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Mozilla The Internet

Command Lines and the Future of Firefox 360

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wouldn't-that-be-nice dept.
Barence writes "Mozilla has revealed how it plans to integrate plain text commands directly into future versions of Firefox. Dubbed Taskfox, the move sees Mozilla's Ubiquity project become part of the browser itself, allowing users to type commands directly into the address bar. You can, for example, type 'map cleveland street london' to bring up a Google Map of that location, or 'amazon-search the great gatsby' to find that book on Amazon, without visiting the website directly. 'The basic idea behind Taskfox is simple: take the time-saving ideas behind Ubiquity, and put them into Firefox,' the Taskfox wiki claims. 'That means allowing users to quickly access information and perform tasks that would normally take several steps to complete.'"
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Command Lines and the Future of Firefox

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  • by jolyonr (560227) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:49AM (#27389147) Homepage

    0 results found

  • screenshots (Score:3, Funny)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@Nospam.drunksnipers.com> on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:49AM (#27389151) Homepage

    Wow, they have actual screenshots of the commandline interface. Who would have thought that was possible.

    • Re:screenshots (Score:5, Informative)

      by MoonBuggy (611105) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:01AM (#27389379) Journal

      You joke, but the interface is all that's new here. You can already do what the summary suggests using bookmark keywords - it is a useful feature, actually. I don't know how well-know it is, but basically you make a bookmark with a keyword for the address bar and a wildcard in the URL.

      For example, if you make a bookmark with the keyword 'map' and the address 'http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&q=%s' (note the '%s' wildcard) you can then type 'map cleveland street london' straight into the address bar just as the summary suggests. All that they seem to be suggesting is having it come up in a 'floating' context box like the AwesomeBar rather than actually open in the tab.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mirshafie (1029876)
        Many browsers have keyword searches, and most of them handle these much more robustly than Firefox with their ridiculous "bookmark keywords" (argh). Check Konquerors search manager to see how it should be done :) However Ubiquity is much more than keyword search. An ubiquity script can take input from several variables, and in several steps.
        • Firefox has keyword searches, too, and they are easy to set up from the search engine manager. You don't need a bookmark keyword to do that.

          That being said, bookmark keywords, while they can also be used as search keywords, are different and more powerful because you can use them for things that aren't really "searches," like Google Maps (Google doesn't have a Sherlock or OpenSearch plugin for maps; browers like Firefox, Safari, and IE 7/8 need this because that is what you need to add a search engine).

      • Re:screenshots (Score:5, Informative)

        by patro (104336) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:22AM (#27389723) Journal

        You joke, but the interface is all that's new here. You can already do what the summary suggests using bookmark keywords

        Not exactly. With Ubquity you get instant feedback during typing, so you don't have to wait for the page to load with all the bells and whistles, you see only the relevant part of it.

        So it's quicker and more convenient than keyword bookmarks.

      • So it's going to be like Launchy [launchy.net]/QuickSilver [wikipedia.org].

        I already have some custom commands to search our internal LAN, our internal phone directory, google maps, etc.

        I no longer use QS but just use Spotlight on my Mac. Both OSs have Ctrl-Space as the bind keys. Anytime I'm on a computer without them I feel lost like I don't know how to launch programs.

  • by Saul Bash (1437909) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:49AM (#27389159)
    So, basically, a bunch of officially-included bookmark shortcuts.
    • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot AT ideasmatter DOT org> on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:13AM (#27389591) Journal

      So, basically, a bunch of officially-included bookmark shortcuts.

      Opera has had this for ages. It is truly sweet to be able to type "g Argle Fargle" into the address-bar to do a google-search for "Argle Fargle" without ever touching my mouse. There is also 'z' for Amazon search, 'a' for Ask.com, 'b' for bittorrent, 'y' for Yahoo, etc. etc. And you can add your own.

      • by tyrione (134248)

        So, basically, a bunch of officially-included bookmark shortcuts.

