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Hacking the Web with Greasemonkey 512

Posted by Zonk
from the rolling-your-own-interweb dept.
plasticmillion writes "Greasemonkey is a revolutionary Firefox extension that many feel has enormous implications for the future evolution of the web. By making it easy to write client-side scripts that modify webpages as you surf, it shifts the balance of power from content creators to content consumers. Since its inception, it has given rise to an impressive array of scripts for everything from enhancing Gmail with one-click delete functionality to preventing Hotmail from spawning new windows when you click on external links. In recent Greasemonkey news, Mark Pilgrim just published a comprehensive primer called 'Dive Into Greasemonkey', a must-read for those who want to try their hand at writing their own scripts. It should be noted that Greasemonkey is not without controversy, but this has done nothing to reduce its popularity among web programmers. Even Opera has jumped on the bandwagon with their own version of user scripts. To illustrate the principle to /.ers, I whipped up a handy little script called 'Slashdot Live Comment Tree', which lets you expand and collapse entire threads in an article's comments."
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Hacking the Web with Greasemonkey

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  • Disable Greasemonkey (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mfh (56) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:38AM (#12542055) Journal
    By making it easy to write client-side scripts that modify webpages as you surf, it shifts the balance of power from content creators to content consumers.

    Google has tried something similar before with their toolbar and ISBNs.

    That said, I am going to use this guide to disable Greasemonkey [edwards.name]. I write websites so I can present ideas to people. I don't want them to see my site the way they want to see it. I want them to see it the way it was meant to be seen. That way I can provide content based on expectations of standards compliance.

    If you want to display my content with your own formatting, use my RSS feed [scottleonard.ca].
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:44AM (#12542112)
      Achtung! You vill sit in ze CHAIR ven you read my book, NOT ON ZE COUCH!!!

      Sieg heil!
    • by Eccles (932) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:44AM (#12542113) Journal
      That said, I am going to use this guide to disable Greasemonkey.

      Step 1. Slashdot my own site.
    • by Guy LeDouche (713304) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:46AM (#12542129)
      Ah, good morning Mr. Ballmer.
    • Oh, great. The only useful (or at least interesting-sounding link here) is already slashdotted.
    • by OzRoy (602691)
      I don't want them to see my site the way they want to see it. I want them to see it the way it was meant to be seen.

      So you are in full support of the MPAA and the RIAA who want to have full control over their content and only allow people to access it, and use it they way they want you to use it?

      • by zoloto (586738)
        I don't believe that's what he meant. His concern was that he wants his information presented a certian way and to leave it that way preventing others from changing it into something he didn't intend or desire for his content.

        Think of it this way. Many musicians don't have a problem when people do remixes of their stuff, some do. That's why the majority of those that do offer special deals (or lisensing /sp) to allow that creativity.

        Those that do not, don't offer such. Though it's still possible to do so,
        • by wfberg (24378) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:09AM (#12542347)
          Your analogy is flawed. Artists have never had a right to prevent you from looking at their work in a certain way. Painters can't stop the colorblind or those wearing sunglasses to look at their paintings. Anyone can skip entire chapters when reading a book. I can play Beethoven and Britney Spears at the same time if I please.

          What I do with those works in the privacy of my own home is my business. I might just prefer it that way, and there's nothing you can do about it.

          Artists do have recourse against people redistributing altered ("raped") works, but that is also limited.

          In the case of greasemonkey, it's just a tool you use to view the web; other people might use other tools, like lynx for example, which renders a page completely differently from firefox or internet explorer. It's personal use. So lay off of it.
        • 'Control over one's ideas really constitutes control over other people's lives, and it is usually used to make their lives more difficult.'

