GreasePocket: Greasemonkey for the iPhone

We love us some Greasemonkey, the Firefox plug-in that lets users run simple scripts on top of their favorite web pages to add new functionality or remove unwanted distractions. At first blush Greasemonkey might seem more technical than many users feel comfortable with, but running the scripts is really just like adding a plug-in to a plug-in. Give it a try with Gina Trapani’s Better Gmail 2, the top social media scripts we wrote about in May or Hao Chen’s awesome FriendFeed scripts.

But what about the iPhone? Greasemonkey on the iPhone would be the ultimate interface hack for what’s got to be the best interface available today. Enter GreasePocket, an experimental effort to provide just that.


GreasePocket is a personal project of MIT grad Ishan Anand, a developer at NextMobileWeb and the technical editor of the Wrox Professional iPhone and iPod touch Programming.

It’s a proof of concept stage framework for adding user scripts to web pages in Safari on the iPhone and it debuted at last weekend’s iPhone Devcamp.

The Roadmap

Anand says he’s working after hours to open source GreasePocket and hopes that the one big problem it faces can be solved by the right person. Specifically, Anand hasn’t figured out how to seperate GreasePocket scripts from 3rd party website javascript in Webkit on the iPhone. That means big security holes, like the ability for 3rd party sites to detect your location using your iPhone’s GPS without your knowledge. Back in 2005, Greasemonkey developers fixed two holes like this in the Firefox userscript frame work but Anand hasn’t found a solution yet for the iPhone.

High Hopes

Interface design is a fabulous art form, but it’s impossible for web sites to be built in such a way that it suits every user and it’s unlikely that any individual designer can think of all the awesome features that a world of developers writing user scripts can.

If blogging was the key step in the democratization of content production, user scripts represent the democratization of user interface design.

Would Apple let an app like this into the iPhone App store? Not in its current state, that’s for sure. Anand says there doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason for Apple to expand its APIs to allow user scripts to run in a separate container, either, other than to help GreasePocket function.

That actually seems like a very compelling reason to us.

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