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Safari Omnibar

Safari Omnibar is a SIMBL plugin for Safari that enables a single addressfield/search bar like Google Chrome’s Omnibox. Its still fairly early days, but it works well, and has just been updated to support search shortcuts:


(the search bar is hidden after installation)


To edit keyword searches, right click the address field…


… and then you can then enter the search keywords

This is of course functionality that’s been available in Opera and Firefox, long before Chrome, but this is a great way for folks that prefer Safari to get it.

Safari Omnibar is hosted on github

An end to Browser pimping?

Thanks go to Doug March, who pointed me to an article on Ars Technica on Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5). In particular, it was this paragraph that Doug wanted to draw my attention to:

One more tip we got regarding Leopard, is that InputManager plugins are no longer allowed. That’s right… no more little hacks from anybody besides Apple. No more Apple menu hacks. No more Safari plugins.

Oh shit! No more InputManagers = no more useful plugins like Saft or Inquisitor. OK, the use of the word ‘plugin’ is up for debate (Haxie is maybe a more appropriate term), but these are little caffeine boosts to apps with no plugin API, and I for one love them.”

The article continues:

Apple isn’t really broken up about it since InputManagers were often used for nefarious purposes anyway,” our sources said, but the loss of InputManager control will break a lot of shareware and commercial software that currently makes use of that control.

It was news to me, but apparently InputManagers are a security risk. I was well aware of the chance of crashing and sluggish performance, but not malware using it to do BadStuff™ to your Mac.

What isn’t clear at this stage, is whether this applies to SIMBL, a method of applying hacks to a specific app. InputManagers load for every application, whether it’s intended for it or not, although not necessarily being active in those apps. SIMBL got around that and could be more targeted. I’ve asked Mike Solomon if he knows, but I guess until he gets his hands on Leopard, there’s no way to be sure.

It does mention that “InputManager is not exactly the same as APE, by the way”, so perhaps Unsanity’s APE (Application Enhancer) system could be used? I must say though, I’ve not had the greatest experience with their APE modules.

There is another way of course. Apple could develop a proper plugin API for their apps (Safari in particular), but something tells me that ‘giving up control’ is not something they’d want to do, and for good reason. As the Camino developers experienced recently, 3rd party plugins/hacks can really screw with day to day bug tracking and resolution.

Somehow, I can’t help feeling optimistic that someone somewhere will find a way, and a good way at that…

Skinning sites in Safari with PithHelmet

It would easy to to think that Firefox is the only browser with cool extensions, and overlook the excellent ones available for Safari, such as Saft, Stand and PithHelmet.

Like Saft, PithHelmet started life as an extension with a single purpose, and and has since grown beyond its remit. Starting life as an advert blocker, PithHelmet now boasts powerful per-site preferences, and the ability to apply custom css AND Javascript to individual sites. This takes Omniweb’s site preferences and expands it even further.

Late last year I began playing with the custom css function, and while it didn’t work at first (preferences weren’t saved after quitting Safari), Mike Solomon, PithHelmets developer, soon ironed out all the glitches. Its been a real pleasure to communicate with Mike. I’ve questioned, he’s responded with new versions, and now he’s added the ability to create a single theme file that can be sent to others. Dragging a site rule from the preferences window into the finder creates .phr file (Pith Helmet Rule), but now it will include all the css, javascript and images for your site skin.

Why bother skinning a site? Actually, there is a purpose of sorts. Lets say for example that you’re a heavy Gmail user, but you’d like the interface to look a little less PC. With a site skin you could alter it to look more OS X.

So here’s the one I’ve been working on. A Spotlight-ish skin for de.licio.us. The start of this idea came from Tom Coates mockups of bookmark tagging inside Safari. My aim was to make de.licio.us look more like a part of my browser, rather than a web page.

delicious after being skinned

(click image for full sized version)

If you’d like to give it a go, download this site rule (ctrl-click and ‘Save linked file as’), and then drag and drop it into PithHelmets site preferences window. That should be all you have to do, but this is a ‘first try’, so do let me know if anything goes wrong.

The css for this is a bit quick and sloppy. I’ve coded it so that the css can be used in a usercontent.css (that would get applied to every site), so while it’s flexible, it could be cut down when being used in the PithHelmet context. Ways to improve this (if I had the time) would be to use a javascript to dynamically create classes for the alternating rows, rather than the limited adjacent sibling selector method that I used in the css. All in all, it’s not perfect, but its enough to demonstrate what you can do. Someone with more time could take this and improve on it.

