Ubiquity Ubiquity Ubiquity

I bet you can’t say that 3 times fast? (I’m already referencing Ubiquity as Ubiq* on IRC )

By now if you haven’t heard about Mozilla’s brand new child-prodigy, self titled Ubiquity, I suggest you download it here.

Ubiquity defined, is the state of being everywhere at once (or seeming to be everywhere at once). That is exactly what this new Mozilla extension offers. This Mozilla extension, is a small application that allows you to quickly perform web-related tasks without having to surf out to different web sites (for instance Ubiquity comes with an assortment of commands for popular websites like: Wikipedia, IMDB, Flickr, and even Twitter). Watch their video for a quick introduction.

Ubiquity allows the user to obtain an assortment of information at a very quick pace without the need to surf around to different websites. In essence, this is on-demand learning and a sense of empowering the user.

One awesome example of Ubiquity’s power is the extreme ease of inserting a common Google Map into the body of an e-mail. I will experiment how what should be a simple task can be performed so convoluted and ridiculous contrasted with how easy it becomes with Ubiquity.

Example 1: A friend’s approach who attends Seneca College in the digital media/art program. Does not know what Ubiquity is but uses Firefox.

  1. Opens Firefox.
  2. Performed a Google Search for “embed Google maps into E-Mail body
  3. Opened first result. Read through it and determined that it was not possible, as suggested on some forum.
  4. Clicked some more results. Still no luck finding an answer.
  5. Gave up and closed Firefox.

Example 2: A friend’s approach who is a student at York University in a non-computer science field. Does not know what Ubiquity is, but uses Firefox.

I can say the approach he took is more technical. I’m surprised at the method he used.

  1. Opens Firefox
  2. Searched for an address in Google Maps.
  3. Print Screen.
  4. Opened MS-Paint, and pasted image, saved the image to hard drive.
  5. Add saved image as an attachment into new email.

Results: It is very interesting to see how this task was performed. I only worked with two friends but the results clearly varied.

Even at such an early alpha, I can see Ubiquity becoming integrated into Firefox in the near future providing the ease of associate common English language into what you want your browser to do.

The task above can be performed so easily by just typing, map of Rogers Centre and clicking the “Insert into map” link. The map is now inserted into your email.

This is the power of Ubiquity and I’m glad that we get to toy with it in this DPS909A lab, perhaps even continue working with it in a semester project. This is going to be a fun to use, great tool.

Although – Security measures will have to be strongly in place since commands may be dangerous. This is one of the first things that came to mind when I first opened up that console window with control-space. Executing user’s self published commands without knowing what they do will be a major problem.

I hope Mozilla is implementing a sandbox around this application, to protect the user’s system and browser from executing malicious commands.


Fellow class-mates, what do you think of Ubiquity?

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chris Bishop on September 10, 2008 at 12:44 am

    There is a lot of power with this Ubiquity. As more online services offer api’s to interact with their services this feature will really take off.

    For my command I added the ability to type in multiple addresses in the console and then the user is redirected to a Google Map page with the directions laid out.

    I’ll probably spend some time trying to figure out how to add that map to the preview pane. That is where the real power is. Never having to go to the actual page to get the data.

  2. Posted by irina on September 10, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I like your example #2, that is a good approach!

    Yes, the tool is good, I agree with you. Too bad I did not hear about it before.

    It is especially useful if you see patterns in your daily work with the browser. I usually don’t repeat many things, so I had a hard time to come up with the idea what to do. But once I did it was quite easy to implement what I wanted to do.

  3. I love Ubiquity already. Yes you are right this utility can have serious security issues, I am sure something will be done before this goes open to public use.

  4. Posted by Joshua on September 12, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Awesome post, I like the examples you gave to prove how Ubiquity can take a task requiring a bit of work, and sum it down into one command and a click. It is true, this program has a lot of potential, and surprisingly we can see this in the alpha release.

  5. Hey, cool tips. I’ll buy a glass of beer to the person from that chat who told me to visit your blog šŸ™‚

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