May 11, 2009
Google's Chrome browser passes anything you type into the address bar that isn't an obvious URI on to the default search engine.
While web browsers should have some built-in smarts, they can never match the collective intelligence of a worldwide search engine. For example:
weather San Francisco
san francisco 49ers
10.5 cm in inches
Italian food 02138
homes Los Angeles
150 GBP in USD
american airlines 18
510-525-xxxx (I'm hesitant to link a listed personal phone number here, but it does work)
I like to think of the web browser address bar as the new command line.
Oh, you wanted dozens of cryptic, obscure UNIX style command line operators and parameters? No problem!
"plants vs. zombies" daterange:2454955-2454955
filetype:pdf programming language poster
Any command line worth its salt has some kind of scripting language built in, too, right? No sweat. Just try entering this in your browser's address bar.
Apparently we've spent the last 20 years reimplementing the UNIX command line in the browser. Services like yubnub make this process even more social, with collaborative group creation (and ranking!) of new commands. You can find some of the cooler ones on the golden eggs page.
gimf "carrot top"
esv Ezekiel 25:17
2g color colour
Honestly, I was never a big command-line enthusiast; even way back when on my Amiga I'd choose the GUI over the CLI whenever I could. But maybe I bet on the wrong horse. Perhaps the command prompt – or more specifically, the search oriented, crowdsourced, world public command prompt – really is the future.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Except that the web browser address bar is missing the one feature that makes unix command line user interfaces usable, which is the ability to take the output of one command and pump it into a file or another command.
Yes, Mozilla Ubiquity (http://labs.mozilla.com/projects/ubiquity/) is also another effort to bring a command line-like interface to the web browser.
Efforts like this to bring a command line-like UI to places outside of the terminal can make the argument that the command line is dying somewhat silly. That said, I believe that the pro-Linux-desktop people are correct in saying that while the command line can help get things done, it does not have to be used frequently by non-technical individuals.
The command line will not die. It will grow in places that were not previously expected. For example, take voice-activated technology. That is basically a command line with simple, spoken commands.
(Apologies for slightly rambling in my comment. I have a lot of thoughts stirring around in my head.)
Bloody hell, this has been a feature of Opera for ages now.
Anything typed into Operas address bar is searched, if you can prefix it with g, or y, or any other of the many prefix's for search engines.
Someone already mentioned Mozilla's Ubiquity, but a href=http://goosh.org/goosh/a (a unix-shell style interface for Google) is also worth a mention.
Not a complete command line until you can delete the interwebs with:
rm -rf *
In Mozilla, you can right-click, properties any bookmark to add a Keyword.
Then when you type the keyword in the address bar, it will hit your bookmark and replace %s in the url with whatever arguments you've thrown after the keyword. It's a pretty neat feature, try it!
Your article in a nutshell: whatever you type on Chrome's address bar that isn't a URL goes on to Google.
Actually, there's nothing commandline-ish about the address bar itself. If you really want to stretch that metaphor, you can say that Google is a command-line shell. Which I'd consider stupid, since Google just accepts a couple of operators, nothing much more special than that.
Jeff, I feel that you like to try to shock your readers with unexpected insight about trivial things, but sometimes you go too far for stuff too little. I guess this was the case.
André, pretty much everything Jeff writes is rubbish. He's a glorified writer, amature programmer. Now-n-then some of his posts have catchy titles, but then you read it, only to be letdown.
you are everything wrong with the internet and computing in general
please get a job in management and fade out
You ain't seen nothin' yet! http:www.wolframalpha.com It goes live May 18th.
Irony: clicking on the link to google (link:experts-exchange.com sucks) and having the comment first result contain My blog is the #1 search result in Google for StackOverflow Sucks! in the comments
Holy smokes- what vitriol in the comments! Jeff, it's funny that Google has already indexed this article, so that Googling 'link:experts-exchange.com sucks' brings up this very page.
