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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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  • Paid articles? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by akadruid (606405) <slashdot.thedruid@co@uk> 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 OzRoy (602691) on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:48AM (#12542139)
    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 Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @08:48AM (#12542142)
    your site crashes my firefox 1.04 win32 with 100% CPU freezing after the title loads (i have to taskmanager kill it)

    MSIE its fine (albeit a little slow)

    perhaps whatever scripting you got going on needs a rethink
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Buy The Research? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SenFo (761716) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:05AM (#12542318) Homepage
    So I run off in hopes of reading the controversy [forrester.com] and it says I need to pay $49.00 to "By the Research"? What gives? Anybody have any worthwhile information to spare us broke college kids a little cash? Or, is my exam fragmented brain missing something that should be obvious?
  • What do you mean? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:05AM (#12542319) Homepage Journal
    Just publish your site as a collection of image files.
    That'll teach them young whipper-snappers!
  • 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.
  • by iainl (136759) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:10AM (#12542361)
    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?
  • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.orgNO@SPAMmasklinn.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 zoloto (586738) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:12AM (#12542381)
    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 understand?

    Not that I'm against this plug-in, I find it interesting however, but don't understand where you're getting your facts from. On the contrary, the comments on Slashdot so far seem to be this wild notion of "we do what we want", "information wants to be free" and my favorite general attitude "screw the man, I'll display my information the way I want".

    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.

    Is it a wonder people here aren't terribly popular with employers and don't get the respect they deserve?

    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.

    It's not he evil DRM anal-retentive control the *AA's are trying to do so this won't work. For that kind of argument is just like the way anyone else was to lose if they mentioned something regarding Nazis.

    You lose... game over - looks like he won.
  • 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 masklinn (823351) <slashdot.orgNO@SPAMmasklinn.net> on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:17AM (#12542440)
    It does, basically user scripts (Greasemonkey or Opera) are bookmarklets automatically executing when you browse a specific site (pattern matching allows the browser to execute the userscript that should be upon entering the website).

    Oh, and there is no limit in a user script size, which isn't the case of a bookmarklet (even though you can execute external scripts from a bookmarklet)
  • 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.
  • Re:content debate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FhnuZoag (875558) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:30AM (#12542586)
    Or use flash/java applet based interfaces.

    I'll point out, though, that such things tend to really piss me off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:31AM (#12542590)
    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 syndicate it.

    So you're ok with people modifying your content, but not your presentation? That's retarded.

    You do know that when someone uses Greasemonkey to alter your site, that's only for them, right? No one else is seeing it that way..

    Let me put it plainly to you: After the bits leave your server, you have no control over how they are displayed. Morally or tangibly. The sooner you come to grips with this concept, the easier your life will be.

    Your sole alternative is to replace all your site content with each page becoming an image. That is the only way you will ever prevent client-side layout alteration.
  • 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 QMO (836285) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:38AM (#12542656) Homepage Journal
    "It is nothing personal, it is just business and honestly, my paycheck, not my morals, dictate my work environment."

    The second worst thing about that statement is that you sound as if you mean it.

    The worst thing is that you sound as if you're proud of it.

    This attitude causes most of the suffering and evil in the world. The relatively few people who actually have the goal of harming others wouldn't get very far without lots of wimps with this attitude.

    (I may just be troll feeding here, but I still had to call it.)
  • Pfeh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:40AM (#12542687) Homepage
    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 your users, of taking away functionality from them?

    --grendel drago
  • by FhnuZoag (875558) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:42AM (#12542695)
    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 making to how websites display, and also know how to add to blacklists and stuff to solve the problem when things go wrong. We shouldn't just categorise this as a consumer vs producer struggle - that's just silly. GM script writers and website owners should be working together, to benefit the user. 1. User scripts need some sort of verification process. Something to guarantee safety, to the casual user. Perhaps some centralised list of checksums for 'certified' user scripts. 2. Websites should be able to check for what user scripts are installed. Not so as to ban them, but to provide a message that 'The scripts you are using are known to be incompatible. For optimal results, please turn them off.'
  • 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 oneandoneis2 (777721) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:43AM (#12542706) 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.

