Firefox Greasemonkey

Quick look

Tool to personalize favorite Web pages

Price: Free (requires Firefox browser)

Web: greasemonkey.mozdev.org

Have a favorite Web site that just isn't quite perfect? If you use the Firefox Web browser, you can use a tool to change the page to better suit your needs.

Greasemonkey is a Firefox plug-in that automatically runs scripts to modify attributes of Web pages. It can alter specific pages or change the more generic attributes of all the Web locations you visit.

When you visit a selected page, Greasemonkey catches the code before the browser renders it, rewriting it to meet your specifications. It can be used to work around bugs, improve the look of a site or to add some new functionality.

Setting up Greasemonkey is a snap. Simply visit the software's Web page and download the program, which installs itself inside the browser automatically. Then peruse the online library of hundreds of scripts, written by a growing community of volunteer coders. Right-click on the ones you want to add to your browser.

Our favorite pre-existing scripts include Exchequer, which converts any listed form of national currency to a preferred format'from British pounds to U.S. dollars, for instance. Book Burro pops up whenever when you look up the cost of a book at one site, such as Amazon.com. It shows you how much the book is selling for at competing sites. Another script, the Search Term Highlighter, works with commercial search engines. It takes note of the search phrase you use and highlights that phrase in the source documents themselves.

The library also offers a number of scripts that tweak specific Web sites, such as sites for the Washington Post, the New York Times, Google, Netcraft and others. You (or your system administrator) can also write unique scripts, though this requires some skills in JavaScript and the dynamic HTML.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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