          Though to be fair, rms was talking about useful knowledge like computer software or scientific discoveries, not artworks like music or a web page.
        • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org@nOSpAm.masklinn.net> on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:12AM (#12542378)
          I don't believe that's what he meant. His concern was that he wants his information presented a certian way and to leave it that way preventing others from changing it into something he didn't intend or desire for his content.
          And it's not how it's supposed to work.
          You can suggest, tell the visitor 'look, this is supposed to look like that', but ultimately the choice is the user's, just as in a book the reading order is merely a hint, if one wants to read the book backwards more power to him, and the author is not supposed to come at him with a big stick saying "no no, you're not supposed to read backwards, you can't skip pages either or i'll beat you to a bloody pulp you crackwhore", which is exactly what mfh intends to do...
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:09AM (#12543004)
            And it's not how it's supposed to work.
            You can suggest, tell the visitor 'look, this is supposed to look like that', but ultimately the choice is the user's,


            yes it is (the user's choice).. hasn't user-defined colors (or stylesheets in newer versions) been in graphical web browsers since pretty much the beginning?

            note to webmasters: if you DONT want people to alter your page on the client-side, code it strict, use css, and leave the annoying scripts, ads, popups, ani gifs and other crap out of it.

            once a site is on MY computer, i will do with it as i please. so long as i dont republish it, you can't piss and moan about it.
      • by AstroPup (266218)
        Did you check out his site? He releases his stuff work under the GPL and his content CC.

        He even provides an XML feed for you to format to your hearts content.

        Yeah, big supporter of the MPAA/RIAA there!
    • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:49AM (#12542156) Homepage Journal
      Your serving the webpage to me.

      As long as you do it in a standards compliant way, then isn't it a bit presumptious to decide how I decide to digest the information.

      If I want to use Lynx to view your page, I will, if I want to apply my own java transforms on it I will.

      Hell, if I want to print it out and use it as toilet paper, I will.

      You seem to have the wrong way of thinking about this web lark.
      • Hell, if I want to print it out and use it as toilet paper, I will.


        Don't use an inkjet printer to do this. The sweat on the cheeks will cause the ink from the goatse.cx links to stain the skin and you'll become a walking advertisement at the next sun club event.

      • Crap (Score:5, Funny)

        by mfh (56) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:30AM (#12542585) Journal
        Hell, if I want to print it out and use it as toilet paper, I will.

        Now that you've said this, everyone is going to use my site as TP. Thanks, buddy.
      • Speaking of mistakes, can somebody please write a Greasemonkey script that corrects instances of your/you're, there/their/they're, and misplaced apostrophies?

        Talk about taking the web back. Sheesh.
    • by Albanach (527650) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:50AM (#12542160) Homepage
      I don't want them to see my site the way they want to see it. I want them to see it the way it was meant to be seen. That way I can provide content based on expectations of standards compliance.

      But the web is about sending content to the user - it's up to the user how they want to display it. Unles you're supplying a locked down PC with your own browser configuration you have absolutely no control over what the end user does with the content you send, or how they interpret it.

      Sure you can send CSS to the broser, but your visitor using links isn't going to see the result of you work. The visitor using a screen reader or mobile phone will be equally ignorant of your efforts.

      These are user installed scripts, and this is the web not television. The folk visiting sites are not their passively, they're there to interact and if they want your site to function a little differently so it better fits with their expectations what rights do you have to stop them?

      • by zoloto (586738)
        I'll get modded into oblivion, but screw it.

        This doesn't make any sense. How is the user capable, or how has the user been capable to display information on the Web (not the internet, just a part) with a web browser.

        Remember, this like this never happened before this FF extension, so where do you come off saying that?

        People write web pages, the browser displays them. Similar to the television, yet far more versatile, it simply displays a site how the designer attended. How has this been difficult to unde
        • by Darren Winsper (136155) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:19AM (#12542461) Homepage
          "Remember, this like this never happened before this FF extension"
          Bollocks. You could write bookmarklets, or user CSS files. Hell, you could disable CSS or Javascript, you could use a browser that displays things a certain way. You could write your own browser. You could use man-in-the-middle programs to rewrite code before it reaches the browser.

          The web is about information. The presentation of that information is ultimately up to the user.

          Having said all that, I should point out that I am somewhat uncomfortable with the blind adoption Greasemonkey is seeing. A lot of web sites use Javascript that makes assumptions about the structure of the page. By changing the structure of the page, you're going to potentially break pages that dynamically change themselves.
          • by julesh (229690)
            By changing the structure of the page, you're going to potentially break pages that dynamically change themselves.

            Fine. But script developers are going to see this, realise that their script doesn't work and either (1) fix it, or (2) abandon the idea. If the problems are more subtle, then the user's going to know they installed a script that's changing the page, and are going to try disabling it first to see if that fixes the problem...

