What is a User Script?
Useful tasks like improving layout, fixing bugs, automating common tasks and adding new functions can all be done by userscripts. More complicated userscripts can create mash-ups by combining information from different websites or embedding new data into a web page, e.g. to add reviews or price comparisons to a shopping website.
A user script is programming that modifies the appearance or behavior of an application. A user script for a Web site, for example, can customize the way that content will display in the host browser.
I'm planning out a curriculum for my web development class next year, and based on a comment by Sean Houlihane I realized that userscripts could be useful as a teaching tool so that students can see results immediately, and actually make use of their front-end skills as soon as they know the basics.
Before I would introduce my students to this, they'd have to understand the basics of HTML/CSS/JS. If my students already have basic knowledge, how useful could userscripts be as a teaching tool and what are some ways in which I could use them?
Some potential issues that I foresee are:
- It'll be complicated. For a major website, the stylesheet could be thousand LoC.
- Minification. Especially for JS. It makes it very challenging to modify existing code if it has been minified. Even when re-prettified, it can still have terrible variable and method naming.
Working around these issues, what are some uses for userscripts as a teaching tool and in the classroom?