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PixieBrix: An Introduction 🧚🏾‍♀️🧱


 PixieBrix is basically a bit of software where you can essentially make the web usable for your specific use cases. For example, if you want to snag the name, title, and contact info on someone's LinkedIn profile and export it to a private document, you can "install" a button to press on each fitting page to click and add info.

Of course, the button isn't installed on LinkedIn proper. It's a bit like something I believe was called Whiteboard; You  could put in any url and see what people had drawn on the page, but it only appeared locally.

The big caveat so far is that it's Chrome only for the extension. 

ComputerWorld has a great guide about it that you can find here; I had heard about it from a live webinar about the program - I was curious to see what we would be using, and lo and behold.

You do need to use the Dev Tools; If you aren't familiar with it, it's a built-in function of most browsers that let you see how the webpage is operating in real time if there are active elements, check the network and performance, an entire slew of cool things.

The templates gallery is where we'll start; After you open PixieBrix in the Dev Tools menu (Don't worry, they hold your hand and get you there), there's a large visible button.

I chose to start with the Snippet Manager:

You can read the instructions here, I'm focusing on how PixieBrix works with the Dev Tools. The actual templates aren't loaded into the Dev Tools; There are external links to take you to the actual setup that open in a side panel. It's a lot of branching out of tabs that might get a little confusing.

And that it sort of did; When you connect to your Google Drive for this particular instance, a second box beneath says 'Google Sheet', as if you could select an already pre-existing one. Nothing would load, but we don't let that stop me, so I just continue to activate it and it works allegedly, giving the impression of having created a new sheet, but checking my Google Sheets setup, nothing new is created.

Luckily, redoing the steps is easy, and listing all the Sheets I have available - including the copy of the template they told me to make before activating the manager template - appear to be selected.

And now when I click the button on the nav bar, this pops up on the side;

And I can easily click one of the snippets, it copies to the clipboard, and I can and copy and paste it somewhere; Here's how PixieBrix works after you've set up a template.

That is extremely helpful! Imagine all the quick replies and answers you can automate in emails if you use Chrome as your daily browser. I only wonder how formatting would work, adding line breaks and links as you have to insert each snippet into it's own row in Google Sheets.

You could automate your response to every job outreach and just click and send (After addressing them by name, of course). 

Is this the tool people online in the business sphere use to say 'align', 'connect', 'next steps', and other buzzwords at lightning speed?

I'd love to see if PixieBrix can:

  • Create a module where I highlight and copy a phrase; The context menu that pops up on a right click would have an option to automatically save it into a Google Doc of my choosing.

Most of PixieBrix seems to work with Sheets, so not quite, but still cool.

When it comes to making custom modules, then the Dev Tools really come into play. Everything after this has been written after the live demo.

  • There is also an Edge version in the works. I really wish there was a FireFox version in the works too, but baby steps.

 Since I couldn't immediately paste to a Google Doc, I wanted to see if I could at least Translate with the context menu from English to Chinese but the input wasn't inputting. I could highlight the word and the context menu would pop up with Translate, but it wouldn't translate. The debugger that PixieBrix works with had an output, but it wasn't showing anything.

Much like Retool last year, the highlighted text would have to be put into a field (Kind of like assigning something to a variable in Python), in this case it was @output.translatedText (Thank you to Britt Joiner at PixieBritt's Slack for the help!).

And now I can work on my Chinese while reading things in Chrome (rarely). Fun fact, the day this was published, I had to use Chrome for some UX testing. So at least now I can translate from English to Chinese!


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