Towards Browse-Based Browsing with Home Dash

Please download the latest Firefox 4 Beta to watch the WebM video.

Full-size video (1:05) downloads: webm (15mb) and ogv (9mb)


Home Dash is the newest Prospector experiment to improve search and content discovery in Firefox. It removes all the standard web browser interface like the location bar, search bar and tabs; and leaves behind just a Firefox logo that is used to bring up a dashboard. Here on the right-hand side, Home Dash has found my top 24 sites and organized them based on my browsing behavior. While still far from it’s end goal, this was the original idea of making a browse-based browser (as opposed to a search-based one).

In the top left corner, there’s a search box where I can type “mo”, and like Speak Words, the rest of “mozilla” has been filled in. The top sites on the right now only show those that match “mozilla” and above them are my filtered open tabs. By pointing at a site, I get an Instant Preview of the page, which now is ready for me to use and gives me feedback that I’m going to the right place. Similarly, I can also preview the matching tabs by pointing at them.

Pages from my history show up along the left, but if I feel like I want web results as well, I can click on a search icon just under the input box to get data from Google. And if that still isn’t enough, I can activate a second search to get side-by-side results with Bing. Additionally, if I keep typing, both searches will instantly update.

If you’re already running the latest Firefox 4 Beta, you can immediately try out Home Dash without restarting Firefox. You can leave feedback in this Google Groups thread and check out the source on GitHub.

This is just the first release of Home Dash, and it starts by removing the standard browser interface to give the web content full priority in the window. It moves the usual browser functionality into a dashboard that sits on top of the page and goes away after you have found what you were looking for. It simplifies some search behavior, so instead of trying to recall if a page is in your history or opened as a tab or somewhere on the web, you can just type what you want into the dashboard, and it lets you search all of those at the same time.

Additionally, Home Dash helps you just browse to (instead of typing to search) the sites you like by finding the top 24 sites and organizing them in a way that matches your browsing behavior. In the near-future, the Prospector team plans to let you customize this area by adding, removing and resizing the sites you want. This area would not be limited to just sites either — in the future you may be placing web apps and widgets and even people that you frequently interact with. With all this information, it would be useful to organize different groups of sites, apps and people into multiple separate dashboards that focus on one idea or task.

Opened Dashboard

So further in the future, if the Prospector team organizes a dashboard of sites, apps and people that are relevant to Prospector development, it would be incredibly useful to someone interested in helping out to add this “Prospector development” dashboard to their Firefox to immediately see what tools the team uses as well as ways to contact and interact with the rest of the team. So instead of searching all of the web for a website or an app, you can now just browse to the relevant information that people are organizing and maintaining.

Additionally, if you feel that the dashboard is missing something, you could start editing your own copy and adding information, and perhaps other people will find it so useful that they will use your dashboard instead of the “official” one. But before that happens, you could also just suggest to the original dashboard maintainer to combine your good ideas with the original, so that everyone benefits.

If all that sounds interesting, please help out by installing Home Dash on a Firefox 4 Beta, and leave feedback or contribute!

Edit: If you want some Tips or need to do some Troubleshooting, check out this followup post!
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