            This is a power user feature, not something your average newbie is
        • by telbij (465356) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:38AM (#12542651)
          It's not something everyone has to get all up in arms about. It's a presentation of information. If you don't like it, go somewhere else! If he chooses to display it and prevent this extension from running on his site, so be it! He's well within his rights to do such.

          Of course he's within his rights. The real question is what's the benefit to him? People using greasemonkey tend to be people who know what they're doing, so if they break something on a site they'll likely be able to fix it. But just like the article, there seems to be this paranoia that greasmonkey will run rampant and ruin everyone's browsing experience.

          Bah! When I go to the poster's website, you know what I see? Overlapping content because I don't run a 1024x768 window. I could fix it with greasemonkey, but that would be 'breaking' the designer's intentions.

          I'm a web designer, and I truly believe that a good designer knows better than a user how things should look 95% of the time... but if a user wants to override my design choices that is fine with me. Of course my sites may end up looking up broken and discombobulated, but why should that matter to me? Anyone doing that should know why things are broken, and if not than it's not really worth my time to worry about it. I'd rather have a few idiots think I'm a shitty designer than have my fellow web hackers think I'm a control freak.
          • by jonadab (583620) on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:03AM (#12542929) Homepage Journal
            > I'm a web designer, and I truly believe that a good designer knows better
            > than a user how things should look 95% of the time...

            Yeah, maybe, but the *other* 97.384% of web designers *don't*. For starters, most of them are stuck in a brain-dammaged 1985-esque mindset wherein they pretend they're still working with an ink-on-paper medium. I've given up entirely on the idea of allowing websites to choose their own colors, and I've half a mind to take away their ability to choose their own layouts too, because most webmasters can't design a layout that works at different resolutions and with different text sizes if their lives depend on it.
        • by emag (4640) <slashdot@@@gurski...org> on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:47AM (#12542746) Homepage
          No. Sorry. It's not your information. It doesn't belong to anyone. Those that chose to display information a certain way are in their right to do such and lame excuses to justify the bastardization of their attempts to come off a certain way are the rant of the uninformed zealot with a "screw you all" mentality. ...

          It's not something everyone has to get all up in arms about. It's a presentation of information. If you don't like it, go somewhere else! If he chooses to display it and prevent this extension from running on his site, so be it! He's well within his rights to do such.


          I suppose from the above statements that you're opposed to the level of control most browsers ALREADY give over the display of content? To wit, in Firefox I can go to Edit->Preferences->General, and in there override fonts and colors so that the page's fonts, font sizes, and colors aren't used. I can choose to force links to be displayed with underlines. Under Edit->Preferences->Web Features, I can override popups, javascript, image loading, etc, as well as provide exceptions to most of those... Under Edit->Preferences->Advanced, I can control the resizing of images, force links to open in new tabs, etc. Additionally, if I set up proxies, I can force all my connections to go through privoxy, blocking ads and the like. I can also choose to not install flash, making websites that use it extensively stand out pretty sorely.

          All of these settings can be viewed as a bastardization of designers' attempts to display information in a certain way. And most of these settings have been around since the early 1.x days of Netscape Navigator. GreaseMonkey appears to be the logical extension of these settings to the CSS world.

          All the HTML markup in the world serves a single purpose---to suggest how a browser should display something to approximate what the originator had in mind. Nothing has ever said that HTML is an imperative command to display something ONLY one way.
        • by Fëanáro (130986) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:55AM (#12542834)
          This doesn't make any sense. How is the user capable, or how has the user been capable to display information on the Web (not the internet, just a part) with a web browser.

          Remember, this like this never happened before this FF extension, so where do you come off saying that?

          I have been doing stuff like this with proxomitron [proxomitron.info] for years. There are other tools that can do the same. If you did not know about them then you probably did not bother to look.
          But surely you do know that almost all browsers at least let the user change default colors and fonts.

          One thing I did with proxomitron was changing slashdot's color cheme to bright text on dark background for a while.
          other things were disabling animated gifs, turning flash animations into links, and so on.

