OmniWeb Greatness

Today I was reminded of a feature that I take for granted in OmniWeb that I have never seen in any other browser on any platform. It’s Address Bar search and it looks a little something like this:

OmniWeb address bar showing type-as-you-go search

This feature has been in OmniWeb for as long as I can remember and I’ve been using it since the March 24, 2001 unveiling of Mac OS X.

For those of you unlucky enough to not be able to download and use OmniWeb, let me describe the sequence of events that led to the screenshot above. I typed “patterns” in the address bar and its default behavior is to wrap “http://www.” and “.com/” around the word—it starts matching as you type. The three entries in the listing after the default behavior are recent pages I’ve visited with the word “patterns” in the title. After that is a bookmarked URL for the Amsterdam pattern archive. Scrolling through the list shows other URLs that I’ve visited with that term in the title.

After further consideration, it could be that the Microsoft listings are just those with the word “patterns” in the URL and are followed by listings where “patterns” appears in the title of the page. Maybe the final ones are bookmarks. It’s rather difficult to tell since I visit so many sites and have told OmniWeb to remember up to 50,000 visited URLs.

Whatever the algorithm for display, this is highly unusual and useful behavior. In every other browser the best you’ll get is patterns.com and any URLs you’ve visited underneath that domain. I’m not even sure if bookmarks/favorites/whatever are included in the URL completion. My browser quit today with a window open to a Inc. article I was going to read (it quit because of something I did, it’s an otherwise stable app). I had no idea what the URL was and I had had the page open for over a day while I browsed all sorts of other pages—i.e., I didn’t think I could find it in my history. I didn’t remember too much about it except that “stubborn” was in the title. Bingo, easily found!

There are countless other user interface niceties like this in the browser. If you have Mac OS X, ditch Firebird, Safari, and Internet Explorer. This browser costs $29.95 (unless you’re willing to endure the humorous nagging) and is worth every penny. Plus, it uses WebCore and JavascriptCore so its behavior and rendering are practically identical to Safari’s. C’mon, it’s totally worth it. If you make the switch, let me know and I’ll tell you some of the primo things I’ve got set up that make for rapid information access.

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