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Firefox 3.2 Plans Include Natural Language, Themes

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the subject-to-change dept.

Mozilla 285

Shrike82 writes "Mozilla have described plans for the next version of their popular web browser, Firefox. Mozilla's "Ubiquity project" is set to become a standard feature, allowing "users to type natural language phrases into the browser to perform certain tasks, such as typing 'map 10 Downing Street' to instantly see a Google map of that address, or 'share-on-delicious' to bookmark the site you're currently visiting on the social news site." Also of interest is so-called "lightweight theming" allowing users to customise the browsers design more easily. The launch date is still somewhat unclear, and Mozilla are apparently unsure if version 3.2 will be released at all, apparently considering going straight to Firefox 4."

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285 comments

Why don't they... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796653)

save users a heap of bandwidth and build the entire Internet into the browser. Mozilla: the only browser that doesn't need a 'net connection! It'd have around the same amount of bloat.

Re:Why don't they... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796771)

the parent officially fails at the internet, because everyone knows that won't be nearly enough porn.

Re:Why don't they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797791)

the parent officially fails at the internet, because everyone knows that won't be nearly enough porn.

There is never enough porn!

Re:Why don't they... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796945)

Seriously. Firefox is almost as bloated as that partisan so-called stimulus bill Obama and Pelosi are trying to sell us. Boy, Obama sure switched from the politics of hope to the politics of fear in record time, didn't he? If we don't cram this monstrosity of a spending bill through ASAP, the world will end! Oh noes! Save me, Big Brother! I'm helpless without your divine guidance!

Dangerous path (-1, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797463)

Natural language? Natural for who?

Will we have to have versions for the West Coast, East Coast, down South...Ebonics?

I can see it now "Yo Yo Yo...show me the mother fuckin' U.I. site...Word!"

Re:Why don't they... (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796959)

save users a heap of bandwidth and build the entire Internet into the browser. Mozilla: the only browser that doesn't need a 'net connection! It'd have around the same amount of bloat.

Parent is not a troll. This is about the first thing I thought of when I read the summary.

Will happen, eventually (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797111)

If technology continues to progress at current exponential rates, eventually we will get to the point where most queries for factual information which doesn't change rapidly, like maps, routing, language and jargon definitions, encyclopedia articles, etc., will be able to be answered by a stored information cache which will be small compared to the technological capabilities which will then be current.

Barring industries which would be threatened managing to somehow block progress in this direction via legislation.

Re:Will happen, eventually (3, Insightful)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797863)

Will be stored in an information cache?

You can already download a snapshot of wikipedia (which we all know is the end-all source of infinite, accurate information on all things worth knowing.) GPS units can hand you maps and routes for pretty much anywhere a typical person needs to go with a single DVD update. I don't know of a handy, portable dictionary/jargon download but given its size relative to the maps/wikipedia, there must be some out there. All we need is some more advanced diff-tools and we've got it all local all the time.

Really, the Internet is just needed for updates, interaction with other humans (or at least their avatars/slashdot personalities), shopping, and porn.

More bloat... (0, Flamebait)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796661)

Another Firefox Version, and more bloat is added to this "clean and lean" version of the Mozilla browser...

Meanwhile, I see each version of Internet Explorer really better than the other.

Re:More bloat... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796717)

It's time to make firefox fork.
so those that care about speed, can avoid the bloat

Re:More bloat... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796793)

of course, firefox originally was a fork of mozilla, minus the extra shit.

Re:More bloat... (4, Informative)

chrisgeleven (514645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796727)

Weird you should say that. Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 is the fastest Firefox browser yet. The Places feature saves me tons of time by not having to manually go through hundreds of bookmarks. I have far fewer memory leaks then past versions. I can customize Firefox to be as simple or as complex as I wish.

While Mozilla maybe adding features, it sure isn't looking like bloat to me.

IE7 is a steaming pile of crap, but it is better then IE6's steaming pile of crap and vomit.

Are you kidding me? (2, Interesting)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797125)

Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 is the fastest browser yet - that is what makes it so annoying when Mozilla team just discontinues or changes some feature in the name of...

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=456405 [mozilla.org] ... usability?

