3 March 2008 - 16:56Beyond Awesome

It’s been exactly four months since I first wrote about the AwesomeBar [ed.agadak.net], and how it would become awesome with adaptive learning, which makes Firefox give you the pages that you want with just a single letter typed in the location bar.

Firefox 3 Beta 4 will have this feature. 😀 Everyone will be able to play with it in just a couple weeks.

Adapted dropdown

Adaptive learning puts your most selected results first

The adaptive learning even works for the drop down menu without typing any words. So those who prefer using the mouse can benefit as well. But if you ever do select a page after typing some words, it will also learns to show those results when you click the auto-complete drop-down.

But that’s not all that’s new in Beta 4. There has been many improvements to the location bar since Places landed, and here’s a short list of changes since the first beta.

Beta 1: Search page titles and urls – not just the start of a domain; Match page tags
Beta 2: Two line view with title first; Emphasize first match in title then url
Beta 3: Global frecency for better ranking; Search bookmarked pages; Emphasize first match in both title and url; Unescape url-encoded URLs

Outside of adaptive learning for Beta 4, there’s also the ability to search with multiple words [ed.agadak.net]. I first wrote about the feature letting you find pages that match the domain and a word from the title.

It’s even better. You can also match against the tags you’ve added to pages, so you can just treat the tags as extra text in the page’s title, except they’re common across multiple pages. This means you can type a tag, a domain, and part of the title to get the exact page you want. As a bonus, the pages are treated like any other page, so they aren’t specially placed at the top of the list, and you don’t even need to type out the whole tag in the same order you tagged the page to match it. 🙂

So what else is there?

Well, it’s already Beta 4, and there isn’t much time left to keep adding features. But I’ve got some neat things that are somewhat geared towards more advanced users. Whether or not they make it in for the final version of Firefox 3 is in the air. I’ve already implemented them, so we’ll just need to see if people have time to review and approve the changes.

Show tags and restrict to starred

Only search pages with a star

First up is being able to restrict search to certain pages [bugzilla.mozilla.org] such as those that you’ve bookmarked, which have a star in the drop-down. You can type a single “*” at the beginning of the search and do the multi-word search as normal, except only bookmarked pages are searched. Also, you might notice that pages will show which tags they have [bugzilla.mozilla.org] and where they match.

Restrict to history

Only search through history

On a similar note, you can also use “^” to find pages only from your history — pages that have not yet been given a star. I find myself using this type of search without additional search terms to find pages that I’ve frecently visited, and perhaps I would want to bookmark and tag them. One last special search is with “+” that restricts the search to tagged pages. Of course you can customize the character you want to type for the special search, so you can make it “!” or even “z” or more verbose “tags”. 😉

Keyword search

Show the keyword search

Another feature helps show a powerful feature of Firefox. Keyword searches. 🙂 Basically, they’re special bookmarks that you can create by opening the context menu on any search box of a website. You give the search a keyword, and then in the location bar, you type that keyword and the terms that you would have put into the box on the web page. You can easily search for content such as Wikipedia pages, YouTube videos, IMDB movie information, and more.

Except now, you get a keyword auto-complete entry [bugzilla.mozilla.org] showing which page you’ll be going to. Additionally, you can even reuse the same keyword for multiple searches because now you can pick which one gets used.

String searches

Search with phrases

Sometimes treating each word as a separate search isn’t quite enough, and what you really want is two words right next to each other. Perhaps you want to find that page that tells you how to bug mozzy (… 😛 ), but all your searches for “bug moz” finds bugzilla bugs! Just put the phrase in quotes and you can search quoted strings [bugzilla.mozilla.org]!

Emphasize all search terms

Emphasize all matches for all words

You might have noticed in the previous screenshots, multiple parts of the result get emphasized. For Beta 4, it’ll only emphasize words that match as the phrase, so most of the time, if you type multiple words, it won’t emphasize anything. The screenshot above shows “amatching in all places [bugzilla.mozilla.org], not just the first. Additionally, all words/phrases [bugzilla.mozilla.org] are treated separately when showing matches.

For the very observant crowd, you might have already noticed the screenshots have a smaller font size for the page title [bugzilla.mozilla.org]. But additionally, the number of rows has been reduced from 10 to 6 [bugzilla.mozilla.org]. Hopefully, being able to find pages with multiple words against the title, url, and tags in additional adaptive learning will lessen the need to show 10 results by default. There will be fewer results for you to scan, but you can also filter pages more easily by typing another word that you know to be in the title or url.

We’ve come a long way since Firefox 2, and we’re getting really close to shipping Firefox 3. But hopefully there’ll be some time to get in at least some of these features. 🙂

23 Comments | Tags: AwesomeBar, Mozilla


  1. bbarry says: 03 Mar 2008 - 11:04

    What would be the possibilities for having an extension which could provide tags for a site which the awesomebar could search against?

    I am thinking sorta like an “autotags” feature where a certain class of tags would be given the same importance as normal, unstarred, untagged, pages (they would expire in history, etc.). These tags could be provided by services like del.ici.ous or even the meta tags of the pages themselves. They could even provide default tags if you were to star a page.

  2. bbarry says: 03 Mar 2008 - 11:11

    On a separate topic, I’ve been using nightlies for the past while (since one of the alphas) and I’ve noticed that there are a couple of pages that I don’t want to have showing up in the awesomebar, but because of how often I happen to come across them (My company’s Bugzilla’s process_bug.cgi for instance is the second most visited place I have with well over a thousand views). I noticed a while ago that I could edit the sqllite database and mark the page as hidden, but that doesn’t seem to stick anymore. Is there going to be any kind of interface for making a page disappear from the awesomebar forever?

