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Mozilla Labs: the URL Bar Has To Go 591

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the command-line-strikes-back dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an editorial from ConceivableTech "Since Google's move to enable users to hide the URL bar, we have seen what could be the beginning of the end of one of the key features of the web browser. Mozilla has its own thoughts, but there is little doubt that Mozilla is reconsidering the purpose of the URL bar in future versions of its browsers. In a Mozilla Labs post today, David Regev suggests that the location bar should be replaced with a tool to support more than just one command."
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Mozilla Labs: the URL Bar Has To Go

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  • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:07PM (#36239866) Journal

    Gah, what is with Mozilla following Google's every example, no matter how stupid or not? There's a good reason to keep the URL bar - it's a quick and easy way to check for phishing 2 out of 3 times. Hiding the URL bar is just dumb, because now we're reliant on Google or Mozilla or other third-party maintained lists to protect us from phishing, or we have to jump through hoops to check the URL. No, thank you!

    Plus, what is wrong with keeping the URL bar where it is? I use the Omnibar addon and it adds the ability to do all sorts of query commands into the URL bar already. It works well and it's convenient to use, and best of all, I keep my URL bar (albeit it's now a long address bar that incorporates the search bar into it). Why not go that direction? Why follow Google towards stupid design decisions? Just making it look nifty is not a good reason to change something or to remove functionality and features.

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:10PM (#36239906)

    Nothing gets under my skin more than devs who like to follow the latest trends without considering whether what they are doing actually delivers concrete value to the end user or at least makes the codebase more maintainable in a real measurable way. Newer is not always better.

  • by NervousWreck (1399445) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:12PM (#36239930)
    Maybe a smarter move would be integrating Omnibar into firefox by default.
  • by kbitz (847782) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:13PM (#36239948) Homepage
    If Mozilla is going to start "following Google" then there's no reason for me to use their browser when I could go straight to the source and use Chrome. I use Firefox because I don't like Chrome. There is no reason to start emulating it.
  • I <3 URL Bars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vinn (4370) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:15PM (#36239970) Homepage Journal

    I like URL bars. They're quick and easy to type into, they let me see exactly where I'm browsing at (in theory), and when it comes time to copy and paste a link it's simple. The added 33 pixels means nothing to me.

    Alternatively, we could consider removing the URL bar if it was replaced with a button that gave David Regev electroshock therapy every time it was clicked. Oh, and that Google guy too who's removing it.

  • by OS24Ever (245667) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:15PM (#36239974) Homepage Journal

    ....why I don't want a URL bar? How the hell am I supposed to type in the places I want to go. What are they thinking? I don't get it. I also tend not to change my habits. Is typing in URLs passe now? Am I supposed to rely on my browser to take me where I want to go? What's the deal?

    Not trolling here. I'm serious, I don't get this 'feature' at all. I open a blank page and search on google and hope my search term works the next time?

  • by avandesande (143899) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:17PM (#36239998) Journal

    When you lack inspiration, fix something that isn't broken!

  • by HermMunster (972336) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:18PM (#36240014)

    It's not about following Google's move (to me). Their efforts seem disingenuous. The URL bar is fine and there's nothing wrong with it. The purpose behind the move? More screen real-estate, or just an effort to confuse the customer?

    It it isn't broken do not fix it. It means that I'll have to put in extra effort on all the machines I repair to find and put back the URL bar for my customers.

    Seriously, they need to rethink their purpose.

  • I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Uthic (931553) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:18PM (#36240018)
    Really don't get what's the problem with the URL bar. I don't buy that reasoning that it's "confusing" for people to see an URL or that it eats up too much space. If they must follow through with this ridiculous idea hopefully they'll put in an option to keep it (nothing wrong with allowing customization) - or an addon for it will be made.
  • by The Moof (859402) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:18PM (#36240024)
    Well, they ignored the massive backlash about removing the status bar, so what makes you think they'll listen to the masses about the location bar? Mozilla's been making some really questionable design decisions lately, and their response always seems to be "find an add-on to do it." Extensions are nifty and all, but they should be required for what some would consider basic interface functionality.

    There is an extension [mozilla.org] to make the "add-on" bar act like the old status bar, but it's got some issues (might be FF, might be the add-on).
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:21PM (#36240054) Homepage

    Crap, another move to ensure that new users will never understand how their computers work.

  • Just....no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Windwraith (932426) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:22PM (#36240076)

    Don't do it Mozilla. Don't lose your identity. Don't f*ck with users just to copy another browser. Another browser that is popular because of internal stuff rather than interface.
    Why not copying the GOOD aspects of Chrome? You know, the stuff Chrome fans like to point out, like speed and such.

  • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:25PM (#36240122)

    ....why I don't want a URL bar? How the hell am I supposed to type in the places I want to go. What are they thinking? I don't get it.

    Everything is on Facebook now, so other URLs are obsolete. Didn't you get the tweet?

  • by zzsmirkzz (974536) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:28PM (#36240150)
    Who the hell wants the URL bar removed (other than spammers/phishers/scammers)?? Seriously, isn't that the best practice to prevent phishing attacks is to manually type the URL of the website you are trying to connect to?? What are they thinking? Not too mention being able to verify the site you are on, easily copy/paste links, etc.

    What should be done is to increase the functionality of the URL bar. The one thing that always pisses me off and should be fixed is not allowing a web page to steal the focus from the URL bar. I don't know how many times I've started typing in a URL only to have the Yahoo or Google bar steal the focus 3-5 characters in. Improve it, don't remove it.
  • Microsoft-ian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bp+m_i_k_e (901456) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:28PM (#36240156)
    This reminds me of the dubious decision to hide file name extensions in Windows Explorer by default - you know, since users don't really need that information.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:28PM (#36240158) Homepage

    But with mozilla it's , "when you don't want to bother with working on the pile of bug reports to fix the problems that have been there for a while.... Work on a new shiny!

  • Any GOOD reason? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demonbug (309515) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:29PM (#36240180) Journal

    This from the article:

    “The location bar has to go. It has many problems. For one, it’s always visible and constantly takes up a large amount of space. Secondly, it’s hard to read, since people don’t really understand URLs. Moreover, it’s modal: it has a mode for displaying the current page’s location and a mode for entering your next destination. It’s not always immediately obvious which mode you’re in and what the current text is indicating, and switching modes is not easy either."

    That is the stupidest thing I've read in a while. Really? The URL bar takes up too much space? It is slightly larger than one line of text. If they aer so concerned about saving space, maybe they should get rid of the title bar and the little mozilla icon in the corner - that is a hell of a lot less useful than the URL bar. Sure, hiding the bar might be a great idea on a smart phone or something with severely limited screen real estate, but to apply this across the board as the default is just stupid.

    The URL is hard to read? Seriously? It tells you the address of the page you are looking at. That's pretty damn simple. Yes, it is a long string of characters, which I'm sure offends graphic designers everywhere (which seem to be the people driving the current rash of browser UI changes - screw usability, it has to look "nice"), but it really is a simple way to tell you what you are looking at.

    It isn't always obvious if you are entering the next destination or looking at your current location? Really? There are people that click in the bar, start typing a new address, and then forget what they are doing and think that the address they just (partially) typed is what they are looking at right now? That argument simply doesn't make any sense.

    Mozilla seems to have a serious case of me-too-itis lately. Chrome's version is increasing too fast? Fine, we'll start pumping out new version numbers to compete - yeah, 4.0 just came out, that's okay; this next version we'll just call 5.0 instead of the 4.0.4 that it really is. We'll catch up in no time! Chrome offers the option to hide the URL bar? Hah! Those losers! We're going to get rid of it entirely because we're awesome like that! Here's some made-up BS to justify it even though approximately zero users want this!

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:30PM (#36240192)

    It does everything the status bar did that I cared about (i.e. everything except displaying "Document Done") without wasting the screen space all the time.

    Which is great, if you're running Firefox on a phone. On a real PC it looks pretty clunky.

    And removing the URL bar is simply retarded.

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:41PM (#36240368) Journal

    "Mozilla's motto for Firefox is to keep it being completely customizable..."

    Ah yes. That's why I can turn the status bar back on in FF4, right?

    I appreciate the desire to reduce clutter and give us more browsing space, but the stupid floating URL at the bottom in lieu of a status bar does NOT save space, it just overlaps and obscures content--and I can't turn it off or move it.

    The Mozilla foundation needs to stop screwing around until they take a good hard look at the direction they've been drifting in the last two years.

  • I'm guessing Google picked up on how several of my family members (and many, many other computer users I'm afraid) actually enter URLs:
    1. Click browser home button, arrive at google.com
    2. Type URL in search box, then click first link (for advanced users: click "I'm feeling lucky")
    No matter how I try to explain how backwards this is, they keep doing it. Take away the search bar and I can't even argue the sane alternative.

    More hits for google.com - more data, ads and more money for them. Only makes sense, really.

  • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:45PM (#36240440)

    Really don't get what's the problem with the URL bar.

    The problem with the URL bar is that it doesnt always send people directly to Google.

    FACT: The majority of Mozilla revenue comes directly from Google payments to be the default search engine.
    FACT: The current default search deal, extended for 3 more years in august 2008, ends this year.
    FACT: Mozilla big-wigs would see substantial paycuts if this deal isnt renewed.

    End of story.

