June 09, 2010
The smart folks over at Rails Machine are always quick on the draw. Still, we were impressed when developers Will Farrington and Mike Skalnik had a working Safari 5 extension for Scout within 24 hours after Safari 5 extensions were announced. I pinged Will for the scoop:
What does the Scout extension do?
The extension works in the background to update the toolbar icon with a badge indicating the number of active alerts on Scout. Additionally, if you click on the toolbar icon, it will open up the activities page on Scout.
Active Scout alerts will show a badge:
... which you can then see on your Scout account:
Tell me about building a Safari 5 extension.
Building the extension itself was pretty pleasant. The bulk of it was spent in writing the (asynchronous) cross-site AJAX requests; the actual integration with Safari's Extension APIs was really simple and well-documented.
What are your future plans for the project?
Version 0.2 will probably be out in the next day or two with some minor improvements to various things. I definitely have some itches I want to scratch. The big one for me " which might not be possible with the current APIs without some hacks " is getting a drop-down menu working for the toolbar icon so users will be able to right-click and have access to a quick list of all those active alerts they can use to navigate right to individual alerts. Beyond that, my other goals are working on a better UX; stuff like a first-run alert letting the user know they need to enter account information and offering a nice way to do so without necessarily having to even open up the Preferences window.
Well done, Will! We'll be keeping our eye on the project. Check it out for yourself here.