Or the fact that Firefox would rather open Nautilus than opening something *I* want -or- just showing me the information of where a file was downloaded.

Any why?

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=431521 [mozilla.org]

Firefox is about having a minimalistic
UI, and that means cutting things that most of our users don't use.

Because Firefox is minimalistic, it would rather open Nautilus.

Nobody - NOBODY - uses Firefox for minimalism anymore. Even Opera is more minimalistic is than Firefox.

And IE7 is pile of crap how exactly? The reason it is so hated has got nothing to do with its usability, but with the fact that has shitty support for standards and that it is tied with the OS.

Re:Are you kidding me? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797251)

And IE7 is pile of crap how exactly?

It's not a pile of crap... In fact I really only have three major complaints.
1. Every time I use it - and I'm careful to only use it on so-called "legitimate" sites - I get some kind of nasty... something that I have to clean up with anti-spyware tools.
2. The menubar is, inexplicably, one row down compared to every other windows application in existence.
3. It doesn't run (easily) on my Mac or Linux machines.

Re:Are you kidding me? (2, Informative)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797653)

This will fix the toolbar...
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar\WebBrowser]
"ITBar7Position"=dword:00000001

But it seems to be a losing fight -- from my peeks at Server 2008 and Win7 beta, it looks like MS is keen on making IE7's toolbar behavior (off by default, appears as a minor sub-toolbar when invoked) part of the standard UI.

Re:Are you kidding me? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797763)

Thanks, that's cool... nice to get my list down to 2 :)

I don't think I'll mind too much when ALL applications have their menu bar in the same place, but right now the only applications with wonky menu behavior are MS applications. They need to pick a set of UI guidelines, then stick to them and enforce them!

Actually I just added a "new" #2 that I had forgotten about until just now (because it just happened again)... when IE crashes it seems to bring down the entire Windows shell (start menu, task bar, system tray, etc). It restarts, but it's still annoying.

Re:Are you kidding me? (0, Redundant)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797943)

I just added a "new" #2

Argh! I can't help it...

Who is #1?
You are #6.
I am not a number, I am a free man!

When #2 leads to Prisoner flash-backs instead of potty humor, you know you've entered nerd-dom.

Off-topic... I know... Feel free to mod-bomb. Karma bonus foregone.

IE7 sucks because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797435)

1) It's slow
2) Ugly GUI
3) Standards support LOL

But seriously, I hate IE because of the first 2 reasons. It's so fucking slow. It's not very responsive even on a pentium core duo. Sure it's castrated but it should be fast enough for any browser. Unfortunately, IE8 has not improved #1 and #2.

Aside from standards support, IE6>>>>>>>>IE7.

Re:Are you kidding me? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797553)

And IE7 is pile of crap how exactly?.

Not cross platform. (no, old versions that were available for solaris or hp-ux do not count)
More holes than swiss cheese.
Dependent on one team of corporate developers.
Still implement ActiveX a FAILED technology. (Please, for [insert deity]'s sake, let it die.)
Poor implementation of HTML and CSS standards, the only reason SOME web pages look better on IE is coders originally got used to writing bad code to work for it!

Re:More bloat... (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797519)

Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 is the fastest Firefox browser yet.

So, has it fixed bug 453964 [mozilla.org] yet? Or are the developers too busy with themes to bother?

Besides, the biggest speed-related problem with Firefox isn't actual speed, it's that the browser tends to block when loading Slashdot pages in another tab, for example. I wouldn't know if version 3 fixes this, since the bug mentioned makes it useless to me.

Re:More bloat... (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796749)

If you want small and light, Firefox may no longer be the browser for you. All it need is an embedded emacs mode (with e-Javascript macros), and it would be a complete operating system. I don't think that's really a bad thing. As long as you don't go overboard with extensions it still fits on an EEE.

Re:More bloat... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796755)

Another Firefox Version, and more bloat is added to this "clean and lean" version of the Mozilla browser...

You are correct in your fear of bloating ... for you and I. But I was trying to explain the fine details of Google Fu to one of my friends the other day about using the site & inurl options and the minus operator. They were completely lost. It originated when they were trying to find an old website they used to visit but only knew certain details about it.

