All posts tagged ‘extensions’

File Under: Browsers, Web Services

Xmarks Lives: LastPass Buys Downtrodden Bookmark Syncing Service

Just when we all thought we’d never see it again, the cross-browser bookmark syncing service Xmarks has received a life-saving injection.

The company has been acquired by LastPass, maker of a cross-browser password manager and form filler add-on. The deal was announced Thursday, and terms were not disclosed.

Xmarks will live on as a freemium service. The initial cross-browser syncing tool you’re already familiar with will be free, but users will be encouraged to upgrade to a paid subscription to unlock more advanced features. It’s the same model employed by LastPass for its own Premium version of its (otherwise free) password-syncing service.

Xmarks Premium will be offered for $1 per month ($12 per year) and it comes with some new features like apps for the iPhone and Android phones, and technical support. You will also be able to bundle the premium offerings from LastPass and Xmarks together for $20 per year.

There’s already an iPhone app for Xmarks, and the company just recently released an Android app, too. Xmarks says anyone currently using the iPhone app can continue to use it without upgrading to the premium service, but they will have to buy in to the $12 per year plan to get future upgrades.

It looked like curtains for Xmarks in September, when the company announced it would shut down its service in early 2011.

Continue Reading “Xmarks Lives: LastPass Buys Downtrodden Bookmark Syncing Service” »

File Under: Browsers

Apple Updates Safari, Turns on Extensions

The new Safari browser with the Twitter toolbar extension installed

Apple released an update to its Safari web browser Wednesday.

Safari 5.0.1 is available from Apple as a free download for Windows and for Mac OS X (Leopard or better). Mac users can also find it in Software Update.

This is an incremental upgrade, but it comes with one big new feature: Safari now has a real platform for third-party extensions, a feature that Firefox and Chrome have had for some time.

Safari 5 arrived in early June, and in addition to dozens of other enhancements (including the much-discussed Reader feature) it included a new architecture for creating lightweight browser extensions that enhance and personalize web pages and web services. Wednesday’s update now lets you install and run those extensions. Apple has also launched a new Extensions Gallery where you can browse the available extensions and download them.

All the major browsers — Safari included — have had a variety of plug-ins, add-ons and toolbars available for years. But Safari’s new extension architecture is much closer to the format recently adopted by Google Chrome and Firefox. This new breed of extensions can be written using HTML, JavaScript, CSS and other web standards. It makes for a much gentler learning curve for potential developers, and for an experienced web programmer, the effort required to create and distribute a standards-based extension is almost trivial. For users, these extensions are easier to maintain and less likely to slow down the browser.

Mozilla calls its lightweight extension project Jetpack, and it’s being incorporated into the newest Firefox releases. The next version of Google’s browser will let users sync their extensions across multiple installations of the browser.

Go to extensions.apple.com to see the gallery of extensions being promoted by Apple. Also, keep in mind that anyone can create and distribute a Safari extension, so distribution isn’t controlled like the App Store. For safety’s sake, Safari extensions are sandboxed inside the browser and signed with a digital certificate so you know you’re getting updates from the same person who created the original.

Apple is promoting a few big-name creations in the gallery. There’s an official Twitter extension, which integrates a simple toolbar Twitter client into your browser, one from MLB that displays scores and headlines, and an eBay manager sidebar for keeping a close eye on your auctions. There’s one on the way from Instapaper.

Of course, the irreverent extensions are more interesting. There’s Defacer, which hides “Like” buttons and other Facebook cruft you find around the web. Shut Up hides comments by default on blogs. A Cleaner YouTube removes visual distractions from video pages, promising to turn YouTube into “a clean and tranquil place” as if that’s even remotely possible.

There are around 100 extensions to choose from right now, and since the new extensions framework in Safari is so simple to develop for, we expect the list to keep growing quickly.

There is one other notable safety enhancement to Safari 5.0.1 — the form auto-fill vulnerability has been patched. This fixes a vulnerability that hackers could exploit to grab personal information from a user by forcing the browser to auto-fill a hidden web form with locally stored data. So, even if you may not care for extensions, you should upgrade Safari for this reason alone.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Wikis Rally Around Universal Edit Button

It’s one small step for wiki-kind: A large swath of online Wikis have organized a Universal Edit Button — a way to alert you through a browser when the page is editable. The first stage of the project provides a Firefox extension that displays an icon, similar to how the RSS icon appears, whenever it detects an editable page.

The feature is available now by installing the firefox extension. Once installed, the site will look for code on the page that tells the extension the page can be edited. The enlarged icon appears here at the top of the post.

Wiki’s, named after the Hawaiian word for “Quick,” encourage content contributions and collaboration by online communities. The barrier to entry among many possible contributors is the expectation of a historically read-only web.

According to wikiHow founder Jack Herrick, “Tim Berners Lee intended the web to be a read-write medium. But somewhere along the path, most web users were demoted to just ‘web surfers’ on a largely read-only web.”

“Few people enjoy the privilege of web editing,” said Herrick. “Yet web editing has some real benefits: The success of Wikipedia, and the increasing utility of wikis like wikiHow, AboutUs, wikiTravel and Wikia demonstrates that open editing creates high quality information resources.”

The blogs mentioned above, and many others, are all participants in the Universal Edit Button project. In case we failed to mention it before (ahem) Wired’s How-To blog and Webmonkey are both wikis, and we are already in the process of embedding the code ourselves.

We think it’s a great idea. Supporters of the Universal Edit Button, like us, hope the Firefox extension and perhaps future built-in adoption by popular browsers will continue Berners-Lee’s vision.

[Thanks ReadWriteWeb]

File Under: Software & Tools

Del.icio.us IE Toolbar Released

Yahoo launched the Internet Explorer version of its Del.icio.us toolbar out of beta Thursday.

Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site allowing you to save your bookmarks online and share them with the online community. The site tracks social memes using the popularity of the bookmarks contributed.

The Del.icio.us toolbar makes bookmarking that much easier by allowing you to bookmark, tag and search straight from the browser.

A feature run-down from Del.icio.us’ website:

  • Near instantaneous searching with very large accounts (over 10K bookmarks)
  • Full del.icio.us sidebar and toolbar implementation with bookmark sync and typedown search
  • Toolbar indicators for new network activity and links for you
  • Works on IE6, IE7, and IE8 beta on both XP and Vista

The Internet Explorer version joins the Firefox version already available.

Firebug Command-Line API: Not Just Your Weekend Debugger

You may know that Firebug has one of the best interfaces for debugging . What you may not know is it also features a command line and API for heavy-duty debugging.

Firebug is a Firefox extension used by web developers for debugging HTML, CSS, JavaScript and the browser’s DOM.

The command line allows you to enter and execute JavaScript commands straight from the Firebug sidebar. The functions available in the API allows you to maneuver, monitor and investigate web page code in more detail.

Sample API commands include:

  • Generate lists of elements or properties from specified objects
  • Pull XML sources for inspection
  • Execute and monitor a singular JavaScript function

The command line tool is available by hitting Ctrl-Shift-L (or Command-Shift-L on Mac OS). Firebug’s sidebar window opens up with a view of the console window. The console window displays feedback from the commands you enter using the command line at the bottom of the screen.