Here's link to a post about a project that I am working on that was inspired by the same observations that Jeff had.
Please do check it out and provide feedback:
P.S. For a head's up. This project is like Ubiquity but for the file manager.
Now you've done it Jeff. Your overstated blog entry title has gone too far! You had a sacred duty, a holy charge, to manage the tone of your titles, and now your careless, wanton metaphor is too huge for any one man to stop! Even as I write this mobs are gathering, children are crying, and horses are running loose! Oh humanity!
Phillip Broseph -- go change your underwear and take a nice hot bath.
Don't forget about YubNub - http://yubnub.org/ - the social command line for the web. I have this bound as an FF quick search to '.', so I can easily do more complex argument passing than FF supports, such as:
. usd2aud 100
which does a call to xe.com for the conversion. Very handy.
Being able to do focused searches via a prefix is far far more convenient than having to step through a set of search engines. The search bar is one of the first things I remove in any new install of Firefox.
Be-gone the windows run command and just live in Chrome 24/7. Still waiting on the Mac version tho. It's can't come fast enough!
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
tondrej, yet another feature which has been in Opera for like ever.
Pretty much all the good plugins (not tools) are copies of features from Opera. I dont get why you all like firefox so much, the only good tool it has is tamper data.
I realise you got the examples from Google's help page, but the sports one (san francisco 49ers) doesn't work for me. I'm outside the US, but using google.com (not google.co.nz). Does it work for anyone? Same thing for the housing listings.
Of course. Haven't you noticed the ever-so-commonplace CLI in your favorite First Person Shooter? Load up Counterstrike or whatever else, and try pressing Tilde(~). I imagine operating systems of the future may implement an always-present command line such as this one. Just don't forget to wire it up to Google! :D
Tony: I get an extra bit for the housing listings, but the sports link looks like just a straight search result afaict.
Netscape Navigator could so searches from the address bar at least as far back as 1998. Here's a CNet article about it: http://news.cnet.com/Netscape-updates-Communicator/2100-1001_3-214533.html
Galeon and Firefox have also had keyword bookmarks for quite a while. Firefox makes it really easy to add keyword searches: just right-click on pretty much any search box on the web and select Add a Keyword for this Search....
Jeff, this is so trivial that it isn't funny. I generally find your site interesting, but you are just making such a big deal about a basic browser function. Seriously, it just redirects a query to Google!!
An even more advanced command line for the browser would be Mozilla Labs' Ubiquity add-on for Firefox. It lets you do just bout anything short of launching desktop applications from your browser. And looks like it may be integrated into the next version of Firefox as well (ain't in the beta's though).
Hmm, ... I thought really superb and intelligent articles need to be written to be an accomplished programming blogger.
I love to abuse Firefox's QuickSearch functionality.
For example, I wanted to md5 something, so I made a bookmark to
And one quick PHP script upload later, I've got an md5 keyword!
Shame FX3 makes you jump through so many hoops to give a bookmark a keyword.
So on that same token, the search box in just about every other browser is also a command line. And Mozilla Suite / SeaMonkey had the unified address bar / search box thing since forever, so Chrome is not exactly innovating here. In fact, there are good reasons to keep them separate, such as being able to better disambiguate between searches and addresses, so that a search term doesn't get blown away whenever you get to a page (ever wanted to change a search term or redo the search with a different engine?).
I'm having difficulty trying to figure out how to roll my eyes with as much emphasis as I feel is warranted.
Wow @Pierre Lebeaupin, I'm impressed. So not only is this Yet Another Recycled Post but this time it is SOMEONE ELSE'S POST. Even worse, it is SOMEONE ELSE'S POST PRINTED IN A JOEL SPOLSKY BOOK. Very good work. :)
Hmm... I just tried the following in Firefox:
It must be calling out to a search engine, perhaps Google. I kept getting a different web site depending on the (word) that was entered.
orange, the only constant in my life now...
