XPath Checker (Microsummaries)

It must be Firefox extension day or something There seems to have been some really nice and innovative extensions on Mozilla Update recently.

XPath Checker is another fantastic extension. It’ll probably only appeal to web developers or XML geeks. Simply what it allows you to do is to generate an XPath expression for a piece of data on a website simply by right clicking the element and clicking "View XPath" on the context menu.

It seems to be pretty smart and will present you with the best expression it can – if it finds an id value it’ll use the id in the xpath expression rather than start from the root node and go through loads of child nodes. For example, when I right clicked the "Cow’s Blog" title on the header, it gave the following XPath expression:

id('header')/h1/a

Contrast this to the XPath expression which is created on the BBC News website below which doesn’t use ids. 

I tried it out in the wild on the BBC News website. I right clicked the main news headline and XPath Checker gave the correct XPath expression for the major headline.

XPath Checker 

Another fantastic thing is you can change the XPath expression at the top and the preview below will update with the new matches.

Microsummaries

This sounds like an esoteric and useless extension but it’s absolutely fabulous for writing Microsummaries. Up until now I’ve written the XPath expressions by hand which isn’t too much work but it’s very hard to test. And there’s no way a normal person should be expected to be able to write XPath expressions.

XPath Checker with a few modifications (to generate a microsummary file) could make Firefox 2.0’s microsummary accessible and useful to the average Firefox user. Yet another beautiful and simple extension which stays out of the way when it isn’t required and when it is needed does it’s job well.

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