        Opera has had this for ages. It is truly sweet to be able to type "g Argle Fargle" into the address-bar to do a google-search for "Argle Fargle" without ever touching my mouse. There is also 'z' for Amazon search, 'a' for Ask.com, 'b' for bittorrent, 'y' for Yahoo, etc. etc. And you can add your own.

        Same goes for KDE's Konqueror. Just build your own and add them to the list.

      • I know, I love it. wiki for wikipedia, yt for youtube, imdb to search imdb.com... And they make it so easy to add new ones for ANY website with a search bar. You right click in the search box, choose "Create Search" and pick a key word. No need to add a %S wild card and figure out their url scheme for GET results. Works just as fine with POST forms too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cp.tar (871488)

        But you cannot select an image on a random web page and say "email this to $contact", and have it compose a mail in Gmail for you.

        If Ubiquity did nothing but that, it would be worth installing. And the more of it gets integrated in Firefox, the better.

    • How is this different to keyword search bookmarks? I've been doing amazon searches from my Firefox url bar for several years now...
    • by master811 (874700) on Monday March 30, 2009 @12:50PM (#27391017)

      No, it's oh so much more than that.

      Watch the video, it explains everything, and looks like a very cool feature with a LOT of potential.

      http://labs.mozilla.com/projects/ubiquity/ [mozilla.com]

  • Already doing that (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid.gmail@com> on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:49AM (#27389169) Homepage Journal
    With keyword search, there's dozens of websites I don't have to "visit" to use. This just seems like a more intelligent version.
    • by langelgjm (860756)
      Exactly. Or is it that the Firefox devs have already included the command "tpb" for us? ;-)
  • Doesn't it do this? (Score:5, Informative)

    by qoncept (599709) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:50AM (#27389181) Homepage
    I've typed "imdb back to the future" in the address bar and had the page I wanted come up right away. Same with "wikipedia donkey punch". What's new?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Tom9729 (1134127)

      The difference is that right now it's probably relying on Google's "I'm feeling lucky" feature.

    • by mollog (841386)
      I've been doing this for a while now. I'm glad they're doing it, but I didn't think it was news.

      The idea had occurred to me one day while I was working to pull up a map of something, I said to my wife, 'they should just make it so that you can say map boise, idaho'. Then I tried it out. D'oh! It already does that.

      These are the sorts of innovations that will keep FOSS and alternative software ahead of Microsoft, despite Microsoft's claims that they innovate.
      • but I didn't think it was news.

        People are too dismissive of these as "little" things. The whole point of a computer is computation and automation. We still do way too much crap manually, crap that the computer could easily figure out if only it was programmed to do so. I imagine a simple browser plugin could get rid of the Search box by using the URL box. Probably there is one. Quite simple to determine if a line of text looks like a URL, and if not, send it to a search engine. More than once, I've typed in some search terms and th

    • by patro (104336) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:26AM (#27389791) Journal

      Same with "wikipedia donkey punch". What's new?

      With Ubiquity you have suggestions and instant preview, so if you type "wi donkey punch" you see other possible matches too (the film with the same name, etc.) with previews without having to go to the site.

  • by Benjo (644811) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:50AM (#27389187)
    Search keywords have been in firefox for ages. I.e. right clicking on a search box in an arbitrary web page and turning it into a address bar command. I've used it to do all the examples in the summary.
    • by Graff (532189)

      OmniWeb [omnigroup.com] has had something similar for a long time, it's called shortcuts. You can either type in your searches (such as: imdb Jack Black [imdb.com]) or you can use the search shortcut on the toolbar.

      I like Firefox a lot because of its support for standards and its expandability but honestly I find myself using OmniWeb a lot more. Sure I can get addons to Firefox that make it as (or perhaps even more) functional as OmniWeb but the Firefox addons can get a bit odd at times, interacting with Firefox in weird ways. It'

  • by laing (303349) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:51AM (#27389211)
    How long will it be before they start selling "placement" services? Mozilla is non-profit but they could use the money to fund development.
    • by Xtravar (725372)

      And how long will it be before I start compiling my own version of Firefox?