OPERA also passes anything you type into the address bar that isn't an obvious URI on to the default search engine.
Opera is the best browser ever. Firefox doesn't get up to the half of it.
It's beyond me how you could be a programmer and not like the command line. It's the same thing.
The GUI is great, some apps are truly improved by a good graphical representation of data. And others by a (good) GUI's faster learning curve.
But when there isn't a graphical benefit, I chose CLI everytime. Maybe your problem Jeff is that you never experienced a proper UNIX command line? And you are still too stubborn to explore that avenue.
Nothing about Ubiquity, Taskfox, or Vimperator (which actually has the ability to pass input to the command line)? This article is really lacking. At least do more research than the google help page. There's a great article that could be written about this concept, but you didn't put the effort in to do so. I'm disappointed.
This whole entry is a case of blog now, think later. (if at all) In fact its like a overstretched tweet. and possibly another comment-bait article.
There is so much stuff you can do on a UNIX command-line, such as but not limited to create modify files, invoke so many programs and utilities , pipe output from several utilities to others, and more.
A browser will always be a browser, you don't get work done with a browser, you just do research.
The comparison is ridiculous.
Comparing the address bar to a command line is not very favorable to a browser. It's really an example of how the keyboard is superior to the mouse when you're looking for data. The command line and address bar share an ability to do that.
This my favourite bit of js to put in the address bar, make sure you have plenty of images on the page!
The above comment says it all.
Also it's about a browser search bar becoming more intuitive like a very high level command prompt. Which it is.
All you Unix CLI guys stop being so protective over the prompt you've all totally overlooked the point of the post.
The Web Browser Address Bar is the New Command Line
No it isn't. Don't be silly.
Seeing the world through Google-colored glasses
I do believe the point has been missed.
No one said it was powerful as a command prompt for an operating system. But there is a world of people that are not geeky as we are and for them the address bar is as close to using a command line as they will ever be. Especially since it fits the definition of a command line interface.
What Google has done with Chrome is essentially to formalize the confusion that not-too-clued-up Internet users have had from day one. Large numbers of users seem to have no clear idea of the difference between the browser address line and a search field. They will cheerfully type search terms into the address line, and the fact that many browsers will automatically add '.com' to the end of single words on the address line and get them roughly where they want to go at least some of the time means that they've never had to unlearn that behavior. Conversely, some users will type whole URLs into any single field that they see in the body of any web page they're looking at.
Other users already use Google (or whichever factory-default site pops up when they start their browser) as their point of entry to the web. They don't use bookmarks, they don't type URLs, they don't even seem to be reliably able to click on URLs in messages. They just open a web page and paste or type into the search field, then go to the first entry in the result list. Some of these users display amazingly little awareness of what page they've actually reached, making them prime candidates for phishing.
I can't decide if Chrome has rewarded bad behavior or is simply bowing to the inevitable, but it's a safe bet that the other browser makers will follow suit. This is how it's going to be, so we may as well get used to the implications now.
http://www.udefn.com takes a swag at bringing this concept to sms txt world. You have bots/apps (it has api to build apps on). You can define a keyword (think shortcut or symbolic link) for apps. Its free for users and app developer gets paid for each request they respond to.
While an astute observation, I think there's one small flaw in your prediction: The average Joe User doesn't even know what a command line is, nor will he ever, nor does he care. The only folks that are going to be using the address bar as a pseudo-command line, are just a subset of the guys who actually still use a REAL command line. A dwindling proportion, at best.
That said, I like the general statement of the article, as per the last sentence of bolded text.
CLI is not the future, nor the past. It's diachronic.
CLI is good (and powerful) interface for geeks, not for all users.
This post is a perfect example of how badly a windows fanboy can misunderstand what the command line actually is! Jeff, the command-line is not just a glorified search bar that you shove terms into. I understand why, having been accustomed to the windows command prompt, you might not understand how much power a command line can offer. Just think how easy it would be to rename those 4,000 files with a simple command-line script as opposed to hours of wrist-wrenching, finger-snapping hell!
