October 19, 2011
The Total Known Exoplanets Google Chrome Browser Extension
So if you use the Google Chrome browser a lot, and if you’re obsessed about exoplanets, why don’t you install this handy extension so you can feed your exoplanet fix? You can install it from the official extension page from Google: Total Known Exoplanets Chrome Extension.
So how does it work? Well, everytime you click on the icon, it sends me an alert, and I type the number of the latest count of known exoplanets on that tiny bubble. Simple enough, right?
You’d think i’m crazy to do that. And you’re right. That’s why I automated the process. So here’s what happens behind the scenes after your click. (Warning: technical stuff ahead.)
IMPORTANT UPDATE (July 18, 2012) !!!
After you click on the icon, the extension requests data from a pipe i made on Yahoo Pipes, called "Exoplanet Count Spy" which spews out data in JSON format (which contains the updated number of known exoplanets).
Yahoo Pipes allows you to get hold of data in convenient JSON format from an external RSS feed source. Its JSONP capability is a very useful feature, which subverts the cross-domain barrier and allows you get data from external sites and use them.
So where does my “Exoplanet Count Spy” pipe get its data from? It grabs it from a news feed from Feed43, another great third-party service on the web that generates RSS feeds from an HTML page. Now comes the real source of data where i get the number from.
It's been a long chain of events so far only to find out that the ultimate source of data is the Exoplanet Catalog from the venerable Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia (exoplanet.eu) maintained by Jean Schneider. Many thanks to him for faithfully updating the tally of exoplanets. Without him doing it, this extension will lose it's functionality.
All those things described happen behind the scenes of the extension. But on the surface, the Total Known Exoplanets counter simply consults the exoplanet tally page from the Exoplanet Encyclopedia and shows you the result on your browser. That’s all.
I hope you find the Total Known Exoplanets extension useful!