Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why Firefox Rules

I've evangelised on this blog many times for the Firefox web browser. It is superior to Microsoft Internet Explorer in more ways than I can list here. It has better features, more user controls, better security, and will render webpages more accurately on your computer. Installation is a snap, and the installer will do most of the work for you! You can even install it on your computer alongside IE if you just want to test it out. Trust me, once you've used it a while, you'll have no desire to go back. It's just that good.

Now comes yet another reason to switch: GreaseMonkey User Scripts. These are easy to install controls that let you alter the construction of web pages! This goes beyond just changing background colors, link colors, fonts and sizes, and so forth. It's not just the extensions you can add to Firefox to individually customise your browser to your liking.

GreaseMonkey goes beyond universal alterations; you can adjust individual websites to suit your tastes or needs. Permanently. Sites like Blogger, CNN, Amazon, Flickr, Google, LiveJournal, Deli.cio.us, eBay; you name it. You can remove whole sections of web pages, like annoying columns of advertising. You can change the appearance and behavior of forms. You can resize columns of text. You can add pieces of one website to another -- for instance, like adding a price call from one site to your personal Amazon page for comparison purposes. You can tinker with LiveJournal and Blogger, to get them to behave. Go to the GreaseMonkey website and scroll the list of scripts; it's quite literally mind boggling what you can do. People have donated hundreds of scripts that affect dozens of websites. More are arriving all the time.

I'm only starting with this, but I'm amazed. It's given me ideas. I hope most of you have followed Brock's advice and used AdBlock and FlashBlock and BugMeNot for the Commercial Appeal website. Now, we can go even further. Like creating a GreaseMonkey script for the Commercial Appeal website that only displays the side nav bar and the content column, erasing all the bothersome advertising. Or doing the same for the local television news station websites, cleaning up their clutter to improve load times and readability. Imagine the possibilities....

Personal control and infinite customisability are among the touchstones of Firefox, after standards compliance and keeping the program clean and small. (The current version is smaller than 5mb!) With GreaseMonkey, it's just gone to a whole new level.

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