          It is my browser, and I decide how it displays stuff.
        • by sootman (158191)
          "How is the user capable, or how has the user been capable to display information on the Web (not the internet, just a part) with a web browser... [things]* like this never happened before this FF extension..."

          Wrong and wronger. The *whole point* of the WWW is that a document is presented with a documented set of tags, and it's up to the user agent to specify how those tags get interpreted. The first browser I used (Chameleon, ~1995) had a panel for setting prefs on how you wanted to interpret tags. If you
    • I've got both McFarlane books, but leveraging Firefox as a cross-platform fat-client platform still seems quite tricky.
      Hopefully, Greasemonkey will advance the ball, without becoming the biggest virus vector since <cheap shot goes here>.
    • Tell me, do you have Designed for IE6 in the corner of your site as well?

      The age of web designers thinking they can control how a site looks down to the pixel is over, dude. How do you stop your visitors from using Lynx or braille or audio readers, because they don't show the site "the way it was meant to be seen".

      What a complete load of absolute bollocks. HTML is a markup language: learn this and you will do well. Try to use it otherwise and you will get left behind (like Slashdot, with its creaking n

    • by mccalli (323026) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:51AM (#12542173) Homepage
      I write websites so I can present ideas to people. I don't want them to see my site the way they want to see it. I want them to see it the way it was meant to be seen...If you want to display my content with your own formatting, use my RSS feed.

      And how is that? Because HTML was a protocol for transferring information, not for regidly defined formatting or layout. The graphical browsers came along and people started taking the attitude you are espousing "as it was meant to be seen" by you, the creator.

      HTML itself however does not support that idea. Different agents (trad. browser, voice agents for the blind etc.), different and also overriding CSS stylessheet et. al. are explicitly catared for in its idea. If the user which to use your content in a manner other than that which you suggested, the intent of the spec is on their side here. HTML is not a fixed layout format. It is for the transmission of information, to be used according to the whims of the receiver.

    • by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@thedruid.co . u k> on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:52AM (#12542176) Homepage
      I don't want them to see my site the way they want to see it. I want them to see it the way it was meant to be seen.

      That's why GreaseMonkey exists. It allows firefox to do the work your eyes and hands must otherwise do - it gets you the information you're after, not what the designer fancies.

      (I actually like your site design, and I think it is great you are releasing your work under the GPL and your content under a CC license)
      • by mfh (56)
        (I actually like your site design, and I think it is great you are releasing your work under the GPL and your content under a CC license)

        Thank you! :-)

        I am getting killed by my comment about Greasemonkey, but I have to put it plainly to everyone:

        I provide my content with a Creative Commons license. Everyone is free to modify it. Everyone is free to use the code that generated the website (well soon enough, it's just about ready to be released) and everyone can use my RSS to reformat my site and syndicat
        • by Eternally optimistic (822953) on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:02AM (#12542922)
          But your site looks bad on my browser, it is making assumptions about my screen that are incorrect. Why would you want to prevent me from fixing that?

          Your content is not displayed on your site, it is displayed on my computer, and you don't know my local parameters. What is there to gain, for anyone, by not allowing me to adjust for a mismatch there?
          • by jayloden (806185)
            I must agree...I've got 1920x1200 resolution right now, which is normally ridiculous for me - I prefer something like 1280x1024 - but with my current video card and monitor, that's the only non-weird setting I can use.

            Subsequently, the site looks very odd and appears to have rendering problems (missing navigation links, etc).

            I can sympathize totally with the desire for the site to look the way you designed it...I've spent hours and hours and hours doing this on the sites I work on, trying to make sure th
    • by Tx (96709) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:55AM (#12542207) Journal
      This seems to be another step in the battle that's as old as the web, over who gets final say as to how a web page is presented.

