Archive for March, 2006

TableFilter
Friday, March 10th, 2006

TableFilter is a lightweight JavaScript enhancement to standard DHTML tables, allowing a filtered view of the data by column values. It has no external JavaScript dependencies, and a very quick, unobtrusive installation procedure.

When viewing large tables of data via a web interface, it’s often desirable to limit the visible rows to a single column’s value. This can be done very efficiently through backend coding, but can require knowledge of programming languages and more access to a server environment than many users have or want.

In the case where the data set is large enough to be unwieldy, but not so large or business-critical to need a multi-tiered system to manage this filtering, it may be good enough to just do all filtering on the client side.

I began writing this after using Stuart Langridge’s excellent sorttable in a number of quick & dirty admin tools. I wanted something that satisfied the principles of unobtrusive DHTML, and which allowed me to add functionality without much effort.

TableFilter is in its initial version, so if anyone finds any bugs, or has any suggestions, I’d love to hear about them.

Yelp Badge
Thursday, March 9th, 2006

Yelp, my favorite online restaurant review site, released badge functionality yesterday. If you take a look at the Williamsburger sidebar — just below the fold on 1024×768 monitors — you’ll notice a badge featuring the most recent Williamsburger Yelp reviews.

Yelp Badge

An interesting feature Yelp’s included is the ability to have an animated change between multiple views. Williamsburger reviews are more often than not clustered in the East Village, Williamsburg, and Park Slope, so the way the map refocuses itself is very nice. They’ve also made properties like the animation speed, badge size, and colors configurable to allow better integration into a site.

The Yelp badge does seem to have a bug or two in Firefox as of the original date of this posting, one of which is pretty major. When the map initializes, one review’s popup window opens by default, and it’s impossible to get it to close. This doesn’t happen in IE, and it only happens intermittently in Firefox, so I suspect it’s difficult to reproduce. It’s brand new functionality, though, and it went into production with a bunch of other new features this week, so I suspect it’ll be fixed shortly.

Get your own badge here.

Firefox Extensions
Monday, March 6th, 2006

Firefox is a widely popular browser among technologists, in no small part for its easy customization with user-contributed extensions. I install the following extensions on every machine I use.

Core Functionality

  • SessionSaver .2 (Extension)

    Considering how frequently Firefox crashes on both my Windows XP and Mac OS X machines, SessionSaver is a life saver.

  • Adblock (Extension)

    I have a difficult time using the internet at all on computers which don’t have this installed. I suppose I’m depriving some sites of revenue, but the sheer joy of making flashing monkey banners leave my screen far outweighs any guilt here.

  • Tab Mix Plus (Extension)

    Tab Mix Plus gives you more control over Firefox’s tabs. I have my suspicions that this occasionally causes trouble with JavaScript-intense sites, as I’ve noticed errors pop up in my FireBug display. The abilities to re-order tabs and force address bar changes to spawn new tabs are very convenient.

  • BugMeNot (Extension)

    BugMeNot is absolutely essential for reading sites like the New York Times or the Washington Post, who confusingly still mandate registration to read the free content. This extension cuts the trip to bugmenot.com out of reading the news.

Thirdparty Integration

These extensions really only have value if you use these sites. I’m an avid user of all three, so I get a great deal of mileage out of them.

  • Del.icio.us (Extension)

    With a simple toolbar “Tag” button, posting to del.icio.us becomes an easy task.

  • GMail Notifier (Extension)

    The GMail Notifier is a simple grey / red status bar indicator with a number letting you know how many unread messages you have. The only problem is a bug preventing the notifier from consistently logging back in if disconnected, so the notifier can sometimes stay grey for a day or two until you get suspicious and check.

  • Bloglines Toolkit (Extension)

    This extension has two parts: another simple notifier (a blue icon with a additional red dot for unread posts), and additional options in the context menu to help add new feeds to your Bloglines account. The context menu options seem to have a lot of trouble consistently functioning under Firefox 1.5, though, which can lead to a lot of frustration.

Developer Tools

  • FireBug (Extension)

    Allowing far more powerful JavaScript debugging than Firefox’s already reasonably good native console, FireBug has the additional benefits of integration into the status bar and inline display of DOM element data. This extension also provides the ability to monitor XMLHttpRequest activity in detail, which is hugely useful when debugging JavaScript apps.