Simple Plugins for Internet Explorer

Update: As you can probably tell from the “Last updated on ‘Tue Aug 22 00:04:12 2006’” I’ve not touched this page for a while. I assume these no longer work so I’ve removed links to the executables and the executables themselves.

I’ve been using IE almost exclusively on Windows since version 4 was released. It beat Netscape hands down and it was actually quite useable. Unfortunately once Netscape was firmly thrashed (Although i did still have to put up with it on Linux.) the IE team seemed to lose its drive and failed to excite with the bland version 5 and the great gaping security hole known as IE6.

Luckily these days we have the large but useful Mozilla and the excellent, lean Firefox (nee Firebird, nee Phoenix) which, as well as being cross platform, actually have new and useful features. Both of these browsers can be enhanced and customised in a huge number of ways, a quick browse around the Mozdev site is enough to confirm that people have itches and they are more than willing to scratch them in public (That sounds so wrong.)

After spending a lot of time using these two browsers on different platforms i started to feel a little under equipped (despite all the spam offering to fix that for me…) when i needed to use IE. After thinking about it for a while and doing some googling i decided to scratch away.

Below I’ve put links to individual extensions I’ve put together for IE. They are all pretty similar in both design and construction and have installers written using NSIS, a nice OpenSource installer. None of them are ground breaking but they can be useful in different situations.

The actual construction isn’t that difficult, there is an MSDN article that provides the basics located here until they remodel the site that is; AGAIN. In essence you have a HTML file containing some JavaScript (Its not limited to JavaScript but i don’t know any VBScript :)) and you add some entries to the registry which IE picks up and uses to add a new entry to its context (right click) menus. When this new option is invoked it calls the script in your HTML file and does its duty. Quick, easy and not really documented that well.

Until i get around to writing a step by step tutorial its probably easier to look at the code itself, the script files are typically only a couple of KB including white space and comments so anyone with a bit of JavaScript knowledge should be able to follow along easily.

Update: The validate_html plugin is now listed at Allens Winappslist, one of the webs best repositories for windows applications.

The Plugins

Basic Accessibility Analyzer

The Basic Accessibility Analyzer HTML plugin allows two click access to an online instance of the Basic Accessibility Analyzer written and provided online by Peter Krantz. The Basic Accessibility Analyzer examines your webpages and looks for the issues listed here. This plugin doesn't check anything itself, it only wraps his excellent service. The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL'd) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. The current version is "0.1" and it was last updated 'Tue Aug 22 00:04:12 2006'

Validate Sites HTML

This plugin allows you to validate the markup of the entire website, starting with the browsers current page, using the WDG HTML Validator tool.

This plugin can be invoked in two main ways, you can either right click on the page and select ‘Validate Sites HTML…’ from the context menu or you can highlight a URL contained in plain text (for example unixdaemon.net) and right click then select ‘Validate Sites HTML…’ on the selection. The plugin will then make an attempt to work out what you mean and then call the validator on that page and the links from it. The tweaking it does will vary as i make changes so don’t make any bets on the implementation staying the same although the results should only improve…

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. The current version is “0.1” and it was last updated ‘Sat Jan 15 20:44:12 2005’

Wayback Versions...

I've recently had to do some digging through old, incorrect and badly maintained documentation on a couple of quite popular websites. While the documents were not available from a CVS archive, something that would have allowed me to pull out pre-stupid author versions, the Wayback Machine held a number of earlier versions. If you've never encountered the Wayback Machine then you're in for a treat, it maintains a number of dated versions of web pages from a huge number of sites. In my case it allowed me to pull up versions of the documents written by an intelligent person rather than those of a slightly less useful nature. After getting bored of copying and pasting URL's I decided to pull this plugin together. The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL'd) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. The current version is "0.1" and it was last updated 'Fri Aug 27 21:50:19 2004'

Validate P3P

This plugin allows you to validate the P3P Policy markup of the browsers current page using the W3C Validator service. It can be invoked in two main ways, you can either right click on the page and select 'Validate P3P...' from the context menu or you can highlight a URL contained in plain text (for example unixdaemon.net) and right click then select 'Validate P3P...' on the selection. The plugin will then make an attempt to work out what you mean and then call the validator on that page. The tweaking it does will vary as i make changes so don't make any bets on the implementation staying the same although the results should only improve... The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL'd) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. The current version is "0.1" and it was last updated 'Mon Aug 16 22:39:16 2004'

View In ...

