Firefox Journal

What is it?

Right now it uses Firefox 3.  So you’ll have to download that and try it out.  The download is only 8 megs, so just try it out.

We’re taking advantage of Firefox’s new Places system, which is basically storing history, bookmarks, annotations, and tags in a local sqlite database.

The Journal takes over as your homepage.  What?  You read that a homepage isn’t useful? Yes, well this isn’t a “homepage”, it’s a journal and according to wikipedia a journal is a daily record of events or business.

Go, read the Firefox Journal wiki page.  The instructions are easy: download, run, grab the extension, and you’re done!

What is the Journal doing?

We have lots of plans for the Journal, but lets start with the basics.

History

The Journal rewrites history!  For the better of course, that’s the only reason anyone would rewrite history… The Journal tries to write your history to you like you’d want to read it.  It’s trying to change what you do into an adventure instead of a log, as if Theodore Roosevelt was writing for your browsing history.

For example, my browsing history might look like this:

Theodore Roosevelt – Google Search http://www.google.com/search?q=Theodore+Roosevelt&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
Theodore Roosevelt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt#War_in_Cuba
Battle of San Juan Hill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_San_Juan_Hill
Battle of San Juan Hill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_San_Juan_Hill#Kettle_Hil

When it could look like this:

Searched for: Theodore Roosevelt http://www.google.com/search?q=Theodore+Roosevelt
Found: Theodore Roosevelt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt
Fought in the: Theodore Roosevelt » War In Cuba http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt#War_in_Cuba
Fought at the: Battle of San Juan Hill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_San_Juan_Hill
Charged up the: Battle of San Juan Hill » Kettle Hill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_San_Juan_Hill#Kettle_Hil

Obviously, I’m adding actions to the history that are fictitious but still quite possible.  By understanding URLs and websites the Journal can optimize the view of your history; shorten URLs, improve titles, remove useless URLs.

Look at your current browser history

Go ahead right now and open up your browsers history.  Ctrl-H is usually the access key assigned to your browsers history.  Firefox will open up a sidebar with folders for different time periods and a small search.  Epiphany does a much better job with a separate window for looking at your history and some grouping by host name is helpful, much better than the grouping by date that Firefox does.

However any of the current systems are only logging your history, and for what?  How often do you use that log?  Probably not very often and I think that’s because it’s not actually written for you to use.  Well we’re changing that, by writing the history in a way that’s useful for you to use.

Getting those links back

I’ve been using the Journal now for about 2 weeks and I was able to write this entire blog entry without hitting the network once.  All the links I needed were available from the Journal’s view of my history.  The search uses the internal Firefox search methods so it’s quite good at using multiple terms and finding the right thing.

So check out the code and try out the Journal.  Next up are other enhancements of the history, making it active with site information via RSS, grabbing microformats to save addresses and phone numbers.

7 responses to “Firefox Journal

  1. FWIW, the latest linux firefox3 alpha I can find is 3.0a7 and the plugin says it only works with 3.0a8 or greater.

  2. Mads Villadsen

    It seems that the Firefox Journal page has disappeared in the move to live.gnome.org. Is there anywhere to get the extension without checking it out from svn?

  3. You can still grab the firefox plugin via http://download.mugshot.org/client/firefox/ however it’s getting a bit out of date with our lack of development on it recently.

  4. I keep having a problem with the sidebar search (visited URL) history. As soon as I type something in the sidebar search box, all my visited links disappear, even if I search on a world from a visited URL string. I found a tip once that fixed it. Something to do with addressbook. I have scoured the net and can’t find out why my search history is not working. Have you a clue? TIA!

    Peter

  5. Matthew

    I’d like to be able to use the journal without it being displayed every time I open a new window or tab. I’ve tried telling Firefox to display a blank page on start and leaving “about: journal” as my homepage so that I could use “home” to see the journal. Unfortunately, I still see the journal in every new tab and the “show blank page” setting seems to eventually revert to “show home page”.

  6. Pingback: Enhancing Multitasking to Enhance Our Minds. « Essays by Danielle Fong

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This is the blog personality of Bryan Clark. I'm a designer in a world of open source. This blog reflects mostly writing about Design, Open Source, Economics, Beer, Wine, and Dogs. There's more information about me on this site or you can contact me directly at clarkbw@gmail.com.

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