      I feel the (Firefox) user should, and generally is going to have the edge, what with the uriid extension to apply site-specific CSS, greasemonkey, and other tools. But page producers always have wanted to dictate exactly how their pages appear to the user, however misguided that is, and I doubt the battle will ever be over.
    • Cheers mate! Thanks for /.ing my site.
    • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org@nOSpAm.masklinn.net> on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:09AM (#12542352)
      I don't want them to see my site the way they want to see it. I want them to see it the way it was meant to be seen.
      Doesn't the fact that it's plain and simply impossible kinda suck?
      Greasemonkey is nothing but "the easy way", but client side modification of a website has been live for years:
      • Proximitron allows advanced filtering
      • Specific Firefox extensions do, too (think about Slashfix)
      • Bookmarklets are fairly powerful, check MODI [slayeroffice.com] for example
      • For god's sake, there are so much differences from one browser to another one that one can tweak what he seens by changing browser
      • Custom/client side CSS, Opera has had them for a very long time, Firefox has that too, and you can more than likely find bookmarklets allowing you to load custom CSS in your browser
      The fact is that you seem not to know an important rule of web design: the way you indent your website to be displayed is nothing but a mere suggestion, and the surfer is 100% free to fully ignore your hints if he doesn't want it [evpc.biz]
      Don't want that? don't create websites. Your websites are not here for you and if they are they shouldn't be online, websites are for the visitor and he can do whatever he wants with the data he receives (including sending the whole content of your website to /dev/null if he finds it funny)
    • by iainl (136759)
      In that case, could you fix the fact that your links column is completely over-writing the little box about the RSS feed on Firefox unless I make my browser window huge?
    • > I write websites so I can present ideas to people.
      > I don't want them to see my site the way they want to see it.
      > I want them to see it the way it was meant to be seen.

      Which is it? You write websites to present ideas or eyecandy?

      Unless you've ebayed your low UID from a true old timer, you should've been around long enough to know that the idea of imposing a set format for your website goes against what the web was originally made for.

      People have a funny way of taking what you meant and twist
    • All you'll succeed in doing is starting an arms race that you are destined to lose. Sooner or later you'll have to accept that a user's client is a user's client and as such is subject to the user's wishes. You can maintain the integrity of your server and it's content. You have no right to usurp in any way a user's control of his machine.
    • I write websites so I can present ideas to people. I don't want them to see my site the way they want to see it. I want them to see it the way it was meant to be seen.

      That's a pretty weird look on thngs. I've been using RIP [mozdev.org] for awhile now. I don't even view Slashdot the way it was "meant to be". I want the content of your page, not the stupid side bars and stuff.

      A good example is CNN.com: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/05/16/newswe ek.quran/index.html [cnn.com]

      There is so much crap on the sides of
    • Pfeh. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Grendel Drago (41496)
      If someone can't view your site as influenced by some Greasemonkey script or another, it's their fault and their problem. Not yours. You go ahead and provide standards-compliant, semantic markup, and folks'll use it as-is or filter it through something like Greasemonkey.

      What's next---are you going to tell people they can't visit your site using lynx, or with images turned off, or that they can't change their font size, so they'll have to squint like everyone else?

      What's the point of making it harder on yo
    • Reading the referenced blog entry, there is a good point to be made where GM breaks sites. The point of standard compliance is that consumers are free to see the output that the producers intended, not that consumers would be forced into one way of working, and enjoying content. Now, so long as the default behaviour (i.e. no GM installed) is fully compatible, this doesn't seem to be a problem. (Maybe linkify should be disabled by default.) We need to ensure that users know what modifications they are makin
    • Scott, I'm short-sighted and I like my fonts nice and big, with the best readable font about 18pt on my current display. Why exactly does your site require me to use 180% zoom to get the text that I'm supposed to read there to the font size that I prefer to read? If you could, would you disable my browser's zoom capability (or window resize capability) so that your site always looks exactly as you want?

      The author controls what the site looks like by default, but the user may want to set the font size, the

  • Paid articles? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@thedruid.co . u k> on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:40AM (#12542077) Homepage
    If other articles are drawing notice to free registration for articles such as the NYT, why is this one linking to an article trying to charge $34?
  • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:42AM (#12542099)
    It should be noted that Greasemonkey is not without controversy, but this has done nothing to reduce its popularity among web programmers.

    It should also be noted that the person claiming controvesy is also charging $49.00 for the "research" he has written. Do people buy these things?

    Any, the summary of it reads as basically "users might install extensions that don't work with your own corporate pages". Personally, if an end user is installing applications without understanding the implications, you should ask whether that user should be allowed to install applications. The "researcher" claims that this risk should delay Firefox roll-outs in the enterprise.

