For Firefox 3, in addition to investigating our feature set for control over your web experience (about which more soon), I’m also looking into useful usability and functionality improvements to Firefox’s support for microsummaries.
One glaring weakness is discoverability. In Firefox 2, it’s hard to know if a page you’re browsing has a microsummary, since you have to open the Add Bookmark dialog to find out, and you have to grok the significance of the drop-marker in the Name field.
Feeds, by comparison, are much more discoverable, since Firefox displays the feed icon in the location bar when a page provides a feed. Perhaps a similar mechanism would be useful for microsummaries.
To find out, I put together a prototype extension which displays an icon in the location bar when a web page has a microsummary.
When you click the icon, Firefox opens the Add Bookmark dialog and selects the microsummary as the “live title” for the bookmark.
Then just select the folder you want the bookmark to be created in (f.e. the Bookmarks Toolbar) and press the Add button to add a bookmark labeled with the microsummary for the page.
The extension is now available on addons.mozilla.org. Try it out with some of these sites and generators, and let me know what you think. Does the behavior make sense? What other behavior might we associate with the icon (f.e. drag-and-drop to the bookmarks toolbar)? What should happen when there are multiple microsummaries?
- The extension works in both Minefield and Firefox 2.0 and with both generated and site-provided microsummaries.
- The location bar icon is intentionally blank, since I have no idea what kind of graphic should represent microsummaries. I would have made it colorless, too, but then it would have been invisible.
- I named the extension something generic because I plan to prototype additional enhancements in future versions of it.
- Adding an icon to the location bar for every interesting piece of content, especially in the age of burgeoning microformats, probably won’t scale, so this may well be the wrong solution for the problem.