While Epiphany is the default browser of GNOME, and it’s a great browser (I use it from time to time), Firefox is still my brower of choice, especially since it’s so extensible.

One of the very interesting features that came with Gecko 2 (the “engine” powering Firefox 4, Thunderbird 3.3, Seamonkey 2.1) is ctypes, a feature which «makes it possible to call C-compatible foreign library functions from JavaScript code without having to write your own binary XPCOM component». Many «desktop» runtimes (gjs, python) already allow that, but not having to mess with XPCOM, IDL and friends to get the same in Firefox is a huge plus!

Wanting to experiment with this feature, I wrote a very small module to export your bookmarks to Tracker. There no UI or bells or whistles, it just sits in the background and does its job. Because it’s pure Javascript, there’s no compilation involved, just install the plugin and you’re good to go. Now, why would you like to export your bookmarks to Tracker? Well, I’ve also pushed a branch called “needle-bookmarks” which, guess what, allows the Tracker search tool (aka needle) to query bookmarks too! And it’s just a matter of time before you get that into the search of the Shell overview…

Obligatory screenshot

How to get the code

1. Clone git://git.mymadcat.com/tracker-firefox
2. Generate the XPI with git archive --format=zip HEAD > tracker-firefox.xpi and install it in Firefox
3. Get the needle-bookmarks branch of tracker (hopefully merged into master soon) from its git repository
4. Search your bookmarks :)

Future ideas

I think it would be interesting to extend the plugin to add a history observer that would log events to Zeitgeist… Zeitgeist already has a Firefox plugin, but unless it has been fixed since last time I checked, it’s not working with Gecko 2. We’re in any case working more and more together with the Zeitgeist guys to make sure the Gnome 3.1 search experience will be greatly enhanced!

Mandatory video (might not appear if you’re reading from a planet):

Following the work of Siegfried to integrate Zeitgeist and the Shell, I decided to see if I could make the Shell search use Tracker. Having the example of the Zeitgeist search providers was a huge help, and I managed (with a lot of trial and error) to hack support for Tracker search in the Shell.

The results returned from Tracker are organized into categories, for now “Documents”, “Music” and “Videos”. This can be very easily extended, as each category is mapped to a SPARQL query while the core logic is abstracted in a base class.

I have experienced a few crashes that I haven’t solved yet, looking at the backtrace it seems that gjs is trying to call some javascript that is not here anymore from the libtracker-sparql callback… It is also not super fast on my computer, though the part that is a bit slow is the adding of items to the results grid (the queries themselves are next to instantaneous).

If you want to try this at home:

  1. You need to patch tracker (any 0.10 series should do) with this patch to add some needed GObject introspection annotations. libtracker-sparql is in Vala, so one could hope you’d get the .gir for free, but because it uses nested namespaces, va_list for some functions etc. it gets complicated. Fixing it properly was outside of the scope of a weekend hack. For the lazy, you can also get the (incomplete but good enough for that hack) gir file directly here.
  2. You need to apply Seif’s “add async search providers” patch that you can find here, as well as a patch to fix thumbnailing when you’re not using GtkRecentInfo (which is not the case since the results come from Tracker), and finally the patch to add the Tracker search providers.

If you use the gir from step 1 directly (don’t forget to compile it to a typelib and install it!), no recompilation at all should be needed since everything in step 2 is javascript. You just need to install the patched shell, and enjoy the better search (plus the few crashes I mentioned above ;-) )!

Even more awesome would be to have *both* Zeitgeist and Tracker work together, so that results would be ordered by popularity. I actually have an experimental patch for tracker-needle, the search UI from Tracker, that does just that, but I’m not happy enough with the UI integration to blog about it yet.

Update: If your browser does not support webm, you can see the video hosted on Vimeo