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Add to Google Reader Extension for Safari 5

I’ve long envied the polished appearance of Safari from the safe distance of my Firefox usage. On several occasions I’ve tried to set Safari as my default browser, but it never stuck. There were just too many functional niceties in Firefox that I couldn’t manage to get along without. That changed last week with the introduction of Safari 5.

The web inspector has finally caught up with Firebug —at least enough so as to make it a very usable alternative—and, at long last, extensions. Extensions! The availability of extension support—I mean real support, not that goofy, half-assed SIMBL hackery that was effective, but…ugh—opens the door to solving a lot of personal workflow woes that I’ve had in the past. Throw in a customized application hot key (Cmd+K to access the search box directly the way I could in Firefox) and it’s almost just like using Firefox except faster, prettier and without the memory suck (so far).

In an effort to solve one of my major issues with Safari, I found an extension that hijacks the RSS button that appears in Safari’s address bar when a feed is detected and redirects to Google Reader. I loved that the functionality was completely unobtrusive. No new buttons, no badges. The extension took a UI element that already existed and was useful, but repurposed it to be even more useful to me. Perfect. The implementation stopped a bit short of what I was looking for, but the developer, Chupa, was good enough to make his source code available on Github. I forked his repository and made the changes I wanted.

If you’re looking for an extension that will add a feed directly to Google Reader and bypasses the iGoogle/Reader option page unless you specifically enable an option that lands you there, you might like my version of Chupa’s Add to Google Reader extension for Safari 5. You can download and install it directly or you can check out the source code in my Codaset project.

The Safari Installer, Nay Updater

There’s been a bit of a huff the last few days over the fact that Apple has dropped Safari into its Windows “updater” even if Safari wasn’t previously installed. From the moment I heard about it, I was bothered by it, but it’s taken some time for me to figure out how to articulate why I don’t like it. I’m still not sure I’ve succeeded in doing so, but I was just reading this article at downloadsquad and decided that I needed to try in the interests of timeliness even if I’m not quite ready.

A number of folks, including Ian Dumych of the downloadsquad, are opining that this is not a big deal since Apple doesn’t install the browser by default. I get that, and certainly it mitigates any complaints, but there’s still something that bothers me. It feels underhanded. It feels like they’re trying to sneak something past me. It feels like the days before I switched to Foxit Reader, when an Acrobat Reader update would pop up only to offer one actual Acrobat update amid a slew of toolbars and other utility services.

No, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, Safari is a good browser. No, they’re not installing by default. Yes, other companies are more pushy. Does that make it okay to be even a little pushy? I don’t think so. A lot of folks are already afraid of spyware, malware and, at least to some extent, software in general, and not entirely without reason. When something unexpected pops up on their screen, it tweaks their Spidey sense.

Quite simply, it’s a trust issue. There’s absolutely no need to give people a reason to think they’re being used or even gamed. Want a better adoption rate? Increase the marketing budget. Don’t start throwing stuff I’m not using in my update list. It feels underhanded and it feeds and amplifies any mistrust users may already feel towards technology as a whole.

Let’s not make this bigger than it is, but let’s not dismiss it all together, either. If it doesn’t feel right then on at least some level, it’s probably not.

Could Not Agree More

I could not agree more with John Gruber’s take on these excerpts from a MacFixIt report discussing the new Safari 3.1 release:

1Passwd broken 1Passwd is one of the input managers broken by Safari 3.1.

PithHelmet broken This input manager is also broken by Safari 3.1.

It is not the responsibility of software to maintain a particular state or architecture in order to support third party plugins. This is especially true when the plugins aren’t even plugins, but rather hacks. I hope this isn’t how the statements were intended, but it’s certainly how they read.