    So I guess you're against popup blockers, spam filters, and other "internet filters" then?

    "I sent him two dozen emails selling viagra and porn because I wanted them to go to his inbox, not to his spam folder! How do I disable spam filtering toi make him see my email the way I want it seen??"

    "I put that popup code in the HTML because I wanted him to see a popup advert! How do I make popups appear when he's got a popup blocker??"

    Sorry, but as long as content is appearing on MY screen in MY web-browser following its download via MY bandwidth, I want to have the final say on what I see and how I see it, thank you very much.

  • by QMO (836285) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:44AM (#12542725) Homepage Journal
    "Or, is my exam fragmented brain missing something that should be obvious?"

    I don't know for sure, but it seems obvious to me.
    The "Executive Summary" is so full of unsubstatiated assumptions and blatant slant that it is unlikely that the "research" would actually contain any real information.

    (I suspect that this kind of "research" is used to support forgone conclusions that need a little extra credibility to show the ignorant.)
  • by DisKurzion (662299) on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:53AM (#12542816)
    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.

    So why not make this build a public release?

    Corporate Firefox anybody? Sounds like a winner to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @09:57AM (#12542865)
    "This attitude causes most of the suffering and evil in the world."

    Are you comparing deploying in-house apps that only work with IE to some of the "evils" in the world?

    Where the hell did that come from. It sounds like you need a sense of scope in your life.

    Writing browser specific web pages is not genocide, apartheid, or a ruthless dictatorship.

    Sorry, but when my boss says to get project X done asap, and asap means FF users are out of luck then such is life, FF users are out of luck.

  • 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 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 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 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 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]
  • by mobiGeek (201274) on Monday May 16, 2005 @10:41AM (#12543337)
    altering a webpage makes it derived art

    Using Greasemonkey or ANY OTHER WEB CLIENT other than the one(s) the author is targetting does not make this a derived art. The original is still in its badly conceived format.

    The problem here is that a large number of web "developers" believe that they can control the user's experience. The reality is that this is completely contrary to the HTML standard.

    HTML is a method for giving structure to a document. CSS is a method of suggesting look-and-feel of the document. However, NOTHING prevents me from using an arbitrary web client (note: a "browser" is just one type of web client) that will display the structured document in some other way.

    If you are designing a page/site in such a way that you try to force a given look-and-feel to everyone, you are limiting the usefulness of your site...not improving it.

  • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.orgNO@SPAMmasklinn.net> on Monday May 16, 2005 @11:20AM (#12543727)
    When you go to an art museum to you rearrange how the art is displayed?
    When I go to an art museum, nothing stops me from watching it though shades or a Kaleidoscope, or without my glasses. In fact, I can do whatever I want as long as I'm not bothering the other visitors (hint: I don't change the datas for any other visitor when I'm applying client side scripting or custom CSSs to a website)
    On top of that
    the point is that is he feels his web design is a work of art and he is trying to convey and spark certain feelings / emotions. artists can be fickle when it comes to their work.
    The primary goal of a website is not to convey "art", it's to convey and publish information...
    And as I (and other people) said, if I can't change the font colors, reorganize the page or whatever I want, how pissed the so called artist will be when I'll start using Links or Lynx to browse his website? or Netscape 2?

    Fact is, if you want your website to be set in stone and consider it a crime for anyone to modify what he sees on his computer without any impact on whatever the other may be fed you shouldn't be creating a website in the first place.
    You should be hacking rocks (even though sculptures can be broken or re-sculpted, you don't own them anymore as soon as they leave you) or painting (see above).

