Thursday, May 15, 2008

The future of the Firefox address bar

I had an interesting discussion today about Firefox with Mozilla's Mike Schroepfer and Mike Beltzner. One of the things we drilled into a bit was the address bar in Firefox 3 (download). It's being called the "awesome bar" at Mozilla, and while it will end up with an official name eventually (the "smart location bar"), what it does for users can fairly be described as awesome. And as it's probably the most important touchpoint in the browser, it's worth exploring not just what it means for users but for Mozilla as well.

The Firefox 3 address bar helps users auto-complete the URLs they type in, but it's smarter than it appears at first. The choices that pop to the top of the list as you type are not based just on best text match, but on your previous behavior. Sites you visit frequently pop up higher on the list. Bookmarked sites also get special treatment. And since Firefox now has a new high-performance database to record your behavior, it can track what you do over a long period of time; it doesn't have to flush your history every week or so to keep the performance up. More>>