To create your own site theme, you have to use copious amounts of the inherit value to override the site’s own css rules. Then once you’re ready to go:

  1. visit the site you want to change in Safari
  2. open up PithHelmet menu>Show Site Preferences. If you haven’t already set preferences for that site, it will be at the bottom of the list.
  3. under ‘style’ select your custom css, and javascript, if applicable.
  4. type in a theme name
  5. If your theme requires images, create a directory with the theme name:
  6. /Library/Application Support/PithHelmet/com.apple.Safari/themename and then add the files to that directory
  7. make sure that images in your css file refer to file:////Library/Application%20Support/PithHelmet/com.apple.Safari/
  8. themename/newlogo.png (You can leave the ~, as this will choose the current users home directory, and allow the theme to be used by others). If it all looks OK, drag and drop the theme onto the finder, and this will create the .phr file with all the theme information.

The ability to create an easily sharable site theme opens up possibilities. Sites like de.licio.us are perhaps a little easier than some to theme, as all the styling is done with external css.

So, who’d like to have a go?

Sage on OS X

I’ve had a few rasied eyebrows about the fact that I illustrated the Firefox icon, and I’m ‘not using the damn thing’. I’ve tried, believe me I’ve tried to like Firefox, but it still jars against me the way its so un-native. It looks great (thanks to Kevin and Stephen), but doesn’t act or feel like an OS X app. The grey opaque menus, little behavioural quirks, lack of interaction with the services menu, non-native widgets, no spell checking. It does allow you multiple undos in textareas though, which is a plus. Maybe the Mac Aquafication release will solve some of these issues (whenever that comes out…).

However, something that’s attracted me back to using Firefox in the last few weeks has been the Sage RSS Reader extension. With a little tweaking to make it look more like an OSX’y, I now have what feels like my ideal Browser/RSS Reader combination:

Sage RSS Reader extension, OS Xified

I love the idea of combining an RSS Reader with a browser, it makes sense to me (unlike, say, bundling a browser with an email client). I’d tried other solutions, such as Feed on Feeds, but stopped using it fairly quickly. It didn’t work well as a sidebar bookmark, and would often time out on the second feed. This is where Sage comes in, an RSS Reader thats designed to be used in the sidebar.

Feeds seem display to fast enough, and the interface even gives you the option to choose your own CSS for the feeds display, via the settings options.

Adding feeds is very easy, find a site you like, and Sage’s autodiscovery will list all the available feeds in a drop-down sheet. Future versions of Sage plan to integrate with the recent Live Bookmarks feature. The other advantage is that if you use something like the FTP Bookmarks Sync extension, its easy to keep your list of feeds synchronised across machines, as all your feed URLs are stored in your bookmarks.

One small suggestion I have is to remove the icon for ‘no updated feed’. Normally Sage would display an icon next to every feed, but removing this one will make it much clearer what is and isn’t updated, and which is returning errors. This is what I’ve done on my copy and you can see this in the screenshot above.

So far, Sage is the only thing that’s tempting me away from my favourite Omniweb 5 and NewsFire combination (which is just superb). I’m still not sure if it will replace it entirely, but at the end of the day, I just enjoy playing and fiddling.

How to install the Hicksdesign styled Sage

  1. Download the replacement Sage files
  2. Quit Firefox if it’s running
  3. Locate your Firefox profile folder: UserName >Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/xxxxxxx/chrome/ folder.
  4. Copy and paste the contents of ‘Add to userChrome.css’ to the userChrome.css file. If you’re using my mods for the toolbar icons, you must paste the sage css code somewhere after that.
  5. Copy the ‘sage’ folder to the chrome directory.
  6. Restart Firefox. This will have applied all the mods, apart from the display of articles. Under Sage’s ‘Options’, choose ‘settings’, and then where it says ‘Custom Style Sheet’, click browse, and select the sage.css file in your profile folder. UserName >Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/xxxxxxx/chrome/sage/sage.css

You’re done!

New Safari Stand features

Sorry, this will the be the last browser post in a while – promise. Stand for Safari has been updated to work with v1.2.3 (v125.9), and has added some nice new features.

First of all Doug Bowman pointed out that there is an english translation page for Stand here. That makes life easier.

You can now replace either the Bug Report, Autofill, Add bookmark or Home buttons with an ‘Action’ button. This gives you a drop down menu with the following options:

Action menu

(*Note*: This menu now includes the ability to view HTTP headers, cookies for that site (with another option to delete them) and a selectable menu of all css and images etc from that page – amazing!)

Workspaces can now be opened in new tabs as well as saved, and you can make ‘labelled bookmark separators’ by adding a folder with the following title:

-:-label here.

This adds a greyed out text label – nice.

Menu label

Another nice feature I’ve discovered is that you can get the history and bookmark searches to display within the browser window rather than in a smaller, separate window. To try this out, drag and drop these links to the toolbar: History search and Bookmark Search.

