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Don't like Camino 2.1 location bar autocomplete behavior

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phiw13
 
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Post Posted December 3rd, 2011, 5:33 pm

morgannagrom wrote:phiw13, I do have a backup. I'll try reverting back as you suggested and running some more tests to narrow down the issue. I've got a busy weekend, though... might be a few days before I have time to futz with it.

Bear in mind that the longer you wait, the more your old history will disappear – the 'remember history…' preference setting, default is 9 days. If you did change from the default, it is recorded in the prefs.js file in your profile; you might want to up that limit before launching Camino by opening that file in a plain text editor. Look for the line 'user_pref("browser.history_expire_days", XX);' where XX is the number of days.

(I don't remember how quickly Camino purges older history after launch)

edit:
BTW - unless you did a cleanup in your profile folder, your 'old' history file will still be there (it is named history.dat, Camino 2.1 stores history in places.sqlite). Instead of swapping out the whole profile folder, you could just move places.sqlite to a safe place and relaunch Camino.
Last edited by phiw13 on December 4th, 2011, 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

ToucanSloth
 
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Post Posted December 4th, 2011, 12:43 am

I love lots of things about this new release, but not the changes to the URL autocomplete.


Thanks, MorganNagrom. I have the exact same issue as you, and in fact came here to see if there was a preference I hadn't found. When I type the first letter or two of my top websites (typically visited a dozen times a day), I'm getting sites in my top-10 list that I have as bookmarks but haven't visited in years.

One thing about Camino, as you mentioned, is that it's a bit off the beaten path. My guess is that the vast majority of Camino users are "advanced users," and possibly control freaks (but in a good way, of course :) ). So, I'm surprised that more Camino users wouldn't speak URL. Like hhills, I'm used to typing "m" to visit my mail, or "w" or "we" to visit my other mail, "p" to visit another of my sites, etc. I might be lucky in that my top 8 visited sites happen to have URLs that start with 7 different letters, so I've made excellent use of the former location-bar behavior. Title words overlap more. And actually, I've never bookmarked 5 of them because I knew they'd always pop up when I started typing. My bookmark bar is for reference sites that I need from time to time but that I'll forget about if they're not in my visual field.

I think this might be getting a bit better -- is there another set of metadata that 2.1 is building? Earlier today I was getting a bookmark visited 6 times (last in 2008) as #3 when I typed the first letter of my top-visited site (which should include several pages with hundreds of visits each -- or I guess much less, since I keep history for only a few days). Now it's #9.

If we're going to keep the current behavior (searching, not auto-completing), it would be nice if we could see a lot more of the URL. Various websites I visit (e.g. bulletin boards) have pages with similar or identical titles but something different toward the end of the .php?________.

I, too, am hoping that I'll get used to it, but I had the same "ack, get me back to Kansas!" moment that MorganNagrom had. Camino is still my best defense against feeling like advertisers and google are sucking my blood, which is still going to be the trump card on which browser I use. I enormously appreciate the customizable privacy and annoyance-blocking features, as well as the Mac feel to it. It's possible that another browser has gotten as good as Camino on that since I last looked, but I don't think so.

phiw13
 
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Post Posted December 4th, 2011, 1:24 am

@ ToucanSloth
thanks for the feed back on this.
1. yours is an excellent use for bookmark shortcuts (those can be 1 letter long).
BTW, you don't need to keep all your bookmarks on the bookmark bar, you can also put them in the bookmark menu collection.

2. yes, the system learns a bit as you go and frequently accessed items should rise through the ranks.

ToucanSloth
 
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Post Posted December 4th, 2011, 1:46 pm

Thanks! Obviously I need to go through and read about all the features currently available.

My bookmark menu is a veritable trash heap that's been collecting since roughly 1998, on which I gave up a few years ago. (I should really stop avoiding going through it and get rid of most of it.) Nevertheless, I've now gone through and bookmarked my top several pages to add shortcuts for them. So far it's working great! It still doesn't entirely solve the other way I had used the auto-complete, namely to find quickly what article (or whatever) I was reading earlier that day/week to send to someone else. So, quick intersection of history and domain-name-based search. I can still open a tab for history and do it that way, but it's slightly slower.

Anyway, this will certainly tide me over until I get used to the new algorithm.

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Post Posted December 6th, 2011, 11:48 pm

ToucanSloth wrote:One thing about Camino, as you mentioned, is that it's a bit off the beaten path. My guess is that the vast majority of Camino users are "advanced users," and possibly control freaks (but in a good way, of course :) ).

Or, they're people who want slim, streamlined browser :-) FWIW, based on all of my years of interacting with Camino users who have founds bugs, my take is that Camino users are predominantly not advanced users ;-)

ToucanSloth wrote:If we're going to keep the current behavior (searching, not auto-completing), it would be nice if we could see a lot more of the URL. Various websites I visit (e.g. bulletin boards) have pages with similar or identical titles but something different toward the end of the .php?________.