But for the average joe, this may be a blessing. I do hope they keep a light version for users who don't want this. But I would almost bet they will be rolling them out with all having it and making it something you have to disable. Oh well.

Meanwhile, I see each version of Internet Explorer really better than the other.

Then use it.

Re:More bloat... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797137)

If the average joe can't use google's advances search, or read google's advanced search help, how are they going to make use of firefox's awesome search?

Re:More bloat... (2)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796787)

We need a branch is all. Gecko is still a good rendering engine, and the XUL platform has such fantastic things as Flashblock, Firebug, and Link Widgits, none of which could I live without. (Even Firebug, while ostensibly a developer tool, is fantastic for finding my way through obnoxious pages.

IE on the other hand, is just shoddy coding, and remained at least a year and a half out of date last I saw. I'll have to try the new IE8 beta at some point, but from when I looked at it last time, I'd rather be using Dillo for most things.

Re:More bloat... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796957)

Compared to IE, I'd rather use a DILDO for most things.

Re:More bloat... (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797035)

The bloat needs to be absolutely removed but the functions, features, bells and whistles need to be modularized so that they are available if wanted. People will want them. For me, one of the most compelling features of Firefox is the addons. The enormous collection of addons available keep Firefox interesting and some of them are actually very useful.

Re:More bloat... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797405)

Can we turn off the Awfulbar? Don't give me the talk about options and extensions-- they don't work, they just make it slightly less awful.

I'm not "upgrading" while that thing is in place. Yet, they've stopped providing security updates. Thanks. When they've caused my computer to become infected, I'll move to Opera.

Re:More bloat... (2, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797491)

Another Firefox Version, and more bloat is added to this "clean and lean" version of the Mozilla browser...

My local electronics store just had a sale - 2GB DIMMs or SODIMMs for $14.99. My processor's average utilization during its ontime sits somewhere between 0.1% and 0.0%.

The lame "bloat" complaints grow tired, and are generally the fallback of people who just want to hate on Firefox and it's their standard talking point. Firefox easily holds its own against Chrome and Safari, brutalizes Internet Explorer, with the only really "winner" of the bloat competition being Opera (but really, who uses Opera? Joking...I started my departure from IE with Opera, and loved the mouse gestures, but then Firefox won me over).

Meanwhile, I see each version of Internet Explorer really better than the other.

Which proves exactly what I said above. Internet Explorer is the piggiest pig pig of the bunch, not only consuming the most storage and memory resources, but dramatically more CPU resources for modern browsing.

Firefox is a great browser, and they should continue making it better, albeit perhaps having functionality "loadable" and optional so Luddites computing on their 486/33 (DX!) can save the tired whines.

Re:More bloat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797595)

My local electronics store just had a sale - 2GB DIMMs or SODIMMs for $14.99.

SODIMMY for $14.99? That's a real bargain!

Who'd ever expect to find that sort of thing at an electronics store?

NOOOOOOOOOO! (5, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796675)

Sounds... shit.

Come on, Firefox was meant to be a lightweight extensible browser. I don't want more features. If they want to ship these features, they should be making extensions.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796781)

RTFA - Ubiquity is an extension ! But it needs a few changes under the hood, that's all. The main difference is that it will accept commands typed in the location bar, and you don't have to type ctrl-space first (which is what the extension was all about). The actual commands will have to be downloaded/installed from the net.

Besides, it's nothing really special, you can call it a "command line interface for the browser". It has nothing to do with natural language.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (2, Insightful)

irae (1152885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796941)

What?? But ctrl+space is why I like it! it's like eclipse's content assist, handy and fast. I love translating with ubiquity, it's just ctrl+space, tra shit to french. much easier than going to google page, focus the edit field, choose languages with a mouse, hit search, ugh.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (2, Insightful)

slprice (470297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797355)

What? Ctrl-Space? I prefer Option-Space.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797789)

I don't have this option, you insensitive clod!

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (1)

flink (18449) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797403)

Well, if it's mapped to the location bar, you can just hit CTRL-L to go there. Besides, I'm sure someone will release a "Ubiquity Classic" extension at some point. Almost every Firefox tweak or new feature has had an extension to roll it back ;).

