Does the awesome bar awe you?

It’s been about two months since the awesome bar officially reached millions of Firefox users with Firefox 3 final release. Since then, reception has been mixed (even at the Mozilla Summit): some people (like myself) have get used to it so much that it makes hard to use other browsers (yeah, Opera 9.5 has it as well) or older Firefox versions.

On the other side, people are crying foul because it can accidentally reveal a web page (porn, secret gift, Oprah, etc.) they don’t want others to know about. Or because they don’t like its look or takes too much space. Or because they found confusing the change of behavior. There are some workarounds available and Firefox 3.1 will provide more customization options, but still this could be not enough.

So, how is it going for you? Share your experience in the latest Mozilla Links poll and feel free to drop your comments below.

[poll id=”20″]

35 thoughts on “Does the awesome bar awe you?”

  1. I can see how it may be too revealing for some… but honestly, people shouldn’t be visiting sites that they may be embarrassed by ANYWAY (ie: porn).

      1. Also, people that use the same computer should really have different firefox profiles. Firefox is such a personalizeable browser it’s a bit wierd how different people use the same…

    1. Ryan: Didn’t you ever land on a porn site by mistake? Mike: I can do it, of course, but I I like to type the first two or three letters and pick the site I want from the drop down list. I’m usually the only one who uses my computer, but occasionally my sons and my grandson do it too. It’s not about porn, which I don’t like, it’s about my PRIVACY. Morbus: More and more non techie people is using FF, they only want to see pages, not to learn about how to erase history or how to use different profiles.

  2. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. I can live with it, I can live without it. That said, it does make it easier to search through history to find “that one site that was really awesome” or something like google reader that’s easy enough to find, so you don’t really need to bookmark it, but having it at the top of the list as soon as you type “g” doesn’t hurt.

    1. You can launch your bookmarks from the awesome bar. Just begin to type the word of the website you want. As soon as you see it in the dropdown box click it. Now begin to type the website again until you see it in the dropdown box and click it again. With this behavior the awesomebar will learn that that site is very important to you and place it at the top of the dropdown box. Now you can active this website with 1 or 2 key presses.

      1. Why on earth should I waste my time teaching my preferences to my browser? I can bookmark my favorite sites way more easily and they won’t be replaced if for any reason I must visit the same page many times one day. I have my own brains, I don’t need my browser to tell me what is important for me! I rolled back to FF2 the same day I installed FF3 because of that awesome annoying bar. I’ve used an recomended FF for years, but they don’t allow us to disable that hideous function and get back to the way it used to do if we want in the short time, I will switch to some other browser.

  3. I love it and use it as is. Firefox 3 has dramatically improved my browsing habits.

    I’m really sloppy about keeping my bookmarks organized. REALLY BAD. I tried the thing for awhile, but was even too lazy to keep those organized.

    The Awesome Bar is everything it promises to be for me. I just click the star when I want to bookmark something, and I usually add in a few keywords too. Pulling it back up makes my life a breeze.

    I can’t imagine browsing without it.

  4. I want to be able to censor results, for example when I type “g” it prompt me with google (maybe because I visit it too frequently), but I want to be able to censor every site with “gay” or “sex” or “porn” in the name, but only when I want to enable censorship, I think an extension should be the right thing, I will look into it.

  5. My wife discovered some of my fetishes thanks to this “awesome bar” and now we’re in counseling. However, the counseling is making our marriage the best it’s been in years. We were getting very close to filing for divorce but thanks to this little discovery we’re much more intimate now that she knows what kind of stuff turns me on and things haven’t been better. Mozilla, I thank you for helping save my marriage. I thank you for allowing me to love my wife again. I thank you for not putting our children through the terrible experience of a divorce. God bless Firefox, God bless Mozilla, and God bless the Awesome Bar!

  6. With some tweaking I was able to get to like it. The more I use it, the more I start to like it. Just a big shock the first time I came across it.

  7. I love awesomebar! I think that one easy way to stop the porn would be for an extensions to allow you to provide a list of tags which should not ever be displayed in the awesome bar (e.g. “porn”, “adult” or “xxx” etc)

  8. I’m still set in my ways as far as bookmarks go, using the bookmarks menu. I don’t have enough bookmarks that I’d need help searching for them. I do find the Awesome Bar valuable when searching through history for a site I want to see again, but don’t visit often enough to bookmark, such as a specific Wikipedia article, etc.

  9. I agree with nitwit88, I never love it or hate it. I’m still getting used to it, and it may grow on me, but so far it’s just a novelty. Unlike Nathan, my bookmarks are well organized, so the need for it is less. Also, I’m still not used to the tagging concept, so I don’t have any.

  10. It should be possible to block certain domains from being recorded in the history. This could be a setting on the permissions tab or the security tab of the page info dialog.

