Download Statusbar shows the progress of current downloads right in the browser's statusbar. There's no need to open the Download Manager when downloads can be managed from anywhere in the browser.

Q & A with the Developer

The creator and developer of Download Statusbar, Devon Jensen, answered a few questions about his add-on.

What's the history behind Download Statusbar?

Screenshot of Download Statusbar 0.5

Download Statusbar 0.5 in Phoenix 0.5 in 2003. Source: Devon Jensen

I started using Firefox very early on (late 2002 when it was called Phoenix 0.5). I was enthusiastic about the browser and became a part of a small, close knit community of users at the mozillazine.org forums. On the forums, the discussion turned to how to make downloading more convenient.

I posted my idea and was encouraged by the thoughtful feedback I received from the other members of the community. Even though I had no programming background, I decided to go for it! A lot of trial and error followed, but I managed to quickly cobble together a working prototype add-on and released it for the first time on March 19, 2003.

It was ugly. But it worked.

The following 6 years have been marked with steady improvements in functionality and design, and a steady increasing community of users that has mirrored Firefox's spectacular growth.

That's the story of how a student in a completely unrelated field (I'm currently finishing a PhD in Molecular Biology), with no formal software development training, created an add-on used by nearly 3 million people daily! Firefox made this possible.

Screenshot of Download Statusbar in action

How long did it take to write the first version of Download Statusbar?

6 weeks of on and off "free time" — working on it while attending college. Not bad for a novice who had never developed software before!

Because I was a novice, initially I relied heavily on the open source nature of Firefox. Anytime I was stuck during development, I would search and learn from Firefox's source code. Most of the problems I encountered could be overcome by finding the source code for an existing feature that was similar to what I wanted to do.

Why Firefox?

This flexibility is still unmatched among all the other web browsers out there. If you can dream up a new feature, you can do it! No limitations.

—Devon Jensen, Developer of Download Statusbar

I chose Firefox for three reasons:

Open source atmosphere — Because Firefox is open source, it allowed me to learn quickly on-the-fly as I developed my first add-on. Had I been using a different, closed source browser, it is safe to say that Download Statusbar would not exist!

Speedy and flexible development — Firefox's base infrastructure and add-on system both allow for rapid prototypes and an incredibly flexible way to overlay new features. This flexibility is still unmatched among all the other web browsers out there. If you can dream up a new feature, you can do it! No limitations.

Innovative community — I loved the feeling of innovation that surrounded the early development of Firefox. That feeling survives today in both the progress of the Firefox application and the continued growth of the add-ons community.

How instrumental has the Firefox extension been to your success?

Firefox has been absolutely instrumental to my success. The experience and knowledge gained during the development of Download Statusbar has translated directly into new opportunities for my future.

I recently started a new company called Enzymatic Software, that is focused on creating biomedical applications for personal genomics and cancer diagnosis. I'm using the very same technologies used to make Download Statusbar in order to create these applications on the XULRunner platform from Mozilla.

What does the future look like for your Firefox add-on?

Lots of new features in the pipeline — coming soon is support for showing downloads initiated by another Firefox add-on, DownThemAll. Also planned are ways to make organizing your downloads easier through drag and drop, and new options for previewing the content of your recent downloads.