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Munging your world with Greasemonkey

Simon Willison: Greasemonkey as a lightweight intermediary

The latest release of the swiss army knife of Firefox extensions adds support for cross-domain XMLHttpRequest calls from greasemonkey scripts. What that means is that you can create a user script (a short JavaScript that will be executed whenever your browser loads specific pages) that can then pull extra data in from another server.

Although I still use Safari as my main browser, Greasemonkey really gets me thinking about moving over to Firefox full time. Although I’m still getting my head around everything that Greasemonkey can do, I’m really fascinated by the idea that a web site (and now, if I understand this right, a web application?) can be munged to your needs and preferences so easily. I’ve sampled from the page of available scripts, and I have to say it’s a pretty mind-blowing hack. (Thank you for "fixing" All Music Guide!)

The implications of things like Greasemonkey and PithHelmet catching on seem far-reaching. Think about the benefits of taking web standards to the next level and making sites that can anticipate and acknowledge your visitor’s preferences from their first visit (via standard DIV names or calls to your public “preferences??? file). I wouldn’t begin to know how to make this stuff, but I can definitely see myself becoming a grateful consumer.

Rick Faaberg's picture

I installed Greasemonkey and thought...

I installed Greasemonkey and thought it was very nifty until it broke some stuff, like comments for blog entries wouldn't popup and other small problems that went away when I uninstalled it. I'm sure these things will get fixed but it still underscores the need for some sort of warning like "my site works fine, if you're using Greasemonkey and something breaks then it's your own fault."

In one instance, the owner of a website first disabled Greasemonkey and then added a fix for the script, linkify, that was breaking stuff. I don't have any problem with people slicing and dicing my pages six ways from Sunday since they're going to do it whether or not I give them permission, and I enjoy doing that too anyway, but I don't want to be "fixing" my site to work with the newest GM script so those who choose to install it will be on their own.




An Oblique Strategy:
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