The UNIX command line is a thing of pure beauty; the windows abomination that tries to emulate it is horrible. Please take this into account when making comparisons with browser address bars.
I would prefer to not throw away the elegant, mature command line that we already have - i.e. zsh, bash, and the Linux/Unix toolset - and instead make the browser a server that can be addressed from the shell.
I cut my teeth on unix - and not a gui based unix system either. I learned the command line and loved the command line. In fact, I still do. If you come over to my computer, I usually have multiple prompts open.
This gets the Meh. :) More a feature of Google than chrome.
Cwayman, that's typical of geeks. They abhor dumbing down technology to the less capable masses. Plus, they have this preference of taking almost every sentences literally.
I guess I would like something like this as my command line. I just type what I want, and let it figures out what I want to do and do it. Don't need no thick textbook and manuals for that!
Or am I missing the point?
@Mike: that does work in Firefox, BTW.
Personally I really love this feature of Chrome. At first I thought it would be weird, but now I hate using other browsers and having to find the Google toolbar (or actually go to www.google.com) to start searching.
By the way, where'd you come up with 'defenestrate'? I just learned it a few months ago, great word!
I'm very paranoid about using Chrome's address bar as a search field, for the reason that I don't trust it to go to the website I want to go to with 100% accuracy.
If I want to go to some local financial institution's website, I will type the address in directly to ensure that I go to the correct website.
I'm not going to go look up the site in a search result and click on that.
I don't want the browser performing some additional guesswork behind the scenes.
What a wonderful way to look at it. That's really neat. I can't wait and see what happens if this idea, or point of view, actually manages to catch some wind in it's sails. It could be something totally cool.
Wow, a new coding horror low.... Can someone point me to the REAL programming blogs? You know, the ones that help us avoid coding horror. Preferably written by a real programmer, not some Google fanboy.
Did you hear about Wolfram Alpha? Imagine that into your address bar, I think it will be great!
Jeff, you can of course say whatever you want but please leave Amiga references out. If you ever powered up an Amiga, you would know that CLI was a very useful tool - Powershell which came 20 years before Powershell. Playing games on Amiga did not require CLI, though.
Visual Basic is the new C#
Look, it can do everything you want.
No Jeff. You should add tags combo search in the StackOverflow's UI.
Another bump for yubnub.org.
Add YubNub to your Firefox address bar by typing about:config in the Location Bar then scrolling down the list and changing keyword.URL to http://yubnub.org/parser/parse?command=
I personally like hyperwords much better than ubiquity.
We communicate with people via language more often than by pointing and grunting. Is it a surprise then that a command lines provide expressive features that point and click do not easily duplicate? Consider further that even most point and click operations are really just pointing at words (menus, buttons, labeled fields).
There are plenty of valid use-cases for point and click. Take graphics software: I *could* type postscript I guess, but I will take the mouse, thanks. Point and click is also more discoverable (when done right) than a command line.
Once you get to complex operations (especially chained together) the expressiveness of words trumps pointing and clicking. Note the many failed visual programming systems that have come and gone, or the fact that even graphics packages allow scripting by recording commands to a command list.
I personally cannot stand Chrome's URL bar. The built in search suggestions are nice but I get no results for anything outside of the most generic queries. It also does not seem to bring up my history correctly and doesn't search in page titles. By contrast, Firefox's URL bar is much faster and searches within URLs and page titles, which is quite handy since I almost never remember URLs.
I don't think its necessarily a good thing all round. It would be much cooler with a proper UI to complement it for those who struggle with syntax and grammar or remembering the commands.
Back in the old DOS days, I used to abhor GUIs. When Win95 came out, I decided that the best approach was a hybrid one. Some tasks are easier with a command line and others are easier with a GUI. It's nice to have options :) .
