I'm Aza Raskin @aza. I make shiny things. I simplify.

I'm VP at Jawbone, focusing on health.

 

Taskfox Prototype: Ubiquity in Firefox

As a user experience exploration, Ubiquity has been incredibly successful. Over a million downloads have highlighted the need for the web to be connected more tightly with by the power of task-based interfaces. Due to the passion of users, the user tutorial has been translated into ten languages. Similarly, the thousands of commands written for Ubiquity illustrate a latent desire to be able to write tiny amounts of code that enhance the web in fundamental ways.

We are currently working on bringing some of that power to Firefox. For a more detailed look at some of the directions we’ve been thinking about, check out the mockups page of the project wiki.

Static mockups only get you so far, however. To really get a sense of how something feels, you need to touch it and see it in motion.

Prototype

Details

* The main thing we haven’t prototyped is the interaction of the awesome bar results and the Taskfox commands. We know that this is a major remaining question so we’ll be prototyping that soon. We’ve more or less ignored that interaction for this prototype.

* We’ve moved all modifiers into the suggestions area. That is, you can’t type “translate Hello, World into Japanese”. Instead, you type “translate Hello, World” and select Japanese inside the preview. This simplifies the interaction in the Awesome Bar, and makes the interface a bit more discoverable and localizable, at the cost of effortlessly typing what you want to do. Fortunately, everything in the preview will be keyboard navigatable so you’ll still be able to tab-and-type without using the mouse.

* Being able to navigate results with the keyboard is lacking in Ubiquity proper. We’ve tried to solve that in TaskFox.

* We’ve made “diving into results” a fundamental part of TaskFox. Clicking the more arrow (or using the right arrow keys) slides everything over for an ultra-fast way to checkout a more detailed view of information. See the video for more detail.

* We haven’t concentrated on visual style, so forgive it.

* You can drag results and they’ll “tear off” to form their own window. In this way, any result/detailed view can become more permanent. E.g., if you want to start a youtube video playing you can pull it off and place it in a corner of your screen while you continue browsing. The torn-off window can be re-docked into your tabs.

Try it out yourself

The demo is written entirely in HTML and Javascript (with some help from jQuery). It has only been tested in Firefox. It’s a prototype so type slowly, or it won’t work.

Go to the demo!

Get Involved

We have a weekly public meeting every Thursday at 3:00pm PDT (10:00pm UTC). These are open to everyone, no RSVP needed. You can also join #fx-team to chat about Taskfox on IRC, or discuss it on the mozilla.dev.apps.firefox newsgroup. Anyone can help out by creating your own mockups or prototypes, filing bugs, write patches, and generally giving input.

RT @aza Taskfox Prototype: Ubiquity in Firefox | Follow @aza on Twitter | All blog posts

View all 115 comments



Vincent

Very nice, works intuitively already.


Good work. Looking forward to building a few tasklets and seeing how the framework works. Will you still be able to perform tasks that apply to the context of the existing page?



Aza Raskin

@Edwin: Absolutely. Good catch that I hadn’t talked about that. I also haven’t talked about how action on selections will work.


    JasonViens23 on January 31, 2011 that was horrible lol hahhhaaa.. im so happy mine didnt go that bad.. a bit of advice to all future best men.. dont try to be a inevative hero.. look up some good speeches take some good points from a few of them then impliment your own touch on them.. its a stressfull moment there is nothing wrong with a little help


Aza – I really like this implementation and the demo was fun to play with.

I’ll be excited to see when it’s going to be integrated into a Firefox release. Are you thinking it’ll be ready for Firefox.next?

-Matt


Now this is starting to look good. In my eyes better then Ubiquity. Especially for small notebooks.


Can anyone make their page previewable with, say, a special link or stylesheet in their page?


@Matt. That’s the hope.

@Ian: Now that’s an interesting idea. Do you have any specific thoughts on how that might work. Like the @mobile css sheet?



permial

Congrats. This will be the most important addition to Firefox since the Mozilla split.



rtaycher

I would recommend organizing different searches, history, bookmarks like ie 8, then another section for web searches (say google and wiki for default) , and a final section for command matches(eliminating some sections if exact command match.



Pseudonymous Coward

I don’t see why this would be anything other than of little use to 90% of Firefox users. Ubiquity/Taskfox must always remain an add-on, for the love of efficiency, please.


I like the way this is going a lot.

The ‘drag to make persistent’ exploration is really cool, although as I stop and think about it I’m curious about the use-cases. Seems like with Ubiquity, most of the times when I want to make something permanent (almost always a command that returns search results) I can just hit enter in the command line and it pops open a new tab with the results. Seems like introducing a new metaphor for that might cause more problems than it solves. Still, there was something about it that makes me want to see more.