    • Right after the executives at Mozilla lose their minds and just before it's forked by the more popular version of itself that doesn't do that.
  • by Greg_D (138979) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:53AM (#27389251)

    ... for Mozilla to keep their filthy commands out of the address bar. They could easily add that to the search plugin bar without any problems. I had enough trouble last night when I was trying to troubleshoot a neighbor's internet connection issues and Firefox would repeatedly send the perfectly valid address (http://192.168.1.1) I was inputting off to a google search, which of course would return a blank page, since the ultimate trouble was the cable modem, not the router nor the connection to the router.

    There needs to be a gigantic "FUCK YOU, LEAVE ME ALONE, LET ME SURF THE WEB AS THE FLYING SPAGHETTI WEASEL INTENDED" button in the settings.

    • I recommend they call it the "damned dirty apes" button.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That sounds like a lie. I just tried what you said in FF3 and there was no problem. ip address, with or without a preceding http:// takes me to wherever it points, no google search.

      Are you sure you're qualified to handle one of these machines?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kestasjk (933987) *
      For me if the address doesn't resolve I get a "Page Load Error".. It must be a problem on your end (and I don't see what it has to do with the address bar anyway).
    • I do that quite frequently in firefox. I wonder if their cable modem or DNS or something else was causing that problem on purpose. For instance, many cable modems allow you to disallow wireless connections to the admin tools, I can see the behavior your describing being the fallback for rejection.
  • by bjdevil66 (583941) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:53AM (#27389253)

    Screenshot from article [mozilla.com]

    The idea is interesting, but wouldn't this be better served as an add-on? That would keep Firefox true to it's add-on roots, IMO.

  • Either this is an announcement of something they've already done - or they aren't aware of the capabilities of their own (existing) browser. Entering the two examples into the address bar of my installation of Firefox (v3.0.8) yields the desired results already.

  • In the beginning (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:56AM (#27389297) Homepage

    In the beginning operating systems only had command lines.
    Then the GUI replaced the command line.
    Then the browser replaced the operating system.
    Then the browser got a command line.

  • Emacs (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aceticon (140883) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:00AM (#27389367)

    Firefox is gonna be like the Emacs Operating System ... only bigger

  • over the past 20 years I've been amazed at how the IT world first started scorning command lines (IE the rise of Mac, Windows and GUIs in general) only to come back to them (IE Mac OS X / spotlight / Quicksilver, Windows / launchy, smart address bars, and the increasing amount of people who started using Linux with Ubuntu and are nwo flocking to the command line).

    This just proves what i'd known all along: command lines are more efficient, and although the learning curve might be a bit steeper, they just kick ass for things you have to do repeatedly. You of course learn the commands and then whiz by all those people whose motor skills barely allow them to use the mouse, yet they insist in their clickety-clickety ways.

    Many operations are easier with a GUI but getting rid of the command line altogether (mac OS 1.x-9.x, I'm looking at you) is/was never a good idea.

    • Yes, there's a lot of stuff in OS's that people don't use much. I remember when Unix didn't include any kind of non-command-line applications. Does the fact that they have more now prove that GUIs were better all along?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      This just proves what i'd known all along: command lines are more efficient, and although the learning curve might be a bit steeper, they just kick ass for things you have to do repeatedly.

      I would say it differently: command lines are better or more efficient for some things. Trying to do those things with a mouse may make it easier for people who don't know how to do the same thing in a command line, but someone using a command line can sometimes do the same thing more quickly and easily. On the other hand, some things are better handled by those clickety-clickety ways that are used by people who favor a GUI.

      I'm not sure we're disagreeing, but your post seems to focus on how it's a bit si

  • So we already have keyword commands such that I can put "dir: " and have firefox search the corporate directory at my company. Want to search amazon? What about just typing "amazon.com " Google seems pretty good about finding it. The worst part about these "text commands" is having to remember all the commands that they're going to decide to implement.

    Unless of course amazon decides to pay firefox for keyword usage...