  11. A cranky accolade…

    I love the damn thing I just hate the name. It’s a great feature but it ain’t awsome and it doesn’t awe me. The official name is the Location Bar by the way. Be that as it may…

    I’ve always despised cascading menus especially when trying to haul through my severely bloated bookmarks trying to find that one medical site I visited last year when the VA threatened me with surgery. Now the VA is actually going to do the surgery and thanks to the so called Awesome Bar, all I did was start typing in the phrase “drawn and quartered” and up popped the correct bookmark just like that. I’ll never have to deal with those cascading bookmark menus from hell again.

    And if you can’t remember where your favorite XXX video is located, for heavens sake don’t bookmark it. Instead, install the the “Scrapbook” extension and bookmark it there (and then rename it Bertha’s Garden Secrets or something to that effect).

    Have a great day.

  12. completely useless for me. All my bookmarks are organised and are one click away on the bookmark toolbar. I don’t maintain a history for more than a day and I have no need for tagging.

    I’ve simply set browser.urlbar.maxRichResults = 0 problem solved.

  13. The so called “awesome bar” is very useful even if it looks strange at the beginning, it saves a lot of typing, but it have problem with cyrillic encoding (448881)

  14. As a developer I find it very very annoying. I’m always typing in urls of websites I’m developing and tab completing. The new search bar breaks the mode of working that I have used since the beginning of the web browser.

    I have since downgraded to firefox 2 because development on websites became too frustrating with 3. Please provide an option to completely revert back to the functionality of FF2.

  15. I downgrded after like 3 h back to FF2 can’t stand the Awfulbar in FF3
    so im going to use 2.x for ever or mabye go tsome other borowser that let me turn of this kind of adressbar that FF3.0 has
    when some one gives an option to have FF2 adressbar behave like it should in FF3
    then i will upgrade ,i don’t care about the security updates in FF so i can use 2.0 for a long time

  16. My 2¢ worth: Brush up (or get up to speed) on keyboard shortcuts. Once you become accustomed to using K/B shortcuts, there’s lots of stuff that you can quickly change — e.g.,

    Alt+V, T, N to toggle on / off the location (awesome, navigation) bar;
    Alt+V, T, B for the bookmarks toolbar.

    So you can both have it or not have it, as you prefer…

  17. The porn argument: If you’ve done nothing ‘wrong’, why not let the entire bloody world have a look?

    Privacy is not necessarily the same as secrecy.

    I move from client to client with a laptop and when I type www in the address bar, I’d really rather not display a list of every customer, supplier, security or government site I’ve been to; in fact I’m contractually obliged not to. Forget displaying your history and bookmarks, forget searching the web. Stop listing redirects, adverts and domains that have offensive names.

    This should be available with a simple check box, privacy options should NOT be hidden away in about:config simply for the sake of conformity or because some mozdev fancies himself as a UI genius.

    Three weeks back I had detectives with me, looking over my shoulder while I was demonstrating some WAN CCTV, again on the laptop. It then happened that I needed to use my browser to log into a secure website and get details of a recent crime for them. As a security contractor I need to keep up to date with all manner of things, visit all sorts of sites, and I’d have little problem justifying such. But should I have really had to hold my breath, wondering whether Firefox was going to display something that would have me filling out forms to get my machines back?

    With apparent hubris, Mozilla dismisses complainants as being part of the always [very] vocal minority. As many of us actually started out as the [very] vocal minority in IE space, just who do they think promoted Firefox over IE in the first place? Mozilla’s popularity is certainly not down to a glittering TV campaign and full page advertisements in the newspapers, nor do they have an OS to piggy-back.

    The argument that ‘most people’ are happy with this direction holds no comfort for me. ‘Most’ of them were comfortable with IE originally. ‘Most people’ will at some point click yourbank.exe, leave wifi routers open and give complete strangers their date of birth. Doesn’t mean they’re right though, does it?

    Firefox is still piss-ant in business compared to IE, probably because people don’t want the word C**T flashing up on the boardroom projector screen.


  18. how about deleting your browser history after surfing the explicit stuff?

    i like it, don’t have to remember an exact url, just a word or two

  19. The changed bar is so bad that I removed FF3 from my distro and installed FF2. When FF2 becomes unsupported, I guess I’ll be having to change browser completely to one with a traditional address bar.

    The whole AB feature comes across as a feature designed for mass market appeal, which is obviously what FF needs to be able to dislodge IE.

    AB comes across as a feature that panders to the lowest common denominator, those who are simply unwilling to spend any time learning how to use a browser (aka RTFM), or those who are just terrified of clicking about in an application. These are people that use IE now (because the internet is a blue e to them) or just have never used a computer!

    In FF, the history was already searchable before FF3, as were the bookmarks (granted, crudely, but extensions could enhance that). The URL bar is funnily enough for the URL, so when it has a lot of other features suddenly crammed in there it becomes a mess. When I type into the address bar I expect it to show me addresses, and not to have the computer second guessing at what I want to look at. I’ll agree that to the untrained eye a URL does look like rubbish anyway, but what is so wrong with learning how to use a tool?

