Monday, June 16, 2008

24. Greasemonkey


Greasemonkey is a browser add-on (extension) for the Firefox browser (no equivalent in Internet Explorer, sorry) that allows little snippets of JavaScript code to manipulate the web pages visited by the browser. After you install the extension, you can then use it to install and manage scripts that do everything from change ads on pages from the original ad graphic to random Flickr pics to adding information from one site (say, your local public library's) to another site (say, Amazon.com). This is all done via the JavaScripting language. You aren't a JavaScript expert? No problem, people have been writing scripts - and sharing them - for years. Just about any site that gets more than a couple of visitors a day will have some scripts that can adjust its user interface, functionality or both. You can find an exhaustive list of scripts, arranged by website, on the Greasemonkey User Scripts wiki or you can find a number of "best of" lists that link to the most popular, useful or fun scripts that author can find, some specific to particular sites like del.icio.us or Gmail.
I use Greasemonkey to add a "twit this" link to my Google Reader web page - giving me a quick way to share what I'm reading with my Twitter buddies. I also use the Better Gmail script to improve the way the already very cool Gmail service works for me! Spend some time browsing around the various script sites, seeing what is available and what might improve your browsing experience (pay attention to all the social sites that have scripts - FriendFeed, Twitter, del.icio.us, blogger, Facebook, etc. - some of them are handy in helping with information overload).

16 comments:

Francesca said...

I think it is really coolamundo that people out there, design these add-ons and make them freely available. I downloaded one script that gives my Firefox browser tabs show up in different colors. Browsing through some of the latest addons (latests to me that is). I wondered if the addon GreasedLightbox let you search across several picture/photo databases simultaneously - eg. Google Image Database, Flickr, DeviantArt, etc. I've found images on Flicker as well as Etsy that didn't get retrieved through Google's image search (the dangers of relying on Google alone).
There was another addon called PageSaver - that allowed you to save entire webpages - h'mm, I thought I already did this; although another tool (can't find the name again - rats) allows one to save entire websites - Now that could prove useful.
Yet another tool allows you to search Youtube with the Google interface - well that's already readily available if you pull up Youtube through a google search, I've sometimes used that initial search box powered by Google to search through YouTube and have Not retrieved as many as when I go through YouTubes own search interface.

sexybeast said...

I'm playing around with the monkey and it seems really cool. I stole francesca's idea and added the different colors and such. I also add a feature which will allow me to change the font size and other cool things on any site I should be on at the time. I can see many uses for staff and patrons alike, it seems endless.

Nikki B said...

I really like the better gmail, gmail is awesome and that only makes even better. I like the idea of keeping my searches. I always tend to forget what I had recently searched for or how I found something. So thats neat

eyeoh said...

Ahh, yes, endless variety! As the others said, we are in debt to those willing to create these scripts, and make them available. As with all the 2.1 lessons, what is most useful to each of us will be obvious six months from now, when we are still using it. It would be interesting to know which tools our patrons will be using at that time, as well.

Robin said...

As Eyeoh said, what we are still using 6 months from now will prove to be most useful for us! This is an excellent time to remind you all that, while Bobbi and I encourage you to try out these new applications and features, we don't expect you all to use them all forever. You try them out, you give 'em a good test run, then you decide if it is worth your time/effort/mental health to keep using it. If it isn't, ditch it!! If it is, then you've got yourself a new tool!!

Bobbi Newman said...

I tried to add the 'better gmail" one but FF wouldn't allow it, maybe because I've switch to FF3?

Robin said...

That is a possibility, Bobbi. I just installed FF3 on Mike's laptop tonight (score one for me!) and noticed that Better Gmail refused to load. I tend to use GTDInbox extension more often - it does much of the same "stuff", but with a Getting Things Done slant to it (the geek time management/organizational theory that swept the techie community a few years ago). With the recent upgrade to FF3, some stuff may take a bit to update and work with the new version of the browser!!

Marion said...

Oooohhh, so many things to experiment with and so little time. Bobbi and Robin you keep finding great things to share with the staff. Anything that enhances Firefox and gmail is way cool.

betterlate said...

This one I have shared with my son. We use Firefox on our home computer. This should be fun to play with! Thanks

jsutme said...

This is cool and one that I will share with several others that I know will like it as well

Heather said...

Not sure I will use this one much but it's still a cool option to have.

leslie said...

Like betterlate, I have Firefox at home and my school computers. I plan to try out the color stuff, especially at school. When they give you administrator privileges, then they shouldn't be surprised when you do this kind of thing!!! lol

I Don't Know How She Does It! said...

More artsy people allowing the masses (with Firefox) creativity galore! I am impressed with the amount of customization that can be done as opposed to just a few years ago. It is something that I don't "find time" to do, but I know if I did it would probably make my day a little brighter. I am inspired by beauty in nature as well as on my PC!

newbie said...

I really like the "best of" list and that it allows me to see all my searches. I am forever sitting at my desk cursing that I can't find that cool site that I just went to yesterday.

watersc said...

Interesting...I rarely bother with customizing anything, but I might just have to play around with Firefox (the only web browser I like). I'm still new to gmail, and am still discovering its many wonders.

madmusing said...

Not sure I'll use this much, but it was an eye-opener to see the many possibilities for customization.