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GreaseMonkey: Hide the ToC on search.cpan.org Module Pages

July 31st, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in CPAN, GitHub, JavaScript

I love it when tools do exactly what they’re supposed to, do it effectively, and in doing so let me do things quickly and easily.

Like any serious Perl programmer, I use search.cpan.org several times a day. Indeed, I even have it as a search plug-in for Firefox. But when I am looking at the manual pages for modules, I find the auto-generated table of contents to be cumbersome. I always just scroll past it to get at the meat. Yes, I could click on the links to jump to sections, but then browser-back has to be clicked that many more times to get back to the main distribution page, search results page, etc.

So I did the obvious thing: I set out to write a GreaseMonkey script to scratch this particular itch. And in this case, JavaScript was just easy-enough to use, and GM just helpful-enough, that before I knew it the task was done. I had initially planned to just put together the basic framework, make sure it was locating the needed <div> tags, etc. But that worked right the first time, so I thought I’d go ahead and have it hide the ToC. That took even less time, so I went ahead and put in a clickable <span> tag to toggle the hidden/exposed state of the ToC. And before I realized it, I’d pretty much finished the whole task.

There were two “gotchas,” of sorts, that I had to spend a little time fixing:

  • Seems that you can’t set the style for CSS pseudo-selectors, “:hover” in this case, via JavaScript. So I solved this by creating an additional element, a <script> tag, to provide hover-styling for the clickable text.
  • The <span> tag displayed as a block object, and as such the “hot” area actually extended well to the right of the text. I solved this part by just wrapping the span in another <div>. Then the span was treated as inline, and the “hot” part is limited to the bounding-box of the text only.

So, the script is being tracked on GitHub, the project page is here. Also, I uploaded it to userscripts.org, and you can install it from it’s page there.

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