30 September 2010 - 15:29Instant Preview of Location Bar Suggestions

I’ve received a number of requests for getting Instant-like Search, so I’ve packaged it up for people to download. Part of the reason why I didn’t release earlier is that this restartless add-on requires the upcoming Firefox 4 Beta 7, so I was hoping to make it available when the beta was ready.

If you’re already on the bleeding edge running a Firefox nightly build [nightly.mozilla.org], you can install Instant Preview.

With this add-on, Firefox will start loading pages highlighted in the location bar suggestions in place of the current tab. This means you can type a letter and press Down to start viewing that page. From there you can press Return to make the preview turn into a persistent tab. Alternatively, you can press Esc to get rid of the preview if you just needed to glance at the page. So if you do end up selecting the page, it might already be done loading and ready for you to use! :)

This works even better if you install Speak Words, so that when you type a single letter, not only will the rest of the word get filled in, it’ll automatically highlight the first entry resulting in the page being loaded immediately. For now you’ll need to install both these restartless add-ons separately, but I’m working on a way to simplify this so you just need to install one to automatically get these new features.

Don’t forget to check out my Video Preview of Instant-like Search and install it!

23 Comments | Tags: Add-on, AwesomeBar, Labs, Mozilla, Search

23 September 2010 - 7:00Video Preview of Instant-like Search

Here’s a preview of an instant-like search add-on that I just hacked together in a few minutes. :)

Video formats: webm, ogv, mov

Transcript:

Let’s say I want to go to Planet Mozilla, so I start typing out “planet”, and before I even finish typing it out, the page has loaded over the current tab. This could be useful to take a quick peek at a page like xkcd, and then hit <esc> to return to where I left off.

Combining this with smart bookmark keywords, I can type “g” followed by some word, and it’s almost like Google Instant search. But this works for other search engines like Bing.. or even Wikipedia. As long as the site returns the page fast enough, it already feels pretty good.

16 Comments | Tags: Add-on, AwesomeBar, Google, Labs, Mozilla, Search

22 September 2010 - 10:45Speak Words to the Location Bar

For those that already “speak words” to the location bar, you probably already know that you can find pages by their title or use multiple words to help find the exact page that you want. This is as opposed to typing in a url or a domain to first load a page to get to the page you want.

Finding a page by matching the title

To help people speak words and get to the pages even faster, I’ve written an add-on, Speak Words, that will fill in the rest of the word as you type in the location bar. Similar to how Find Suggest uses words from the current page as suggestions, this add-on will look for words that you’ve previously typed into the location bar for its dictionary.

In the example above, I’ve typed “r” and the add-on has filled in the rest of the word for “reader” and searched for that word in the location bar. I can now just press <Return> to go to that page. Just 2 key strokes, and I’m where I want to be! :)

Immediate suggestions for new words as you type

Because the add-on gives immediate feedback on what word it’s using, you can figure out what’s the fewest number of keys you need to press to get to the site you want. Before, I would probably type “bank” or “bugz,” but now I see that I can just type “b” and “bu” instead. Also if you do type words from a site’s domain, the add-on will also help fill in the rest of the word for you as shown above.

The suggested words are based on the adaptive learning of the location bar and previously-typed domains. So your suggestions will be different from mine, and instead it’ll show you the words that you’ll likely to type in anyway, except now you don’t need to type out the whole word.

Try out Speak Words if you’re running a recent Firefox 4 beta [mozilla.com]. It’s a restartless add-on, so you can make Firefox even snappier immediately!

Looking forwards in terms of improving search in Firefox, there’s now dictionaries for word suggestions for each type of search: search engine suggestions for the search bar, in-page words for find, and key words for history. While the actual dictionary for each might need to be tweaked, it’ll be interesting to see if the search interfaces can be combined and streamlined while still helping the user with relevant suggestions and results.

8 Comments | Tags: Add-on, AwesomeBar, Labs, Mozilla, Search

9 September 2010 - 17:04What’s in your Searchbar?

I’m looking into ways to improve how people search in Firefox. My previous contributions focused on getting useful pages to show up in the AwesomeBar when searching history, and I collected plenty of useful feedback to see what users wanted or didn’t want in the results.

I’ve written a restartless add-on that lets you see how you use the searchbar in Firefox. It scans through what you’ve previously typed into the searchbar and groups your searches by the words you’ve typed. The first set of results shows words that you frequently use across different searches, and the second set shows searches that you repeat multiple times.

If you’re running a recent Firefox 4 beta [mozilla.com], install the add-on, and it’ll open a new tab with your results (without sending that data anywhere). This is a restartless add-on that will also uninstall itself after it runs.

If you feel like sharing your results, please leave a comment or send me an email: edilee@gmail.com.

Unique and repeated search queries from my own searchbar history data

From my personal usage, the unique search queries set has many searches that I only do once to find out information on some topic like “mozilla” or “starcraft”. This contrasts with my repeated searches where I have terms like “time” or “movie”. I do make heavy use of keyword searches and smart bookmarks, but I happen to not have set any for these repeated searches probably because search engines like Google and Bing provide useful information on the results page.

Are your results like mine? Do you have a totally different search behavior? Any suggestions for how you would improve searching?

4 Comments | Tags: Add-on, AwesomeBar, Labs, Mozilla, Search