[Greasemonkey] Greasemonkey: an Historical Perspective

Aaron Boodman zboogs at gmail.com
Mon Apr 18 11:07:34 EDT 2005

Let's not fork GM yet. We've got what -- like 12 users or something?
Can't we all get along?

Matt, I wanted to reply, but truth is I'm not as good a writer as you.

I think you're longing for something which might never be. I can
imagine the pain you're feeling, because I've been there too!

Authors adding rich semantic meaning to markup is awesome in a void.
Who doesn't like the idea of  rich metadata to build applications on
top of? The problem is that once these semantics have an economic
incentive tied to them (read: search result position) they will
instantly become abused, and so, nearly worthless.Author-supplied
semantics might never happen on  a commercial web.

Back on topic, I'm somewhat loathe to add the feataure you suggest,
though it does sound like a good one. As i understand it, content
authors could defeat a particular script by setting it's required
version to javascript's Number.MAX_VALUE + 1.

Also, all this talk about versioning indicates - to me - a desire to
bring stability and robustness to something which cannot be. As you
have stated, GM scripts (site-specific ones, at least -- * scripts do
not suffer from this as much) are inherently fragile since they are
not build on top of a contract. That's OK with me. I'm not looking for
something rock-solid. I want scripts to be so easy to edit, for the
user script language (javascript+HTML hopefully) to be so well-known,
it becomes like shell scripting. The lingua franca of power users.

You don't try to make your grep pattern super robust because if it
screws up you just change it. It's faster to revise than to plan.

At the same time, I also wish there were more robust form of
customization. I think the bigger barrier to that is politics and
laws, not technology. If all GM does is get people thinking about
their content being repurposed and allow a few hackers to fix some
annoying bugs, I'm OK with that.


On 4/18/05, Matthew Gertner <matthew at allpeers.com> wrote:
> Mark,
> > If Greasemonkey makes any overtures towards allowing web publishers to
> > "opt out" or override my browsing experience in any way, I will
> > immediately fork it and make it my life's mission to maintain the fork
> > as long as possible.
> This statement makes me wonder if you read what I wrote. Nothing whatsoever
> in my proposal prevents you from writing as many bombastic scripts as you
> like, ripping the guts out of every website you visit and putting them back
> together in exactly the form you want. No one would know what your scripts
> are called, so (since my suggestion targets scripts by name) no one could
> block them.
> Once you start redistributing these scripts, however, the picture get
> murkier. Suddenly you have a responsibility to the users of these scripts,
> not all of whom are going to be software developers. The approach I
> suggested would only kick in if a website owner either a) changes the
> content of the site and wants to disable scripts that are now broken or b)
> wants to block scripts for some other reason. I maintain that the former is
> unequivocably, unambiguously a good thing.
> As for the latter, if you think that anyone who cares enough about blocking
> GM scripts won't find another way to do it, you're kidding yourself. I bet
> $5 I could block every script out there without changing the appearance or
> behavior of the targeted site by changing only a few characters in the
> underlying HTML. I also bet that this could be mostly or completely
> automated without much problem. Rather than stick our heads in the sand, I
> believe that we should target this issue proactively.
> The main reason I feel so strongly about this suddenly is that I am mortally
> afraid of GM hampering Firefox uptake among corporate clients. GM is way
> cool, but the future of my business depends on Firefox adoption. In fact, I
> was actually thinking about forking GM myself to add the feature I suggested
> to make a special corporate and/or non-developer version. Think about, what
> would you rather adopt: "Greasemonkey"... or "Honeykitten"? :-)
> Matt
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