Friday, November 16, 2007

Custom browser toolbar creation software?

I have found only one free tool for easily creating a customized browser toolbar that doesn't require programming skills: Conduit.

And I created what I think is a fairly useful toolbar for our library given the limitations (and that can be added to Firefox or IE). It includes a search box for our federated search and search options for several of our other tools, in addition to a drop down display feed for our research blog and a button to "ask a librarian." It also automatically propagates any updates to everyone who has downloaded it and allows the end-user to add other buttons as well, like for Word or Excel. The two major shortcomings of this tool are:
  1. Limited branding - especially that there isn't the ability to add a logo or play with the fonts and colors of the tool.
  2. The default search is for Google. Ideally, I'd want it to search our E-book catalog or at least Google Scholar and it also doesn't allow me to move that search box to the right and put the federated search box in it's place.
Having said that, I think it's worth using, but so far my boss hasn't been real supportive. I could see creating a suite of these, based on broad subject categories that search or link to the major resources in that subject. Are there other free or cheap, but easy to use browser toolbar creation tools out there that people know about that address these shortcomings?

And finally, how are people promoting/marketing the use of these both to students and perhaps more prominently, faculty? The tact I can think of is as a time- and effort-saver. Do your research from anywhere! Avoid having to sift through the library web site. That sort of thing.

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