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (2, Insightful)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796823)

So, don't upgrade. Seriously, what is wrong with you people? Software adds on features over time. Thats how it works. What makes something bloated is if the features they add outstrip the progression of the average man's cpu/memory capacity. This is not the case with Ubiquity. I have used it. You will never notice its there.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (5, Insightful)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796901)

Problem is that they stop security updates for old versions.

I was HAPPY with firefox 2.x. Even with addon that tries to resemble the old behavior(Old Location Bar), I hate the way firefox 3 handles it. I much liked the way I could type part of the url and I'd see ordered list in my search history of matching places - ORDERED by number of visits.

I didn't want to go 3.x, but since 2.x no longer gets security updates...I'm SOL.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (1, Insightful)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797119)

Problem is that they stop security updates for old versions.

It's open source. You can maintain it if you want to or you can find/pay people who do it for it you.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797867)

Or just move back to IE...

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (4, Insightful)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797933)

I really hate it when the standard answer for everything is "it's open source - just fix it yourself". Do people really think that every single person on this site is an expert C/C++ developer with 80 free hours each month to spend fixing problems in the software they use?

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796977)

The problem is that Phoenix (the original version of Firefox) was originally seperated away from the main Mozilla suite because the other had become bloated and over-laden with features. It was supposed to built on the philosophy of providing a BARE MINIMUM feature set.

That means giving me what I need to browse a modern website, and leaving any other functionality up to extensions. If you just stick with an old version, then the first part doesn't remain true forever. Browsers need updates. They need to support newer versions of certain standards, or newer technology such as XHTML and CSS when such things come out. That's pretty much a requirement to continuing to browse the web. You also need updates for security fixes and the like.

The fact though that such updates are necessary doesn't mean that the developers of what is supposed to be a lightweight product should have open season on adding any and everything they can think of. PARTICULARLY in an open source product. Commercial software gets trapped into doing it because they have to make the user feel like they just have to throw down money for the new version. Freely distributed software has no such need.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (1)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797309)

The great part about having an open source browsers is the rendering engine is also open source. Try using one of the other browsers that just use the Gecko rendering engine. Or hell use one that uses Webkit. Its more lightweight these days anyway.

On an off note, I thought the original version was called Firebird, but they had to rename it because it conflicted with the Firebird RDBMS.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (1)

a09bdb811a (1453409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797701)

Seriously,

Seriously, please stop using this word. It's seriously over-used and seriously annoying. Seriously, unless you think you're seriously at risk of not being taken seriously, you should seriously consider not using it.

Software adds on features over time. Thats how it works.

Actually it doesn't have to work that way, particularly with free software. One reason I switched to Linux was to escape the downward spiral of many commercial apps that were needlessly updated beyond their prime - ACDSee viewer, Adobe Reader, Windows itself, Office, and more; all became more bloated and annoying with each release, while not becoming any more useful for me. To a large extent free software frees you from that cycle, because the developers aren't trying to keep you buying new versions.

I'm not sure what Mozilla's motivations really are. But I do know that gimmicks like natural language shortcuts and more theming (because god knows we can't enough shitty themes and inconsistent, non-native GUIs) *is* bloat. In fact the only non-bloat features I've heard Firefox getting (e.g. porn mode) are courtesy of the competition.

I agree more features doesn't necessarily mean bloat, but it's damned hard to avoid.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (1)

xorsyst (1279232) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796899)

What I think would make firefox even better if it a lot of the existing features were turned into extensions... and then those (plus a few others) were in the default firefox package. That way those of us who don't want said features could just disable the extensions, rather than having to find a setting in about:config.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797067)

I agree, the point of having an extensible browser -- surely -- is to keep the core simple and to allow users to customize what they see as necessary. Firefox has moved away from this model for some time.

In the light of Chrome's development, I'd see the Mozilla developers time be better spent on developing multi-threading for Firefox. This being the biggest problem with the browser as it is.

I want multi-threading, but I can't use Chrome on a Mac, and I won't use chrome due to the lack of adblock / flashblock anyway.