    • by tweek (18111) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:56AM (#12542227) Homepage Journal
      The real problem is blanket deployments of firefox as is.

      You wouldn't deploy IE without locking it down so why not firefox?

      We have a deployment of about 2000 workstations with a highly customized build of firefox out there. I say customized but what I mean is that it's had various GUI elements stripped, keyboard shortcuts stripped and implements locked preferences. One of those preferences is software install. The only site that can install software is our internal update site.

      Somebody paid him to write this, possibly as part of an internal migration plan but he failed to notice that in a corporate environment, a well thought-out mozilla implementation would implement things like locked preferences and other customization. Combine this with workstation security and his point is probably moot. I'm not going to spend 50 bucks to find out.
      • I say customized but what I mean is that it's had various GUI elements stripped, keyboard shortcuts stripped and implements locked preferences.
        And prevent user to install any extension on his own, which is perfectly doable since it's settable from the prefs file.
    • by Peter La Casse (3992) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:43AM (#12542704) Homepage
      It should also be noted that the person claiming controvesy is also charging $49.00 for the "research" he has written. Do people buy these things?

      Well, if a small fraction of people actually buy things that are advertised by spam, then maybe a small fraction of people are willing to pay $49 for a web article.

      I have to admit that I'm tempted to throw up a site with a couple essays just to see if anybody would actually pay me $49 to read them.

  • by Quarters (18322) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:42AM (#12542102)
    Who's going to write the "Hide Roland Pipe" stories from Slashdot.
  • It is invaluable. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john...oyler@@@comcast...net> on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:52AM (#12542184) Journal
    For several months, I labored under IE. 20 windows open everywhere, because it has no tabs. Even though I had managed to install Firefox (don't you love apps that don't require registry keys?), it was no help, because the applications department writes javascript that looks like it was squeezed from between Ballmer's asscheeks.

    It was difficult. Took me two months of working with greasemonkey, of 3 minutes stolen here, and 5 minutes borrowed there in between calls (did I mention I'm only a phone monkey for a DSL ISP?). But in the end, not only can I use our main webapp in Firefox, it has features that the standard one doesn't. It often helps to shave up to a minute off of calltimes.

    Which may be why I'm in trouble for using Firefox at that job. Dunno.
  • While I like the features of Greasemonkey lot, I had to uninstall it because it is incompatible with some websites I use often. They jut plain don't work with Greasemonkey enabled.

    Example: map.search.ch/etoy [search.ch] (The map does not display at all)

    I've submitted a bug about it, but my submission has been completely ignored (as mozdev.org is slashdotted right now I don't have the reference handy).

    Markus

  • by JaF893 (745419) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:01AM (#12542268) Journal
    You can fix rendering bugs that the site owner can't be bothered to fix themselves.

    Could be useful for Slashdot then :)
    • Could be useful for Slashdot then

      Well, I'm sure pleased with the Slashdot Recolour [mkgray.com] script...

      Michael
    • by DeadSea (69598) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:16AM (#12543080) Homepage Journal

      Despite how useful it is, I have some concern with GreaseMonkey and your browsers security.

      The basic problem I see is that user scripts are plug-ins to to a plug-in. User scripts could do things that would be bad for security such as:

      • Grab user entered information such as user names, passwords, or emails.
      • Be part of a DDOS attack by contacting some server repeatedly
      • Insert unwanted content such as ads or tracking into every page visited

      GreaseMonkey does not use the white list of sites allowed to install plugins and allows user scripts to be installed from just about anywhere.

      I'm worried that somebody could set up a repository of user scripts that appear to do useful things but have spyware embedded in them. Users would install GreaseMonkey user scripts from the site thinking they were getting useful functionality but not realizing they were getting additional "goodies".

      I don't install user scripts without knowing how they work and looking over the source myself. Preferably, I write my own. I don't see most users being able to do that sort of analysis. Hence the danger.

      --
      Currency Calculator to Calculate Rates of Exchange for Foreign Currencies [ostermiller.org]
  • content debate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enjahova (812395) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:02AM (#12542277) Homepage
    Websites are a strange medium. Things like greasemonkey and adblock and google toolbar have been spurring these debates about content control.

