Wandering Thoughts archives

2021-12-03

My views so far on bookmarklets versus addons in Firefox

A while back I saw a message in the fediverse advocating for bookmarklets (via):

90% of browser extensions could be bookmarklets, and they’re 100% better for privacy. Bookmarklets should make a comeback.

* Opt in to an action
• No snooping on pages in the background
• Universally supported in browsers

I miss bookmarklets.

I'm a heavy user of Firefox addons, and I've also recently been using bookmarklets in the titlebar for dealing with fixed position page elements and making pages more readable with brute force. The fediverse message got me thinking, and now I think I have some views that are well enough formed to write down.

For me, the simultaneous advantage and drawback of bookmarklets is that they don't activate automatically when you load the page. This makes addons better for things that I want to happen all of the time, automatically. Conversely, bookmarklets are better for things that are sometimes great but also sometimes bad ideas that destroy the page's readability or functionality. Both of my current bookmarklets are of this nature, where I want to apply them to only some web pages (and sometimes only some of the time).

(There are also practical differences, such as addons being able to present a UI and be interactive, but let's hand wave that away. I think most of my addons would currently be flat out impossible as bookmarklets.)

Now that I've thought about this, that my addons are all things that I want to happen all the time is not really a coincidence. Because addons work this way, I've been strongly biased to using only addons that I actually did want all of the time. An 'all the time' addon that you only want some of the time is painful, even if it offers UI controls for this. I probably have blind spots about useful 'some of the time' page modifications that could be bookmarklets.

(One of the obvious ones is a bookmarklet to set visited links to their default colour. This doesn't work everywhere and isn't always the answer I want, but having it as a titlebar button would be quite useful. Sadly, I'm not familiar enough with either JavaScript or manipulating page CSS in JS to write it myself without a bunch of effort.)

web/BookmarkletsAndAddons written at 22:54:06; Add Comment


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