I don't want to upgrade Firefox to this new version when it comes out -- but in order to keep up to date with security I'm forced too.

I think Mozilla has really lost its way. I switched to Firefox because it was fast, secure and matched how I wanted to browse. It's decreasingly so.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797305)

You should take a look at Opera.

Re:NOOOOOOOOOO! (1)

cripkd (709136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797353)

Do you remeber what Mozilla is/was?
Download it and see.
The idea was to obtain good brand recognition for the products of the mozilla foundation, which couldn;t be obtained with a bulk of a software that was a browser, email client, email composer, irc client, etc, all in one.
And it kinda worked. They created a separated product for each of the main 2 functions: browsing and emailing, with different names, but related, different logos, but related.
And their market shared increased.
I agree it can be argued that certain newly added features could have been kept as extensions or at least options that you can disable, but IF firefox is bloated now its no way the same kid of bloat mozilla is.

Ask Jeeves all over again (3, Interesting)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796735)

They want to make Ask Jeeves all over again in the url bar?

Don't search keywords do this better, and in a more controlled way? I set up a google maps search keyword of "map", then I know what happens when I type "map address". Similarly with other keyword constructs. Keywords let me build on the browser's functionality in predictable ways. Ask Jeeves? Remains to be seen.

(Although I am given to understand it is the FBI's premiere tool to search for terrorists.)

Re:Ask Jeeves all over again (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796929)

They want to make Ask Jeeves all over again in the url bar?

Don't search keywords do this better, and in a more controlled way? I set up a google maps search keyword of "map", then I know what happens when I type "map address".

I think this particular feature might be aimed more at the casual user, rather than power users familar with aliasing keywords such as your example.

I'm assuming that, as before, the new version will be highly customisable so users can decide what functionality they want to keep, and what they want to disable.

Re:Ask Jeeves all over again (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797159)

I think this particular feature might be aimed more at the casual user, rather than power users familar with aliasing keywords such as your example.

Not so sure about that... Firefox seems to be slowly creeping in the direction of SeaMonkey and Netscape Navigator. These were aimed more at the casual user, loads of features -- features coming out of their ears.

Trouble is -- nobody really wanted them.

Re:Ask Jeeves all over again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797397)

Compared to Firefox 3, Seamonkey is lean and mean.

Re:Ask Jeeves all over again (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797565)

I guess its success will depend on:

1) How intrusive this Ubiquity function will be - I don't want it kicking in when I miss a space in an alias, or when I type a comma instead of a dot

and

2) How successful it is when it processes natural langauge - as a developer of software using language processing I assure you it fails more often than it succeeds!

Map 10 Downing Street (5, Insightful)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796753)

That's your example of natural language? Map as a transitive verb and a fairly specific reference? How about: "show me where the prime minister's house is on a map"?

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (2, Insightful)

doti (966971) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796829)

agreed.

this way it's almost indistinguishable from using the (very useful) bookmark keywords [mozilla.org].

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (2, Informative)

irae (1152885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797245)

Bookmark keywords uses only one parameter %s, ubiquity is much more flexible.

For example, "tra[nslate] something to french"

Besides, you don't have to open a new tab for a result, just type "we[ather] madrid" and you get info in a small elegant console, it's faster.

You can change text with it. E.g., you're writing an email, and you want to change a URL to tinyurl. Select the URL, ctrl+space, type [tiny]url, enter. Voila, it's changed. I find it very useful.

And it looks cool with different skins.

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (4, Insightful)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796879)

The other this is, it's pointless! Even with current versions of Firefox, if you type in [map 10 Downing Street] to the address bar, you'll get a map of 10 Downing Street.

That's because words entered into the address bar tapes you to google's top result.

Google is already pretty good at working out what you want. Why would I want Firefox to override this?

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (1)

op12 (830015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797143)

True, you get Google's top result and you can also use Firefox's keywords feature to create search shortcuts of your own. But Ubiquity is more powerful. You can highlight a page of Craigslist results and use the map command and it will actually extract addresses from the detail pages of each result and map all of them. It can do translation of a webpage while you're on it, do syntax highlighting on code snippets, etc.

