Ubiquity: Everything, Everywhere

A couple of days ago, Mozilla Labs released an alpha version of Ubiquity, a Firefox extension that puts crowd-sourced, powerful, mashup commands a keystroke away in your browser. My first thought was that it was like the Mac OS utility application, Quicksilver, but for the entire web rather than just the local operating system, an idea clearly shared by others.

While ubiquity is still young, its potential seems great, so I thought I’d test it out by creating a new ubiquity command for a basic web task I often find myself wishing were easier and quicker: making a trackable, shortened "twurl" URL via Tweetburner.

Once you’ve installed ubiquity, you can try out my twurl command, which will immediately give you basic twurl functionality and more to come…with no further action needed on your part to receive any upgrades I might make. For example, I’m still working out authentication with Tweetburner to enable the shortened URLs produced by this command to link to your Tweetburner identity so you can monitor clickthroughs.

A major issue on the horizon is trust: how will I know which of these powerful ubiquity commands to let in the door? Mozilla promises to initiate a "trust network" to address this issue, but until it’s in place, you’re left trusting only in your ability to grok javascript code and your sense of adventure. I guarantee I don’t know enough JS to do anything evil, so you’re safe with my example command ;)

In the meantime, check out the growing list of ubiquity commands you can subscribe to, either by browsing Mozilla’s wiki page, or exploring the folks that have used ubiquity’s "herd" command to register available commands.

Following are experimental Ubiquity commands I’ve authored. Please note, both Ubiquity itself and these commands are in an alpha stage—use both only at your own risk.


Replaces a provided URL with a shortened tweetburner.com/twurl.nl URL.


  • Enable Tweetburner authentication to enable tracking shortened URL usage.
  • Change behavior to shorten currently highlighted URL and put shortened URL into clipboard.
  name: "twurl",
  takes: {"URL to shorten": noun_arb_text},
  homepage: "https://xolotl.org/ubiquity",
  author: {name: "Nate Angell", homepage: "https://xolotl.org/", twitter: "xolotl"},
  license: "MPL",
  description: "Replaces a provided URL with a shortened tweetburner.com/twurl.nl URL.",
  help: "If you're in an editable form field, inserts a shortened tweetburner.com/twurl.nl URL pointing to the URL you provided.",
  preview: "Replaces a provided URL with a shortened tweetburner.com/twurl.nl URL.",
  execute: function(urlToShorten) {
    var baseUrl = "http://tweetburner.com/links";
    var params = {'link[url]': urlToShorten.text};
    jQuery.post(baseUrl, params, function(data) {CmdUtils.setSelection("http://twurl.nl/" + data.sid);},'json');

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