Dive Into Greasemonkey</h1>

Author: Mark Pilgrim
Dive Into Greasemonkey Homepage

Q: What is Greasemonkey?
A: Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to write scripts that alter the web pages you visit. You can use it to make a web site more readable or more usable. You can fix rendering bugs that the site owner can’t be bothered to fix themselves. You can alter pages so they work better with assistive technologies that speak a web page out loud or convert it to Braille. You can even automatically retrieve data from other sites to make two sites more interconnected. From the opening chapter of Dive Into Greasemonkey.

It is often said that OpenSource projects have a lack of documentation and a major lack of good documentation, well Mark Pilgrim is fixing that one freely available (and GPL'd) guide at a time. In Dive Into Greasemonkey Mark takes the reader through the basic concepts of Greasemonkey, demonstrates how to get up and running with an example install, and out in to the land of custom user scripts. The whole book is written in an accessible, easy to follow way that takes the user through all the required stages but without the unnecessary padding that plagues too many commercial books.

After introducing Greasemonkey, showing how a basic script is constructed and how it can be debugged the book reaches its most useful sections. Chapter 4 contains a number of short snippets of reusable code and explanations on what each of them does. The presentation of the snippets is a basic Greasemonkey cookbook and makes the chapter a very useful reference you’ll find yourself occasionally dipping in to.

Chapter 5 continues this approach but takes the reader through some fully developed scripts which get longer and more featureful as the chapter progresses. While snippets are useful I always like to see a couple of full examples and this chapter provides some varied ones that expose the reader to some of the more common itches they’ll want to scratch.

So what else is there to mention? The book comes with a small number of videos that show the some of the tasks step by step for the more basic users. It provides enough further reading to be your first stop even when looking for tricks and tactics beyond what the book covers and even provides short, but informative introductions to the DOM Inspector included in FireFox and a short tangent in to Jesse Rudderman’s JavaScript Shell.

Summary: So how good is the book? Well after reading through it once I’m writing my own basic scripts and consulting chapters 4 and 5 for code snippets I can use immediately; what else could you ask for? 8/10.