Firefox Ubiquity – Adding Intuition to the Web

If you’re a Firefox user (and you should be), you need to know about a now-refined Labs tool from Mozilla that makes Firefox web browsing essentially more human. Mozilla calls it “an experiment into connected the Web with language,” and we think that sounds so boring and platonic. Although it is nascent, labeled by the Labs as an “alpha 0.1 prototype, community-based experiment,” it is nonetheless helpful and…what we all love…intuitive.

It’s called “ubiquity.” Its goal is to use normal, everyday-language commands to put helpful and common mashups without the hassle. Users will type in a command, and a JavaScript or Python converter translates the commands into mashups like map insertions, on-page translations, code highlights, and more.

After installing Ubiquity, get started by enabling it with ctrl + space (Windows) or option + space (Mac) keyboard shortcut. Immediately, a command box pops up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser, right underneath the leftmost tab. There, you can type in your normal language command. Ubiquity will recognize it, and you have effectively saved time, eliminated frustration, and accomplished a crucial task—all with utter ease.

Here are some examples.

E-mail Mashups

You’ve done it before: put a map link into an e-mail. And, unlike the old-school routine of going to Google maps in a second tab, finding the location, tweaking the map, copying the link, pasting it into your e-mail, ad infinitum, Ubiquity requires a mere command “map it” plus a few clicks to actually insert the very map into your e-mail. So much for the time-wasting rigmarole of the old method. Want to include a review the restaurant you just mapped? A couple more clicks. Put it in your calendar? Type click, done. Your friend’s calendar? Same deal. Unbelievably simple.

Map Craigslist Stuff

You’re looking for a new home on Craigslist. Good idea. The agonizing problem is that you have to individually and painstakingly map each one of those entries, opening tons of tabs and getting thoroughly frustrated in the process. Ubiquity steps in and with a mere “map these” commands, and instantly you’re immediately presented with a polished map, complete with those little lettered balloons with all of the locations staring you in the face. You don’t know what to do with the time you just saved.

Do more stuff

Translate stuff really easily by just asking Ubiquity to translate a section of a German magazine. Pull up a map of an unknown location that you want to find. Intrigued by a point that the article made? Put it on Facebook. Don’t know the definition of a word in the article? Pull up an instant definition. While you can normally do all these things by opening extra tabs (and you may even be really good at it), Ubiquity makes it so simple, renders the opening of extra tabs passé, and shocks you with its intuitive natural language interface.

To install Ubiquity, simply click the link here, and start experimenting. You may also want to learn more to effectively maximize the tool.

Mac users should install Growl, a notification system, which is the system extension program that Ubiquity will use to talk with you, the user.

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