Get it All

Those of you who, like myself, are loyal FireFox users have by now probably fallen in love with the Awesome Bar. Despite it’s childish name the Awesome Bar really does transform the way a browser, it’s history and it’s favourite site list work for the user by making all of these things available to you in the URL bar when you start typing.

As you type in the Awesome Bar, the browser searches your history and favourites to find things you’ve used or bookmarked in the past that match. This allows you to, rather than either searching your favourites or typing whole URLs in the address bar, simply type in “wordpress function” and get the WordPress Function Reference page as the first choice, assuming you’ve been to that page, bookmarked it, and haven’t been to a bunch of other pages with similar names. Further, the Awesome Bar seems to also take into account your history of selecting it’s search results into account. I have a couple of different ways of accessing my webmail, for example, but FireFox has learned which method is my preferred method.

So, yeah. I’m a big fan of this new way of doing things. And Google’s Chrome seems to add the same functionality. But there’s a down side of which I informed Mozilla through their feedback system, for what it’s worth: the Awesome Bar has the potential to be a Christmas Spoiler Bar if they don’t make some serious improvements in the next month or so.

Imagine buying your wife a nice piece of jewelry from your favourite online store only to have her sit down to the computer later that same day and – in searching for something totally unrelated – come across an Awesome Bar result that says “thank you for your order, other people who bought ‘priceless jewelry’ also bought. . .” Not awesome. Not awesome in the slightest. In fact, it would suck.

What do you do in this case? It’s important enough that you might be tempted to dump your browser history. But wait! Isn’t that defeating the purpose of the Awesome Bar, at least a little? Of course it is. And particularly for those of us who do a fair amount of research online, the Awesome Bar is like a running dynamic notes list we can refer back to, and losing that functionality for a few months over Christmas holiday is really throwing the baby out with the bath water. But what else is there?

A better solution would be if FireFox provided a couple options:

  • Disabling History tracking for this session: Give the user the option of turning off any history tracking for a given window. They could do what they need to and close the window, effectively eliminating all “history leaks.”
  • Delete Entry: In the Awesome Bar search results, at the right of each result should be the option to delete it if you want. After all, it’s your browser and your Awesome Bar, I could see this being very useful for lots of reasons, not the least being pages you browsed without meaning to or those that didn’t add any value to your search.
  • Block Site: Finally, give us the option to specify – maybe right in the Awesome Bar search results, next to delete, along with a button somewhere – either that we don’t want a given site tracked or that we want all history entries from the site that FF already has deleted.

I think that the inclusion of these simple features would vastly improve the Awesome Bar for all of us who are slowly becoming addicted to it’s usefulness. I say “simple,” because I have no idea what it would take to make these things happen, of course.