YubNub: The Web's "Social Command Line"

The recent release of the Google Command Line Tool may seem targetted at the Python-coding ultra dorky user, but belies the extent to which the command line interface is still an intimate and intrinsic part of everyday computing.

From from the humble URL, Apple’s Spotlight and Google’s search to the mobile command lines that are SMS data services, the command line has a role complimentary to modern graphical user interfaces; there’s little that beats their sheer productivity.

Google’s Command Line Tool and Mozilla’s Ubiquity get all the attention, but there’s an unsung hero of the web-based command line, Jonathan Aquino’s YubNub, launched in June 2005 and coded in just one day, to be the web’s “social command line”.

Once installed in your browser of choice, prefixing any address bar query with a ‘y’ followed by a command representing a web app, sends the query to YubNub. This effectively replaces your browser’s default web search with a command to invoke the web app in question.

For example…

Yubnub has commands for pretty much every web app of note and users can freely add new commands, shared with other users by default. Incidentally, a similar service – Sugarcodes – allows you to create private, locally stored commands.

I live inside a browser throughout my working day, bouncing between Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube, Google Maps, LinkedIn, amongst others. Five years on, migrating from Internet Explorer to Firefox to Chrome, Yubnub continues to be an essential companion, giving me the ability to rapidly navigate the web’s abundant resources with a few simple key strokes.

As we head into a world of gestural computing and touch, it’ll be interesting to see if command lines continue to enjoy their usefulness.

Do you use command line extensions to navigate the web?

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