Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Ajaxifying the Address Bar Interface

Category: Ajax

<>p>A lot of people are finding that the browser address bar is the new command line. Some people embed an address bar in their start menu, which means it is always there.

Michael Mahemoff talks about taking this to the next level, and
Ajaxifying the Address Bar Interface.

Personally, I would love a QuickSilver-esque system.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 9:37 am
4 Comments

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3.5 rating from 16 votes

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Michael,

A9 is a good reference point. It’s indeed similar, though neither the results nor the categories update in real-time. They’re still experimenting and the search results aren’t pretty right now. Two things would help: (a) emphasise the most important results, so that the others don’t distract but are only as far away as a redirection of your gaze. (b) personalise. Not just the choice of categories, but also the content within (which is a big part of the A9 concept anyway ne).

I like the idea of a more complex command-line. Some will say “users shouldn’t have to deal with that low-level stuff”, I actually think that’s a patronising attitude which leads to some pretty dumb applications. Dynamic responses would be a perfect crutch to help at least some users become proficient with the grammar and make the transition to power users.

Comment by Michael Mahemoff — May 25, 2005

Michael, I totally agree.

For years, the rallying cry of the info architects seemed to be “The User is Stupid.” Smart input widgets with timely, relevant and helpful feedback would be much better than dumbed-down ones, and would provide the crutch you describe.

Google’s suggest feature could be a test case here, if it were to respond with operator prompts (e.g. “movie:”, “define:”, etc. — http://www.google.com/help/operators.html) instead of popular searches. This sounds like a job for Greasemonkey… now if I could just find the time.

Comment by Michal Migurski — May 25, 2005

I had the address-bar as command line epiphany in 2002 when I was showing off mozilla bookmark keywords to a friend.

If you don’t know about the feature, google it. It’s gotten considerably better with the context menu item on search boxes “Add keyword for this search…”. Doing this, I create a huge set of search operators. There’s a default set that comes with firefox (quote, dict, slang, wp [wikipedia], find [google, not sure here]) but by allowing you to rename them you can come up with more interesting names like gg for google, which allows for compounds like ggi (image) ggr (group) ggm (map) ggl (local). I’ve got the IMDB search as ‘movie’ and the searches of the forums I frequent. Improvements could be made here. I’d like, for instance, to be able to type just ‘ggi’ into the address bar while on a google search results page and flip over to the images page (I do ~70% of my surfing with the keyboard using firefox’s typeaheadfind).

Now, because you can put javascript in bookmarks (boomarklets) and can give these keywords, you can create user run scripts (just like a command line). For instance, I have a regex search (re), table sorter (sort), style removal (ugly), and a bunch of tools for web development (the best of which are modi and edit styles). It’s almost exactly like a command line for the web, but I have trouble getting most people to see the advantage that bookmark keywords provide.

Comment by Karl Guertin — May 28, 2005

I like this idea as well. let me show you a link to something already along these lines that’s just been launched:
http://yubnub.org/
It’s billed as a social command line for the web. really cool idea. Try it out. It was written last weekend on Rails day. A 24 contest to see how much of a web app you can write in one day.

Comment by Ezra — June 7, 2005

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