Firefox URL Bar

Jens Bech Madsen jbmadsen at
Wed Jan 4 19:07:51 GMT 2006

tir, 03 01 2006 kl. 22:37 -0700, skrev Lakin Wecker:
> On 1/3/06, Jens Bech Madsen <jbmadsen at> wrote:
>         What you're asking for is simply less efficient, and I would
>         hate to
>         have applications made inferior to cater for people who are
>         ignorant.
> I don't appreciate being called ignorant, simply because I refuse to
> use some arbitrary shortcut to perform what should be a simple task.  

It is not arbitrary. l is for location.

> The reason I do not use it, is that most people I know will not know
> about this shortcut, or how to find this shortcut, and will be forced
> to use the old, inefficient way to replace URLs.   I am their
> tech-support, and when they call me, I want to know how to teach them
> to do it in a way that is intuitive, and efficient.   

Ok, so you choose to do things in a way that is less efficient than it
needs to be, so you can teach other people to do it in the same
less-efficient way? That seems odd to me, to be honest.

>         Editing URL:
>         If you want to edit an URL, it is usually most efficient to
>         use the 
>         mouse to select the part of the URL that needs to be
>         removed/edited,
>         then use the keyboard to make the correction. Ie. using the
>         mouse is the
>         natural thing here and it will normally pay off to remove one
>         hand from 
>         the keyboard.
> I really doubt that many average users edit URLS. This is typically
> reserved to developers working on their own web-applications, or power
> users who have found that they can navigate sites faster this way.

I disagree. People who use an application more than once in a blue moon
will get beyond the point of not knowing at all what happens and how to
operate the application. Please see About Face 2.0: The Essentials of
Interaction Design by Alan Cooper and Robert Reimann for some (in my
opinion) good arguments why the interface of a sovereign application
(like a web browser) should be optimized for the intermediate users
rather than the beginners.

I think you do a disservice to the people you help by not helping them
do their work in a better way rather than the beginner's way.

>         Replace URL:
>         If you want to type in a new URL, it is more natural to use a
>         keyboard 
>         shortcut (ctrl-l) to focus the URL-bar and then type the new
>         address. No
>         mouse involved, faster operation.
> Many of them will only use the URL bar to replace the URL.  Currently,
> without the shortcut, the fastest way is to select the entire text in
> the bar, which is time consuming if the URL is long, and also is very
> annoying when your cursor moves to far below the URL bar while
> highlighting(which results in nothing being highlighted).

Yes it is. But there is no reason to argue that something is faster when
you start out by assuming the faster ways may not be used. I might as
well say that you'd be better off using lynx because browsing is faster
in a text-only browser when you are not allowed to use the mouse.

>         If the behaviour is changed as you suggest, we lose efficiency
>         in the
>         first case, while nothing is gained in the second case. 
> As per my previous letter, I no longer think my original suggestion
> solves any of these situations.  I still believe that we need to
> rethink the the current behavior.
> Ubuntu is supposed to be Linux for Human beings.  Most of the
> arguments that I've heard for leaving the behavior as is are based on
> above-average computer users wanting to keep the behavior so that they
> can continue using it the way that they have been accustomed to.
> While we should still allow an above average user to continue using it
> in their own efficient manner,   I'd like to improve it so that
> average users can efficiently perform their everyday tasks.  

First off, I don't see anywhere that the Human Beings in the slogan
means absolute beginners.

Second, I am not arguing that we should keep things just to keep things
the way they are. I'm saying that it would be silly to change things and
make them worse for some users for some perceived benefit for beginners.

> As it currently stands, FireFox defaults to a local start page.  For
> an average user without knowledge of how to set a home page, or
> bookmarks, their only option to start browsing the Internet is to
> replace the currently URL with the one to which they want to go. 

Uhm, yes?

>         That just so
>         Windows users don't have to think.
> This is completely unfounded.  Memorizing shortcuts is not equivalent
> to smart thinking.  If an application forces users to remember magic
> keystrokes in order to efficiently perform tasks, we're reverting to a
> CLI-type situation.  The CLI is a powerful tool, we should leave it
> there for those who want to and know how to use it.  However, we
> should still try and make everyday tasks easy, and intuitive for
> average users, who don't want to remember magic keystrokes.

I agree, using shortcuts does not equal smart thinking. However, being
willing to invest a little time to be able to do things faster or
better, is smart thinking.

>         I'd prefer that the people not
>         willing to learn to do things the smart way, get to do things
>         the dumb 
>         way. And the people willing to learn the smart stuff, get the
>         benefits.
> Again, at least for my sake, try to not turn this into an insult-fest.
> Using the words such as dumb, and smart to discuss two ways of
> performing a task is not an effective way of arguing your point.

No, that is probably true, as both words are subjective. My apologies. 

To summarise:

I think the current behaviour is good. It works well for both beginners,
intermediate users and experts. The various ways of selecting the entire
url is discoverable and changing it to single-click would reduce the
usefulness for people with more expertise than beginners.

Also, I think you're wrong in teaching beginners' ways of doing things,
instead of showing people how to work more efficiently. In the long run,
it pays off to learn a little and save a lot of effort.



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