Oct 21, 2009

[Firefox] Integrated Gmail Extension

Despite my eternal love for all things Google, I still use Mozilla Firefox as my default browser. Sure, I can certainly appreciate how brilliantly fast Google Chrome is and I'm glad they've worked out the initial bugs the browser had in its early months, but the lack of full extension support always holds me back.

I know, I know, there's experimental extension support currently being toyed with in the developer version of Chrome, but that doesn't account for all the fun bells and whistles I get with the robust library of Firefox extensions already out there on the web.

Today is all about discussing one of my newest extensions of interest that pretty much taps into my love for Google as well.

Integrated Gmail is a pretty nifty Firefox extension that conveniently places many Google services all together on a single page. This is not an entirely new concept - I remember I had previous extensions and Greasemonkey scripts that allowed me to integrate Gmail and Google reader into one interface prior to the current release of Gmail. Of course when Gmail upgraded, it broke the older extensions and I was left without a way of viewing multiple Google services at once.

Integrated Gmail

Integrated Gmail manages to pull this off even with the current version of Google's webmail platform. Plus, it goes the extra mile of not just integrating Google Reader into the site but even other services like Google Calendar, or whatever else you want to add it. This certainly pushes tab economy for those who are into the multi-tab browsing experience given you can now have all these different services accessible in one place.

Now a natural problem of such extensions is the issue of space - services like Google Reader are best viewed with a full screen and not limited by the various sidebars that Gmail has. Integrated Gmail has an answer for that by giving the user options to collapse the top navigation area or the left-hand sidebar in order to save space and maximize your reading experience. You can also change the order of whatever Google services you've integrated into Gmail or open / collapse the different "windows" so you can focus on one thing at a time.

Of course, this will mean extra loading time since this will still run with the equivalent bandwidth load of viewing all these Google services separately - they just get loaded in the background once you launch Gmail. Thus on slower connections, I wouldn't recommend adding too many services.

Also, various Gmail Labs features may not necessarily work well with Integrated Gmail. One obvious one is the option to place Chat or Labels on the right hand side since this will eat into your screen real estate for Reader. Others I chose to disable were the Google Calendar in Gmail app (since you can now get the full-featured Calendar through Integrated Gmail) and I'm not going to use the multiply inbox option for now for similar reasons.

Still, for the power Google user who tends to have many different Google services open at the same time, this is a great Firefox extension for you. Integrated Gmail gets 4 Google Doodles out of 5.

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