Dan started working on this when he was initially rewriting autocomplete. There's an old patch in bug 507653; I'm not sure how much work it would take to fix it up for shipping.

Early on I also filed bug 498943 about not splitting the space 50-50 between titles and URLs, so that a results list with short titles would cede the empty white space to URLs. I have no idea how hard that would be to implement, though :-(
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Post Posted December 7th, 2011, 12:09 am

Just a quick general update here.

First, thanks to everyone who had provided feedback so far! We really appreciate the constructive way you've given feedback, including specifics and use-cases. It's been very helpful.

Second, smorgan and I had a discussion early Monday morning of some possible changes we can make for 2.1.1 to better accomodate people who "speak URL". We're both sympathetic to the fact that we changed a core behavior significantly.

Third, he already has a patch to tweak the scoring algorithm to help keep older bookmarks from crowding out more recently-visited items. It seems to work OK, although I noticed some strangeness near the bottom of the results list with some queries; I'm not sure if he plans to tweak it further or is just waiting for time to land it.
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heiman
 
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Post Posted December 16th, 2011, 10:48 am

Hi,

I also would like to have the autocomplete bar fill in the URL that I'm typing (as it used to) rather than unrelated web sites. Many sites have misleading or uninformative titles, and it is frustrating to have to pick the correct URL out of a sea of distracting words (especially when the actual URLs are only listed in faint gray type, and on the far right out of alignment with what I'm typing).

I know the developers have gone to great lengths to make Camino highly configurable, which is one of the main reasons I use it, and it is simply not practical to have every possible option listed as a configurable choice. But I do think this behavior rises to the level of an important feature that affects daily use enough that it should be included among the configurables.

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Post Posted December 16th, 2011, 2:38 pm

heiman wrote:I also would like to have the autocomplete bar fill in the URL that I'm typing (as it used to) rather than unrelated web sites. Many sites have misleading or uninformative titles, and it is frustrating to have to pick the correct URL out of a sea of distracting words (especially when the actual URLs are only listed in faint gray type, and on the far right out of alignment with what I'm typing).

We're definitely considering options for people who "speak URL", depending on the volume of feedback we get. Feedback here in the forum around that issue has died down; I'll have to check to see how things are going via other feedback channels.

heiman wrote:I know the developers have gone to great lengths to make Camino highly configurable, which is one of the main reasons I use it, and it is simply not practical to have every possible option listed as a configurable choice. But I do think this behavior rises to the level of an important feature that affects daily use enough that it should be included among the configurables.

I think it is probably something that's important for a small but likely not unimportant percentage of our total userbase, so (if we make a change) probably not enough to get a UI pref (and we're past localization freeze for 2.1 anyway), but if there's sufficient feedback to warrant it, we'd put in a hidden pref.

Thanks for the constructive comment!
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Siderea
 
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Post Posted December 17th, 2011, 2:26 pm

I was pointed here by friends when I started bellowing about the change in behavior of the location bar. Please count me among the people for whom this change is extremely unwelcome, to the point that I'm going to revert or just stop using Camino entirely if it's not fixed or if I'm not given a configuration option to turn it off.

I don't know if the feature is poorly thought out or just buggy as heck. The results I am getting are utterly non-sensical.

For example, when I enter "p", I get:

1) First hit is "Google Voice". There is no "p" in the name of the service or the domain name or host, though there's a "p" in the word "Phone" which does appear in the title? Is that why it's matching? Apparently not! When I hit down arrow to autocomplete, it turns out that the "p" being matched is the start of the word "passive" which is -- get this -- a GET attribute ("passive=1209600&...") somewhere buried at the end of the URL.

It's not in the hostname. It's not in the domain name. It's not in the page title. It's a GET attribute. Easily the least useful, informative, relevant or identifying information it could possibly match.

(Also, as a sub-bug to this, when I left-arrow, I cannot scroll past that initial "p" to see what the rest of the URL preceding the match is. When I select the whole contents, I get "passive=1209600&continue=https://www.google.com/voice&followup=https://www.google.com/voice&ltmpl=open", not the wholly qualified URL. That's actually a minor security bug: it conceals the domain name, so I can't see if I'm going to the site I think I am (e.g. Google Voice) or a fake I might have accidentally visited earlier.)

An additional three hits in my top ten results are all other Google Voice results, matching on the attribute "passive".

2) The second result at least makes some sense, though it is utterly undesirable. It's to a page titled "Comment Preview". Is "Preview" what is being matched on? Nope. The "p" in the URL; down arrow shows me I'm matching on "post_do.bml".