    I would not be suprised if this debate grew bigger as the popularity of client side controll apps gets bigger.

    Alot of people want their webpage to look the way they intended it to look, but I think the truth is that you can not count on that. Different browsers, different computers, different monitors...

    I am in favor of client side tools, I think that a user getting the best use possible out of a site is a good thing, in fact that is my goal when designing a website. If they think they can do it better, be my guest.
    • by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john...oyler@@@comcast...net> on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:15AM (#12542408) Journal
      The solution is obvious. Render the page as a jpeg, and then just have a directory full of jpegs! You can even use server-side image maps for hyperlinks!
    • Re:content debate (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aaronl (43811)
      Oddly enough, the presentation being decided on the client-side was EXACTLY the intent of HTML. Stuff like GreaseMonkey, AdBlock, user CSS, etc. is supposed to be possible. The user is supposed to decide how the HTML will ultimately be output.

      That's why the Flash infestation is bad. It's why WWW content control is bad. It's why PDF instead of HTML is bad. It takes away output control from the user. It takes away the whole point of these markup languages.
  • Safari (Score:4, Informative)

    by sameerd (445449) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:03AM (#12542289) Homepage
    This is not specific to Firefox and Opera. One can use Applescript to make Safari to run Javascript on webpages. From http://www.apple.com/applescript/safari/ [apple.com] we have
    Safari now includes a do JavaScript command that enables AppleScript to communicate with the browser via JavaScript!
    • Re:Safari (Score:3, Insightful)

      The difference is that Opera scripting system is backwards-compatible with Greasemonkey, thus setting a precedent for GM to become a de-facto standard for such things.
  • To get more Opera-like behaviour is easy and can be done by the extensible options in Firefox like SO [blogspot.com].

    Thus all those hotmail and gmail open link in new window pains will just go away!
  • by tezza (539307) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:13AM (#12542387)
    I've been an active member of the Greasemonkey mailing list. Mark Pilgrim is a very regular contributer there.

    One very interesting thread has been misuse of Greasemonkey(GM). GM allow script authors to use an XML_HTTPrequest() type functionality. This is often to look up information services, such as google, de.li.ci.ous, weather etc.

    With a poorly coded script, there could be thousands of http connections spawned per page transition. A DDOS of sorts. This will be an interesting one to tackle.

    Any ideas out there??

  • by bgarcia (33222) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:13AM (#12542389) Homepage Journal
    I recently started playing around with Greasemonkey. I love it, but there is one issue that I have with it. It injects its scripts at the end of the web page.

    I have a web page that runs a little javascript at the end, where it pops up an alert window, then redirects to another page. I would like to write a greasemonkey script to remove this redirection. Unfortunately, the page's javascript gets run before greasemonkeys. Any ideas about how get my greasemonkey script to run sooner?

  • by darkmyst (590375) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:15AM (#12542414)
    In order to avoid $50 articles, I found this [com.com] article which did talk about some potential security problems with greasemonkey. It seems hackers could make scripts that behave maliciously. According to the article, even the original greasemonkey developer has expressed concerns along those lines.
    • by SenFo (761716)
      Thanks for the post. I was trying to find a way around the $50 article, myself!

      On to the topic, I have to say that I agree with the potential for problems. However, I have to wonder if Greasemonkey is perhaps "complex" enough that only a true geek would be interested in playing around with it. There aren't many computer geeks that I know of that are going to just go around installing every script they find without first reading nearly every line of the source code. We're geeks and we like to see how t
  • password power? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrLint (519792) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:17AM (#12542443) Journal
    Is this sting powerful enough to take back control of your passwords? The day that autocomplete became enforced users lost the power to manage their passwords. can GM be used to removed this directive?
  • by nafmo (147094) * <sector3@gmail.com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:26AM (#12542535)
    "Even Opera has jumped on the bandwagon with their own version of user scripts." Well, considering that Opera previewed a similar technology back in early 2003 [opera.com], I'm not so sure you could call that "jumping the bandwagon". But still, it's a nice edition, both to Firefox and Opera.
  • Platypus (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr. Pain (27986) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:43AM (#12542708)
    Platypus (http://platypus.mozdev.org/ [mozdev.org]) is an extension for visually editing web pages to your liking and then creating a Greasemonkey script that will repeat those changes the next time you load the page. It's Greasemonkey without the programming, if you will.