I'm one of those who prefers the keyboard when possible, especially keyboard shortcuts, to mouse clicking and menus but I thought this kind of thing had been around for a while.
I found this after quick Google search but I bet there are better examples.
Using the Address Bar
The Address bar is at the top of the window and displays the current address or URL
3. Type the URL of the page you wish to visit
NOTE: The Address bar can also be used as a search bar for the Netscape search engine.
What browser does NOT allow you to type a search into the address bar?
@Charles : not really, since the topic is different. Title is practically the same however, and I find it unlikely Jeff never saw the title of that post.
Command line is useful when you know what you are doing. There is nothing wrong in having a command line too.
I always use 100JPY in USD;
Recently JPY has appreciated and I am having a ball...
Command lines let you express intent with a level of efficiency that a GUI never will. That's why software is still created using text and not graphical symbols manipulated by a GUI. The problem is that people never want to take the time to learn how to use the command line effectively, a GUI is way more discoverable. This is why we have a generation of software engineers reliant on bloated IDEs instead of being proficient at emacs/vim.
All you programming pundits incessantly bang on about how nobody reads books anymore or learns their editor or explores hardware architecture and CPU instruction latency but you have no problem denigrating command lines as obscure UNIX. Why don't you do an experiment and actually learn a command line shell and see if your productivity improves. Being a MS fan I'd suggest you start with PowerShell.
You know, I find it ironic that the title of this post is almost the same as that fireball: http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/location_field (which on top of that is in the goddamn The Best Software Writing I which you even talked about at http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000346.html !). With that, and Stack Overflow using Markdown, you might wish to rething what you said in a comment of http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000796.html : For example, if John daringfireball Gruber spent a *fraction* of the time he spends obsessively responding to every public criticism of the Mac on, y'know, creating something cool (and writing about it, obviously), he'd influence a lot more people. (oh, and by the way, it's a shame that comments in your blog don't have individual anchors; especially when you rave how comments are the best part of your blog)
Very good examples, shows what search engines are capable of.
Good man Jeff coming from the Amiga background. All the best people did :)
If Jeff manages to offend someone by poorly identifying something as command line then I don't really think Jeff is the one with the problem.
It seems a lot of people almost entirely (willfully?) missed the point of this post.
Using the command line as the primary interface for an average computer user ended many years ago.
We're now seeing web browsers which implement functions to find and manipulate information through text based commands. A Command Line Interface.
The title is naturally hyperbolic, but the essential message is true. The command line 'died', but is now returning in the web browser address bar. It is the new command line.
Come talk to me when I can start stringing these commands together to form larger commands.
yeah, but without:
* man pages
recreating the wheel in your browser doesn't make it better it just makes it dependent on your browser.
If only you knew the power of the command line...
MikeS wrote: Jeff, it's funny that Google has already indexed this article, so that Googling 'link:experts-exchange.com sucks' brings up this very page.
Even funnier, since this page *does not* link to experts-exchange.com. Jeff's point is blunted by the fact that Google has quietly been turning off most of the features listed on http://www.google.com/help/cheatsheet.html in the past year or two. The keyword link: no longer works. Nor does lang:.
And I have no idea what Jeff thought presidents 1850...1860 would do. It doesn't do anything interesting for me (searching from within the continental U.S.).
This page is now the 8th page listed when you search for
(sorry, somehow it posted prematurely)
(sorry, somehow it posted prematurely)
wait... new?... i've been using this ever since IE 6...
later on browsers like IE 7 and FF added a separate search bar, which i've never quite understood, since the IE 6 way has always worked just great (and still does).
this is incredibly old, but has been forgotten because of FF zealots; good to see Chrome brings it back, i guess.
Personally, I don't use a web browser; I write a script from a command line whenever I want to access the web. Takes a while, especially with typos, but so what?
Opera is one browser that is seriously misunderestimated ;-)