Born Geek
Posts Tagged "colt"

The Future of CoLT & Googlebar Lite

August 24, 2015

It has been quite some time since the last releases of either CoLT or Googlebar Lite, and a lot has changed in the land of Firefox extension development. In a few weeks, Firefox will require all extensions to be signed. At the moment, neither of my extensions (as available from this website, at least) meet this requirement.

The Firefox extension world is increasingly becoming a walled garden, much like every other browser today. As such, I’ve made the frustrating decision to release my extensions through the official add-ons site only. This policy will begin with the next release of each extension, which I hope to make available in the next month or so.

In addition, the next releases of both Googlebar Lite and CoLT are likely to be my last. I’m not as interested in Firefox development as I once was, especially given some of the frustrating plans they have announced for the ecosystem. This unfortunately means that support for the multi-process version of Firefox that is coming down the pipeline will not be implemented (at least by me).

If you’re a developer and want to contribute either bug fixes or new features for my extensions, you are more than welcome to do so (merge requests are always appreciated). The source code for both is available via GitHub:

CoLT 2.6.5

December 4, 2014

A new build of CoLT, which I’ve been sitting on for quite a long time now, is finally available. Here’s what I have changed in this release:

  • Default formats can now be restored via the options dialog
  • Reorganized the options dialog
  • Displaying the CoLT context sub-menus is now slightly more efficient (they are no longer built on the fly)
  • Error handler routines have been updated to use the reportError() call
  • Bug Fix: Removed an erroneous instance in the options dialog where DOM elements were being created and never used
  • Bug Fix: Selected item artifacts should no longer be left around when moving custom formats in the list
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CoLT 2.6.4

April 12, 2014

Another bug-fix release of CoLT is now available. Here’s what I squashed this time around:

  • Removed a few deprecated parameters from various internal functions
  • Bug Fix: CoLT’s menu items were not working properly when only one format was present in the custom formats list
  • Bug Fix: Improved the way migrating from ancient versions of CoLT works (prefs weren’t being fully migrated)
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CoLT 2.6.3

April 8, 2014

Version 2.6.3 of CoLT is now available, fixing a critical bug affecting new installs:

  • Removed the following translations, all of which were mostly incomplete: cs-CZ, ko-KR, tr, zh-TW
  • Bug Fix: Removed an invalid reference to the document object in CoLT’s common module, which prevented new installs from being set up properly

CoLT 2.6.2 No Longer Available

April 8, 2014

A critical bug with CoLT 2.6.2 prevents new installs from working properly. As a result, I have removed the download links for the extension from the site. I hope to have a fix for this problem up by the weekend (hopefully sooner).

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CoLT 2.6.2

March 27, 2014

A brand new build of CoLT is now available. This release improves a number of things internally. If you spot a bug, feel free to open an issue over at the CoLT GitHub repo. Here’s what has changed in this release:

  • Custom formats are now stored in a JSON file in the user’s Firefox profile, instead of as Firefox preferences
  • Rewrote the export and import routines to support the new JSON file format
  • Improved the way internal logging is handled
  • Modified the way new-line characters are determined
  • Bumped the minVersion to 24.0
  • Bumped the maxVersion to 45.*
  • Bug Fix: Redesigned the way data is passed between the browser and CoLT’s options dialog, fixing several errors that would appear in the browser console
  • Bug Fix: Fixed a few places where DOM elements were erroneously being created and never used
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Born Geek on GitHub

March 21, 2014

I have uploaded the source of both CoLT and Googlebar Lite to GitHub:

This should make it way easier for folks to submit new ideas and bug reports for each extension, provide patches (if you feel so inclined), and view sample code for Firefox extension development. I’ve already posted a few issues to the CoLT repo, and a number should be appearing for Googlebar Lite as well.

CoLT 2.6.1

April 29, 2013

A new release of CoLT is now available. Changes include:

  • Changed the minimum supported Firefox version to 17.0, since the 10.x line is no longer supported
  • Bumped the maxVersion to 30.*
  • Various locale updates
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CoLT 2.6.0

February 16, 2013

A brand new version of CoLT has been released, implementing a couple of new features and fixing a bug or two:

  • Added support for conditional expressions using the %?[] variable
  • Added support for importing and exporting custom formats (useful for moving them between systems)
  • Improved the way custom format events are handled
  • Removed the embedded JAR file from within the extension’s XPI file
  • Made a few minor improvements to the installer manifest
  • Changed the minimum supported Firefox version to 10.0
  • Bug Fix: Newly added separators now properly extend across the custom format dialog

The import and export functionality will make it a lot easier to migrate formats between different Firefox installs. Similarly, the new conditional expression support makes it very easy to include text in your custom formats that only appear if a particular variable has a value. I have updated the custom format documentation to discuss how to use the new conditional variable option. If you spot any problems with this release, leave a comment and I’ll address them as quickly as possible.

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Improving CoLT’s Custom Formats

January 30, 2013

To me, the single most helpful feature in CoLT is the custom format. Being able to copy link text and URLs as either HTML, Markdown, or whatever else is a real time saver. That said, I think there’s still some room for improvement in what CoLT can do. Let’s take a look at an example.

Among others, I have the following two custom formats in my current Firefox profile:

  • Markdown – [%T](%U)
  • Markdown (Selected) – [%S](%U)

The first format copies the link text along with the link URL, while the second uses any selected text in place of the link text. Both of these options are handy to have, but I’m forced to have two custom formats for something that one ought to be able to do. I also have to remember when to use each one.

Problem 1: Conditional Formatting

I would love to be able to combine the two formats above into one rule, resulting in something like the following: [%?S|T](%U). In this theoretical example, selected text would be my first option, but if no text was selected, the link text would be used as a fallback.

Problem 2: Optional Text

One CoLT user suggested a similar scenario for including optional text in the copied value. Consider this example using a differing conditional syntax: [%T](%U)%[I (%I) ]%

Here, everything between the %[I and ]% would be optional, assuming the nested %I had no value. This would allow users to insert conditional text in formats for values that may not always appear (such as the %I option, which maps to a link’s title text). However, the suggested syntax somehow seems more ugly and error prone.

Food for Thought

As a result of these usage scenarios, here are some questions for you:

  1. Is there an elegant, concise syntax that could be used for these two scenarios? I prefer the question mark-style syntax in problem 1 to indicate conditional formatting (it’s concise), but it doesn’t seem to solve problem 2.
  2. Given this kind of capability, would you actually use it? I can think of a number of scenarios where it would help me, but do others see the same kind of thing?

Any and all comments on this topic would be appreciated. And if you see ways to improve what’s already present in the extension, let me know!

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