If you have used Quicksilver on Mac, Launchy on Windows or GnomeDo on Linux and you love the user experience, then I’m sure you will love Ubiquity too. Ubiquity is an experimental Firefox extension that uses a command pane to help you get information quickly or to get a job done easily.
Once you have installed the extension, you will be brought to the Welcome page where you can configure the shortcut key to activate the command pane. I changed the hotkey to Ctrl+Alt+Space since the default shortcut key Alt + Space conflicted with one of my Ubuntu shortcut key. If you are Windows user, most likely your default hotkey is Ctrl + Space. Mac user should be able to access it via Cmd + Space
At any Web page, or at any point of time inside your Firefox browser, you can activate the command pane via the hotkey, type the command and get it to perform tasks on the fly. Here are some tricks that you can do:
Embedding Google maps in your Gmail
Let’s say you are sending a party invitation (via email) to all your friends and you wanted to include a map to your place. Rather than going to Google Maps, find the location and then paste the link in the email, you can simply open Ubiquity and type in ‘map [your location]‘. Ubiquity will automatically fetch and display the map in the pane. You can click on the link to embed the map image into your email.
Checking up Wikipedia, without visiting Wikipedia.org
If you come across a word, phrase or a jargon that you are not sure of, rather than loading a new tab, go to Wikipedia.org and check up the term, you can highlight the word, activate Ubiquity and type ‘wiki’. It will automatically query Wikipedia for the highlighted term and display the result in the pane.
Translate page on the fly
While doing your research, you come across this Japanese Web page that could possibly contains the information you want. Well, you don’t have to learn Japanese to understand what the page is about. Highlight the content, right click your mouse and go to Ubiquity->Translate. The highlighted content will now be replaced by the translated text. Cool, isn’t it?
There is in fact a great list of things that you can do with Ubiquity, ranging from sending emails, add events to Google calendar, Web search to debugging from your code. To find out the list of command supported by Ubiquity, simply type ‘command-list‘ in the Ubiquity pane. If you want more, you can even create your own command via the built-in command-editor (type ‘command-editor‘ in the Ubiquity pane to access the editor).
Ubiquity is only a prototype of the Mozilla Lab experiment and is not in the addon repository yet. If you are interested to test it out, you can download the extension here.
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