    The original philosophy of FF was to create a lean and fast browser, with addon support for additional features. The AB is very obvious facet of leaving that behind, and by leaving that philosophy behind FF runs the risk of losing what brought so many people to it in the first place. The browser should be a box that renders HTML, images, and parses javascript. FF should be pretty much just that, but it seems to just get fatter with each version.

    The awful bar should have been an addon, and if Mozilla wanted it to be in FF3 by default then it should have been done as a package of FF3 with an AB addon by default. That way, it could have simply been disabled or removed by those who don’t want it, instead of trying to apply many workarounds which don’t really bring back the normal behaviour of the address bar. And besides, even with the AB turned off the code is still there, taking up resources, not to mention that there could be security vulnerabilities related to the AB. Why should so many people (a third, by your stats) have to suffer the downsides of the AB?

    And just think how much time (and in turn money) has been wasted on the AB! The whole AB debate would have been a fraction of what it is if it wasn’t for some marketing idea that was forced on everyone.

    1. “AB comes across as a feature that panders to the lowest common denominator, those who are simply unwilling to spend any time learning how to use a browser (aka RTFM), or those who are just terrified of clicking about in an application.”
      That’s funny. It seems you never took the time to learn how to use the awesomebar effectively. I used to have all my favorite websites on the bookmarks toolbar but after learning how you can use the awesomebar I just type 1 character of the website and press enter. If you don’t like to use the keyboard just click the down arrow of the a-bar and there you have your 12 favorite websites. Now I don’t have to organize my bookmarks and just have to spend 10 seconds per bookmark to give it a good name that I can search for from the a-bar.

      By the way, Mozilla is working on providing the functions that old users want by choosing from about:config where the awesomebar searches(bookmarks, history). And Firefox 3.1 already uses +, ^, *, @ and # to choose between tagged, history, bookmarks, URLs and title/tags.

    2. It is a gross generalisation to say that the awesomebar only appeals to the “lowest common denominator”; I’m pretty sure there are many advanced users who appreciate the efficiency of having one box that does everything with the minimum of effort (why should it take many mouse clicks or keypresses to do something when it can take less?). Why would I want to have to remember an url, or whether I bookmarked a particular site, when I can type a few letters into the location bar and have it remember for me? You might like filling your head with unnecessary information, but I prefer to keep some free for the interesting stuff!

      I’d consider myself to be an advanced “normal” user (i.e. I’m not a “proper” techie but I’m not scared to dip my toe into the technical stuff when I need to; I rely heavily on technology to make my life easier, and will do what is necessary to bend it to my will!), and I LOVE the awesome bar. Advanced users should be perfectly capable of changing the about:config setting (to browser.urlbar.maxRichResults = 0) if they don’t like the new feature (and there are various other tips to force it to behave more like the old bar here: Your complaint about resources makes no sense if you’ve gone back to FF2, since that’s supposed to be a bigger memory hog than FF3 (I know that some people debate this but on the whole it seems to be generally acknowledged as true).

      Liking it doesn’t mean you are some kind of technological retard who shouldn’t be using firefox in the first place. TBH, your post smacks of tech-snobbery; “Lets keep things complicated to deter the plebs”!

      Yes, I agree that it is not good for developers to add unnecessary bloat to an app, but one person’s “bloat” can be another person’s “must have feature”. Of course you are correct that FF could have implemented this as an extension, but integrating it with the browser is probably a more efficient way of doing it, and for the vast majority of users I think this feature is an improvement. I’ve heard people argue that tabbed browsing should be an add-on rather than a default feature!

      I strongly suspect that the poll above is skewed by the vocal minority who probably ended up on this page after searching for info on how to disable the bar. People who are content or have no strong opinions don’t get accurately reflected in polls like this.

  20. Since the comments still seem active here, I’ll add my two cents. I like the idea of this bar, but my bookmark list is too big for it and the damn thing hangs for a minimum of 10 seconds and up to 30 seconds before it even does anything. It cripples my whole screen while its searching. Perhaps its just the way that Ubuntu rolls it out, but I absolutely HATE this hang. I’ve been using his browser fromt he time it was created, back in the old days of Phoenix 0.1 and one of the big reasons was because of its speed.

    Luckily, 3.1 seems to be heading in a speedier direction.

    1. And luckily 3.1/3.5 have already fixed this freezing problem. Go and try Firefox 3.1b3 portable.

    2. This hang doesn’t happen in Windows, even with lots of bookmarks, so I think it must be a Linux thing (haven’t actually got round to updating FF on my Linux computer as it’s a bit broken and don’t have time to fix it, so can’t comment on whether this is a problem on all distros)

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