That said I still don't think it needs to be integrated in the browser and I don't see the problem with keeping it as an extension.

On a related note, the article isn't quite explicit, but the lightweight theming is provided by another Mozilla Labs extension that's available today called Personas [mozilla.com].

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797533)

Ubiquity is more powerful. You can highlight a page of Craigslist results and use the map command and it will actually extract addresses from the detail pages of each result and map all of them. It can do translation of a webpage while you're on it, do syntax highlighting on code snippets, etc.

None of which uses real natural language either. Finding addresses is just an extension of named entity recognition, code is a formal language and Google Translate is statistical.

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (2, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797761)

To be clear: the end goal of Ubiquity is to have a natural-language command-entry system, so that you can say "Book me a trip from Washington DC to Seattle for next Tuesday" and it will figure out all the details (show you ticket prices, maps, etc.).

Obviously the current version of Ubiquity is a long way from achieving that goal. You must still enter your commands in a way that it will understand.

However, Ubiquity is making progress in that direction by having it recognize more natural command structures (e.g. you can say "weather Washington DC" to get the weather, or say "weather Washington DC in C" to get it in celcius (no it won't search for a location called "Washington DC in C")), and providing enough variants that the interface feels natural (e.g. you can type "weather Washington" or "weather 98941" etc.).

Another thing that it does is provide continual feedback, so the user can see what commands are available. The result of a command is also presented immediately and refreshed as they edit their query. This fast interaction makes it easier to compose the desired command.

Again, the system is far from perfect. It is not a natural-language system yet (and won't be perfectly so until we've perfected AI). But it doesn't have to be. As Google has shown us, you don't need the system to be perfect to be useful. Google recognizes calculations, addresses, fedex numbers, and a bunch of other things, and it tries to guess what you mean. If it can't figure it out, it defaults to a web-search. Overall this is very useful. Similarly the end-goal for Ubiquity is that you just type what you want and it will do a decent job of figuring it out. In the meantime the user will have to bend somewhat (and learn a few commands), but the cool part is that such a system is useful immediately, even as it is iterated towards being more robust and comprehensive.

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797891)

Rubbish. You don't need to have full AI to have a natural language-based system with some success (albeit short of passing the Turing Test), but if you're starting with controlled structure you're not doing natural language at all. I'm not putting down NER, I'm not even putting down controlled vocabulary, I'm just saying that the example (and everything you've said on top of it) shows no sign that natural language is even being attempted here.

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (1)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797323)

Because Google is currently the biggest money giver for the Mozilla Foundation. If they pull support, wouldn't you still want the feature to work with other search providers?

Look at: http://ca.search.yahoo.com/search?p=map+10+Downing+Street&fr=yfp-t-501&toggle=1&cop=&ei=UTF-8 [yahoo.com] (it doesn't automatically pull up a map for you)

Google is good - I use GMail - and swear by their searching. At least now features that Google has built in is able to be pulled down to the browser level and used on ANY search provider...

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (2, Interesting)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797511)

Google is already pretty good at working out what you want. Why would I want Firefox to override this?

If you play with Ubiquity for a little bit, you'll see why it is not merely a duplication of Google's functionality. It is more than just a shortcut for web searches, it's meant to be a fast and efficient way to do things.

The example that Aza Raskin most often gives (Aza is the lead on the project and also happens to be the son of Jef Raskin, who started the Macintosh project at Apple) is something like: "You are writing an email and want to embed directions... rather than searching the web and then copy-and-pasting a map into your email, it would be preferable to simply type 'map Washington DC and paste here' and have the computer figure it out."

In addition to a bunch of search-like commands ('google', 'weather', 'map'...) and quick-reference commands ('define', ...) there are lots of text-replace commands ('translate', 'calculate', ...), and powerful action commands ('add-to-calendar', 'email', ...) and browser-interaction commands ('close-tab', 'bookmark', ...).

For anyone who is a keyboard-shortcut fanatic, this extension is awesome. You can control the browser largely without using the mouse, for instance. It's also so much faster to perform certain actions. And the framework is extensible: people are writing new commands all the time (and you can create your own commands if you know Java Script).

