Simon Willison’s Weblog

Per-site user stylesheets

I’ve been thinking a lot about per-site user stylsheets recently. Eric Meyer’s CSS signatures are great for sites that support them (as this site does), but the sites that really need altering are highly unlikely to carry them. I posted a comment to that effect on a while ago, and thankfully it was spotted by Ryan Tomayko who has published a simple brilliant hack that uses XBL in Mozilla’s user stylesheet to execute JavaScript which adds a CSS signature to every site you visit.

I suggest making a couple of minor modifications to Ryan’s code. Firstly, it over-writes any existing body tag IDs which could cause problems on the few sites that use a body ID as a hook for per-page styling. I would recommend not over-writing the ID if it already exists, or adding an additional class to the body element instead. More importantly, Ryan’s technique couples your browser’s user stylesheet to an XBL file hosted on his server. Not only is this a performance menace (for both his server and potentially your browser) but it opens a cross-site scripting vulnerability in that you are executing code from outside your control every time you visit a web page. I recommend hosting the XBL file locally instead, although the best solution would be to upgrade Ryan’s hack to a fully self-contained FireFox extension.

Quibbles aside, it’s a brilliant workaround. Be sure to check out the comment from michael on as well.

This is Per-site user stylesheets by Simon Willison, posted on 15th July 2004.

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