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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tutorial on JS/JQuery Bookmarklets

I recently needed to implement a JavaScript bookmarklet for a new project. There are many web resources available but even so I had a bit of a learning curve to contend with.

In the hope of lessening that burden on future users, I've written up a tutorial on two types of bookmarklets with simple, annotated examples and posted all the code on our Github page.

The simplest form of bookmarklet is a chunk of JS code contained in the Bookmarklet URL that invokes some action. This is a direct approach - you select some text, you click the bookmarklet and you get a result. If you want to repeat the process with some other text on the page then you have to click the bookmarklet link again.

However, for many applications you need to invoke an action multiple times on a single page - looking up words in a dictionary would be a good example. Having to click on a Bookmarklet link every time is not a good solution. Instead you want to modify the behaviour of the page by injecting a custom JS script. A bookmarklet can be used to initiate this. So you end up with three scripts, two of which are slightly modified, general purpose scripts.

The bulk of the code for this second approach comes from how-to-create-a-jquery-bookmarklet, written by Brett Barros of latentmotion.com, with some code input from Paul Irish.

To fully benefit from the tutorial, you should download the project, run 'bundle install' and 'rackup -p 4567' to set up a local Sinatra server, then point your browser to http://localhost:4567

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