Mozilla Firefox is a great browser and its greatness lies in its ability to extend – using plug-ins. Firefox has one of the richest collections of plug-ins – some terribly useful and mind-blowing plug-ins like Firebug while some not so good tweaky sort of plug-ins. But of all these, one plug-in has the reputation to be one of the most underrated plug-ins in the history of Firefox, even though it provides rich set of functionality and a cool UI. In fact, it is so unheard of that even Firefox stopped further development on this plug-in. Do you know which plug-in I am talking about?
Lift up the curtains, drum roll please…The plug-in is Ubiquity developed by user interface design guru, Aza Raskin. Chances are you also don’t have clue what ubiquity is all about. Don’t worry; I am here to introduce you to the rich world of ubiquity. Ubiquity is a Firefox add-on which provides user with natural English-like command interface to interact with browser and get work done more quickly. Ubiquity is more suited to the power users who like to play with commands, and hate to touch the mouse unless it’s a life and death situation.
How does it work?
To try ubiquity, please download and install it. Once you are done with installation, you can invoke it right away by pressing Ctrl + Space key combination in Windows, option+Space in Mac and Alt + Space in Linux. You will be presented with screen like this:
You can start by entering commands. For example, let’s say I want to check the weather for Atlanta, I can type Weather Atlanta, Georgia and almost instantaneously, you will see weather information on the right hand side.
If you feel typing whole command is too much, don’t worry. After partially entering command, you will see the list of choices. Select the appropriate choice using arrow keys and press the Tab key. Ubiquity’s auto-complete feature will fill out the rest of the selected command.
What Can I Do With Ubiquity?
Almost anything without much hassle! Ubiquity provides a wide base of ready-to-use commands covering things from calendar to calculator, email to language translator, movie search to amazon shopping and wikipedia to twitter. Below are some of the commands which I found particularly useful:
- Define – No need to go to Google to find out meaning of a particular word. Just select the word, invoke ubiquity and type “define” without quotes. You will be instantly presented with the word meanings
- Digg – submits a page to Digg if you are a registered Digg user. A great feature for blogger if you ask me
- Flickr – Searches Flickr photos for specified tag and provides instant preview. Another great feature for a blogger
- Wikipedia – Searches Wikipedia against specified word and provides instant preview of matching articles
- Tinyurl – Shortens the selected url with the shorter version using TinyUrl service
- Translate – Translates selected text to the given language. The sweet thing is it supports Hindi language as well and perform quite a decent translation within no time
- Twitter – Send a tweet update by logging into twitter if not already logged in
- YouTube – Search Youtube videos against search term
I am still not sure why this plug-in didn’t get the deserved accolade. It has everything – raw power, grace, flexibility, diversity and great UI. Aza raskin really put his UI experience in designing this simple yet powerful plug-in, but I guess some people found it’s command line interface too clumsy to play with in today’s touch-generation. If not for features, install this plug-in just for fun and see how much you will love it. Keep geeking!