Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Developing Custom Toolbars for Firefox as Portals to Knowledge

After a bit of discussion it was felt that Ohio University could benefit from having a custom toolbar developed for our resources for Mozilla Firefox.

Chad Boeninger and Wanda Weinberg two colleagues of mine pointed out to me that Scott Rice developed a toolbar for UNC Greensboro for Mozilla Firefox. Chad also provided me with a link to an excellent tutorial on toolbar implementation by Born Geek. If you are interested in developing your own toolbar I would suggest checking the links that I have provided.

Scott Rice's toolbar is excellent in that it puts the resources that students need to perform better research right in front of them. At the present time most resources are buried within the library's homepage and this makes it difficult for students as what they want from the library is something that is closer to Google. Federated searches are great for placing a large amount of databases within easy reach of students but I have found that toolbars are easy to use and can provide a Google-like environment.

Degree of difficulty. This kind of project will either require you have a dedicated programmer or someone who has understanding of CSS, Javascript and XUL. I have several years of experience developing computer programs and this experience helped quite a bit.

At this point we have three working prototype toolbars. There is a generic toolbar which was developed for the main library. The generic toolbar will require more polishing as since the purpose of it is to be installed on our public image here in the library it just has a longer developing cycle. There is a Business Toolbar that is being developed by Chad Boeninger. There is an Engineering Toolbar which I have developed and have already started testing with my faculty and select graduate students in the Engineering department.

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