Some of our recent picks have been for online services that make use of bookmarklets. Google Reader, Boxee, ZooTools, Readability and Instapaper all make use of bookmarklets. This is all well and good but my browser bar is struggling under the weight of so many links. Thats where Quix step’s in.
Quix is an extensible bookmarklet. What’s that? It’s a bookmarklet (another one!) that allows you quick access to common internet commands and also allows you to extend it, adding in commands that you use often. So using Quix i remove many of the bookmarklets that I use day to day and access them via keyboard shortcuts. So how does it work.
At the most simple level, visit the Quix website, drag the Quix bookmarklet to your browser bar and your good to go. Want to do a google search for IMAX glasgow. Launch Quix and type:
g imax glasgow
Boom. A google search for IMAX and Glasgow will be run. I see that Avatar is on. To get some info Quix can help again
I now have the IMDB page for Avatar. This time I ran the search with a space in front of the command. This opened the search in a new tab in Safari. I want to save that page for reading later. Open Quix and type
The current page is saved into Evernote. The list of commands on the Quix site shows a full list of all the sites and services supported. It’s extensive and ever growing. One awkward step is launching the Quix bookmarklet. Having to select it with a mouse and then typing feels a bit sluggish. On Safari, there is a keyboard shortcut to launch shortcuts on the bookmark bar, so clicking CMD+1 will launch Quix if it’s the first bookmark in the bar. Very nice. Chrome and Firefox via an extension allow for shortcuts to launch Quix as well – see the Quix website on how to setup each browser.
So far so good. It’s easy to see what a time and space saver Quix can be. The feature I like the most though is the ability to add your own commands. The syntax page details how to add your commands but basically you create a text file that is hosted somewhere – Dropbox, MobileMe or your own webspace for example. You then add commands in the format “shortcut executable description”. The executable can make use of the following replacement tokens:
%s Replaced by any search terms that were entered after the command and / or any text that was selected when the command was issued. There’s a special case of this: %s_, this does the same except that it replaces spaces with underscores ( _ ) instead of plus signs, this is used in the Wikipedia command in the example file.
%r Replaced by the URL you were on when the command was issued.%rsReplaced by a bit.ly shortened version of the URL you were on when the command was issued.
%d Replaced by the domain you were on when the command was issued.
%t Replaced by the title of the page you were on when the command was issued.
So its very easy to add commands. Before you can use the commands you need to create a new bookmarklet that calls your custom file – visit the extend page to create the new bookmarklet. That’s it – your good to go. One issue I did have is that it can take a while for the bookmarklet to pick up new commands added to your custom file. To get around this open Quix and type ‘debug’ which clears the cache and reloads the custom file.
If your interested in my custom command, it can be found on Github. This is a fork of Merlin Mann’s original file which contained some very useful commands.
Hopefully you’ll read this an install Quix as it is incredibly useful especially when you start to customise what it can do. if your still in doubt, watch the screencast below demoing Quix from the developer himself.
An introduction to Quix from Joost de Valk on Vimeo.