Tag Archives: microsummaries

Making Use of Microsummaries

Well, Firefox 2 beta 1 is out, and I’ve been trying it out. I used to run nightly builds back in the early days, but since 1.0 hit, I haven’t been willing to go below beta-level for my primary browser, so I haven’t really been following development of Firefox 2. (Let me just say I really like in-line spell checking!)

As a web developer, one of the new features that caught my eye is microsummaries. If the name weren’t already taken, “live bookmarks” would have been the perfect description.

Basically it retrieves info from the bookmarked page and updates the label on your bookmark. Examples given include the current price and remaining time for an auction, or current stock price, or weather data. The page author can describe what chunk of data to use, or you can write an installable “generator” that applies itself to some list of pages.

This is a pretty cool idea: basically a 1-item RSS feed, automatically generated from the current page. (The disadvantage is that the browser retrieves the full page and then extracts the data, whereas an RSS feed is already summarized.) Edit: Apparently it’s also possible to link to a 1-line text document instead.

So, being handed a new tool, I immediately started trying to come up with something to do with it.

And came up more-or-less empty.

There are only two areas on my site that I update regularly: Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning and this blog—and both are more suited to the list of recent updates that you get with RSS or Atom than the latest-info-only that you get with a microsummary.

It might prove useful for server monitoring, though. Condense the important info from a report (like “No alerts” vs “Server X down!”) and put it on the browser toolbar.