In short, Ubiquity is about a lot more than just providing a shortcut to searches. It's about providing a new (and very efficient/comfortable) way to access the functionality of your browser and the web. You may or may not actually like it... but I would recommend giving it a try.

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797045)

Even "show me a map of 10 Downing Street" or "where is 10 Downing Street" is better than something that could almost just be a standard bookmark with a keyword (which I've set up some additional ones for myself). "Share-on-delicious" - all well and good, but is it "natural language" enough to understand "share-on-somenewsharingsite"? Doubtful.

Overall it sounds like a load of bloat and an excessive claim using buzzwords to garner interest.

Re:Map 10 Downing Street (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797097)

1. Open FF. Click search bar.
2. Type "England Prime Minister" [google.co.uk] Press enter.
3. Click first link.
4. Look at "Residence" on right hand side.
5. Save yourself 29 keystrokes and a lot of ambiguity.
6. ...
7. You know what goes here.

Why? (0)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796783)

Sounds like an interesting extension that I would not want. It appears that the Mozilla foundation has too much money and is making-up crazy features to keep people employed. Give the money to another project that needs it.

This kind of NPL thing is something a web server should do, not a browser.

Where is the best place to follow Firefox devel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796855)

Where is the best place to follow the general develop plans of Firefox these days? I used to check the mozilla.org frontpage about once a week and frequent updates were posted there frequently up until Firefox 2. These days the mozilla.org frontpage updates are rather infrequent and are announcements rather than development news. I can't even find a current roadmap anymore. I've found several ancient roadmaps but not the current one. I just feels to me that Firefox has gotten more "behind the scenes" than it was in the early days.

Command Line Interface (1)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796927)

Not to belittle this development, but the majority of web users get confused about old and simple features such as bookmarking.

Isn't introducing this sophisticated interface a bit too much? It's great if you're used to bash or similar stuff, but unless this thing really works with natural language (it doesn't) then it's just a glorified command prompt.

Let's focus... (1)

Crashspeeder (1468723) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796935)

on releasing a version that WORKS before we think of the version after. A novel idea. Mozilla's been promising to fix a bunch of bugs in 3.1 that 3.0 broke which worked just fine in 2. I might believe them after they release a final version of 3.1 if it works as promised. Otherwise, I've lost all respect for the quality FireFox usually delivered (with the exception of the damn memory issues).

Honestly, I'm just waiting for Google Chrome on Linux at this point.

Re:Let's focus... (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797817)

Which bugs are we talking about here? I can probably give you a pretty good idea of whether the 3.1 betas fix them, if you don't want to test yourself.

I'd also appreciate a pointer to where Mozilla was promising specific fixes, actually.

First Ninnle Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26796943)

Half of a girdle
Half of a bra
I hate Bush
Because he is a nigger
Do you like them?
Them equals niggers
Fart!

Rotated text (2, Interesting)

Stroot (223139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26796961)

Will it finally include rotated/sideways text for column headers? Even IE had this feature for ages.

If it's just things like 'map'. (1)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797009)

You can already do that with keywords. I have keywords set up as follows:

- g -- searches google for
- gi -- google image searches for
- w -- alias for en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
- map -- searches google maps for
- y -- searches youtube for

There are more, but I'll spare you at this point. These addons + vimperator == happy boy.

I still find myself hammering gg when I'm at other people's houses wondering why firefox isn't going to the top of the page, though.

Where is the present roadmap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797013)

I posted my question but it somehow completely disappeared from the thread. Where is the present Firefox roadmap? I can literally find dozens of roadmaps ranging from old to ancient but cannot find the current one. The Mozilla people really need to cleanup mozilla.org and consolidate all this wiki stuff into one streamlined site.

Innuendo (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797025)

Needles to say, natural language is tough to be handled by software.

I wonder how well it will deal with innuendo. Torn between puritan society and practical usage, what will prevail?

Or, will I get travel directions or will I be forwarded to a pr0n site to suit my state of excitement?

bad idea (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797089)

Why does everyone insist on including features that depend on web sites that may, or may not, be available in the future? Ok, if you somehow are able to code these things yourself (I fail to see the value in the natural language thing), but to hard code it to specific URLs to apps that can change at the whim of their creators? DUMB.