When developing websites (something I seem to be doing too much of lately!) checking the layout and visual appeal of the site in multiple browsers is a necessary evil. Copying the URL in the IE, firing off a Mozilla or FireFox session and then pasting in the URL is an annoyance when done occasionally. When its done a number of times in quick succession it can become a major pain.

To get around this when using one of the Mozilla based browsers a plugin, IEView, was written to make IE invocations faster and simpler. Unfortunately for me my current work place (at July 2004 anyway) is an IE only shop so the developers and designers are missing the two-click invocation of other browsers. Until now.

Below are five sets of links, each one adds functionality to IE that permits right- click invocation of a different browser. The versions tested while building were Avant 9.02, FireFox .9, Mozilla 1.6b, Opera 7.51 and the version of Lynx found at delorie.com

View in Lynx (Online Version of Lynx) Executable Zip file with source
View in Avant Executable Zip file with source
View in FireFox Executable Zip file with source
View in Mozilla Executable Zip file with source
View in Opera Executable Zip file with source

All of the code above is GPL’d . They are all currently at version 0.1 (due to lack of users not bugs) and were updated at ‘Sat Jul 3 23:29:24 2004’ by Dean Wilson

BugMeNot

BugMeNot is one of those ideas that seem obvious in hindsight. Much like Mailinator, a site it works well in conjunction with, it helps to make your day to day web browsing easier and enhances your privacy.

The best description of the sites purpose comes from the sites own FAQ: “BugMeNot.com was created as a mechanism to quickly bypass the login of web sites that require compulsory registration and/or the collection of personal/demographic information (such as the New York Times).”

Every time someone uses one of these sites they set up an account (using Mailinator as an anonymous email box if needed) and then add it to the BugMeNot database. When you want to read registration required content you use either the bookmarklet, FireFox plugin or hopefully this one to retrieve the credentials from the database and save yourself from entering your own details and risking spam or the effort of setting up your own fake account.

This plugin was inspired by the FireFox BugMeNot addin written by Eric Hamiter. I really like the ideas behind th site and wanted an IE version.

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. The current version is “0.1” and it was last updated ‘Sat Jun 19 23:11:36 2004’

Webpage Speed Report

This plugin allows you to send either the current webpage or a highlighted URL to the Web Page Analyzer, an online service provided by WebSiteOptimization.com that will check the given page and report on its download profile. This includes information such as how long the page takes to download at different speeds, which objects are used in the page and how they affect its download profile.

This plugin can be invoked in two main ways, you can either right click on the page and select ‘SpeedReport’ from the context menu or you can highlight a plain text URL (for example www.uklug.co.uk) and right click then select ‘SpeedReport’ on the selection. The plugin will then open a new window and display the report.

This plugin is the first bit of software I’ve used with the NSIS Installer version 2.0 so if you have any installation problems please let me know. I’ve been a happy user of version 1 for a couple of years and the upgrade went quite painlessly with only a small number of changes required to convert my installer script from the old version to the new version. If your looking for a free installer system its well worth a look.

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. The current version is “0.1” and it was last updated ‘Sun May 9 11:28:47 2004’

This plugin allows you to check that all links on the specified page are pointing to valid resources. The page is parsed for any links and a HTTP HEAD is launched for each one found. The results are then displayed in a nicely coloured page. This Link Validator online service is a W3C project although it lacks the pretty little “I’m a good netizen” image you get with the HTML and CSS checks.

While a number of applications provide this functionality i think an online approach has two big merits, firstly it doesn’t require a full application and supporting files be installed on the client side. Secondly it is a more accurate representation of the users experience. Testing the availability of resources from inside the hosting network can be a little misleading in a complex enviroment.

