Making Digi-Key much, much prettier

digi

We all love Digikey, but of all the major component retailers out there, their web interface really isn’t that great. A lot of online sources for parts are much, much prettier, but nothing a good Greasemonkey script can’t fix. This is all the work of [Ben], and adds a ton of really, really useful features to the Digikey web interface.

First up is a whole bunch of pictures right at the top of the search results. If you’re looking for pin headers or weird connectors, this is an astonishing useful feature that will help you select the right part faster. After that is a ‘helper’ button for voltages. As you know, selecting a part with a 5V input requires clicking multiple options including 3.3-5V, 2.3-6V, and 5-40V. Clicking on the helper button and entering 5 V will select all the entries in the filter that contain a 5V part.

[Ben]‘s project has been tested with Firefox and Chrome with Greasemonkey extensions. Head on over to his project page for a much better demo of all the features for this really great tool.

Comments

  1. limpkin says:

    neat! thanks :)

  2. Sven says:

    I actually find Digikey’s interface one of the most usable simply because they have not tried to design it, every other retailer who has gone the design route has screwed up the search system in the process, creating a good looking page that can’t really be used.

    For example ELFA (basically Sweden’s Farnell) had a fully working search system on an old web design, they decided to upgrade the design and search system, resulting in 3 years with a search that couldn’t find anything and session based links that meant you could never link to a product at all.

    • Tron9000 says:

      you’d love their catalog then…..0_o

    • nelsontb says:

      Same happens with RS, if you open more than on item at the same time you start to get strange behaviors on the next links, that and the new “simplified” cart does not let you get to an item page, it shows a resumed view of the item, if you want to go the the full page you have to copy the part number to the search bar

  3. Tom the Brat says:

    HalleLUjah! HALlelujah! HalEluJAH! (Mouser next, please)

  4. bearmos says:

    Forget the “pretty” factor – this speeds up searching! The addition of the pictures (and especially voltage range parsing) is great for quickly narrowing down results.

    The script even goes out and grabs pictures of the associated products, which is going to help even more with connector selection.

    Like others – I use digikey because of it’s speed (and properly categorized components) not because it’s pretty, however this script winds up helping with both – bonus!

  5. polossatik says:

    someone at digikey should send him a TON of goodies

  6. 1000100 1000001 1010110 1000101 says:

    Nice!

  7. lol says:

    Nice.

    What I hate about Mouser is that you can only have 100 elements in one filter, and them they have like 300 elements in the Rdson of mosfets just from the 0 to 0.040 ohms, so annoying..

  8. gijs says:

    digikey has good images of the products, they are more often then other suppliers the parts that you actually order..

  9. mike says:

    There is plenty of promise here. I will keep an eye on it for future improvements. But it’s not quite there yet – there are some formatting things which clutter the interface and the picture-preview makes page loads lag a bit. Plus to be truly useful it needs more power in the selection filters – Greater Than/Less Than would be tremendously helpful.

  10. EE4Life says:

    I am a 20+ year Digikey customer (personally and professionally) and was very hesitant to be excited about any interface changes, as so many other websites have destroyed their usefulness in the name of making it look nice. O/P says the Digikey interface “isn’t that great” but I wonder how else this impressive amount of data could be displayed without it being a cluster!@#$%… I took the time over the years to learn the interface and ended up loving it.

    Knowing it could easily be undone if function was lost in the name of form, I installed the script and the improvements were immediate and obvious. The core interface didn’t change, so it still felt familiar, but little improvements were added all over the place. Pictures are everywhere (under the filters, related product, and THE CART!), things happen without page loads (much faster!), the ability to type a value instead of clicking on each min/max pair is a lifesaver! Even little things like the permanent thin header and grey/white lines in the tables feel and work great. Mega kudos to Ben — Digikey needs to find this guy and put him in charge of their website so everyone can enjoy these changes. They’d be fools not to!

  11. Joe says:

    Too cool. I was just cursing out the Digikey site yesterday looking for caps.
    Then this morning…it’s a new day!
    Thank you!

  12. bombledmonk says:

    It’s cool that this got posted! Just an FYI, it was also a topic on The Amp Hour podcast last week. http://www.theamphour.com/the-amp-hour-156-zesty-zippy-zynq/

    I’m always looking for feedback and refinement ideas. My email is in the +controls+ area if people wish to offer any advice. It’s not perfect, but the project took me from knowing no javascript to having a pretty capable hack so go easy if your a programming purist.

