Oregon State Libraries FireFox Plugin (Just for fun)

By reeset / On / In Digital Libraries, Programming

I love simple technologies. I was asked recently how difficult it would be to build a toolbar to search our library’s resources for Firefox and IE. The answer — it took about an 1 1/2 to build the firefox toolbar (see:
Click for the full image:

that included a simple search interface to a number of our libraries digital assets. But what I loved was how easy it was to create. Essentially, it was 3 rdf files and 2 xul files (though that will increase as I add complexity to the interface) but no compiled code. This is how extensions should be allowed to be written. I’ve written tool bars for IE before and its not quite as enjoyable. Fortunately, its one of those things that once you’ve done once, you don’t have to really struggle through again.

Anyway, for those interested, the firefox extension is: here if you’re interested. Right now, some faculty are giving it a run through and figuring out if this is something that the library will want to utilize and support in the near future. For my part, I’m thinking that I’ll post a simple tutorial on the creation of both the Firefox and IE toolbars and how someone could take the code to do something like this as well at their institutions.

Other enhancements — I’m considering the following:
1) Integrating Wikipedia into the tool as a search option an as a smart tag analyser
2) I’m considering integrating the extension code in the Openly openurl extension into this tool — or at least parts of it so that we can provide our students with OpenURL support in an autodiscovery sort of way.
3) I’ll be adding options so that users can specify their own search resources in addition to those that come with the tool.

Whether I’ll be able to get the same functionality in IE — probably but I doubt it will be as trivial as implementing most of these options in Firefox.