Web Browser Extensions

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Extending the capabilities of various web browsers so that they are better able to integrate with library content. Appropriate topics include both new browser extensions, as well as information about how to create them.

Contents

Bookmarklets

Bookmarklets are pieces of JavaScript code, packaged and used as browser bookmarks. These should in theory work in any browser that supports JavaScript. NOTE: JavaScript should not be confused with Java. Despite the (intentionally confusing) names, these are two completely different programming languages. JavaScript was originally, and much more usefully, named LiveScript.

Making Bookmarklets

Library-Related Bookmarklets

  • The most famous bookmarklet, and the one which launched the idea of better browser integration with libraries, is Jon Udell's LibraryLookup.
  • FRBR Bookmarklets are similar to those available from Jon Udell (listed above), but take variant ISBNs in the same FRBR worksets into account FRBR Bookmarklets

General Bookmarklets

User Scripts

User scripts are, similar to Bookmarklets, pieces of javascript code. Unlike Bookmarklets, they are automatically invoked on the web pages they are made to run on, and still mostly require a specific browser extension to be installed to support them; Internet Explorer needs Reify Turnabout, Mozilla (including Firefox) requires Greasemonkey, Opera can use them natively.

Making User Scripts

Library-Related User Scripts

Book Burro

Book Burro adds a panel to Amazon (and a few other web book shops') book pages that cross references book prices and links to the same book in other book stores. A branch of the Book Burro project (demonstration page here) has migrated back into user script form and also adds links to Google Book Search and shows book availability in a library, with extensive plans to cover and cross reference any library, in scope similar to that of Jon Udell's bookmarklet LibraryLookup project.

General User Scripts

Crossrider Framework

Crossrider is a new browser extension development framework aimed to solve all the cross browser issues when developing a cross browser extension.

Through a unified API you can write your cross browser extensions very easily and quickly. With its powerful API you can save large data in a local database (local cookies), do cross domain requests, create browser real estate (or buttons), run your code on each page, use browser notifications, access the users social graph with a Social API etc etc.

The language used to write the extensions are Javascript and it has a built in support for jQuery.

Firefox Quick Search Keywords

Quick Search Keywords can be used to make bookmarks you can invoke with a keyword, and even pass a parameter to. The original documentation appears to be offline, but it is available from the Internet Archive: Bookmark Keywords.

In a default Firefox install, you will find pre-created quick searches in Bookmarks->Quick Searches.

Mozilla/Firefox Search Plugins

A search plug-in allows you to access a search engine right from your browser, without having to go to the engine's page first. On Mozilla, you can access plugins via the Sidebar or the Location Bar. On Mozilla Firefox you use the search box on the toolbar.

Mozilla/Firefox Library and Academic Search Plugins

These are links to info, not direct links to the install.

Internet Explorer Search Providers

Internet Explorer 7 support search providers, similar to (but with a completely different syntax than) Firefox search plugins.

Toolbars and Sidebars

Library or institutional toolbars/sidebars that work in browsers to give fast, easy access to catalogs, databases and other useful resources.

Library Toolbars

  1. Patrons toolbar (file exe)
  2. Staff toolbar (file exe)
  • LibraryBar for the New York Public Library and the Morris Automated Information Network. (Firefox only)
  • HHHL toolbar, Half Hollow Hills Community Library (Internet Explorer only)
  • HBLL Toolbar Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University (Firefox only).

Academic, Search, Other Toolbars

  • World Time Engine A search plugin to resolve the local time in millions of places on earth
  • BioBar A toolbar for browsing biological data and databases (Mozilla/Firefox only)
  • PubMed A toolbar that increases your ability to search information in NLM Medline database trough PubMed interface (Mozilla/Firefox only)
  • BioMed Central toolbar Allows you to conveniently search BioMed Central, PubMed Central, PubMed, Faculty of 1000 and Google
  • bioFOX implementing various bioinformatics tools as an extension on the Mozilla based browsers
  • NeedleSearch The NeedleSearch toolbar lets you bookmark search engines
  • SwitchProxy Tool SwitchProxy lets you manage and switch between multiple proxy configurations quickly and easily
  • OAses toolbar for searching Open Access resources. (Internet Explorer only)

