Blog on chrispederick.com

Redesigned Web Developer Options Dialog

A preview of the redesigned and streamlined options dialog for the next release of Web Developer.

Web Developer options dialog

Rdio Add Album To Playlist Bookmarklet

A month ago I posted on Twitter that I wanted to try Rdio, but could not because even their native OS X application requires Flash which I don’t have installed on my laptop. However—although I have not seen a formal announcement—it now appears that they are bundling a version of Flash in with the application.

So I re-activated my Rdio subscription—I had tried the service out a year or so ago—and used the application to match my iTunes music and add it to my Rdio collection.

Setting Up A Scores Playlist

At work I like to listen to movie scores as they typically contain no lyrics which I find distracting when I am writing code. So I set up a ‘Scores’ playlist in Rdio and went to start adding movie score albums to it.

The problem? Rdio only lets you add songs to playlists one at a time—you cannot add an entire album. Adding an album to a playlist one song at a time becomes very tedious very quickly and despite numerous requests to allow adding an album to a playlist, Rdio has yet to add this feature.

Therefore I created a bookmarklet that when clicked on an album page on Rdio adds the entire album—all the tracks that are available for streaming at least—to the chosen playlist.

Using The Bookmarklet

  1. Drag the link above to the bookmarks bar in your browser.
  2. Go to an album page on Rdio in your browser. For example: The Dark Knight.
  3. Click the ‘Add Album To Playlist’ bookmarklet in your bookmarks bar.
  4. For the first track you will be asked which playlist to add the track to and all subsequent tracks will then be added to that same playlist.
  5. Wait for the bookmarklet to add the remaining tracks to the playlist—you will see some flickering of Rdio dialogs appearing and being automatically clicked—and once it has finished a JavaScript dialog will appear telling you how many tracks were added to the playlist.

Rdio bookmarklet dialog

Fragile

As you can tell by the flickering of Rdio dialogs when you use the bookmarklet, this works by basically automating the task of adding each individual track to the playlist. This means that any HTML or CSS changes to the Rdio site will likely break the bookmarklet.

I will be trying to keep the bookmarklet up to date and working if this happens, but I cannot guarantee the timeliness of my support. I have only really tested the bookmarklet in Chrome so let me know if you encounter any issues in other browsers. Also, note that I am not responsible for any problems caused by using this bookmarklet. Hopefully Rdio will add this feature soon and we will not need this hack for much longer.

For those that are interested, here is my scores playlist.

Update: Rdio added support for adding entire albums to playlists in the new Rdio so this bookmarklet is no longer required or supported.

Why Web Developer May Finally Be Coming To Safari

When Safari 5 was released a year ago Apple followed the lead of Firefox and Chrome and added support for extensions. A number of people contacted me at the time asking if I would port Web Developer to Safari and I said I would look into the possibility.

When I looked at the Safari extension API it was clearly based on the Chrome extension API and I was initially hopeful that creating a Safari version of Web Developer would not only be possible, but relatively straightforward.

Why Web Developer Does Not Work With Safari (Yet)

My first thought was to add a toolbar button that could open an HTML version of the Web Developer toolbar just like I do in Chrome:

Web Developer for Google Chrome

However, while Safari supports adding custom toolbar buttons they can only execute JavaScript and cannot open HTML popups like Chrome allows. This did not appear to be an issue since Safari extensions are allowed to create entire toolbars—something that Chrome extensions cannot do—and this would be the ideal implementation for Web Developer.

As I started to work on creating Web Developer as a Safari toolbar though, a major shortcoming became clear. Safari toolbars can only contain HTML elements and do not allow those elements to expand outside of the toolbar—expanding menus in the toolbar are not possible.

The only way to work around this limitation is to use HTML select elements—an option that extensions like Safari Developer are using:

Safari Developer toolbar

I personally see this as a clunky solution with major limitations and poor usability. Therefore I decided to wait and hope that the Safari extension API matured to allow a better implementation of Web Developer.

Why Web Developer May Work With Safari In Lion

Cut to this week and Apple released a bunch of new information about the next release of OS X called Lion. Tucked at the end of their section detailing the new features in Safari in Lion is the following paragraph:

Safari extensions

If I am understanding this correctly it sounds like the Safari extension API will be updated to support HTML popups being opened by custom toolbar buttons just like in Chrome. If this is true then I will once again look into porting Web Developer to Safari.

When?

OS X Lion does not have a firm release date yet, but it is due to be released some time in July and I am currently working on the next release of Web Developer for Firefox. Any development on a Safari version would have to wait until the Firefox update is complete, but I cannot give any estimate as to when this might happen. Just know that I will be investigating the possibility of porting Web Developer to Safari as soon as I have the time once Lion is released.

Firefox 4

At the end of January I released new versions of both the Web Developer and User Agent Switcher extensions. These patch releases primarily added support for the then upcoming release of Firefox 4 which eventually came out two months later. Since then I have been extremely busy at work and have not had much time to work on the extensions, but I wanted to give an update about some issues that were found with Firefox 4.

Web Developer

The main issue with the Web Developer extension in Firefox 4 is that the toolbar menus are not checked when they are activated on Mac OS X. This is actually an issue with Firefox 4 and I have filed a bug with Mozilla that they have acknowledged, but are still working on. Hopefully this will be fixed soon as it’s a major issue that affects all toolbar menus in the browser.

There are also a few features in the Web Developer extension itself that have issues in Firefox 4:

  • The toolbar display options always reset.
  • The ‘Mark All Links Unvisited/Visited’ features no longer work.
  • Wildcard cookies can no longer be added.

I’ll be looking to fix all of these issues in the next release of the Web Developer extension.

User Agent Switcher

The User Agent Switcher extension also has a couple of issues in Firefox 4. First of all, the extension is not easy to access in Firefox 4 on Windows. There are currently a couple of ways around this as explained in the screencast below and I’ll be looking to fix this in the next release.

The second issue is that Mozilla removed the ability to override some of the user agent properties in Firefox 4 that you could override in previous versions. Specifically the app code name and vendor and vendor sub properties can no longer be overridden. There is nothing I can do to workaround this, but I will be updating the User Agent Switcher extension to indicate that those properties have no effect in Firefox 4.

Timeline

As always I cannot give estimates for when the extensions will be updated as it depends on how busy I am at work, but I am actively working on them whenever I have free time and will release them as soon as I can.

Web Developer 1.1.9 and User Agent Switcher 0.7.3

Patch releases of both the Web Developer and User Agent Switcher extensions have been released for Firefox. These releases primarily add support for Firefox 4 to both extensions as well as fixing a few issues in Web Developer including ‘View Style Information’ being vulnerable to a cross site scripting attack. The full list of changes to the Web Developer extension can be found in the release notes.

Web Developer 1.2

I had originally hoped to release version 1.2 of the Web Developer extension in time for Firefox 4. Version 1.2 will merge the Firefox and Chrome codebases of the extension, as well as adding new features and fixing a number of issues. However, this is still in development which is why I have released this minor update to make sure that Web Developer is at least compatible with Firefox 4.

I’m continuing to work on version 1.2 so look for progress updates on Twitter and Dribbble.