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A Big Upgrade for the Bookmarklet

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By Brian Miller

The xAPI reporting bookmarklet has been around a long time, at least in terms of a now over one year old specification’s life. It was originally just a prototype, a simple way to show a pre-configured Agent could send a Statement about a readily available Activity— a web page. And it worked.

But after using it for the better part of a year, I realized just how much I used it, and how much more I could be tracking. I also realized just how much better the core functionality and user experience could be. So, I rewrote it (as I’m prone to do, something about asking for forgiveness and such).

Originally my goal was just to make it use TinCanJS to support a wider range of browsers and to make sure we were able to keep it up to date as new versions of the specification landed. That turned out to be a fairly substantial rewrite. One that suggested a little more effort would go a long way in making it work the way I would want, rather than just work.
 

The list of improvements:

 bookmarklet long 1

  • Got rid of the modal and automatic sending of a single statement (I hate modals). This is a huge user experience improvement that enabled the other improvements.
  • Added the ability to select a verb that better matches the action of the user. I often do something besides just read a web page. I also may bookmark it, comment on it, send a tweet about it, etc. I wanted to capture statements indicating those things as well.
  • Added the ability to include tags about a link. I read a pretty large array of pages online about things such as programming, finance, sports, history, etc. Now the statements sent for a given page can include associated tags, and my own personal tag cloud is stored right there in the LRS’ document store. As part of this I set up a profile on The Registry for ‘tags’ that anyone can use.
  • Added the ability to rate a page. Not so much to indicate the quality of the page, but more to rate how likely I am to come back to it again or to suggest it to a friend or coworker.
  • Since the statement structure is now more defined, I went ahead and started a profile with a Recipe on The Registry for bookmarklets, too.
  • Added a human readable statement preview before send.
  • Added the ability to use the bookmarklet from secured pages (https urls).
  • And naturally, it supports any version of the specification through use of TinCanJS.
  • Internet Explorer versions 10 and above are now supported. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. were already all supported (and still are). (IE8-9 can have support, but because of their handling of http vs. https a user needs a different bookmarklet for each so we’ve left that as an open issue.)

You should try out the new bookmarklet and let me know how you like it!

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