The plugin can be invoked in two main ways, you can either right click on the page and select ‘validate_w3clinks’ from the context menu or you can highlight a plain text URL (for example http://www.linux.org/) and right click then select ‘validate_w3clinks’ on the selection. The plugin will then open a new window and display the validation results. Please note that if you are in a child window of IE then you may have the current page replaced with the validation results. This behaviour seems inconsistent and based upon the patch level of the browser.

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. Current version is “0.1” and it was last updated ‘Thu Jan 1 11:11:11 2004’

Open Text

Online forums, mail archives and sometimes even just sloppy authors put plain text links on their pages. Rather than selecting the text, copying it, opening a new window and pasting the text into your browsers address bar why not just select and right-click?

Well that’s what this plugin lets you do, its not quite as robust as the other plugins, it assumes your passing in something URLesque but the basic functionality is in place. Once i get a quiet week I’ll probably come back and make it do some cleaning of the string to increase its chance of working as a valid URL but for now it does pretty much what its supposed to. If you’ve installed the plugin then why not try selecting and right-clicking one of these “links”

  • unixdaemon.net/
  • www.unixdaemon.net
  • http://www.unixdaemon.net

They should all work and take you back to the front page of my humble abode. Please note that the source code version of this plugin has a small rant in the readme about the lack of extensibility in Internet Explorer. Feel free to ignore it but remember i told you so when you want to extend this feature just a little bit more and IE refuses to budge.

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. Current version is “0.1” and it was last updated ‘Wed Aug 20 00:36:28 2003’

Validate RSS

This plugin allows you to send an RSS feed for validation using the excellent RSS Validator service. It can be invoked in two main ways, you can either right click on the page (This assumes that you have the actual feed open in your browser) and select ‘validate_rss’ from the context menu or you can highlight a plain text URL (for example http://undeadly.org/cgi?action=rss) and right click then select ‘validate_rss’ on the selection. The plugin will then open a new window and display the validation results.

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. Current version is “0.1” and it was last updated ‘Sun Jun 22 17:49:20 2003’

Validate CSS

This plugin allows you to validate the CSS markup of the browsers current page using the W3C Validator service. It can be invoked in two main ways, you can either right click on the page and select ‘validate_css’ from the context menu or you can highlight a URL contained in plain text (for example unixdaemon.net) and right click then select ‘validate_css’ on the selection. The plugin will then make an attempt to work out what you mean and then call the validator on that page. The tweaking it does will vary as i make changes so don’t make any bets on the implementation staying the same although the results should only improve…

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. Current version is “0.1” and it was last updated ‘Wed Jun 11 15:15:54 2003’

Validate HTML

This plugin allows you to validate the markup of the browsers current page using the W3C Validator service. It can be invoked in two main ways, you can either right click on the page and select ‘validate_html’ from the context menu or you can highlight a URL contained in plain text (for example unixdaemon.net) and right click then select ‘validate_html’ on the selection. The plugin will then make an attempt to work out what you mean and then call the validator on that page. The tweaking it does will vary as i make changes so don’t make any bets on the implementation staying the same although the results should only improve…

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. Current version is “0.3” and it was last updated ‘Tue Jun 10 16:29:28 2003’

Webpoll – Dead

Webpoll was a server side application built by some very talented developers at my previous employers, it no longer exists so this plugin is now only of use if you want to have a look at the sourcecode. It breaks a given page down into objects (images, script snippets and external style sheets are simple examples) and then fetches them using a number of simultaneous threads and draws an easy to follow graph showing both the order that objects are downloaded and the timing information for each.

I found this a handy tool to have available when building web pages as it allowed me to make informed decisions about the ‘weight’ of the page and the order in which objects would display. Unfortunately this service is no longer being supplied. WebPerform (Now Gomez Europe) are no longer supporting this service and so while it can still be used this is by no means a certain thing. While its still enabled Webpoll makes a welcome addition to any toolbox so come get it why you still can :)

The exe can be found here and a zipped version with (GPL’d) sourcecode and documentation can be found here. Current version is “0.2” and it was last updated ‘Tue Jun 10 16:30:14 2003’