Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Understanding context in your New Tab

Category: Browsers, Usability

Aza Raskin and the Mozilla Labs team looks like they are having a lot of fun. They have been putting up proposals for new UIs and the latest involves a smarter new tab screen.

Aza discusses how opening a blank screen doesn’t really help you. Opera already allows you to have a quick dial screen show up there, but what else can be done?

Often a new tab is opened to do a search, so they can put a search bar right there, and it can be smart enough to search across your own tools and providers (e.g. delicious). I personally don’t do this, as I use Apple-K to jump to the search bar in the browser and have the search results open in a new tab.

What I found even more interesting was the context specific smartness. How often do you do this:

  • Find an address
  • Select and copy the address
  • Open a new tab
  • Go to maps.google.com
  • Paste in the new address

Instead, the new tab selector can be smart and automatically show you the map option. NOTE: there are of course other options such as plugins that find the addresses and give you links to the map.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 7:52 am

3.3 rating from 19 votes


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I don’t understand why adding a new search location to the page. When you open a new tab, the focus is given to the awesome bar ! We can improve the awesome bar to recognize addresses, events and such, but adding another awesome bar inside the new tab is just terribly useless, isn’t it ?

Comment by frenchStudent — August 26, 2008

All this is explaining is that when you open a blank window, you want a personalized home/portal page. This is particularly not useful for me, since 99% of the time when I open a new tab, I’m typing in a new address in the address bar. Searching can be done by hitting the TAB key once and popping me over to the search input in the top of the browser.

Comment by PaulArmstrong — August 26, 2008

I agree with frenchStudent. While this looks nice, surely everything you do in a new tab, you can also do in the current tab. I use CyberSearch, which makes the awesome bar do searches. Pressing Alt+Enter from either the awesome bar or the search bar opens the result in a new tab anyway.

As for the context sensitive text selection stuff, shouldn’t I be able to select an address, right click and select “view map”. Same with calendar entries.

Comment by dave1010 — August 26, 2008

Isn’t it looking a bit like IE8 Activities? (well, what dave1010 describes would be, and I agree 100% with him about this being a better way for such contextual uses; for other uses, either an IE7-like or Opera-like behavior would be fine)

Comment by tbroyer — August 26, 2008

I usually just do a Google search directly and click through the map link. I’d forgotten about holding down the alt key while using the search box. Thanks @dave1010.

I thought there used to be an option to have all searches automatically open in a new window. I fished around prefs for a minute and couldn’t find it. …or maybe that was a behavior added by an extension I used to run.

Comment by dshaw — August 26, 2008

I love the Opera thing where they have the “fast dial” or what it’s called in fact which are “special bookmarks” which will be displayed in a table style when you open up a new tab…

Comment by ThomasHansen — August 26, 2008

Well, I always use my machine’s performance – mostly RAM – at the edge: like, having around 40 pages open, I usually close my IM windows once a day, that means over 20 or 30 on a normal weekday…

For me, such a solution would be an unnecessary memory hog, since I mostly can type what I want.

Comment by Adam Nemeth — August 26, 2008

This stuff is in IE8 Beta 2… what a coincidence :)

Comment by JustinCarter — August 27, 2008

Adam – its the same story here, such a solution would be an unnecessary memory hog.
thanks but no thanks

Comment by Remedies — December 8, 2008

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