    "One of the most jaw dropping extensions that I have seen to date." --Anders Conbere

    Check it out.

    -- Scott Turner

    • Re:Platypus (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jbarr (2233)
      Thanks for the tip on this! This is a VERY cool extension!

      One thing I REALLY like it for is printing pages that typically contain a ton of crap. Just invoke Platypus, highlight the containing section you want to print, press the "i" key, and voila! all surrounding content is removed! Click print, and you get a nice clean page of content. Talk about printer-friendly!

      Want to see the original? Just hit refresh and everything's back to normal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:05AM (#12542955)
    If you're writing static webpages, so what? It won't affect you.

    If you're writing server-side scripting, you should already be paranoid-checking for bad user submissions. Time to double-check everything is in place.

    If you're writing client-side scripts, welcome to hell. You can no longer assume anything will be where you put it, or, in fact, still exist.

    What's more, you can't test your site "with greasemonkey" to see if it's OK. You have no idea what the user is going to do to your page with it.

    This leaves a handful of options:

    1) Make your scripts disable Greasemonkey (which will work until too many sites do it, and it's updated to allow users the final say)

    2) Switch productive time fixing bugs and adding features to adding and subsequently wading through checks on every possible error condition that user scripts might make possible.

    3) Ignore Greasemonkey and when the users complain your site is broken, inform them it's their own stupid fault.

    My personal leaning is towards (3).
  • by Junior Samples (550792) on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:14AM (#12543062)
    Buy this research Price: US$49.00 Report Length: 3 pages Buy This Document You will have immediate access to this research upon purchase. Already a Forrester client? Log in. Our Money-Back Guarantee If you are not completely satisfied with your research document for any reason, you can return it for a full refund within three weeks of your online purchase.

    I won't pay $49 to find out what the controversy is all about, but Greasemonkey sounds good enough to download and try out.

  • by kayle (73168) on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:17AM (#12543090)
    My favorite use of Greasemonkey is the mojoDNA extension of Google Maps to include Boston's public transportation, the MBTA. It's completely seamless!

    Dev. website:
    http://mojodna.net/2005/04/19/mbta-maps/ [mojodna.net]
    Direct link to the Greasemonkey script:
    http://maps.mojodna.net/mbta/mbta_google_maps.user .js [mojodna.net]

  • this is why... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hachete (473378) on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:22AM (#12543151) Homepage Journal
    ...I love FireFox and it's programmers. If only some companies displayed half the amount of ingenuity.
    • Re:this is why... (Score:4, Informative)

      by plasticmillion (649623) <matthew@allpeers.com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:47PM (#12544559) Homepage
      It should be pointed out that the people who created Greasemonkey are in no way connected to Firefox. The really brilliant thing that the Mozilla folks did was not to think of ideas like Greasemonkey, it was to deploy an architecture open enough to let other people extend the browser in unexpected directions. In my view this is by far the most revolutionary thing about Firefox, and what we see today is only the tip of the iceberg. Once more programmers become familiar with the Firefox model and better IDEs become available, we're going to see some really incredible stuff.
  • by Johnny Fiction (804626) on Monday May 16, 2005 @11:03AM (#12543592) Homepage

    The costly security report is just a money-making troll but there is one issue raised by greasemonkey that may worry a lot of content providers.

    Blocking adverts is old hat but greasemonkey lets you do so much more. It offers you the potential to inject links to products from a rival vendor when browsing an online store or rewrite affiliate link ids on a page, to give two examples.

    This is going to break a few business models.

    Personally I'm not going to shed any tears. Many businesses have completely misunderstood the nature of the web and just seen hyperspace as somewhere else to stick up billboards. Those that can't evolve will die. But when you consider how upset certain people get if you want to just view their site in a manner they hadn't planned on, then we can definitely expect fireworks in the near future.

    There's a very heated discussion between Cory Doctorow and Robert Scoble that touches on these issues at http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail438.htm l [itconversations.com] about these issues, albeit in the context of Google's Autolink rather than greasemonkey.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb

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