Matt Brubeck

18 Apr 2010

Reading List: a Mobile Firefox extension

Update (October 2010): I changed the name of the add-on from "Read Later" to "Reading List" to avoid confusion with the popular service and Firefox extension called Read It Later.

Hello, Planet Mozilla! I'm Matt Brubeck, the newest member of the Mobile Firefox (Fennec) front-end team. I'm working remotely from Seattle, but you can find me in #mobile during the North American day, or follow me on Buzz/Twitter/etc.

Fennec is a new browser built on the Mozilla platform and sharing much of Firefox's code and features, but with a UI designed from the ground up for touchscreen devices. It's shipping now for Nokia Maemo, and builds should be available very soon (weeks rather than months, I hope) for Android 2.x.

To help myself learn Fennec and XUL, I wrote a simple extension called Reading List. Like Marco Arment's Instapaper service it stores a list of web pages so you can return to them later. Unlike Instapaper, my extension does not save pages to a remote server. Instead, it uses your mobile device's storage, so you can view saved pages offline. I use code from Arc90's Readability bookmarklet to extract the main content from the page, save it, and present it in a simple mobile-friendly layout.

One thing the extension can't do (which Instapaper and other services can) is synchronize saved pages between computers. This would be a great feature for a Mobile Firefox add-on, but writing my own sync service is more work than I want to put into this little side project. A future version may use Weave to sync saved pages, if the size of the data is not a problem.

If you are using a recent Fennec 1.1 build, try out Reading List and let me know what you think. And if you're a developer, you can look at the source code to see how a simple Fennec extension works.