You can also add RSS Feeds. Create a Bookmark Collection called ‘Stand Bar RSS’ and bookmark feed URL’s there. You can then read these feeds in the ‘Stand Bar’ under the ‘R” menu. While I probably won’t use this feature, its good to know that there are developers wanting to add value in this way.

Stand Bar RSS Feeds

When you combine Safari, Saft and Stand you get one very good browser.

Extending Safari 3: Stand

I’ve recently discovered another plug-in for Safari, called Stand. I can’t tell you a whole lot of detail about it, as the site is written in Japanese. What I can tell you is that its free, and it allows you to do the following slick actions:

  • Allow syntax colouring in viewed source (no control over colours used though)
  • Specify a font and size for viewed source (I like this – I have a thing about using Lucida Grande for source view).
  • Search your bookmarks and history (very nice, although I tend to use Quicksilver to find bookmarks quickly, this is even faster).
  • Specify that all links to a ’_blank’ target open in a new tab instead of a new window. This is nice.
  • Save tab layouts as workspaces alá Omniweb.
  • Assign categories, colour labels and comments to new bookmarks
  • Create search shortcuts (as in Sogudi and Saft)
  • ‘Site Alteration’. This allows you some basic preferences on a per site basis, such as what encoding to use, and whether images, pop-ups, plug-ins or javascript are to be allowed.
  • Remove favicons.
  • Set a time delay for auto-closing the downloads window after completion.
  • It also seems to add ‘Copy Link HTML Tag’ command to the context menu when ctrl-clicking links. (I’ve only just noticed this though, so it could’ve been there all along!)

This is a beta, so although I could save windows as workspaces, I couldn’t find a way of reopening them. There is also a window called the ‘Stand Bar’, which includes searchable bookmarks and history again, plus 2 other menus which haven’t been ‘hooked up’ yet.

Having said all that, it appears to be very stable, and chuffed with my lovely new source view. Its another worthwhile addition to make Safari the browser it should be.

safari sidebar - beta screenshots (updated)

That’s right. I’ve just received a new Saft beta, with the sidebar that I’ve been bellyaching about for months! To be honest, alhough I pestered Hao for this feature, I never really thought it would be possible, but hey, it never hurts to ask. Hao seems to like a challenge however, and he’s been kind enough to allow me to post screenshots here.

This version works the same as other releases of Saft. The plug-in goes into the Library>InputMangers folder replacing the previous version. Once launched, Safari then has the ‘Show Sidebar’ command in the Safari menu (this is a temporary position).

At the moment, once opened, there is no way to close it (this is a beta after all), but I get the feeling that I’ll probably leave it open most of the time.

Enough talk, here’s how it looks (full size version here)

Thankfully, Hao decided on a Finder-style sidebar, rather than an OS X drawer. These always look a bit stuck on to me (although I’m warming to them more these days).

As you can see, the sidebar sits underneath the tab bar, and its width is adjustable as you would expect. At the moment there are 4 ‘panels’ – bookmark searching, history, Versiontracker RSS and a google search. In the real release, Hao says that “one should be able to add RSS feeds, URL shortcuts like the one for Google, sidebars for local html files”. Superb! I had wondered whether downloads should go in there too, but as the recent builds of Shiira has shown, this could be a bit too cramped.

At the moment, just the bookmark search doesn’t work. Each of the panel buttons toggle the content beneath it (click to show, click to hide). Scrollbars come in when this pushes content below the window.

History is searchable, so although it only shows the last 12 places, as you type in the search field, the history is filtered.

The prelimary RSS panel shows just Versiontracker posts for now, but this works just fine. With all of these panels, command-clicking links opens them in new tabs, as you would expect.

Finally, the google search panel actually loads the google homepage in the sidebar, while search results are automatically opened in a new tab. This gives you a few more options than the toolbar google search, but I’m not sure I’d use this over the toolbar option.

The beauty is, each of these panels is just a html page, which I’ve styled with CSS. Hao explains: “The extended parts of sidebars are really just a mini web page. For history, bookmarks and RSS feeds, there are html templates in Saft’s resources folder. You can just modify it to whatever you like. Also, in the same way as adding RSS feeds, I will add support for sidebar template in a way that user supplies a folder with a plist file, which points to a html file, URL or a script file that generate HTMLs, so you can add almost anything to the sidebar…”(!).

