FireFox 2 Microsummaries - Initial Thoughts

Microsummaries are regularly-updated succinct summaries of web pages. They are compact enough to fit in the space available to a bookmark label, provide more useful information about pages than static page titles, and are regularly updated as new information becomes available.Microsummaries - Mozilla Wiki

I’ve spent a little while playing with them now and while I like them, smarter page titles are nice, they have their limits. Firstly, they are not the easiest things to install. Most people are not going to understand them or get them working without some hand holding. IMHO they are going to be a niche tool unless the user experience is heavily tweaked. Secondly, and this caught me for a while, you only see the dynamic behaviour if you add the microsummary to the bookmark toolbar. It doesn’t work in the normal bookmark menu, which I think would be a lot better. There has been some discussion about putting them in tab titles but this seems to be a bad idea based on how much space they typically have available.

I’ve also noticed a couple of odd things, although this is a beta so it’s understandable. When you add a microsummary it doesn’t pick up the favicon, even when it changes the content. It does however pick it up when you go to the actual site it refers to. I also didn’t get any errors when I tried to install (via a href link) a microsummary that didn’t exist.

In general I think they’re interesting but the way they are installed and activated is too awkward for my liking and RSS already satisfies a lot of the use cases where they could be very powerful. I’ve not finished playing with them yet (and they’re refreshing my XPath and XSLT knowledge) so expect my prototypes to be on here in a day or so.