No Firefox Enterprise Working Group Meeting Tomorrow (Sept 5)

I'm going to hold off on an EWG meeting this week. Our next one is scheduled for Sept 19. The topic will be Extensions, since the last meeting didn't happen (Sorry about that).

We're already starting to see things kind of drop off. I'd REALLY like to try to make sure that doesn't happen. So if you have any interest in Firefox in the enterprise, please plan to attend the meeting on Sept 19. And please feel free to read/update information on the Enterprise wiki.

CoScripter (formerly Koala) Extension for Firefox from IBM

In my Enterprise series, I mentioned an extension from IBM called Koala that could be used to automate business processes.

This extension has now been made available via alphaWorks Services as CoScripter.

From the web page:

CoScripter is a system for capturing, sharing, and automating tasks on the Web. CoScripter scripts contain human-readable instructions for completing Web-based processes, such as changing your mailing address or searching for real estate. If the CoScripter plug-in for Firefox is installed, CoScripter can step through scripts with you, showing you how to perform the task, step by step. CoScripter can also run scripts automatically, eliminating repetitive or mundane tasks for the user.

There's a more detailed post about it at Luis Suarez's blog.

Go check it out. It's pretty cool.

Operator 0.8 is available

Operator 0.8 is now available from addons.mozilla.org.

One of the first things you'll notice is that I changed the default view to be data formats instead of actions. I did this because I found this is what most people did anyway. If you disagree, you can go to Operator Options and switch back to options.
You'll also notice that if you did any customizations, you lost them. Unfortunately I did some preference rewriting this time around and the migration was getting to be painful. It shouldn't happen again.

Some of the new features in Operator 0.8 include:

  • RDFa support (courtesy of Elias Torres)
  • eRDF support (courtesy of Keith Alexander)
  • New user interface elements, including an icon on the location bar as well as a sidebar
  • New preferences including auto-hiding the toolbar
  • The address microformats has been split out so that actions can be more granular
  • Actions can now be associated with multiple types of data, so the Google Maps action, for instance, works with Addresses and Locations
  • Much better support for frames and iframes
  • Support for non HTML documents
  • When debugging microformats, Operator connects to Brian Suda's X2V behind the scenes so you can compare results
  • Lots of bug fixes

I had to break user script compatibility with this release. Most user scripts have already been updated and can be found on the user script page. I also changed the location of user scripts, so old user scripts won't conflict.

Finally, I've created a page specifically to talk about Operator. If I've missed anything, please let me know. And feel free to visit my weblog and take my poll about how you interact with Operator.

Have fun!

Special note to users of the 0.8 betas - you'll need to go Options and delete "RDFa" and re add it as "RDF" to get RDF functionality back.

Third Firefox Enterprise Working Group Call

We’re planning our third call for Wednesday, August 22th at 10:00am Pacific, 1:00pm Eastern, 17:00 UTC. Here’s the meeting details:

  • 650-903-0800 or 650-215-1282 x91 Conf# 280 (US/INTL)
  • 1-800-707-2533 (pin 369) Conf# 280 (US)
  • IRC - irc.mozilla.org - #ewg

The theme is "Extensions." We're going to talk about how folks are using extensions in their organizations.

Please check out the EWG Wiki page for more information.

Latest Operator News

Operator 0.8 is getting very close. I'm trying to finalize some UI stuff, specifically for testing some stuff for Firefox 3. Stay tuned. In the mean time, here's some random things I need to post.

Operator 0.8 is going to have support for eRDF. Because of this, I'm changing "RDFa" actions to simply be "RDF" actions. So anywhere you use "RDFa" in an action, please change it to "RDF" for 0.8 final compatibility.

If you are interested in writing actions, I created an advanced article on creating actions. This is a follow up to my basic article on creating actions

The latest user scripts will always be on the Operator User Scripts page. This will be the home for any user scripts I mention in my blog and will also have links to third party user scripts. If you find bugs in user scripts, check that page to see if the scripts have been updated. I'll mark any updates to that page with "NEW."

And speaking of user scripts, there are new user scripts from Dan Noble for mapping hCards and hCalendar with Google Earth, as well as a user script from Thorsten Panknin for the Mister Wong social bookmarking site.

Incidentall, if you are an extension developer and want to try using the new microformats code in Firefox 3, you can download Gran Paradiso Alpha 7 and then follow these instructions to try it out.

