A couple of years ago I posted about Ubiquity, a Firefox add-on that let you summon up and execute a variety of useful browser commands with simple shortcuts. For various reasons I never did make the use of the feature that it deserved, and then I switched away from Firefox because I found it slow.
Now the idea is back again, this time in a cross-browser way that’s going to make it more useful. The application, if that’s what it is — perhaps “feature” or “set of commands” would be a better description — is called Quix, and I have a feeling this is going to be more of a help for me than Ubiquity ever was. It’s positioned as a bookmarklet, the mother of all bookmarklets, really, which means it’s easy as pie to adopt. You just grab the link from the Quix site and put it on your personal toolbar. (There’s a page telling you how to do that for any of seven browsers.)
Then the fun begins. Click the Quix bookmarklet, a text entry box pops up, and you type in “help.” This brings up a webpage with the list of default commands available to you. For example, the command for a google search is “g”; so you’d click on Quix and enter “g foobar” to get the Google page of search results for “foobar.” There are dozens of these shortcut commands: “img” causes a Google Image search; “wa” a Wolfram-Alpha search; “a” an Amazon search; and so on. “Bitly” produces a short URL for the page you’re on; “gs” searches the site you’re on with Google; “evernote” clips the current page to Evernote.
Better still, you can extend the reach of Quix by creating a simple text file of your own that contains commands you find useful. There are instructions on the site as to how to do this. But it boils down to placing your supplemental Quix text file where your browser can get at it, and then “telling” Quix where that is. I’ve placed mine, for example, in the Public directory of my Dropbox folder. Once Quix knows where your supplemental file is, your commands will show up below the default commands whenever you enter “help” into Quix.
I’ve done three things with mine that might interest you. I’ve improved the Google search function such that I don’t need a command shortcut — I just enter my search terms — and then I get 100 results; I’ve created a command “slaw” that searches Slaw; and I’ve created a set of commands for searching for text in various CanLII databases: cancase, canstat, scc, onca, qcca, bcca, abca. Feel free to copy my quix.txt file, which you can see here.
Have a look. Play around with this yourself. And then tell us what you’ve built with Quix.