Monday, March 30, 2009

Filtering Bookmarks by Tags in Your Extension

It is not possible to filter by multiple tags in bookmarks window in Firefox. So I thought to try to see how it can be done. This exercise is interesting too to see how templates work and how to change the query for template in runtime. I prepared a XUL window that is just enough to demonstrate the point.
First of all get to know Places, the heart of the Firefox's bookmarks and history management system. The Places database is where Firefox keeps all it's records on your bookmarks and history, and it is simply SQLite db/file. Here's the schema and the database itself can be found at Firefox's profiles folder, the file is named places.sqlite. You can view it using SQLite Database Browser.
With all the links out of the way lets look at the example file:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<window xmlns=""
title="Bookmarks - Test"

<script type="application/x-javascript">

var someSelectionQuery =
'select p.title as title ' +
'from moz_bookmarks_roots r ' +
'join moz_bookmarks tagsRoot on r.folder_id = ' +
'join moz_bookmarks tags on = tags.parent ' +
'join moz_bookmarks b on b.parent = ' +
'join moz_places p on = ' +
"where r.root_name = 'tags' and tags.title in ({tags}) " +
'group by ' +
'having count( = {count}';

function doOnSelect(tagList){
var items = tagList.selectedItems;
var count = tagList.selectedCount;
var query = document.getElementById('bookmarkslistQuery');

var tags = '';
var countStr = count + '';

for(var i=0; i &lt; count; i++){
if(i != 0) tags += ',';
tags += "'" + tagList.selectedItems[i].label + "'";

var realQuery = someSelectionQuery.replace('{tags}', tags);
realQuery = realQuery.replace('{count}', countStr);

query.textContent = realQuery;

var ml = document.getElementById('mainList');

<listbox datasources="profile:places.sqlite" ref="*" querytype="storage" seltype="multiple" id="tagsList" onselect="doOnSelect(this);">
select tags.title
from moz_bookmarks_roots r
join moz_bookmarks tagsRoot on r.folder_id =
join moz_bookmarks tags on = tags.parent
where r.root_name = 'tags'
<listitem uri="?" label="?title"/>

<listbox datasources="profile:places.sqlite" ref="*" querytype="storage" id="mainList">
<query id="bookmarkslistQuery">
select b.title as title
from moz_bookmarks_roots r
join moz_bookmarks tagsRoot on r.folder_id =
join moz_bookmarks tags on = tags.parent
join moz_bookmarks b on b.parent =
<action id="blaction">
<listitem uri="?" label="?title"/>


OK, lets quickly go through this. Lets skip the JavaScript part at the beginning, at the end there are two listbox elements that have templates. The first listbox is showing a list of your tags. It's very simple SQLite template. Datasource attribute defines the datasource on which the query will be executed. In this case the file is profile:places.sqlite, and that is Places database, other required attribute is querytype which is marking that our datasource is a SQLite file. We have very simple template that has only query and action elements. Query is just a SQLite query, simple, once you figure out what is where in the database. And template is using tag titles as labels in listitem. What it will do is just render a list of tags, and by selecting tags bookmarks will be filtered.
The second listbox is rendering all tagged bookmarks, that's just to show something until a tag is selected. The label is name of bookmarked page. It is pretty much the same thing as with tags listbox. It is going to be a bit different though, since the query is going to be changed dynamically.
So finally the JavaScript. doOnSelect function is doing all the work (well there's no other function there). On selection of tag, multiple can be selected, the function is just making a list of tag names separated by commas, updating the someSelectionQuery to include filter on tags. There is a little trick on group by and having - we're just making sure that particular place has the exact number of occurences as the number of tags selected. Basically all selected tags have to be parents of the bookmarked page, so that is what the query is checking. Oh, I forgot to mention Places SQL queries best practices.
At the end of the function we need to call builder.rebuild() on the templated element to update the content since the query is changed, it won't be updated by itself.
Phew, lots of work for such an ugly screen.

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