Also, great general prototyping example! That’s a lot of demonstrative power packed into some relatively simple code.



Tim

Looks pretty cool. Be sure to add an option to break a tab off into one of those little on-page boxes any time – I’m sure someone will do it anyway, might as well build it in. ;-)
I think that for the translate command, or something that takes input like that, you should keep the ability to type “to [language]” and also have the discoverable mouse-based buttons that are there now.
I’m also curious about how the on-page actions for TaskFox will be done.
Is it easier to create and share commands for TaskFox or Ubiquity? Can Ubiquity commands easily be ported?
I’d like any page to be able to be “zoomed in”/popped out like the Wikipedia and YouTube pages. (this would be useful on e.g. Google searches) It could use the default appearance unless a custom (supplied by the command creator) or mobile (supplied by the page of course) stylesheet is available, in which case it could use that.



Dmitry Gutov

The prototype looks pretty awesome. It also brings a clear separation between operative words and the parameter string that Ubiquity is currently lacking. Please keep it up.

That said, I don’t really see this prototype integrating with standard Firefox install.
I think the end result would benefit from taking a step towards what About:Tab is doing (just like About:Tab would benefit from doing the reverse, see my comment in Labs blog). And like About:Tab is adding extra search boxes when the browser already has one, you’re trying to use the awesomebar results area for content display (something it’s not meant for), leaving the page content area blank.
The user will probably open a new tab anyway, why not display all previews there? Make two columns, first for the list, second for the detailed preview, and voila. That won’t look too new, but it’ll actually be more useful.


Hi Aza, please, take a moment for read this post

Automatic translation of the text to english:

“Surprising that the functional prototype of Taskfox Aza has presented the adaptation of Ubiquity to be integrated into Firefox.

Each day that passes I am more amazed with the paradigm shift so profound that involves the evolution of what we now know as “browsers” and that is bringing people out of Mozilla.

I repeat once again, I know, but I said, are laying the foundations of a new ubiquitous operating system, and within multidevice anything multimodal.

Yet still I’m missing something, if the browser is set to become an operating system that could ideally be used with the same settings at any time from anywhere without having to make an ad-hoc for each gadget or device on which you want to dispose of it. Or what is the same, it should:

* Able to download the package browser, operating system should be extremely light,
* One-click install on the device (anyone) that you will use,
* some form for safe login and, from there,
* I should automatically and immediately on my desktop-white home page of my browser, operating system configuration you have given throughout my browsing sessions: add-ons you have installed on any time from any device, the bookmarks that you saved, you have windows open or with separate Taskfox distribution has ceased at the time of closing the session in the browser, operating system etc, etc, etc …

An operating system in the cloud, based on open standards, extensible, easily configurable by the user, which can be enriched and adapted to their needs by installing any of the thousands of add-ons available that can be improved and that is to cover any type of specific need for any kind of audience by thousands of volunteer developers throughout the world by applying a model of collaborative and creative work is not confined or limited to the requirements for a software company, as predicted by squeezing just Nikesh Arora four months of collective intelligence and synergies of global economies of scale …

… A system to meet the long tail of user needs and …

… What a change so profound paradigm of computing and the rebels now pathetically limited as canned systems that we work with today. What so great impact on the evolution of the World Wide Web. The development of these operating systems (I speak in plural because I do not think for a moment that it is changing how things Microsoft, Google, Apple and Opera do not respond by launching and developing their turn now “only” browsers As shown there is such Gazelle and Microsoft Live Mesh-). We have something new and exciting.”

More in the post,

From Madrid, Spain, cordial greetings



Roberto

Congratulations! Taskfox seems very promising. I look forward to testing it soon in my Firefox.


Aza,

Thanks for all your hard work. Appreciate it.. I’m having a problem with Ubiquity and can’t get it to work for me. Here the results of the test run I did. I don’t know how to resolve this issue. Thanks,

Error in test testTagCommand: undefined (in file:///Users/migwic/Library/Application%20Support/Firefox/Profiles/bt8qu985.default/extensions/ubiquity@labs.mozilla.com/tests/test_tag_command.js, line 54)



    Aza Raskin

    That should be Fixed in Ubiquity 0.5 :)


[link rel="stylesheet" media="preview" href="xxx"] would be an obvious way. Of course, you have to fetch the page to check if it has a preview stylesheet, and arguably why not show the preview regardless? And then, what is the difference between this funny awesome bar and a tab? That’s where I start being unsure about the preview…

A better preview would be one that really was a preview, just a snippet or summary or something. That’s trickier, I guess. You could have [link rel="preview" type="text/html" href="xxx"]; you’d still have to fetch the entire page just to detect the presence of a preview, which is lame and slow, but it would be in some sense more general and resource oriented. But I’m not sure it’d actually be nice because of the latency. Unless you prefetch.