Updated: Hao has done further work into the extensibility of the sidebar, and extra sidebar items can easily be added as .plugin files. As mentioned above. these can other web pages (local or remote – I’ve now got one set up for adding links to my textpattern setup), RSS feeds, and in the future – scripts such as perl or shell. So you can have whatever you want going on in there! The first application of this that I can see is a Safari version of the Firefox Web Developer Extension. Although not all would work in Safari, it would be an easy way to add a large folder of development bookmarklets to Safari.

Here’s an example. I’ve made a simple sidebar plug-in to view my Shortstats in the sidebar:

Thats all there is to say at the moment, except that I’m like a boy who’s just been told he can fly a real X-Wing Fighter. This has got real possibilities!

Saftari

Saft has been updated yet again. It was only a week or so ago when Hao Li added the ability to save and restore windows and tabs on quit. Now, check out these new additions:

  • New feature: Customizable HTTP timeout
  • New feature: Separator in bookmark menu
  • New feature: Control-1 to 9 to popup bookmark menu or open bookmark
  • Improvement: Saft contextual menu items for shortcuts grouped in sub-menus
  • Improvement: Open new tab for shortcut searching from contextual menu when holding down the option key

Look at that second one. Separators! I wrote to Hao Li asking for this feature, but never thought he would actually do it. How good is that?! The guy is putting Apple to shame with his development speed.

So Hao, if you’re listening. Here’s my next request to keep you busy.

extending Safari 2: saft!

One of my niggles about Safari is that I’ve always felt it’s a little short in features. As mentioned before, Pith Helmet (Advert blocking), Sogudi (Address bar searches) and Safari Enhancer go someway to improve it. I want to use Safari – I love its clean, elegant interface and speed, but sometimes it feels a bit lacking.

I’ve been testing and enjoying the radically more stable Omniweb 5 (beta 3) for a few days now, and enjoying its workspaces feature. This reminded me that Safari is about the only Mac browser that doesn’t let you save a group of tabs. However, Saft v6.5 was released today, and amongst its many new features – the ability to save tab groups. I’d never looked into Saft before, as I’m not that bothered about full screen or kiosk mode (which was its original purpose) so I was surprised to see that its developer was busy adding more functionality.

Even better than tab group saving though, is the option to save a browser window – its tabs, window size and screen position. Previously saved windows are accessed through the File menu, as well as the ability to delete saved windows. Saft also features the same shortcut searches from the address bar as Sogudi, but adds those search engines to the google search bar menu as well. Nice.

Add to this PDF export/back/forward commands in the context menu, a preference to force new windows to open as a tab, type-ahead searching and suddenly Safari starts to feel like a fully-featured browser.

The only possible downside to all this, is that you have to pay $10 (£5.89 in UK money) for all this extra functionality. Some may feel its not worth paying to extend a free browser, especially when Apple might get around to adding these features someday. Its up to you, but personally I felt that it was a pittance for functionality that I would enjoy every day.

I’ve asked for bookmark menu separators in the next version – you never know…

Finallly, a quick mention for Safari Sorter, which will organise your bookmarks alphabetically for you.

Edit CSS in Firefox

Quick tip if you haven’t come across this before. There is an excellent web development extension available for Firefox called Edit CSS. Quite simply, it allows you to view all style sheets for the current page in the sidebar, make edits and see the result as you type. The amount of time this saves is amazing.

A problem with many firefox extensions is that they break in current and mac builds, and this is the case here. The useful option to save the css once edited doesn’t work. Even with this bug, its a worthwhile download.

Update 11.02.04: All thats needed to make Edit CSS work fully, is the jslib extension. Now I can save edited styles, or load new ones. Thanks to John for pointing this out.

Perfect for deciding on that new colour scheme… ;o)

A screenshot of the edit css sidebar in action

Extending Safari

Just wanted to share with you my favourite apps for extending the capabilities of Safari – There might be one here you haven’t tried…

Safari Enhancer – Does a whole variety of tasks, but I use it to enable the debug menu (contains a spoof user agents menu), remove the metal skin (looks great in Panther!) and deactivate the cache.

Sogudi – creates search shortcuts to use in the location bar. For instance, to search for ‘skEdit’ on Versiontracker, just type ‘vt skEdit’ into the location bar. Comes with some preset searches, and the ability to add your own.

Pith Helmet – Blocks adverts, particularly annoying animated gif banner ads. Just makes life so much nicer. You can specify sites to always block or never block content from.

Safari No-Timeout – get longer than 60 seconds before Safari times out.

What’s more, these apps are all free. There are some nice people out there.

Incidentally, the new OS X 10.3.2 update, seems to include enhancements Safari or the WebCore, as I’ve just noticed that title attributes now show up as tooltips, as promised by Dave Hyatt. This doesn’t seem to be mentioned in Apple’s release notes. Presumably, this means that the other niceties on his list are now installed too.

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