  • by fafaforza (248976) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:49PM (#36240514)

    I was livid when LCD producers stopped making 4:3 screens, forcing me into a bulbous 15" widescreen behemoth. Now, having forced us into these widescreen laptops, they're bitching that there isn't enough realestate. Well, gee whiz! You think that a widescreen display has a really wide horizontal spread (wasted on an oversized and mostly empty address bar) and less vertical space?

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:49PM (#36240522) Homepage

    No. You are spewing total bullshit. Reality is the exact opposite of what you are trying to claim it is.

    The URL bar is no menace to the n00b end user. Dangers to the n00b end user are generally hidden in plain sight on websites that seem benign and inert.

    The idea that you have to take the URL bar away because it's "too powerful" and the n00b might hurt themselves with it is beyond absurd.

    For the "I can't be bothered" class of user, the URL bar is either irrelevant and ignored or something that they can use to confirm they aren't being hacked.

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:53PM (#36240566)

    Nothing gets under my skin more than devs who like to follow the latest trends without considering whether what they are doing actually delivers concrete value to the end user or at least makes the codebase more maintainable in a real measurable way. Newer is not always better.

    I understand when a commercial software company (Microsoft, Adobe, etc) does this. They must constantly release "new" versions of their products in order to generate sales. Constantly changing things, re-arranging the entire program and constantly "fixing" things that aren't broken is stupid, but I understand why they do it.

    Using this approach with Firefox, however, makes absolutely no sense at all. Firefox is given away for free. There is no sales revenue. Mozilla may get money from Google for making them the default search engine in Firefox, but that will happen regardless of any changes that are made toFirefox.

    Firefox 2.0, which was released several years ago, was feature-complete as a web browser. Since then, their focus should have been strictly on things that are "under the hood" -- (a) fix any security holes or other bugs that are discovered (b ) improve rendering speed (javascript, etc).and memory use (3) When needed add new stuff that comes along (HTML 5, etc).

    That's it. Period.

    There is no need to constantly fuck with the user interface, adding pointless crap, removing useful features.

  • by spartus (724018) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:54PM (#36240604)

    And with this sentiment, we've come full-circle back to "AOL Keyword: Sports".

  • by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @12:56PM (#36240634) Homepage

    I have a quad core with 8GB of RAM. Let me tell you that after a cold start, Firefox starts up in SEVERAL seconds, not just one. Chrome is blazingly fast in comparison.
    Plus, whenever a stupid plugin freezes, it's the whole browser that freezes. In Chrome, just the tab.

    Overall, Firefox feels much more responsive and modular, where Firefox feels just monolithic.

    Both consume huge amounts of memory, but that's cheap these days.

  • by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @01:10PM (#36240852) Journal

    The person who decided to hide extensions by default is single-handedly responsible for a great deal of the trojans that get executed.

    And I agree, the idea of getting rid of the address bar is just terrible. It's EXTREMELY important for you to know where you are at all times in this world of multiple redirects! This will do for phishers what hiding extensions did for trojans.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @01:15PM (#36240936)

    That's been my complaint with Firefox lately, they seem to forget that some of us have large monitors and that it's actually a decrease in usability to take away parts of the interface. I've got a 1900x1200 display, I've got no problem having a status bar and a URL bar, I've still got probably 1100 pixels or more of height to work with. If they're so obsessed about being space efficient, perhaps they ought to move those things to the side of the window as horizontal space tends to be poorly utilized anyways. And with the increased focus on 16:9 displays, that's even more significant than it used to be.

  • by Migraineman (632203) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @01:17PM (#36240970)
    If it makes you feel any better, I'm crying for me too. There are many, many of us who would like you and the rest of the Technology Fetishists to take your "richer experience" and go play somewhere else. I don't want a multimedia "experience" when I'm looking for an owner's manual on the Sears website. I don't want you shoving GPU-assisted targeted advertising at me at every possible juncture.

    The forced upgrade march is also unwelcome, for reasons that should be obvious, but apparently aren't. I've upgraded software tools, only to discover that the new version has abandoned compatibility with an older version, which is a catastrophe if that older version is part of a currently-shipping product or service. My production lifecycles exceed typical software lifecycles by an order of magnitude. XP? Yep, still running that along side of several Win2K machines. You may find that unpalatable, but upgrading to Win7 would break functionality (and has been demonstrated in a sandbox, so that last part isn't just conjecture.)