    The feelings/emotions are supposed to be conveyed to the reader. If the reader doesn't understand/want them, what are you going to do, try to force your own sensibility on him? Nice way to make him leave forever...
  • by Physics Dude (549061) on Monday May 16, 2005 @11:30AM (#12543847) Homepage
    A person or company has the right to display thier content however they please

    But they're not displaying their content. The client web browsers are displaying the content and they have a right to display however they please. :)

  • by hankaholic (32239) on Monday May 16, 2005 @11:34AM (#12543879)
    I'm a little unclear on how a developer who implements what will most benefit the client is evil and causes suffering.
  • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.orgNO@SPAMmasklinn.net> on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:05PM (#12544181)
    Wouldn't that in fact lend itself to customization?
    That would help customizing, but a well served well designed streamlined well thought (features wise) website will have much less chances to get "client-hacked". The intention here (I hope) was to explain that a "perfect website" would lead the users to NOT customize it because it'd already fit their needs, which is the perfect opposition of the fully customization-disabling flash website.
    Mind you I think Flash is a great media format in a bunch of ways, blowing SVG and even a lot of video codecs out of the water (it's no quicktime, but it doesn't nag you on windows either)
    Well, saying that flash is great for videos and using quicktime as a video codec feels kinda... strange...
    What next, Real?
  • by sootman (158191) on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:29PM (#12544394) Homepage Journal
    "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 want H1...H6 to be interpreted as darker...lighter instead of bigger...smaller, that's OK. If you want <strong> to be big red blinking text, that's up to you.

    Furthermore, there are already tons of ways to control how a page looks. FF's web devloper toolbar lets you do all kinds of stuff. Browsers for quite a while have let you choose alternate style sheets, or none at all. There's even an FF extension that lets you *edit* the CSS on your page. No sense mentioning things like Links, Lynx, and screen readers, where most of the presentation information is completely stripped away.

    If the site host has an *idea* of how his information should be presented, good for him. But if I want to sit with my back to the screen and pay a friend to read it to me, is the designer gonna come beat me up? I bet you think going to the bathroom during commercials is stealing, too.

    "Those that chose to display information a certain way are in their right to do..."

    They can *send the bits to my computer*, that is it. It's up to me and my software to interpret them as I wish. Remember, *he's* the one who posted his work in a public place. If he wants to be an anal-retentive, user-fighting dickwad, he can make PDFs. Just don't tell him I own the full version of Acrobat and can edit PDFs, too.

    * it seems like "things" was what you meant to say here.
  • Back in my day... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by discHead (3226) <3zcxrr602@sneakemail.com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:29PM (#12544398) Homepage
    "...it shifts the balance of power from content creators to content consumers."

    Shouldn't that be back to content consumers? Am I mis-remembering, or wasn't there once a time when Web browsers had built-in functionality to actually let users customize how certain tags got rendered in the browser window (fonts, colors, etc.)?
  • by topper24hours (853597) on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:30PM (#12544408)
    AGREED!!!! This "I make no errors" idiot has one of the worst formatted pages I've EVER had the displeasure of viewing. That he'd be the one to go on a rant of "I'm not allowing others to change the way they view my information/art" is laughably ironic.
  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:38PM (#12544485) Homepage Journal
    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.
    Which you couldn't actually before, either. The advantage is, now you're aware of it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:02PM (#12545389)
    Leather furniture perhaps? Some tenants can be awful sweaty and actually stain the leather. Seriously nasty. Basically, instead of putting ugly slipcovers on everything, they're asking you to wear your own.
  • art/artist (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:52PM (#12546025) Homepage Journal
    The point of a website can be different for its producer than for its consumer. The producer's point could be to express themself, which requires consumption in exactly the style they publish. The consumer's point could be to get the factual information, regardless of its presentation style, or even for restyled representation. The fact that most web content is inseparable from its presentation style means that you, the graphic designer, are necessary for both points, even if the consumer doesn't share the "style" point.

    The "point" it seems that you are missing is that the value of the webpage to the consumer can exclude *you*, even if you don't like that.
  • Re:Safari (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 16, 2005 @04:55PM (#12547454) Journal
    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.
  • Re:content debate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaronl (43811) on Monday May 16, 2005 @11:35PM (#12550988) Homepage
    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.

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