USER interface

[ Note: Tom's being sarcastic. ]

When web browsers were new you had to enter the whole URL... "http://www.everythingsysadmin.com"... you couldn't leave off the "http://". Geeks gave a large outcry when web browsers started adding the "http://" for you. Then, heaven forbid, people could leave off the "www." or even the ".com". Oh dear! The outcry even rose louder when you could type in a single word and the browser would try to add a ".com" at the end if it knew the domain existed.

I could never understand why my geek peers were so outraged at these user-interface innovations. I thought they were great. My geeky co-workers would respond, "But it's not a URL without the ache tee tee pee colon slash slash!" "So what?" I would reply, "it's a USER interface, not a PROGRAMMING interface!"

No, they would stay outraged. I have some friends that still type the ache tee tee pee colon slash slash even when they know darn well that it isn't required. I see them do it all the time when I look over their shoulders. Heck, when I solicited feedback for a reorganization of the internet web site structure at my current company the reply from the geeks wasn't "make the site better looking" or "increase the customer satisfaction". Oh, no, those things weren't mentioned. The primary concern was that the main company web site work with and without the "www.". <sarcasm>Oh yeah! That'll really increase revenue next year.</sarcasm> (Not to put too fine a point on it, but after someone brought up the importance of the site working with no "www.", it was followed by two emails seconding that proposal. None of the feedback I received was about the obvious typo that was in the proposal.)

So now Firefox is released and blogs are talking about how smart the URL input box is.

"If you're running Firefox, and you pretty much know what you want to find in google, just type the string in the URL field and hit enter. Firefox queries Google, and automatically redirects you to the first link Google returns. Want to see the IMDB entry for someone? Type 'imdb noah wyle', and voila, you're there."

What is this? Typing "imdb spaceballs" for a URL brings you to the IMDB page about Mel Brook's Spaceballs? Typing "ebay novelty yarn" and get a page of... NOVELTY YARN?

Where's the outrage?

Where's the protests?

Where's the petitions?

Where's the award I get for being right?

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

Where's the awareness of the fact that this feature was in OmniWeb years ago? (I even set one up so that I could type "rt #####" and get straight to that ticket, and another one that let me type "id [email protected]" and go to Google Groups to find that USENET message-ID.)

Where's the rest of your LISA 2004 report?

Personally I think this stems from the layering of rules that goes on. If you had typed "example" in an early browser starting to add these auto-resolution features, what exactly happend? Does the browser first try "example.com", then "example.net", then "example.org", and then try "www.example.com", "www.example.net", etc...what DNS lookups were done, what test requests were sent, and how did it determine what a valid response was? I never really bothered to learn the rules; it just seemed easier to keep typing exactly where I wanted to go and not worry about.


However, the google interface makes it very clear. If there's a space in there or it otherwise doesn't look like a domain name, then you get a google query instead of an address resolution. Easy to understand for the geek mind, and stable.


I don't really remember being all that outraged though, just personally never found the feature worth figuring out. :-)

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