Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Places

(Warning: boring technical article ahead…)
‘Places’ is one of the big new features that will make it into Firefox 2.0. It will replace the History and Bookmarks features – the former keeping a log of pages you have visited in the past, and the latter being pages that the user has bookmarked for whatever reason, either because they are pages that the user visits regularly (favourite pages) or something interesting that the user would like to look at later.
Screenshot of Firefox's Places Manager An experimental build of Firefox with Places is available here. I tried this out in a new profile, to see what it is like and how it differs from Firefox at the moment. The Bookmarks menu is still there and works in much the same way, but the Bookmarks Toolbar is now the Places Toolbar and there is now a ‘Show Places’ button to the far left. This loads the Places Manager in the current active tab.
This is a two-pane window with categories on the left and places on the right. These categories include all pages, or pages only visited today or in this session. Places (i.e. web sites) corresponding to these categories appear on the right. Bookmarks and the Places Toolbar also appear here. Essentially, the Bookmarks Manager has been amalgamated with History.
This feature is also the first to use the new mozStorage format, also known as Mozilla Unified Storage. At present, Firefox uses a variety of different storage formats for its data – RDF, plain text, HTML and Mork (also known as the evil incarnate data format from hell). The grand plan is to move towards mozStorage as a ‘one format to rule them all’ and this is the first step. It’s based on SQLite, and though the data is encrypted for security you can open the storage.sdb file in your Firefox profile and see some of the SQL statements used for creating tables in plain text.
This is only the first development build with this feature and as such it is very clunky – the Places window overwrites whatever you had in the current tab and shows an ugly XUL address in the address bar, and any pages on this site were shown as being part of the ‘me.uk’ site, instead of ‘neilturner.me.uk’. But it’s early days yet. Full details of this feature are on the Mozilla Wiki, where there are also details of other new features in Firefox 2.0. Expect overhauled management of extensions and themes, support for multiple languages in a single installation, better plugin management, better handling of feeds, tabbed browsing enhancements and easier management of search engines in the search box.
Update: I’ve added a screenshot of the Places Manager. Note that if you run any other build of Firefox over a profile where you have used this test build, the test build will no longer work, so I would urge you to only use this if you really are interested in what’s going on and know how to create new profiles.

5 Comments

  1. No screenshots? I’m always hesitant to install an experimental build of Firefox because everytime I’ve done so its broken my profile beyond repair…

  2. That is good stuff! And as soon as Live Bookmarks make it in there, whew, I can’t wait!
    For me, merging history and bookmarks is the right way to go. As long as I’m in my daily grind, I rely on my history via the location bar autocomplete. But every so long Firefox dumps my history.dat, and only then I’ll dig my favorite pages out of the bookmarks hierarchy.

  3. Reminds me a bit of safari’s bookmark manager, this is displayed in the main app’s client area, along with and at the same time as history, rss subs etc. And searches are performed on the whole lot.

  4. Reminds me of the manage feed list from the Sage Firefox plugin. I find it surprising how often I delving into History and Bookmarks are essential to my online browsing/surfing.