The full URL is http://www.livejournal.com/talkpost_do.bml . Regular LJ users are now chuckling. Follow the URL yourself to see why. talkpost_do.bml is an intermediary redirect page which one should never, ever visit directly oneself. It are no circumstances in which matching talkpost_do.bml is the right behavior. Ever.

3) The third result matches on the word "profile" for my profile page on LJ. The word appears in both the title and URL and is not unreasonable on those bases.

Unfortunately, it's actually pretty useless -- in a particularly illustrative way. A "profile" is a very common type of page. I look at scads of things that are titled "profile" on LJ and other sites all the time. I am never going to be looking for one specific profile by the word "profile". If I want to call up Joe's profile, I'm going to enter "j" for Joe, not "p" for profile.

In fact, this is a good heuristic for how people look for things on the web. If I want to learn more about a company, I'm going to look for them by proper name, not "About Us", even though the page I'll ultimately be reading will be titled "About Us". The title "About Us" is only specific *within the domain of a specific company*. I don't want -- and it would never occur to me to search by -- the page title, which is non-specific outside of knowing who the "us" is being described.

While the main (landing) pages of websites may be specific across they web, pages within a site are almost never titled in ways that are specific outside of it. ((Points up to title of this very page I'm typing this in.)) This page is titled "Post a reply • mozillaZine Forums". Do you have any idea how many pages I visit every day titled "Post a reply"? There is no utility to me whatsoever in having the title of this page go into the strings to be searched, because it has approximately zero discriminatory power.

4) Then it matches the "p" in "myspace", in the URL for a band that I bookmarked a couple of years and have pretty much completely forgotten about since then. Note, I'm quite certain I've visited other band's pages on Myspace, and bookmarked some, I think, but none of them come up. I think it may have priority because I visited that page like three times, and the other bands I only visited once or twice. The band's name, btw, has no "p" in it.

5) "pleSA=&Hour=&Minute=&AMPM=&sDate=12%2F9%2F2011#map" Yeah. That, at least, is from the MBTA Trip Planner, which has a "p" in it. That actually makes sense.

6) The last hit of 10 is the New Yorker article by Atul Gawande (highly recommended!), with the page title "Coaching a Surgeon: What Makes Top Performers Better?" The URL bar tells me it's matching on the "p" in "reporting" which is a directory in the URL: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/03/111003fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all

These results are absurd and unhelpful. Not only are they useless to me as someone who "speaks URL", they're absurdly unhelpful to non-URL speakers.

In fact, I would submit that if someone "doesn't speak URL", returning results that match on random parameter names at the far right end of huge Web2.0 application URLs is about the most user-hostile thing you could possibly do to them. In fact, I would suggest you implement the rule that nothing to the right of the third slash should ever, EVER be used as a an autocompletion match in the location bar.

People who want to go to google will type "g". People who want to go to google voice will type "v". People who want to go to engaget will type "e". You don't need to "speak URL" to know the proper name of the place you want to go. It's a location bar, it should search through strings that represent locations. And that's not page titles. That's now how page titles are used. And it's certainly not directory names or file names.

Finally, one other new location bar malbehavior which is driving me up a wall.

I use LinkedIn, Livejournal, and Dreamwidth heavily. My browser knows this. On LJ and DW, users get their own subdomain, so I spend a lot of time at http://siderea.livejournal... and http://siderea.dreamwidth... Used to be that when I hit "l", it would bring up livejournal's systems pages -- ones which start "www.livejournal.com", such as "https://www.livejournal.com/login.bml" -- but not pages that start with other subdomains. Meanwhile, "s" brought up pages at my subdomains at both LJ and DW, in order of the frequency I used them. This was perfect.

This is no longer what is happening. "s" still works, but "l" now prioritizes all my "siderea" subdomain pages as livejournal over everything else at livejournal. So "l" returns almost identical results to "s", and I have to scroll through a bunch of "s" hits to get to my "l" hits.

By increasing how wide you cast the net, you make the results for more letter more similar and thus less useful. I'm not using the location bar to search; I have a perfectly good search bar right there. Like, I dare say, most power users (a class of people distinct though sometimes overlapping with "speaks URL") use the location bar autocomplete as keyboard macros for fast access to favorite pages.