Firefox Enterprise Working Group Meeting Coming Up

We’re planning our second call for Wednesday, August 8th at 10:00am Pacific, 1:00pm Eastern, 17:00 UTC. Here’s the meeting details:

  • 650-903-0800 or 650-215-1282 x91 Conf# 280 (US/INTL)
  • 1-800-707-2533 (pin 369) Conf# 280 (US)
  • IRC - irc.mozilla.org - #ewg

The theme is "Wishlist." We are hoping to get people to talk about what they think is missing from Firefox to make it work better for enterprises and institutions. Please feel free to update the Wishlist page before the call.

You can also take a look at the Firefox Enteprise Working Group wiki.

Note we will be recording this call so you can listen later if you can't attend.

SIMILE Actions for Operator

So far, actions for Operator have focused on exporting data or connecting to an existing web service. Rosie Morales from MITRE has shown that actions can do much more interesting things, like actually create new views of the microformats by saving the data to a local file and displaying it. These actions are based on the Simile project.

Note these actions only work properly with Operator 0.8b.

The Simile Timeline action is an action that acts on all events on a web page. It creates a local file that contains a Simile Timeline representation of the data and then displays it.

The Exhibit Timeline action is an action that acts on all events on a web page. It creates a local file that contains a Exhibit Timeline representation of the data and then displays it.

The Exhibit action is an action that acts on all contacts on a web page or one contact on a web page. It creates a local file that contains a Exhibit representation of the data and then displays it.

I will be documenting how you can create an action that acts on all instances of a given microformat very soon.

Manually Repackaging the Firefox Installer on Windows

One of the things I've alluded to in a few posts but failed to actually post is how to manually repackage a Firefox 2 installer on Windows. This post will remedy that situation.

We have documented at least three different cases where we would need to manually repackage the installer (cases where the Firefox Release Repackager won't work). These cases included packaging more than two extensions, needing to update the list of files that are removed by the installer and most recently, replacing setup.exe with a rebranded version. Let's talk about how we can manually repackage the installer.

First thing is to download the installer we want to repackage and unzip it using 7-Zip. For our example, we'll use Firefox 2.0.0.5. Create a directory and then download Firefox Setup 2.0.0.5.exe. Execute the following command to extract the contents of the file:

7z x "Firefox Setup 2.0.0.5.exe"

This will unpack the contents into the directory. After you have unpacked the file, move "Firefox Setup 2.0.0.5.exe" into a different directory or remove it.

Next we make the updates we want to make, such as replacing setup.exe, changing removed-files.log or adding additional extensions. After we've made our changes, we want to repackage the files into a 7-Zip archive.

7z a -r -t7z app.7z -mx -m0=BCJ2 -m1=LZMA:d24 -m2=LZMA:d19 -m3=LZMA:d19 -mb0:1 -mb0s1:2 -mb0s2:3

This will create a file called app.7z that contains our files. Note that I can't tell you what all those parameters do - those are copied directly from the Firefox build scripts.

For the next step, we'll need to download a file and create a file. We need to download 7zSD.sfx which is the self-extracting installer. You can download it here. Then we need to create a file called app.tag that looks like this:

;!@Install@!UTF-8!
Title="Our New Name"
RunProgram="setup.exe"
;!@InstallEnd@!

app.tag is used to tell the self extracting installer what file to run after the files are extracted. I'm not sure what "Title" is used for.

Now that we have all the files, we can actually create the installer:

copy /B 7zSD.sfx+app.tag+app.7z our_new_installer.exe

The "/B" is very important! It tells copy that these are binary files so it doesn't add extra characters to the files.

And that's it. We now have a self extracting installer with our customizations.

Firefox Enterprise Working Group Call Reminder

Just a reminder that we will be having our first Firefox Enterprise Working Group call tomorrow. The theme is "experience." Here's the meeting details:

Wednesday, July 25 at 10:00am Pacific, 1:00pm Eastern, 17:00 UTC.

Call-in information:

  • 650-903-0800 or 650-215-1282 x91 Conf# 280 (US/INTL)
  • 1-800-707-2533 (pin 369) Conf# 280 (US)

We'll also have a "backchannel" for people to talk on irc if they want - irc.mozilla.org - #ewg

Please don't feel like you need to be involved in an "enterprise" in order to participate. We're expecting folks involved in enterprises, educational institutions, and more.

Please update the wiki if you can with your participation. As pointed out earlier, you can be as anonymous as you want. The wiki is at http://wiki.mozilla.org/Enterprise.

We look forward to your participation!