Ubiquity is My New Personal Assistant in Firefox

Yes, another Firefox extension post this week but bear with me for a minute and you will see why I am so excited about this particular one!

Ubiquity is an experimental Firefox extension that takes web browsing to the next level.

It’s easy to draw a parallel to Ubiquity of you are used to using an application launcher such as Launchy or Humanised Enso (Enso review | Enso Commands). Application launchers such as those lets you get to your applications with a few keystrokes without having to go look for it through a menu maze to find the one you need. I use Enso in Windows and Launchy in Linux.

Now, you can make Firefox do what you want it to do with a few commands through Ubiquity. It already comes with a set of commands that make common Web tasks faster and at your fingertips.

Install Ubiquity

Install Ubiquity extension just as you’d install any extension. Ubiquity is supported on Windows and Mac but not fully supported yet with Linux.

But, I have been trying it out in OpenSUSE 11.0 and it works great so far.

Commands

You need to hit the appropriate keys to open Ubiquities command line that will pop open as a black box on the left top corner with a blinking cursor.

Control-Space in Windows
Option-Space in Mac
Alt-Space in Linux

Once, you have the box now you are ready to start issuing commands. The commands just correspond to common things people do on the Web such as look up an address in Google Maps, find info in Wikipedia, search Google, look up weather, translate a word, etc.

The beauty of commands and Ubiquity is that it is completely extensible. Anyone can create a command and share it with others! If you have a gift with JavaScript, you can write Ubiquity commands and share it with us.

If you have Ubiquity installed, you can view the current commands available to you here.

Look up weather in New York

Lets try a simple look up of weather in New York. In Linux, I hit alt-space and then type wea and it is already showing the different options and ‘weather’ is one of them and is highlighted. So, I just hit space bar and type New York.That’s it and it brings up weather in New York.

Isn’t that awesome?

My Favorite Ubiquity Commands

  • amazon-search – searches amazon for books matching your word
  • define – meaning for a word
  • ebay-search – searches eBay for auctions matching your search
  • email – works with Gmail to email a message or links or images
  • flickr – searches Flickr.com for the word
  • google – searches Google (I used ctrl-K to get to my search box before but Ubiquity brings up results as I type so I can refine my search faster)
  • last-email – again works with Gmail to show the most recent email message
  • tinyurl – I am going to love this as I am a heavy tinyurl user. Just need to select a url and issue this command!
  • weather – I’ll be able to check weather without a Firefox extension now

As you can see, you can save so much time by not going to the location bar to get to the website you need and then searching for the stuff you need. You do it with a few key strokes with Ubiquity.

As with many good things, there will be a conscious change in the way we do things but this one of the things I know for sure will better my experience in the Web.

You could also checkout this Ubiquity intro video or read this user tutorial to get a better idea on what it can do.

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

You are probably wondering if it’s a Firefox add-on review week instead of my usual Firefox Extension Picks. But, yesterday’s review of Black Canvas Gmail Signatures needed special attention and that’s the least I can do for such a useful tool that I’ll use everyday.

Similarly, I am so excited about Ubiquity I had to give it due diligence and share my excitement with you.

I hope you try it and see if you like it and helps with your time on the Web. Let me know how you liked it in the comments.

Update: 12/31/08

Ubiquity 0.1.3 has been released and it sports some very cool features

  • a new refreshing look
  • skins – you can create your own in CSS or subscribe to others’ skins
  • improved speed
  • higher relevancy – working context menu

Update: 01/14/08

Ubiquity 0.1.5 has been released and it looks better and better. Here are a few new things

  • even better look
  • has laid the groundwork for full keyboard access
  • better relevancy – remembers the commands you use like Firefox Awesomebar

Ubiquity 0.2 is due out soon and I am excited to see it.

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  • http://fabworker.com/ Keshav

    Looks cool. It’s like Humanized Enso for Firefox. I’ll try this one. Thanks Karthik :)

  • http://techie-buzz.com Keith Dsouza

    Definitely looks good, I used another tool called Kallout (http://techie-buzz.com/utilites/web-search-using-word-excel-powerpoint-outlook-notepad-and-pdf-files.html) which integrated more into Microsoft products and browsers so will stick with that for now. Though will definitely try this out once it gets more stable.

    I would suggest you try out kallout too and see for once.

    Keith Dsouzas last blog post..Manage Google Services on Your Desktop with GMDesk [Adobe Air App]

  • http://haiku-poems-blog.blogspot.com/ kouji@haiku poems examples

    promising. i’m a big fan of any small piece of software which allows me to get things done without having to reach for the mouse (or trackpoint). so this interests me. i don’t have any knowledge of javascript, but i don’t think that’ll be a problem because i find that there are usually a lot of knowledgeable people out there, who are generous with their skills.

    koujis last blog post..nature haiku: stream

  • http://www.andrewflusche.com/services/wills-and-estate-planning/ Andrew@Estate Planning Lawyer

    I am loving Ubiquity myself!! It’s awesome to be able to control so many different things, without taking your hands off the keyboard. That alone can be a timesaver. And it’s smart-completion of commands means that I don’t have to remember them all. :)

    Andrews last blog post..Trademark Registration Video Tutorial

  • http://www.shankrila.com K

    Keith, I just checked out your post on Kallout and it looks great and I will try it. :-) Thanks for sharing that.

    kouji, I’m the same way. I love using even the keyboard shortcuts in Gmail, Google Reader, etc plus the Firefox shortcuts. Now, this has just made it even more powerful. :-)

    Andrew, great to hear you are having fun with it too. Auto-smart completion is something very nice plus you can scroll through different options with your keypad.

  • http://www.whoismadhur.com Madhur Kapoor

    The features looks amazing. Will give this a try right now.

    Madhur Kapoors last blog post..Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 : First Impressions

  • http://wongsk.blogspot.com Wongsk

    It’s nice and great firefox addon.

    With Ubiquity,no need to switch or open new window/tab,all network application can do in one webpage as mashups mentioned by Mozilla Lab.

    We need to think that web browser no only for view,it also need edit and manage application in future.

    Ubiquity and Firefox is the best combination.

    Wongsks last blog post..Anchor hotspot Shield : Free And Secure VPN Service Protect Personal Data As Online

  • http://blog.gettingrichthecertainway.net/brainwave-meditation Olivier @ brainwave meditation

    This indeed looks like a handy plugin. But I’m a it afraid it will slow down the system. I know that since the recent upgrade javascript is really faster now, but still. In the past, my gmail additions were so slow I had to remove them.
    But it looks promising.

  • http://www.shankrila.com K

    Madhur, would love to hear how you like it.

    Wongsk, Ubiquity just raised the bar in the browser area making Firefox absolutely awesome and useful. Even with the release of Google Chrome browser, lot of Firefox folks are still standing by it. And for a good reason.

    Olivier, I am using it in my Firefox with around 20 extensions and it didn’t slow it down for me. I do have 2G memory and maybe that’s helping. :-)

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  • http://system-speed.blogspot.com/ James@System Speed

    Thanks for the tip. I will try this out. It looks very useful for quick searching.

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