Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gmail HTML Reply Signatures

NOTE: See Multiple HTML Reply Signatures for Gmail for an update on this script.

Greasemonkey is a Firefox Extension that I recently discovered while I was searching for a way to automatically embed HTML image signatures inside of a Gmail thin client. There is a large pool of solutions to this problem on the Internet that range from dragging and dropping images into the Gmail compose window textbox to using a Greasemonkey script written by Garett Rogers.

However, none of the scripts that I found would insert the signature into a Gmail reply, only a blank email. After hours of searching, I went to Greasemonkey's Web site and found a free online book titled "Dive Into Greasemonkey". This is a great way to learn how to write your own Greasemonkey scripts!

From there, I installed Firebug, a Firefox Extension DOM Inspector, and used this tool to try and determine exactly what tag id corresponded to the reply email text editor. After some trial and error, I found id attributes labelled hc_0, hc_1, hc_2, which correspond to each conversation in a thread. For instance, the first reply in a series of emails is labelled hc_0. If I respond to it and then receive another reply, it is labelled hc_1. Thus, for the N'th reply, the id attribute is hc_N. However, my script only handles the first 5 replies.

If you would like to add your signatures to your replies, complete the following steps:

1. Install Firefox, if you haven't already done so.
2. Install Greasemonkey, if you haven't already done so.
3. Download the "Gmail HTML Reply Signatures" script. Greasemonkey will prompt you to install the script.
4. Go to http://www.signaturegenerator.net to create a free image signature.

My next experiment will be to attempt to use Greasemonkey to manipulate the Google Docs and Spreadsheet interface in order to add more shortcut keys to the interface. Another option is to use a Firefox Extension called iMacros to record a left-click of the Google Docs "File" button. I tried this, and it was successful; however, iMacros is missing what I consider to be an important feature: I need to be able to create a toolbar button for the macro which can also be activated by using a shortcut key. Perhaps this will be yet another experiment.

Until next time,

P.S. You can create a similar signature image for free at http://www.signaturegenerator.net, which I listed above in step 4.