SilverWav's Journal

The best is yet to come…

A simple alternative to Hacktheweb, aardvark, platypus or Tampermonkey.

with 6 comments

Because I hate ugly distracting cruft on websites. :-)

History:

I loved Platypus but moved on to Aardvark when it died, then created Hacktheweb to enable aardvark to save scripts to Stylish (recreating most of the platypus functionality with out the risks).

But while creating extensions can be a lot of fun, maintaining them… not so much.

Each time Stylish changes you need to update Hacktheweb to match. Tried that for a few years and… meh. So instead I just used Hacktheweb with the old 1.4.1.1 Stylish.

Also Hacktheweb was created on Firefox and I have moved to Chrome… but the Stylish scripts were usable on both, so I was still using Hacktheweb when I needed a quick and dirty script.

On Chrome the closest extension I could see was Stylebot, but with no easy saving to Stylish and a quirky interface, it was not something I could live with.

So looking around for something simple and safe, I looked at Tampermonkey which seems great but requires a lot of trust… and is probably overkill for my needs.

The Binding Flash of Inspiration:

But I had a revelation… Adblock Plus! Never really considered it after ruling it out a while ago (no widthify, no stylish, and I had hid the ABP button so out of sight out of mind).

But looking at it in this new light (looking for Simple, Quick and Good Enough, rather than Perfect).

I turned the ABP button back on then hid the distracting ‘Shown number of ads blocked’ badge.

In testing ABP, I found it to be a good fit for my requirements; the block element function does 90% of what I wanted. Just getting rid of sidebars was my main aim, the filters are not synced but easily cut and pasted.

As this looked to be a wining solution, it was worth thinking of a way around the ‘Site Not Centred ‘issue, resulting from blocking sidebars…

My solution:

  1. Create Stylish scripts to change margin-left to 10%, 20% etc…
  2. Upload the Scripts to https://userstyles.org/users/98352 so that I can install on all of my browsers.

So on each browser on the ABP Options page, I just paste the filter text into the ‘Your Own Filters’ tab.

Then I go to userstyles.org and install the scripts I need e.g. ‘0sw_MLeft10percentWhite’ and I am done.

The Benefits for me are:

No extra extensions, I am using ABP and Stylish already, so no extra trust needed. Also both extensions are backed by big name developers.

ABP block element is quick and easy to use, as is transferring filters.

The Result:

Fantastic clean, distraction free, easy reading of my favourite web sites… without having to build and maintain my own extension.

Looks like a plan :-)

[07.04.2018] Update:

So 1st, check out the comments for a couple of extensions that others have recommended.

Next, on Windows I’m still using ABP & the block element function, because I trust them and use it as an Adblocker anyway.

Now on the the main point of this update:

I was using Feedly for RSS but I have just moved over to Inoreader and it’s fantastic!

Feedly is great but going pro is way too expensive and the Mobile app is horrible (font size issues).

But the Inoreader app is great on IPhone and IPad. Beautiful, clean simple.

I  have even considering paying for the starter subscription at $15 a year, but don’t think I need to.

  • The dashboard feature may be enough to justify it but that’s looks to be web only…
  • Also I would need the dashboard articles to be in popularity order (doable) but also to act just like normal articles for marking and respecting n and p etc.. So not there yet.

Anyway, the point re Inoreader is that it has a great system for displaying varying degrees of the clean text RSS feed as an article. Short article is default, but then pull up for extended and pull down for browser view.

Very very good, well thought out and easy to read. Inoreader works on Windows at work, IPhone out and about, and IPad at home… Yes we have a winner!

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Written by SilverWav

July 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Hello, SilverWav. I found this page by searching for an extension similar to HackTheWeb, but for Chrome. I’ve been using Firefox since it was Firebird in 2003, but finally moved to Chrome a few years ago. I still have Firefox installed on my computers, but only because I can’t find two extensions on Chrome: HackTheWeb and Live Edit.

    When I found this page, I was super excited, especially when I read that you are have moved to Chrome, as well. I was hoping you were announcing a release of HackTheWeb on Chrome. I’m very glad that using APB is fine for you as a workaround, but do you have any plans to release HackTheWeb on Chrome? If not, do you know of extensions similar to HackTheWeb and Live Edit? Thank you.

    Victor L

    March 9, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    • Hi Victor, I have moved over to Safari on iPad and IPhone solely because of Automatic Reader View.
      It loads the page then Reader View kicks in, and I get just the text and main images, no ads no cruft. I use the iPad 2017 with a Logitech slim folio case, basically a 9.5in laptop with touch.
      Any edge cases that the Reader View cant cope with I save to Pokcket.

      Too busy in RL so this is the best life hack to the web readability problems that I have ATM.

      Cheers.

      SilverWav

      November 14, 2017 at 11:22 pm

  2. Hello! Hacktheweb is one of my five favorite Firefox extensions of all time – and I’ve been using FF since pre-1.0! With the Quantum update today, Hacktheweb became a legacy extension. It looks like you no longer maintain it. I see this 2.5-year-old comment about using Adblock Plus instead, but I highly prefer a standalone extension like Hacktheweb. Do you have any recommendations, for both Firefox and Chrome? Thanks!

    Vic

    November 14, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    • Hi Victor, I have moved over to Safari on iPad and IPhone solely because of Automatic Reader View.
      On Windows at work I still use Chrome and ABP.
      Cheers.

      SilverWav

      November 14, 2017 at 11:30 pm

  3. The Chrome / Firefox extension “Print Edit WE” appears to be a suitable replacement for Aardvark. (The Aardvark bookmarklet no longer works on HTTPS websites, because it tries to load HTTP resources from a HTTPS page – Chrome no longer allows “mixed content”.)

    Li-aung Yip

    March 30, 2018 at 6:59 am

  4. Ah the all mighty Hacktheweb!!! Though I found some fantastic replacement that do exactly the same in Chrome. One is Click to Remove Element and the other is Page Eraser. Check them out!

    Franc

    April 6, 2018 at 9:55 pm


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