news
August 10, 2005

zLab Visitor: Jesse “BookBurro” Andrews

Lab News

From 10-21 August, Jesse Andrews will be visiting CommerceNet from Kentucky. There, he’s been working on a number of exciting Greasemonkey user scripts, and even more importantly, helping develop the community of script authors and users at Greasemonkeyed, a site where one can tag and review scripts. To find out more about his goals and projects, see Jesse Andrews’ Visitor page on our wiki.


Jesse will be visiting 10-21 August 2005.

On March 28th, Greasemonkey broke the javascript security model,
allowing “userscripts” to connect to sites other than the originating
sites. This lead me to develop Book Burro, a helper that discretely
displays bookseller prices on the current page. Book Burro is a great
example of what “Web 2.0” can be about. Greasemonkey is currently at
0.5 (resolving some huge security holes that our adventure on the 28th
created).

My current work is about “Monkey 2.0”, which is about lowering the bar
for using these scripts. The first phase (Monkey 1.0) is a repository
Userscripts.org (formerly greasemonkeyed.com). Issues to be addressed
include trust, maintenance, and collaboration.

  • Trust – Since userscripts operate outside of the security model, a malicious userscript could send every keystroke to the bad guys. A combination of peer review, and automated testing will be used to help secure end users.
  • Maintenance – when a web sites change breaking a script, waiting for the original author to correct the script may not be the best solution. Enabling users to patch scripts (combined with trust above) will help keep cruft from occurring.
  • Collaboration – many scripts are “open source” (gpl/bsd/mit license), but an easy way to collaborate on developmnet does not exist.

This builds a solid foundation for “Monkey 2.0”, which takes the idea
of userscripts, but instead of modifying webpages, the goal is to
produce atoms of information from webpages. With the end goal of
drag&drop use of atoms, scripts, and web services by end users
(picture apple automator-ish interface)

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