Sunday, 11 November 2007

New Gmail Greasemonkey API - & Blogger, please??

Tucked away in an update to a recent official Gmailblog blog post about future behind the scenes changes to Google's Gmail was some good news for Greasemonkey fans.

Greasemonkey is a free extension for the free and wonderful Firefox browser, which lets people write userscripts to do all sorts of clever things to webpages like change the way they look and work, improve your browser security etc - see this post for instance for a Technorati tagging script for Blogger /, and instructions generally on how to install Greasemonkey and install user scripts too.

Lots of scripts have been written for Google services, even Book Search.The Gmail team appreciated that when they tinker with the underlying code for a web service for which Greasemonkey user scripts have been written, that can mess up existing Greasemonkey scripts. (Previously new releases of Google Reader had broken Greasemonkey scripts too, and there are many Greasemonkey scripts for Reader including with Google Gears).

So to help us all they've released an experimental Gmail / Greasemonkey API which should make Greasemonkey scripts for Gmail easier to write and more resistant to being broken when Gmail code is changed. (The forthcoming changes will apparently involve a new Javascript implementation for Gmail.) Greasemonkey has been used for Google Reader and Gears too

Yay, I say! That should make Greasemonkey gurus like Kirk and Jasper happy.

However, Greasemonkey scripts have been known to stopped working not just when Gmail code changes are implemented, but also when other web services have been changed. Or indeed when Firefox has been updated, or Greasemonkey itself has been updated. You get the drift...

As this blog is on Blogger, personally my biggest use of Greasemonkey scripts is in order to get Blogger, particular its post editor, to work the way I want it to, making up for several shortcomings or gaps I feel exist in the current interface (e.g. prettying up the font). I'd go so far as to say my Blogger Greasemonkey scripts are absolutely indispensable to this blog.

Unfortunately, something must also have changed behind the scenes in Blogger's code these last few weeks, because the Keep Current Date/Time script (essential if you save drafts on Blogger for later publishing), which Aditya had updated for New Blogger, no longer automatically ticks the "Keep current date/time! box when you're editing a saved draft. Also, my script to enlarge the Blogger template editor doesn't work anymore either, boohoo.

So here's hoping that the Blogger team will similarly roll out a Blogger / Greasemonkey API soon too for those interested in the Blogger API, which saw a new Javascript client library recently.

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