Ever felt that you have had the need to enhance your web browser, or the functionality of some web site you frequently visit? Here I will explain how to do that.
How to extend web browser functionality
Firefox – Greasemonkey
Safari – get SIMBL and GreaseKit
If you prefer Safari and is on a Mac, you can extend it with the help of something called SIMBL. It’s a little bit more tricky, i.e. no actual installer, but rather about putting some files in a certain location. Not too scary, but might put some people off.
Google Chrome – enable Greasemonkey functionality
What’s very exciting is that Google seemed to have thought about this with their Google Chrome web browser. If you follow the instructions in HOW TO: Install Google Chrome Greasemonkey Scripts (Windows Only), you can add userscripts to a
c:\scripts folder (create if needed) on your computer.
Note that the first step in the description isn’t necessary, though – just download the latest official version of Chrome and Greasemonkey will be built-in.
Opera – add userscripts
Internet Explorer – IE7Pro
As with most tasks, Internet Explorer doesn’t really seem to be built for working, no matter what feature-area we’re talking about. However, with the help of IE7Pro you can add some extra functionality to it, and it also lets you run userscripts.
Please note, though, that most userscripts are written with standards-compliant web browsers in mind, meaning that due to improper event handling and such in IE, a lot of userscripts won’t work in it.
Have you gotten your web browser ready and is eager to start out extending it? A first good tip is to go to userscripts.org and find any number of scripts suiting your needs. Bear in mind that all scripts there will work in Firefox, some will not work in Safari, Google Chrome and Opera and most will probably not work in Internet Explorer.
Basically, just test your way forward.
The state of web browser extending
While the above advice offers you help on how to make your favorite web browser become a little better with userscripts, it baffles me that Firefox is so far the only web browser with a proper extension architecture, and officially promoting this to the public. No doubt a huge part of the Firefox success comes from this, and they have achieved it in a great way.
So, the natural move for any other web browser vendor should be to offer this functionality as well, effectively competing with Firefox on the same level. And, if they’re smart, they do it in such a simple way as the Mozilla way, preferably with support for the same extension code, to encourage web developers to port their scripts to their web browser.
Therefore, all other web browsers should step up, right? Right.