    As for the URL bar ... "Hey! I was using that!" I use my browser for much more than just surfing the net for pr0n. My local firewall and router have admin interfaces that require a dotted-quad entry in the URL bar. No, I can't just click the "Microsoft Networks" icon and find them ... funny, they're not Microsoft products. Similarly, I can force a SFTP session to my file server by typing into the URL bar. Often times, I'll manually edit the displayd URL to rapidly traverse the directory tree. Just because you find it irrelevant, doesn't mean I do.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @01:23PM (#36241030) Homepage
    Why is every software project changing its interface drastically for tablets and phones? Did desktops just fall off the face of the Earth? Seriously, get off the mobile bandwagon if your doing Desktop software and stick with Desktop design ideas. That goes for Mozilla, Gnome, and anyone else. Stop making half and half crappy designs changes and and focus up on one or the other but no half way crap that ruins the experience.

    I don't care if the UI for Gnome 3 is better for tablets and such. I don't care that you think the URL bar is too big at 33 pixels or whatever it is. Stop messing up things that work as they are. Start a new project and give the existing stuff to someone else who won't have mobile on the brain for a desktop product.

    Sorry for the rant but this is getting old watching good and decent desktop software become hybrid mobile nightmare designs.
  • by mandark1967 (630856) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @01:26PM (#36241074) Homepage Journal

    I have a quad core with 8GB of RAM. Let me tell you that after a cold start, Firefox starts up in SEVERAL seconds, not just one. Chrome is blazingly fast in comparison.

    Plus, whenever a stupid plugin freezes, it's the whole browser that freezes. In Chrome, just the tab.

    1 - Optimize your shitty computer so that your programs have the necessary resources to open quickly. FFS my Intel Atom D525 opens up FF4 in 2 - Stop using shitty plugins that aren't coded properly and you won't have frozen plugins. I've never even seen a plugin freeze freezing FF with it.

    Overall, Firefox feels much more responsive and modular, where Firefox feels just monolithic.

    3 - Uhm...you fail the internet.

    Both consume huge amounts of memory, but that's cheap these days.

    4 - 1 outta 4 ain't bad

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @02:05PM (#36241638)
    First the came for the status bar....I said nothing.
    Then they came for the URL bar....I said nothing.
    Next they came for me and there was no one left to speak... ;-P

    Yes, the design to allow extensions is a cardinal feature of FF - extensibility. But, how far down the road do we take it?

    Are back buttons next? after all mouse gestures work just fine. How about 'refresh'? you can just back and reload the page instead. Properties? bah, install an extension if you want to actually configure the application.

    If there are 2 basic units of functionality in a 'browser' they are the URL bar and the status bar. (the latter is pretty damned standard in a lot (most?) applications. Knowing the 'status' is something most people at some point want to show. I'm not saying force it to display. It previously could be easily hidden or shown. Why take the removal step? just makes no sense.
  • by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @03:12PM (#36242486) Homepage

    I'm guessing Google picked up on how several of my family members (and many, many other computer users I'm afraid) actually enter URLs:
    1. Click browser home button, arrive at google.com
    2. Type URL in search box, then click first link (for advanced users: click "I'm feeling lucky")
    No matter how I try to explain how backwards this is, they keep doing it. Take away the search bar and I can't even argue the sane alternative.

    More hits for google.com - more data, ads and more money for them. Only makes sense, really.

    You know what this seemingly clumsy approach prevents? The dreaded 404.
    Typing your URL into Google gives you the following:
    1) A malformed URL 90% of the time is corrected by Google
    2) Google provides cached results if the original site has been slashdotted/LOIC'd
    3) Google can sometimes guess the original context of the content, and provide alternate content to match (this helps in veracity/context testing the content before you jump.. what happens if all the Google-provided results shout warnings or show pr0n while you link at work... useful to know).

    It's a very user-friendly and helpful bonus at a cost of one additional click. It certainly feels like Google understood this use case, improved it's benefits/outcomes and promoted it's use (hell if you type a non-crawled URL Google thinks it goes to nowhere, so it actively pushes site-owners to get their content

    People are often not as stupid as they seem. Don't underestimate the users; often you can learn and profit from where they do things "wrong".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @03:32PM (#36242848)

    Because it's demonstrably true.

    But with mozilla it's , "when you don't want to bother with working on the pile of bug reports to fix the problems that have been there for a while.... Work on a new shiny!

    Sadly, most programmers (there are notable exceptions) will always choose to do the work that is less important, but more likely to gather recognition.

    So to fix this, stop lionizing idiots who want to remove useful information from the display and start standing up and cheering for the guys who are committing dozens or hundreds of one-line bugfixes that actually add value to the software by eliminating flaws. Bugfix should be more prestigious than feature creep, do you hear me Mozilla Foundation and Slashdot Editors?

  • by parlancex (1322105) on Wednesday May 25, 2011 @05:53PM (#36244578)

    Okay, I read TFA, and I read your page on the Mozilla Wiki. Now please please please please please stop talking and go away.

    Thank you,
    -The Internet

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