Keeping up with the lizards

It used to be the case that I pored over Mozilla (and later Firefox) release notes. But I stopped sometime in 2004, around the point when I accepted that XUL development was too hard to be doing in my spare time and yes, Firefox was clearly better than IE at just about everything.

This means that I now miss all the cool announcements

Wanted: Reactive Agent Frank

Agent Frank was super-useful as a personal proxy back in the day, but in the end it introduced too much of a delay into my daily browsing and I turned it off.

Now that Firefox’s history is powered by a SQLite database I was hoping to be able to query it for my history every x minutes, request the pages and store and index them locally.

The documentation of SQLite on MDC seems to be quite lightweight but what it does tell us is this:

“How to corrupt your database: Open the database from an external program while it is open in Mozilla”

Balls. Other ideas?, Flickr Uploadr 3.0 and XUL

Flickr have just launched, Your one-stop shop for information, gossip and discussion with the Flickr developer community which I imagine they want to use to draw together the disparate developer resources from the groups, forums, mailing list and more.

I guess they also want to use it to hire a new XUL guru because the author of their new Uploadr, Rich Crowley, has left and is now working for OpenDNS.

The new Uploadr does seem better than the 2.x version, and has some nice features, but none of them seem hugely critical. Last time I used it, it was unreliable, slightly slow and I read a lot of bad press so I reverted to version 2.x (I’ve just reinstalled v3 and I will give it another go).

But, it’s in XUL. I don’t like XUL. I started writing some crappy XUL applications at the beginning of the century, and it was *hard* (it didn’t help that the documentation was both partial and obscure). From what I understand, the situation has improved, but not to the extent where there’s an XUL development ecosystem outside of Mozilla extensions (covered in season 5 episode 1 of LugRadio).

So although it’s cross-platform, it’s written in C++ and specifically in a reasonably esoteric UI library, thus barring all but the obsessive from committing to the core. It can use extensions, which are written in C++ and/or JavaScript, but this doesn’t address what seems to be a major problem.

If cross-platform was an absolute goal, and Adobe Air is out of the picture, and bearing my current pastime in mind, it would have seemed more appropriate to choose wxWidgets or, for a web company like Flickr, one of the other language implementations like wxRuby or wxPython.

In summary: XUL, bah.

I need awesomebar everywhere

For the past six months or so I’ve been using the Autocomplete Manager for Firefox. From my perspective, it’s what has inspired AwesomeBar. The problem is that I only had it installed at work. At home I was happy to struggle on with plebianbar.

Since I upgraded all my Firefox installations to use the latest beta, I have had a serious problem – neither Windows Explorer nor Nautilus implement the same “find the location quickly” feature that awesomebar encapsulates. This means that at least three times a day, I find myself typing a fraction of a disk location into a file explorer window and being confronted with absolutely nothing. In a worst-case scenario I hit ENTER so early that I get back a page of search results before I can amend it to be an absolute location; maybe this is actually a best-case scenario – it’s unsatisfactory in any case.

I seriously need AwesomeBar in my file explorers.