son of live bookmarks

I buy about a dozen items per year on eBay, and when I’m bidding on an item, I add its bookmark to my personal toolbar, then I click that bookmark repeatedly for the duration of the auction just to find out two simple pieces of information: the current bid and the time left.

Instead of making me click the link over and over to get that information, Firefox should automatically check the auction periodically on my behalf and add its status to the bookmark label.  Then I could keep track of the auction just by glancing at my personal toolbar.

Auctions may be my personal itch, but I reckon there are other auctioneers with the same itch, and a feature like this could be handy elsewhere, too.  A bookmark to an Amazon product could display the product’s current price, for example, while a bookmark to a news site could show its latest headline.  Basically, any page with important and regularly-updated but short summary information is a candidate for this feature.

It might even be useful to display these summaries in other places–like tabs and window title bars–where the browser currently displays page titles.  And it might make sense to define a simple microformat to let the pages themselves specify which of their content represents summary information and how often to update it, although we’d want to allow users to override that where appropriate, just as we let them choose their own bookmark labels.

This feature extends a concept that live bookmarks introduced: that bookmarks can display much more than just static links to locations, they can display regularly-updated summaries of those sites.  So I’ll call this “son of live bookmarks,” for lack of a better name, and in homage to the same cheesy horror flicks from which Mozilla derived its name.

Would you use this feature if it was available?  Can you think of other kinds of pages for which the feature would come in handy?  Got a better name for it?  Comments welcome.


Myk Melez

Myk is a Principal Software Architect and in-house entrepreneur at Mozilla. A Mozillian since 1999, he's contributed to the Web App Developer Initiative, PluotSorbet, Open Web Apps, Firefox OS Simulator, Jetpack, Raindrop, Snowl, Personas, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Bugzilla. He's just a cook. He's all out of bubblegum.


11 thoughts on “son of live bookmarks

  1. The Mozilla browser bookmarks have the ability to check the url for changes every n minutes and do something if there’s a change.

    Just adding that ability to Firefox would be handy. My particular itch is rss feeds. I use Sage, and it would be sweet if Sage could simply check each feed for a change once an hour and mark them as new when I open the sidebar.

    Extending that “look for a change” could be done as a client side extension, a la greasemonkey or something.

  2. The eBay toolbar does that – keeps track of auction statuses …statii? πŸ™‚ on the fly. Of course, its only available for IE at the moment. However, something like that shouldn’t be too difficult with some sort of web service. Forecast fox periodically checks an (xml?) weather feed, so doing something similar w/ eBay should be very possible.

  3. This is something I have always planned on doing ‘when I have free time’. Which is never unfortunatly.

    I’ve never thought of it besides with ebay.. but then again that would rock.

    If someone could provide the ebay API info (i.e. not just point me to the api page, but tell me exactly what I need to send and what I should be expecting back from the server), I could hack something together quickly.

    What I want is just to check how a current bid is going, what the current price is and if I’m still the highest bidder.

    I have a bunch of code already done from other project, so it would be as simple as plug and play with the api calls.

    Unless ofcourse you are planning to build this, than that rocks, I’d definitely be a user πŸ˜‰

  4. topher1kenobe – drop sage for Wizz rss reader and set up the watch list – it does just what you want.

  5. Mozilla got it’s name from the Mosaic browser, not Godzilla. It’s ‘Mosaic-killer’ shortened to ‘Mozilla’ (and a z not an s as it sounds cooler πŸ™‚ ).

  6. If bug 135962 (Show description field in tooltip on hover over bookmarks) were fixed in Firefox then I would prefer this feature be exposed by changing that field instead of the bookmarks title. (data loss)

    But first you would need a fix for bug 251842 (Livemarks should use existing bookmarks scheduling and notification mechanism) or its equivalent.

    Top it off with a Firefox fix for bug 104949 (Bookmark folder icons should reflect ‘icon notification’ of subitems) and you might have something really interesting.

  7. There’s an extension called Hunter Gatherer that allows you to grab chunks of web page into a collection that is dynamically updated (its still coming through the AMO review process).

    The problem for doing this for sites without an API is that its basically “automagically creating regexps” to extract the actual bit of data you want. Microformats help here, since we’re already talking about supporting various microformats like hCard/hCal, so an e-commerce variant would be a good next step.

  8. You might check out the Simple Sharing Extensions that Microsoft has proposed to RSS. They appear to address some of the stuff you’re talking about.

  9. The ReloadEvery extension will do what you need. It allows you to refresh a page every x seconds.

    Just to make a comment, this is precisely the kind of thing the extension system was designed for: something that’s got a limited audience. While I can see the usefulness of this, it’s not something I need, so why put it in the browser by default? By default, I want a browser to allow me to view web pages, that’s it. Anything else I should add myself. Ignoring that basic premise is how you get feature-creep.

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