Sunday, November 9, 2008

HTTPS Indicator in Firefox 3

A lot of people have complained about Firefox 3's address bar no longer being yellow when HTTPS is being used.

Some have even posted workarounds using GreaseMonkey or by modifying userChrome.css

I am sure you have noticed the brilliant green color which comes on when viewing certain HTTPS sites for one example see here. This is used to identify sites that have gone in for Extended Validation - i.e. someone has verified that the company which owns the site actually exists. Only companies/organizations can get this certification.

If you look carefully at the HTTPS version compared with a non-https site, you can see that the Favicon (the small icon next to the URL with the site's logo) has a blue border when compared with a non-https site. (Non-HTTPS below, see the first image for a HTTPS favicon)

This of course is not much of an indicator and indeed, can be easily spoofed. However, in typical Firefox fashion, there is a setting that can be enabled - browser.identity.ssl_domain_display, which will make Firefox show HTTPS based sites very differently.
With a value of 1, it will show the site's top level domain name (mozilla.org out of addons.mozilla.org) highlighted.

With a value of 2, it will show the full domain name (addons.mozilla.org) highlighted.

I feel the value of 2 takes up too much screen space. But with the value set to 1, this is absolutely awesome. Supposedly, it was not turned on in Firefox 3 by default as it looks to similar to EV (particularly to color blind people) but I still feel a visual indicator such as this is a must have...

Adding to my tweak guide too!
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