    • bearmos says:

      very nice work, ben. any idea why digikey went away from the price sorting that enabled you to put in your target quantity and sort by pricing based on that? I thought that was a great addition, but it seems to have recently disappeared.

      • bombledmonk says:

        It’s still there on the stock website, just not in a popup box after hitting the sort arrow. The quantity input was moved to just above the table of results. Price sorting works normally using the price @ desired quantity if invoked after that point.

  13. omegacs says:

    Now if only OctoPart had an interface closer to this. I like their premise, but their search interface is honestly rather terrible. Having all the selectors run waaaay down the left so you have to scroll, the slightest change to any of them forcing a “reload” that scrolls back to the top, lists of “expand me” checkboxes rather than just plain comboboxes, etc. There’s also a disparity between package “size” and the actual packaging, and I seem to remember some glaring inconsistencies in how they listed packages e.g. for passives.

  14. Bill says:

    I must be doing something wrong because I am running version 23 of Firefox and the script doesn’t appear to run. I followed the instructions and both grease monkey and the script say that they downloaded correctly. Grease monkey is enabled. Is there anything else I have to enable to get the script to run ??

  15. Bluestreak66 says:

    This Is the most useful hack I’ve seen in a while! This will save me a hours of time! I find digikey to have one of the most irritating web site to narrow down a particular product without accidentally filtering out components, but I do love their large selection of products, fast shipping and good customer service. Just the voltage helper feature will save me 5 min per part alone! Thank you so much!

  16. Tisper says:

    I hate that site…100 bucks for sending an item, even if it costs 10 cents and weighs 0.5 grams <.<

  17. Tron9000 says:

    Sterling effort! makes browsing the site a dream now!

    now to just get them to send me stuff without CONSTANTLY asking what its for….one day I’m just gonna say A-Bomb and see if the feds show up!

  18. I use Digikey extensively as I’m the CTO of a hardware startup. I agree with the comments that Digikey’s interface is certainly better than some of the fancier ones, but sometimes is does feel like you’re the needle in a haystack ;)

    I’ve been searching for an ADC for a specific application over the weekend. Hadn’t found anything that was “quite right”, so I installed this plugin and was surprised I actually uncovered something I hadn’t found before.

    Could be luck, but I’m definitely going to keep playing with this interface!

    Bravo.

    -m

  19. Wi Tu Lo says:

    I’ve always hated DigiKey’s navigation and design, I can never find anything. I’m sure the people who have used it for 100 years love it. Just like If I only knew one ugly woman my entire life I’d eventually grow fond of her. For us “spring chickens” in the field DigiKey’s site is not user friendly for the first through 100th time user, confusing and very Windows 95 looking. The plugin just gave the site more modern functionality. Look closely, it looks more like the other “fancier” distributors without actually looking fancy.

  20. F says:

    Who doesn’t love Digikey, but lately I’ve gotten several mispicked items. They are happy to replace them but there goes the schedule.

  21. jonr says:

    Wow, this Ben really out did himself. Digi-Key searching just got a lot better with the automatic “Records matching criteria” feature.

  22. soundman98 says:

    thanks ben! just tried it for some things i’ve been meaning to look up, and it’s so good, i’m nearly to the point of giving up my digikey catalog(only nearly ;) )

  23. Bill says:

    Something really weird going on here :)
    I tried to re-install the script. Now when I “manage user scripts” it says that it was last update Wednesday December 31 1969 ! WTF !

  24. Bill says:

    Got it working !!
    I had to remove the old version using Greasemonkey and then re-install.

  25. Robert says:

    I fly nice using stock Digi Key website and like it, can find almost all great parametric search, but it took little bit of extra time selecting voltages i.e. and so…
    This script speeds up my search i like it but…
    On Chrome, basket does not get update part qty, i cannot delete items from basket, and few quirk here and there, for now i disable the script, fix the basket and enable back…
    Also popping images while i selecting search parameters are not the best because goes Over the select window, pop up with images obstruct the view/selection> need to pop up somewhere else.
    Hopefully that will be fixed soon.
    z

    • bombledmonk says:

      Which country’s website are you going to? Everything stated works OK for me on Chrome.

      The ‘Explore Mode’ (popup images over the search parameters) is only helpful if a person is looking around and needs the assistance of that feature. There is a control button that allows you to turn that feature on and off as needed. The pictures should not be popping up over the parameter selection boxes unless your screen resolution is too small as I haven’t optimized the script for use on lower res screens.

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