Commercial Search Engines

Other Browser Extensions

  • Firefox Scholar/SmartFox See Zotero "it will enable the rich use of library and museum web collections" ... "[it] will enable users, with a single click, to grab a citation to a book, journal article, archival document, or museum object and store it in their browser."
  • LibrarySearch "when you select text in the browser and right-click, a new context menu appears (Look up selection) that allows you to select which library/resource you would like to pass your selected text to search". From Wayne Graham.
  • Evergreen An open source Integrated Library System (ILS), written in Xul, developed and maintained by the Georgia Public Library Service (Firefox only).
  • Mozilla Amazon Browser A Rich Web Application to search products on Amazon-branded sites, written in Xul (Mozilla/Firefox only).
  • OPAX A prototype XUL OPAC user interface, built on the functionality and appearance of the Mozilla Amazon Browser (Mozilla/Firefox only).
  • ResearchBuddy Will help you capture quotes on webpages, with citations.
  • Gnosis ClearForest Gnosis is a Firefox extension that automatically locates people, places, companies and other entities on the web page as you surf. You can then use these tagged entities to launch additional searches in Wikipedia, Technorati and a variety of other sources.
  • Zotero is a free, open source scholars' extension for the Firefox browser, that enables users to collect, manage, and cite research from all types of sources from the browser.

Code Generators and Other Tools

Tools to automatically generate code for you.

  • DevBoi, a sidebar extension for Mozilla and Firefox that offers easy access to XUL documentation and reference manuals.
  • LibX - A Firefox Extension for Libraries, LibX is a framework from which editions for specific libraries can easily be created. "Librarians: if your library uses Millenium, Horizon, or Voyager, getting your own edition of LibX can take as little as 15 mins..."
  • One great resource for building toolbars is Conduit. Over 90 libraries have used it so far. It provides a toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer. (Formerly Effective Brand)

Programming Resources

Websites, Books, Forums on creating web browser extensions.

The basic expertise you will need is HTML/XHTML, the web formatting language, JavaScript, a lightweight programming language that runs in browsers (unrelated to the Java programming language, despite the name), and XUL if you want to program Firefox specifically.

Websites about Firefox Programming

XUL (XML User-interface Language) the cross-platform language behind Mozilla and Firefox interfaces.

Books on Mozilla/Firefox

Discussion Forums

News and Feeds

News and feeds from browsers developers that worth a read

  • Planet Mozilla News feeds aggregator from Mozilla/Firefox developers' blogs

Software Tools

Journal Articles and Conference Presentations

  • Chang, Daphne, and Helen Keil. "Need Another Toolbar for Your Toolbox?". Searcher 14.9 (Oct. 2006): 39-43

Specific Blog Postings and Mailing List Messages

Weblogs (sometimes) covering this topic

  • Library toolbar Blog voor bijhouden van info over het gebruik van Library Toolbars

Demos

  • Screencasts about the Maldura toolbar by Gianluca (Flash format):
  1. Installazione (280KB, 45s)
  2. Utilizzo (1700KB, 2m+45s)
  3. Funzioni Avanzate (1700KB, 2m+45s)
  • These screencasts show LibX's predecessor, the VT Library Bar (Flash format):
  1. Basic use of the toolbar (about 2min)
  2. Context searches and xISBN (about 3min)
  3. Access to the OpenURL resolver (about 3min)
  4. Cues (about 3min)
  • Jon Udell's four-minute screencast on, among other things, LibraryLookup and a Greasemonkey user script that looks up Amazon books in Keene Library, right on the Amazon book page.

Acknowledgments

NOTE: Much of this content originated, with permission, from Gianluca Drago's excellent Maldura Toolbar - Firefox Extension page. Additional material from Richard Akerman Science Library Pad - Firefox extensions category, and RA's Furl - Firefox Extensions category.


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