Bloatware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797139)

I bought into FF because its extendability allowed the features I wanted, not the features the developers THINK I want.

Make these official 'features' available as addons. If you want to bundle the 'feature' addons with the default releases that's fine. Just offer a stripped version for the rest of us.

Three words: Enterprise deployment tools (5, Insightful)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797153)

Enough with the super-uber-awesome search crap. Give me an MSI (that I don't have to build myself), give me a way to push settings via group policy, and most of all give me a browser that I can centrally manage even half as easily as I can manage IE. Oh, and lemme just give some space here:

^ That's where you run-off-to-google-up-some-snark-for-my-reply folks can put your links to tools like FirefoxADM that haven't been touched in almost four years, or to frontmotion and their "give us a 150 bucks and we'll roll your MSI for you" service. Take this example; I want to change the homepage on 50 PC's, each with two or three different users. In IE it's a one-line group policy change. Firefox? roll up your sleves, you'll be there a while. Maybe push out a new prefs.js file into each user's profile. Maybe roll up a CCK custom XPI. Or just roll your own MSI and have it re-install the entire damned browser.

Until Chrome, Firefox, and Opera get over circle-jerking themselves about getting IE's sloppy seconds market share, there's not even enough motion to say that there's a even a "browser war" going on. I really hoped that Mozilla would take a decent swing at the enterprise market. Instead they're doing 110mph down the netscape road towards a bloated browser. Meanwhile, Chrome and Opera aren't doing much more than pulling on to the on-ramp of the same road, and touting how you'll go do the same path, only in style!

Well... if i type... (2, Funny)

manoelhc (1172781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797195)

If I type "map where is Chuck Norris?" is it able to find?

Re:Well... if i type... (4, Funny)

Crashspeeder (1468723) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797315)

Chuck doesn't like it when people try to keep tabs on him. It will most likely show your current location because he'll be standing behind you snapping your neck.

Google Chrome needs 2 features for me to switch (1)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797319)

Once Google chrome has adblock (I don't want to use the DNS based solution) and adds ability to password protect my passwords I will likely switch.

Chrome is just soooo much faster than Firefox. I don't know why as Chrome's Javascript engine isn't any significant difference in speed from Firefox 3.1b2

Dear Mozilla Foundation.. (2, Insightful)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797497)

As I sit here with a nix version of firefox that crashes pretty frequently and freezes when there is plenty of cpu time and memory available I can't help but wonder WTF DON'T THEY DON'T STOP WITH THE FEATURES BULLSHIT AND MAKE THIS DAMN THING RUN MORE RELIABLY. Sincerly, Someone who wants a reliable browser

Re:Dear Mozilla Foundation.. (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797793)

You've been submitting the crash reports, right? Can you look at your about:crashes and point me to the relevant URIs? I'd love to see what I can do to get those issues fixed.

Instead of this "cool" feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797655)

they should add some way to handle flash plugin settings under Linux. E.g. some way to turn off flash audio.

Mozilla should get with its own program... (1)

nicodoggie (1228876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797657)

...and turn this "feature" into an extension, so we who will _never_ need it, won't feel the bloat.

While at it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797683)

They should remove the DRM and other add-ons Microsoft injected into Firefox that can't be removed.

Bad summary (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797745)

If you RTFA, you'll find out that Ubiquity is really just a fancy word for "client-side scripting." The "natural language-like interface" nonsense is really about how you invoke a script and enter the arguments. Someone has been parroting too many marketing buzzwords; by that logic Bash is a "natural language like" interface too.

UI?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26797823)

Sounds like a solution that's looking for a problem.

In any event it would seem that web/server side handling of this would be a better option unless they're looking at tying it into some sort of integrated voice control/recognition systems or other non-keyboard interface.

Still even in the above there are other more robust and existing solutions for such situations, covering more than a single app.

i.e. seems like a waste of time and $$$...

Interesting... (1)

sarkeizen (106737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26797981)

Maybe if this is successful NLP will start to mean more to people than a way to pick up members of the opposite-sex.

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