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Slash-MozBar - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is it? This project was created to give sites based on Slashcode a nice looking Mozilla / Netscape 6.0+ sidebar tab.
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What started all this?
    My interest was piqued after reading a post/thread on regarding Slash and a nice-looking Mozilla sidebar tab. Knowing full well how difficult it is to promote a Slash site (or any site, for that matter), I saw this as a way to make a site more accessible via a nifty tab.

    After modeling a CGI script based on the screenshot Slashcode user Colin Viebrock (aka "Greedo") posted in the article, I thought it would be far more efficient to make the script a client-side task called by slashd.

Where can I get the CGI version?
    Currently, it can be played with under the old SlashXML Project Section, where I stumbled through the first few incarnations. Note that the CGI version is slow, mainly due to the fact that it does not cache images locally. Each icon is handled by a call to grabimg.cgi, which obtains the original topic icon from the Slash site, resizes it to roughly 30x30 and displays the resulting PNG.

    I can definitely see a use for the CGI version for sites that do not want to run the slashd task or for users who just want to have a sidebar tab for a site they like, without the admins doing a single bit of work. Someday, after I clean it up a bit, I'm sure it'll be offered under this project.

Can I see it in action?
    The current version is up and running on my Slash site, The "launch" link is on the left-hand menu. If you'd rather see the tab HTML, take a look at
I have added two screen shots of version 0.3.1: full browser window (71 KB) and close-up of bar only (9 KB).

Does it resize the topic images on the fly?
    In a word, no. The reason for this is not my burning desire to be a pain in the ass, but my own bad experiences. I tried using ImageMagick but found that most topic icons, when resized, looked like crap. During testing, I had better results running my topic icons through Photoshop (or pick your equivalent) and shrinking them to a 30x30 pixel size.

    Perhaps, in the future, we can add automatic resizing to the script. What might be cool is if it "auto-resized" images for which a previously-resized icon is not available.

    Update: I've added topic icon resizing support, using ImageMagick, thanks to a suggestion that I convert GIFs before resizing. The results look a lot better now ;) You can control whether or not the task resizes images via a script variable, should you not want resizing support.

What is required to run Slash-MozBar?
    The slashd task file that is "Slash-MozBar" requires:
  • Slashcode version 2.x and up.
  • Perl version 5 and higher.
  • Time::Local, usually installed by default with perl but available from CPAN for those who lack it.
  • XML::Parser, available from your local CPAN mirror or easily installed using perl's CPAN module.
  • ImageMagick and the associated PerlMagick modules.
    ImageMagick is only required if you want automated image resizing support.
    All of these packages, including Slash-MozBar, are freely available. Everything but ImageMagick is licensed under the GNU Public License.

What else is included in the Slash-MozBar source file?
    In addition to the task for slashd, you'll also find:
    Version change history.
    A quick description of what Slash-MozBar is and how to use/customize it.
    Quick instructions for upgrading from version to version. Probably not required, but there's no such thing as too much information.
    (First appeared in version 0.3.2)
  • add_tab.html
    Sample HTML file showing the code you'll need to have users add your tab to their Mozilla/Netscape sidebar.
  • div.png
    Image to create the "separator bar" between time and comment count.
  • spacer.png
    Transparent image for spacing that no serious webmaster should be without ;)
...and, of course, a copy of the GNU Public License ;)

Why parse XML? Why not query the Slash db directly?
    I saw no need to duplicate the code that generates the RDF / RSS / XML feeds within Slashcode. This task is a simple add-on that doesn't require any core changes to your site. I think simplicity is best ;)

So, how do I get this running?
    Here are the installation steps:
  1. Download Slash-MozBar source and untar it to a temporary directory.
  2. If you're not changing any of the hard-coded paths within, make a directory called mozbar under your Slash site's existing images subdirectory.
  3. Copy div.png and spacer.png into the newly-created images/mozbar/ directory.
    If you are using the image resize functionality, you'll need to make sure this directory is writable by your Slash user.
  4. Create a file called "mozbar.html" in your site rootdir, allowing the Slash user write access.
  5. Copy into your site's tasks directory, usually <slash home>/site/<site url>/tasks/.
  6. Call up in a browser and verify that it looks okay.
  7. Restart slashd with a /etc/init.d/slashd stop; /etc/init.d/slashd start (or simply 'restart').
  8. Wait.
    You can also run the task manually using Slash's run_task script, located in <slash home>/bin/.
  9. Add the code from add_tab.html to a button or link on your Slash site so users can quickly add your tab to their Mozilla/Netscape sidebar.

How can I help?
    The easiest way to help, assuming you are running a site based on Slashcode, is to test the code and report any bugs you find. Be sure to let me know which versions of Slashcode and Slash-MozBar you are using, what you believe may have caused the error and what exactly happened. Relevant log file entries from slashd.log can also be extremely helpful ;)

    I'm also open to suggestions for improvements, whether within the code itself or the generated sidebar output.
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Version History
Created:   13 August 2003