below the window document. It is similar to the Firefox findbar that pops up when one searches for text in a page, albeit slightly larger. That was a deliberate design decision that aimed to imitate the success in the usability of the findbar. Lots of little details like this one have been carefully thought out and occasionally debated at length among the team and our beta testers:
- [advt]Enabling the spell checker in the status message field, for catching those typos when hastily typing a message.
- Having the URL inclusion unchecked by default, while the shortening checked, since most posts do not include URLs (and it might be embarrassing if done inadvertently), but those that do usually want them short.
- Adding a character counter to help guard against the maximum message length imposed by some services (e.g. Twitter).
- Tightly placing the available services in a way that allows for an unambiguous selection.
- Using the Escape and Enter keys as shortcuts for canceling and sending the update respectively.
- Showing the second text line for entering tags only when the delicious checkbox is selected.