Re: Address bar searches (was: epiphany-list gnome org)

On 9/6/05, Adam Hooper <adamh densi com> wrote:
> On Mon, 2005-09-05 at 23:05 +0200, Kristoffer Lundén wrote:
> > That's why I think it's intiutive to try DNS for everything that might
> > be valid and if there's no hit, try a search instead.
> What about ""? Or "gnome.ort"? I have personally typed both
> several times. The best behavior in such a case is to present the user
> with an error page and leave focus in the address bar, *not* to start a
> Google search which will mangle my written-but-incorrect entry into the
> search bar. (In other words, if I typed something incorrect, I want to
> correct it: I do *not* want my browser to rewrite what I wrote -- for
> example, putting an ""; in front -- before I get
> a chance to fix it.)

Ah yes, I've been thinking about this - same thing actually, when I've
misspelled something on a search or a keyworded bookmark search (FF).
For sites that don't provide the query repeated in an easily
accessible box (like Google does), it can be very annoying to correct
a mistake in the middle of an URL, or at the end of a very long one.

One idea would be to not rewrite the URL. The redirect happens, but
the words stay the same. If you enter, it stays there, but
the search is performed - if that is your set behaviour. If I enter
search terms, the search is performed, but the words stay there for
further editing and refinement. (In FF, it's replaced with
'keyword:Search Terms' and URL escaped - I think simply keeping it
as-is would work just as nicely).

Now, I would be very comfortable with this, as long as the behaviour
is deterministic and  logical - easy to both predict and backtrack.
I'm not particulary interested in seeing a google URL a hundred times
a day. However, I'm pretty sure some will object to this, for various
reasons. Some potentially valid concerns:

1. Obscurity - It may not be obvious to the user what is happening.
2. Security - Someone could replace your search with another URL that
mimics original behaviour and you might not catch it, since you don't
see the URL.
3. Privacy - See 2.

For point 2 & 3, if someone has that kind of access to your computer,
and wishes you that kind of harm, you probably have bigger problems
than that. Still I don't want to dismiss that kind of issue: it does
provide another attack vector if there is already an attacker.

As for point 1, I think it is much harder to answer. Assuming no
malicious attacks, is it really any confusion of what actually happens
if you get a Google, or MSN, or Altavista page but you don't see the
URL? Even for an inexperienced user, I would think that it is quite
obvious what happens if I enter "Pet Store" and get a page like this:

For all three, there should be an easy way to display actual URL
(perhaps a hover tooltip?) and there should also be an easy way to get
it, for copy/paste or manual edit purposes. This is missing in FF as
far as I can tell. One idea would be a possibility to expand the URL,
like a tree view, don't know if there is any support for that in the
toolkits though.

Far from a finished suggestion. =) It would still need quite some
ironing out of details, but at least it's a suggestion.

One more thing: for anything like this to work smoothly, user should
keep full control of location bar, even while browser is loading
(search) page. That is, when I catch myself typing '' I can
just return and correct, and resubmit, which should abort previous
page load if still in progress and proceed with overriding order. It's
just like any other editing, you correct typos as you go.

> I'm not presenting any new suggestions here; I'm just offering an
> extremely common use case which nobody has taken into account yet in
> this thread.

For the sake of further discussion, maybe it would be a good idea to
summarize which use cases there are?

Start of a list:
 1. User enters correctly spelled URL
 2. User enters misspelled URL
 3. User enters one or several correctly spelled words
 4. User enters one or several misspelled or incorrect words
 5. User enters one or several words of which the first matches a
keyword in bookmarks

Note about points 3&4: Entering words that doesn't give the correct
result, or that needs refining would also count as misspellings: the
user would want to refine the terms.
All entries on the list should be those that could be fed to a "smart
location bar" no matter how: manual entering, from selected text via
context menu, from external application and so on.

Kristoffer Lundén
☎ 0704 48 98 77
✉ kristoffer lunden gmail com
ICQ: 618 289 83

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