Review: Greasemonkey Serves Up The Web As You Like ItReview: Greasemonkey Serves Up The Web As You Like It
The hot new Greasemonkey plug-in for Firefox takes browser customization to a whole new level by letting users filter site content or change page behaviors in ways that make themes and tabbed browsing seem almost quaint by comparison.
April 1, 2005
The glory of open-source software is that it allows anyone with the inclination and the scripting knowledge to get under the hood and hot-rod their computing environment. But most of the time, that advantage is available only to people with the programming skills to make the changes they want. That's where Greasemonkey, a free plug-in for Firefox, comes in -- it simplifies hacking the browser.
Released at the end 2004, Greasemonkey is the latest in a growing arsenal of Firefox customization tools. It changes how Web pages look and act by altering the rendering process. Greasemonkey is to Firefox what aftermarket parts are to cars -- it lets you personalize your browser by making it faster and more powerful or simply by making browsing more aesthetically pleasing. How and why you will use Greasemonkey (and I predict you will, if you don't already) will depend on how you browse now. Pimp Your Ride
One Greasemonkey script changes the colors on the Slashdot Web site.
Click to enlarge image.
The list of scripts is nearly 200 deep and growing every day. Some scripts have universal appeal, like Linkify, which turns text links into clickable URLs. Others are highly individualized, like one that filters out writer Xeni Jardin's posts to the digerati blog Boing Boing. Some are site-specific (Google and Yahoo are favorite targets), while others can be used across the Web. For those interested in the technical aspects, Greasemonkey loads the script into the Document Object Model (DOM) after the DOM is fully loaded, but before onload occurs. In other words, the script slips in between your browser's capturing of the page code and its display on your screen. According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the DOM is "is a platform- and language-neutral interface that will allow programs and scripts to dynamically access and update the content, structure and style of documents." Greasemonkey is basically a GUI into this feature. Getting Greasy
Installing the Greasemonkey .xpi (Firefox's proprietary extension filetype) is just like adding any other extension or theme to Firefox -- a couple clicks and it's done.
Click for full screen.
Click for full screen.
No Warranty Expressed Or Implied
Not only is Firefox proving to be a powerful means of evangelizing open-source software, but it is leading the charge to draw users up the computing learning curve. Greasemonkey secures Firefox's rightful place in the latest round of the browser wars, and it does so by tapping into those things that make open source so exciting. Greasemonkey harnesses the power of geekdom by providing the casual user with insight into why hackers do what they do. Politics aside, Greasemonkey is a powerful and exceptionally pleasing tool. It radically enhances your browsing by turning Firefox's already excellent personalization features up another notch.
Recommended Greasemonkey Scripts
• Firefox Central
• Install Firefox
• Install Greasemonkey
• Tutorial: Using Greasemonkey
• Tutorial: Writing User Scripts
• Greasemonkey Script Repository
• Greasemonkey Blog
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