Saturday, December 11, 2010

A closer look at Web history

Web history is one's most important belonging. If managed correctly, It reduces the cost of web experience and improves its quality.

There was a time that you needed you browsing history be deleted. It was the default option. But nowadays your web experience is your life. you want to be able to remember the nice little note that you read 2 month ago. you need to know how you filled your tax information last year. where can you find your insurance documents; the ones that you checked 6 month ago.

There's almost no need to delete your history when Inprivate/Incognito browsing is available.

Let's see how often modern browsers delete your web history:
  • IE 8 still has a 20 day window of keeping history by default; A setting that can be maxed to 999 days only.
  • Safari 5 for windows will remember your last month history by default; this setting can be changed to "Delete manually".
  • Opera 10 will remember last 1000 addresses that you navigated by default. the maximum is 50000.
  • IE 9 (although beta) has changed the default to 365 with 999 days as maximum.
  • Firefox 3.6 "will remember your history" unless you change the settings.
  • Chrome does not have an option to change you history storage. you can just delete you whole history.
There's one neat feature in Opera 10, Opera Link, that allows you synchronize your typed history: "only those addresses that have been entered explicitly".

Most browsers handle web history the same way that Internet Explorer 4.0 was handling them. Here are snapshots of browser history management in different browsers:

The remaining two browsers, Chrome and Safari, have totally different ways of going through the web history. Apple uses its cover flow interface for almost everything: music in iTunes, files in Finder, bookmarks and history in Safari: a little overwhelming.

Google Chrome on the other hand, gives you a full page view of pages, ordered chronologically and a very smart search box. It feels like web limited edition!

That being said, all history experience is almost the same. There's no categorization, no grouping, nothing.

What's missing?
If you have still not understanding what's missing in all these browsers about your history, you should stop reading ahead.

Now what?
there are at least two necessities for Web history:
  1. You should be able to carry on your web history: from your old laptop to the new one, from you work desktop to your laptop, and also your phone.
  2. You should more easily access your web history: not just a grouped list that you should click and open and see the website urls.
For the first one, you should have a neat way to sync history among your browsers. Opera Link is a small step. But Windows Live Mesh (which a separate installation and syncs IE favorites only) is a bad move!
The second one is the most important one. It appears that people have no idea to deal with it of don't care. Obviously, there should be a more elegant way to navigate your web history.
One of the most user friendly tools that I saw month ago and can fit this requirement is a Microsoft product called Pivot*. Microsoft Pivot, Now a silverlight transitioning to Bing is an amazing tool to categorize information. When announced, it even had an example of a ton of web history to navigate through.

Microsoft Pivot was here, but the videos are still available on youtube :
(check minute 4:48 for web history)

* It took me two hours to find it again; thanks to the lost web history.

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