Wikipedia Backbars

fri5jun2009—23w156d42%— 23h16m00s—0utc
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, from its UserScripts page. (You need to have the GreaseMonkey Firefox extension, version 0.8 or more, installed first.)

Wikipedia Backbars is a GreaseMonkey script to add histogram backgrounds to Wikipedia tables. It’s a great way to make tables more graphic, to visualize the patterns in the excellent, but usually very dry tables in Wikipedia.

It’s early days yet but it’s already usable enough to give it a spin.

To install it just download it from its UserScripts page. You need to have GreaseMonkey (version 0.8 or more), a Firefox extension, installed first.

Once you have it, browse to any Wikipedia page with tables and among Wikipedia’s tabs at the top, you’ll see the “backbars” tab. Click it and all tables on that page will get backbars. It may take a while if there’s a lot of data, performance is not there yet.

A great place to get interesting articles with tables is Wikipedia’s list of countries with rankings. Here’s a quick gallery of some of the possibilities, linked to the corresponding Wikipedia article:

This is an idea I’ve been mulling over for years now, back from my own blog’s archive list. I get dizzy with its possibilities: this could, should, go into every table, every list, anywhere in your computer, giving you ever present, subconscious, ambient hints (imagine your GMail inbox with backbars showing each messages’ length). This is the beginning.

Other non-obvious features, illustrated in this mock table are:

Enjoy it, I hope it’s useful, and please let me know what you think of it — ideas, suggestions, bugs.

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