The difference between searching and macros is that in search, you want the highest priority results regardless of how you start searching for something (e.g. both "g" and "v" should match "voice.google" if that's the google page you're most frequently on), but in macros, you want the greatest diversity of results (e.g. "g" matching "www.google" and "v" matching "voice.google") for maximum usefulness.

tl;dr: all I want back is the old behavior, which was excellent. Good luck fixing this. I won't be available for further assistance because writing all these absurdities out I've convinced myself to just go uninstall Camino 2.1 now. Please be sure to prominently mention it in the release notes if you resolve this issue, and hopefully I'll notice.

heiman
 
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Post Posted December 17th, 2011, 4:32 pm

Uncle Asad, I appreciate your response. Yes, I had meant to suggest that the old behavior be accessible via a hidden about:config option. The developers have done a great job keeping the preferences pane clean and simple for entry-level users but still giving a lot of flexibility to advanced users through about:config. As a side note, if it weren't close to the holidays, I wouldn't have had time to go through the registration procedure to comment on this issue; I would probably just have tried switching to another browser for a while (in the last couple months, I've had to start keeping Safari open as a backup browser for sites that don't work with Camino) -- so I'm afraid the level of feedback you're getting on the forums is going to be a small and arbitrary sample of however people are feeling about this change. But, as others have noted, when I type for example "m," the first auto-complete I get is "http://www.facebook.com" so I'm guessing most users are finding it at minimum buggy.

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Post Posted December 17th, 2011, 5:49 pm

Siderea wrote:tl;dr: all I want back is the old behavior, which was excellent. Good luck fixing this. I won't be available for further assistance because writing all these absurdities out I've convinced myself to just go uninstall Camino 2.1 now. Please be sure to prominently mention it in the release notes if you resolve this issue, and hopefully I'll notice.

tl;dr Almost all of the matches that you thought were matching random letters in the middle of "words" in URLs were instead matching words in the title; we specifically do not match on random letters inside words (although due to bug 506762, it might appear that way if you arrow through the results). It was just coincidental that the URLs also had the letter "p" in them somewhere. This annoyance would almost entirely go away entirely if we were to implement a hidden preference to not search titles.

There are a few other behaviors you've complained about that would require further investigation to see exactly what's happening.

Also, if you really want shortcut "macros" for specific sites, just set up bookmark shortcuts for those sites and use them, "v" for Google Voice, "lj" for LiveJournal, "l" for LinkedIn, and so forth.
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Post Posted December 17th, 2011, 5:55 pm

heiman wrote:As a side note, if it weren't close to the holidays, I wouldn't have had time to go through the registration procedure to comment on this issue

The registration requirement is something imposed by MozillaZine; we have no control over that :-(

heiman wrote:But, as others have noted, when I type for example "m," the first auto-complete I get is "http://www.facebook.com" so I'm guessing most users are finding it at minimum buggy.

Ugh; facebook.com has an annoying title: Welcome to Facebook - Log In, Sign Up or Learn More

That, combined with the fact that Facebook uses http://www.facebook.com as the URL for every page inside of Facebook, means it will have a very high visit count and a very recent last visit date :-(

There are probably some tweaks we can make to mitigate this (although allowing people to turn off title matching would solve this case, too).
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Siderea
 
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Post Posted December 18th, 2011, 10:33 pm

Uncle Asad, thanks for the reply. The shortcuts suggestion is a good one, albeit one which doesn't auto-populate from observed user behavior, which is the obvious convenience advantage of the old location bar behavior. I agree, it's likely a problem which would substantially go away if there was a search-in-titles configuration option to turn off; I hope you implement that.

You say to heiman, "Ugh; facebook.com has an annoying title: Welcome to Facebook - Log In, Sign Up or Learn More" Well, yes. Crappy, unhelpful titles are endemic to Web 2.0. The title Camino remembers for the secure log-in page at LJ: "Welcome to Livejournal".
Boston.com's landing page: "Boston.Com - Boston, MA news, breaking news, sports, video".
CNN.com's landing page: "CNN.com - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News".
If you go to LinkedIn while logged in: "Welcome, $Firstname | LinkedIn".
Boston.Craigslist.com: "craigslist: boston classifieds for jobs, apartments, personals, for sale, services, community, and events".
Ebay: "eBay | Electronics, Cars, Clothing, Collectibles and More Online Shopping"

Yeah, hoping you give us an option to turn off search-in-title for autocomplete.

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Post Posted December 19th, 2011, 5:33 am

For whatever it's worth, Facebook isn't in my top 10 for "m", and I visit it at least daily. (This forum is #1 for both "f" and "m"; Facebook is #2 for "f".)

I'm curious as to what the history settings are for people who are having lots of problems with this.

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Post Posted December 21st, 2011, 1:13 pm

Uncle Asad wrote:Third, he already has a patch to tweak the scoring algorithm to help keep older bookmarks from crowding out more recently-visited items. It seems to work OK, although I noticed some strangeness near the bottom of the results list with some queries; I'm not sure if he plans to tweak it further or is just waiting for time to land it.

As a belated update on this, that patch has been in the nightlies since the Dec 20 nightly; if you've got a lot of old bookmarks you haven't visited recently, this change will help keep them from dominating your results.
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