Sunday, April 23, 2006
Greasemonkey Paving the Way for Frankenstein Software?
I'm not real big into Greasemonkey, and I've never written a userscript, but I love what they can do for me. Blogger drafts are posted for the time I post them, not when I originally wrote them, just like I wanted when I first started using Blogger. Gmail labels can be color coded. There is a huge array of improvements to existing webapps, and what can be done beyond that is amazing. The biggest impact is to webapps, rather than websites. The impact is both in the current set of modified apps, and in what it means for the software landscape. There have been plenty of people to suggest this, but if you haven't heard it you should consider what the greasemonkey mentality could lead to in making software fit every individual user's needs better. Firefox extensions have a lot in common, not surprisingly, sometimes altering core fundamentals of the program to tailor better for users who are frustrated with something that other user's might enjoy perfectly. This kind of pick-your-parts software customizing is going to increase, and sooner or later the developers will emprace it and we might even see webapps that function as a base and implement some more of their functionality as userscripts. What if greasemonkey started to recognize a way for websites to publish large sets of userscripts that apply to them, and you could easily enable or disable the ones you want. The application would become a channel for its own customization through external scripts, lower the bar to using the scripts drastically. Just how much development could we push into userscripts, and how much of a framework could we build out of them, to make them more stable between versions, work together more safely, and one day be able to build entire apps with them? Can the userscript concept go beyond the web? How could something be implemented for a Python or Java application?
I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.
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