  3. Have you been using nightlies before Beta 3 or so? I believe there was a patch that prevented POST pages like process_bug.cgi from getting added. Try searching for process_bug and deleting the entry from the auto-complete. It should keep a frecency of 0 which means it shouldn’t appear in the list.

  4. bbarry says: 03 Mar 2008 - 11:42

    Sounds great, I’ll try it.

  5. ssssssssssss says: 03 Mar 2008 - 19:39

    Oh, perfect fearture.
    I *think* all the places & search & location bar have the sqlite as the backend. Do you extend the sqlite APIs via cpp or just js? and if you do it in cpp level, will it benefit a xulrunner application? Any docs?

  6. […] — Tags: awesomebar, ఫైర్‌ఫాక్స్ — వీవెన్ @ 9:54 am మంటనక్క 3 లో చిరునామా పట్టీ మరింత ఆసం (a… (బీటా 4 మహా అయితే ఇంకో రెండు వారాల్లో […]

  7. The searching functionality is done in the back-end, so things like searching for multiple words, phrases, restricted search. The front-end is in charge of displaying and emphasizing matches, but that’s implemented as part of the autocomplete widget, so it can be reused as well.

  8. Is it possible to register extra places providers?

    For example, to expose a set of del.icio.us bookmarks, servers announced with mdns (avahi/bonjour…), html pages in an index service (tracker/spotlight/google desktop)…

  9. Same goes for keywords: having extra providers like YubNub could be nice.

  10. […] Lee, one of the developers responsible for the new Firefox 3 “AwesomeBar”, has blogged about the new features that have been included in the new location bar behavior for Firefox 3 Beta 4. The adaptive […]

  11. emellaich says: 19 Mar 2008 - 13:08

    I love it. I love it enough to give you an additional thought – grin. I know that things are pretty much closed for FF3 at this point. Maybe if you like this it can make it in another release.

    I’m not swift enough to be using tags in my bookmarks yet, but I do use folders to organize my bookmarks. I would be cool to be able to search/filter my bookmark folders. Something like this:

    /articles /privacy “data leaks”

    In this case, articles is part of a folder name (not at the root level, it is actually down about three levels. Similarly, privacy is part of a folder name below articles. Then I’m looking for bookmarked pages that contain the phrase “data leaks” that are in the “Class Articles” folder and in a folder called “Privacy, Ethics, & Legal Issues”.

    Thanks for your great work!

  12. […] Firefox edition 3, currently in beta, is impressively faster and inferior memory-hungry than preceding versions. That makes my machine pretty happy. The another most perceptible change, though, has garnered integrated reactions from users of the beta. The become forbid has been changed, with such fanfare, into the “Awesomebar“. […]

  13. […] the upcoming Firefox 3, your browser’s command line finally reaches awesomeness. They even call it the “AwesomeBar”. As you type, it uses a smart index of your bookmarks and history to give you what you’re […]

  14. registeringtocommentsucks says: 25 Mar 2008 - 14:34


    The Awesomebar does rock — it was a bit strange on first use, but its searching abilities (multi words), as well as being able to hande Bookmarks and History is … awesome! Browsing the interwebs before was definitely not THIS fun+easy.

    The results of the Awesomebar show up pretty big, which isn’t always the best if you’re in a more … exposed place, or just generally have people around. There’s nothing bad in my Bookmarks or History, but there are a few things I don’t necessarily want popping up if I’m showing someone something directly or with someone sat to my side. “You bookmarked shaving your balls?”, as an example (NOT one from experience, I assure you!).

    Thus, it would be cool if under an individual bookmark’s “Properties”, you check check something like “Exclude from Awesomebar”.

    Or, and perhaps this is too much (bloat), being able to set Awesomebar to a ‘public’ vs. private “at home only” mode; where ‘public’ mode would not show bookmarks marked as ‘private’. You could then set Awesomebar’s state via the URL bar: setstate:public; setstate:private — for example.

    Or something along those lines.

    What do you think?

    Thanks a lot.

  15. There’s bug 422151 filed for tagging certain pages as private so that they don’t show up in the location bar results.

  16. […] mémoire et propose quelques nouvelles fonctionnalités particulièrement intéressantes, comme la refonte de la barre d’adresse ainsi que la nouvelle gestion des favoris […]

  17. […] and the most useful of all that I’ve seen so far is the new Location Bar, also dubbed the AwesomeBar by some of the Mozilla […]

  18. […] Firefox 3’s AwesomeBar. By adding the ability to search bookmarks by tags, it is already a readily-accessible, ubiquitous […]

  19. Jochen says: 27 May 2008 - 2:48

    How can i disable the “Beyond Awesome”-Feature if i don´t want to use it?

  20. I see you’re a fan of keyword searches.
    If you’re curious to check out a community devoted to it and of course is firefox-compatible see http://queri.ac

    Also, awesome work on the awesome bar!

  21. hello, it seem the + * ans ^ no more work in the final version ..i was really happy to find these specials character to search in tags only page … but it seem this is removed in the final version. or replaced ??? else is it possible to make an addon as you did to add these trigger ??? thx

  22. […] There’s evidence that many people don’t know the difference between the search box and the URL bar (see here). Chrome avoids this problem by getting rid of the separate search bar altogether: URLs and keyword searches are typed into the same text box. They call this box the omnibox, and it works a lot like Firefox 3’s awesomebar. […]

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