Whoever said this will be of no use to 90% of Firefox users… that makes no sense. It’s just a matter of showing people how it works, as Aza did with the video above… I think videos like that should come packaged or linked with every new Firefox install. My mom never realized she could search directly from the Firefox toolbar until I showed her how – it just never occurred to her. Now she’s Ctrl-King and all the time.

I think the prototype looks great. Being able to expand content of Taskfox into a new tab with one click or press of a button is important.



ChrisJF

That looks great! Thanks for making the video, Aza.

However, I am put off with this idea of yet another content area. Why aren’t the Awesome Bar results just shown in the tab’s content area? That way, the user doesn’t have to deal with dragging and managing another window. As an added bonus, this new organization would allow for more results or richer results to be displayed (because a tab’s content area is infinitely bigger — just think, no more page chunk-ing!) Furthermore, if the user wanted to get back to the results, they could click the back button. To me this makes more sense. Like “Googling” your Places history and bookmarks. “Firefoxing” anyone?



Wil Wade

I notice that there is no easy way to get back from your content that is being displayed via mouse, without scrolling back up to the top of the content. Although “power” users are more keyboard oriented, I know that most other users are very mouse oriented.

Perhaps using something like the Lightbox forward back buttons that popup when you mouse over? Or something on the side that expands when the mouse gets near (as to not cover something you might want to click on…)


Hi,
I red on Firefox 3.6 roadmap that there was a Ubiquity integration in awsome bar someday . Is it still the case ?
I’m currently working on a Tactile browser based on Firefox addon called Blump.it and would like to integrate an awesomebar with Ubiquity integration usable on a tactile mode. Thanks for your answer.


You are the utmost extravaganza@


I think the prototype looks great. Being able to expand content of Taskfox into a new tab with one click or press of a button is important.


Very nice project


Did anyone else notice how the picture in the first panel is zoomed in, to make it look more crowded?


I’d like to see a way to prevent a site from ever appearing there. For instance, my router’s admin page keeps creeping back


cosmodisk

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Good work. Looking forward to building a few tasklets and seeing how the framework works. Will you still be able to perform tasks that apply to the context of the existing page?


Good work. Looking forward to building a few tasklets and seeing how the framework works. Will you still be able to perform tasks that apply to the context of the existing page?



Sex

Good work. Looking forward to building a few tasklets and seeing how the framework works. Will you still be able to perform tasks that apply to the context of the existing page?


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sex

good work, thanks admin


Here are three ideas on a theme; my preference is for the last. Although not pictured well, matching tabs should be ranked above plain URLs.


What a change so profound paradigm of computing and the rebels now pathetically limited as canned systems that we work with today. What so great impact on the evolution of the World Wide Web.



Joe

Really wondering if this will make it into FF4??? Please Please? Please? I really miss Ubiquity. SO USEFUL, with ff3.5 + ubiquity = I used windows less & the web more == $A VERY GOOD THING. So I urge you to put TaskFox into FF4, or at least make Ubiquity functional with FF4b’s. Long live firefox.


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We haven’t concentrated on visual style, so forgive it.


Is it just me or is ubiquity being taken apart. With taskFox and jetPack, it seems like you’re taking the basic parts of Ubiquity apart and sticking them in other things.



Varun

Hi Aza,

Just wondering if this is available in the just released Firefox 4 and if so, how do I access it?

Also, will ubiquity make it to Firefox 4 at some stage?

Thanks!


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K

Cool idea, but when will this be ready? Just installed Firefox 4.0.1 and was disappointed to see that there’s no compatible version of Ubiquity. So until Taskfox is up and running, I appear to be stuck with nothing, having to shift tabs and copy/paste everything like the old days.

/firstworldproblem


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Aleksandra

Please keep Ubiquity alive. I appreciate that it has helped create Taskfox for the ‘average users’. However, geeks are people too… and we would love to continue using this powerful and addictive linguistic tool.


THANKX…..


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Paulo Sargaço

Hi Aza.

I’ve been following you now and then especially in what concerns Ubiquity. I still use it, BTW, it’s an essential productivity tool for me. Anyway, I’d just like to suggest that you use dates on these posts. Many of the things you talk about are experiences which eventually die or get absorbed by other projects. It would help to know if this really interesting and promising concept I’m reading about is something that was written 2 years ago.

Anyway, thanks for your work, good stuff.

Regards,

Paulo


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