  • by Tet (2721) * <slashdot@astradyne[ ].uk ['.co' in gap]> on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:04AM (#27389441) Homepage Journal
    Uhhh... how is this news? I've been doing that with Firefox for ages using bookmark keywords. So I have w foo to look up foo on Wikipedia and p foo to look for python documentation about foo for example. That could easily be expanded to do imdb searches, etc if I wanted to. It's reasonable to claim the interface for setting up these searches could be improved, but the functionality is already 99% there.
  • type "map cleveland street london" to bring up a Google Map of that location, or "amazon-search the great gatsby" to find that book on Amazon

    Users can already do that with the search text field. Example1 [google.com]. Example2 [google.com]. This new feature doesn't appear to bring any new value to the user over what is already provided.

    I'd really like to see Mozilla spend one release where they stop working on new features and focus solely on fixing bugs. The results of such an effort would be more valuable to the end user.

    • by D Ninja (825055)

      I'd really like to see Mozilla spend one release where they stop working on new features and focus solely on fixing bugs. The results of such an effort would be more valuable to the end user.

      You're absolutely correct. But, while it is a whole lot more valuable to the end user, it's a whole lot less interesting to the developers.

  • They're adding google?
  • by schwit1 (797399) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:08AM (#27389505)
    Firefox should be focused on 3 things: speed, security and standards. Everything else should be user-controlled with add-ons.
    .

    If I wanted bloat I would use IE.

    • by owlnation (858981)

      Firefox should be focused on 3 things: speed, security and standards. Everything else should be user-controlled with add-ons.

      Absolutely 100% agree! I cannot understand what Mozilla are thinking. This should surely be an add-on, so should the awful bar, so should many other things currently slowing down Fx. If I wanted a service like this -- I'd just go to Ask.com. It's so 1997.

      Bottom line is this... Chrome and IE8 are already beating Fx on many things. The only advantage to Fx is some add-ons. However,

  • Do it right (Score:4, Funny)

    by hwyhobo (1420503) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:12AM (#27389561)

    It would be nice, but not as "let me guess half way what you want as you type in the address bar" kind of thing. Much of that is there already. If you want to add a real command line, then create an add-on with multi-line commands, some logic built-in, perhaps piping. In other words, do a "bashy" thing.

    While we're at it, why not allow execution of scripts written in this new language? Now, that would be cool.

  • Does anyone else see this as a BIG (like ActiveX-sized) security hole???
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oops, I deleted the Internet. Sorry.

  • How about abstracting the profile from the program itself? Maybe make it a separate module which can then be pluggable. So then, if I want to run firefox in a corporate environment via GPO, I can use a module which allows me to do that.

    And let's bin the entire concept of multiple profiles per account while we're at it.

  • Firefox Redux? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Millennium (2451) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:17AM (#27389643) Homepage

    When Firefox was created, it was a spinoff of the Mozilla project for people who wanted 'just a browser' with extensions to fill in the rest.

    Part of me wonders if it's time to do that again: spin something new off of the Firefox project for people who want 'just a browser' with extensions to fill in the rest. Firefox has done a lot of good, just like Mozilla before it, but it seems to me like it's starting to suffer from the same bloat-over-standards problem that made the original project necessary in the first place.

    Maybe this is a cyclic thing; I don't know. Perhaps it's just plain going to be necessary to do this every few years: when a Mozilla browser gets too large, a lean child project emerges, eventually takes over, bloats up, and another lean child project emerges, and so the cycle continues.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:22AM (#27389729)

    I was excited, thinking that the command-line was back, and I could ditch this horrible mouse interface. But then I read that it's only for skipping common search interfaces. Big deal.

    What I wanted, what I want, what wolud actually get me to switch from IE to FF, what I need is to be able to control the browser from a command-line interface. I want to type something like "add favourite 'my favourite recipes' in 'food links'" and "go back" and "favourite 'my favourite recipes'" and "new tab 'live.ca'" and "close all other tabs".

    I don't care about search. There's already as many serach bars as I want, and smart address bars, and ISP searches. Already if I serached for "amazon magic beans" I'd get a listing with the expented book about jack from amazon. I don't need fancier searching. I don't have trouble searching. I have trouble with slow interfaces to vast feature sets within browsers.

    "stop loading images"
    "javascript off"
    "deny cookies"
    "accept cookies"
    "read privacy policy"
    "view certificate"
    "disable flash"
    "maximize"

    Hell, what I want is the windows key to pull up a generalized command-line interface, either to the OS or to the current application. I'm sick of long drop-downs, fly-outs, ribbons, menus, and checkboxes. I can type faster than I can click -- and who's ever heard of clicking without looking?

    • by Chad Birch (1222564) on Monday March 30, 2009 @11:28AM (#27389859)
      Have a look at Vimperator [vimperator.org]. It's slow to get started (much like vim itself), but very efficient once you get it. Make sure you read the help/manual so you realize all the commands possible.
    • "who's ever heard of clicking without looking?"

      Heard of it? Hell, that's two-thirds of the malware problem, right there.

  • Maybe I'm missing something, but you can already type 'map cleveland street london' or 'amazon-search the great gatsby' in the address bar and get the exact results you need. Is this inventing a solution to a problem that does not exist?

  • Apparently, Mozilla can't help but add feature after feature after feature to anything they create. Might as well just merge SeaMonkey, Firefox, Thunderbird and Sunbird back into one big, bloated app again.
  • I've had an inclination for some time to write up a specification for servers to set up command-line interfaces which you could use to access their site in a manner that is sort of like a mix of ReST and Bash. A naive design for such a system would be when you type a domain name into your browser bar, the browser fetches a CLI description in Javascript/AJAX or something.

    Imagine tab-completing the titles/slugs of news stories! To me that's much more exciting than this new Firefox feature.
  • by Jessta (666101) on Monday March 30, 2009 @12:03PM (#27390355) Homepage

    Mozilla has revealed how it plans to integrate plain text commands directly into future versions of Firefox. Dubbed Taskfox, the move sees Mozilla's Ubiquity project become part of the browser itself, allowing users to type commands directly into the address bar.

    ummmm...what happened to firefox being a bare bones base that you'd add your own addons to?

  • *yawn* (Score:2, Informative)

    by AvitarX (172628)

    I typed both these into the search box and got the results.

    I am not convinced this gains anything.

  • Stupid, stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Monday March 30, 2009 @12:14PM (#27390485) Homepage

    Why not just BUNDLE SOME FUCKING PLUGINS, rather than ignoring the whole plugin-based architecture you've set up?

    If you could do it just fine as a plugin, bundle the thing instead of removing the feature of not having it

  • Take opera into address bar type g hello world search google for hello work. type w WW2 Search wikipedia for WW2 go to anything that has a search function, right click and Create search. Find a "keyword" that makes sense. New command added. Has been like that for years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonTHC (208439)

      it is nowhere near as cool as ubiquity.

      you don't have to even type full commands.

      you highlight an address, press shift-space, and type map

      it gives you a list as you type of the possible variables.

      press enter opens a google map with that address mapped. way more cool than simple one letter shortcuts.

  • by Norsefire (1494323) * on Monday March 30, 2009 @12:55PM (#27391077) Journal
    I'm really liking the uninformed bullshit about this being bookmark keywords with a GUI. Do you have a keyword to go back? Home? Forward? Stop? Restart firefox? Act as a calculator? Check next Tuesday's schedule in google calandar instantly? There is a tonne of things ubiquity can do and while it's true some of it's functionality can be mirrored by keywords I would like to see a keyword bookmark that allows you to do "add lunch with jim tomorrow" to your google calandar.
  • Irritating (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday March 30, 2009 @05:20PM (#27394679) Homepage Journal
    There were no GUI's when I started playing with PC's. I had to learn how to do everything from the command line. Then, they created GUI's which I learned to use. Then, they created Windows, thereby making all those cool GUI's obsolete. Then, I finally learned Linux, making Windows obsolete - still with GUI's. Now, they are returning to the command line, except, I have to learn how THEY WANT IT DONE. Balls. I don't need this crap. It's not so much that you can't teach an old dog new tricks - but the damned dog's days are numbered. He isn't going to waste them learning yet a new way of doing stuff.

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