URLs are the lowest common denominator of web pages
There are few common expectations on the web, but one of them is that you can share something by sending a URL.
I foresee google adding a “Share” button to the desktop version of google chrome, much like they have on android.
I’m with the author. URLs are one of the best things about the web, and even though URLs are actually displayed in browsers, I still come across many people who don’t even know what a URL is or how they work. I think it’s not asking too much to ask people to understand that web pages have unique names and that some of them are worth memorizing. URLs are to the web as e-mail addresses are to e-mail. Should we hide e-mail addresses in clients? C'mon. It’s not like we’re asking them to use a terminal.
I hate to bring this in from HN, but this is pretty important.
paulirish (supposedly of the chrome team) writes:
This is a new UI experiment that’s deployed to a small fraction of users. We’re looking at a few key metrics to see if this change is a net positive for Chrome users. (I imagine it may help defend against phishing).
He goes on to present his opinion against it.
The comment about phishing is interesting, although I was under the impression Chrome already does this to some extent; notice the domain is written in black text and the rest of the URL is a faded gray which emphasizes the domain. Users may not be aware of this though.
I think this would be an annoying change. I personally enjoy “messing around” with URLs.
I also think not everything will come to this, we already have another model competing with the general net: Tor (which I have never used). I’ve conducted a few discussions with friends about how eventually a lot of things will be so simplified that advanced users will be forced to use services such as Tor (I hope it doesn’t come down to this).
I don’t understand your comparison to Tor. Could you elaborate on how “advanced users will be forced to use Tor”?
Well power users generally care about their foot print and ability to control as much as their can. Tor allows you to control more than the general net does when it comes to anonymity. It’s also a free and open-source project so it respects your rights as a user.
Although I think a switch will only be necessary if most browsers are forcing you to conform to a low set by the lower end of technology users.
The only way to kill the URL is implement a proper sharing API almost like android, that websites or browsers implement to receive or share URLs.
Not only that but it would need to be easier than copy and pasting a URL.
This is a bit tin-foil, but Google could be pushing for this in the future by making plain URL copy and pasting more difficult or requiring more clicks /tediousness to do it. (Like hiding the URL behind a button you need to click)
The URL bar is an anachronism already. It is mostly used as a way of searching through recent URLs and/or google. Actually entering in a URL by hand is rare enough that it can get demoted to ‘File >> go to URL’ … actually, didn’t Firefox 2 or so work this way? Copying a URL to forward it to someone doesn’t need to be done by copying a lump of text, it could be done by a context menu which copies the entire URL out of the history stack straight into the clipboard. Etc etc.
An interesting thing about this is that on Facebook and Twitter I see nontechnical people sharing URLs all the time. In fact, that’s a huge part of what they use those services for. Is this a move on Google’s part to cut off Facebook’s oxygen? It seems like it could backfire as it drives users to using Firefox and IE to access Twitter and Facebook rather than Chrome.
But most of the time those are shortened anyway, so there’s no particular reason to show the text of the URL. You could display the links as just a little “link” icon and no-one’s user experience would be changed. Add in a context menu for “Share this with”, like on phones, and sharing is actually easier.
On Facebook they aren’t; on Twitter they are. Even if the thing you “copy” is just a link icon, the crucial thing is that the browser doesn’t know that you’re pasting the URL into a textarea that will shortly replace it with another link icon; from the browser’s perspective, it’s pasting the URL as text. You’re right that you could have some kind of way for web sites to accept URLs that isn’t a textarea.
Yep, really all I’m saying is that having a slice of the top of my screen saying “https://lobste.rs/threads” right now isn’t really adding a lot to my experience … there’s already a window heading saying “Your Threads | Lobsters” which is more readable, and the little https padlock could be displayed in a more useful manner too.
The erosion of the usefulness of URLs by webapps is a whole ‘nother matter. The interactive web burst forth from the forehead of the static, hypertextual web and in a lot of ways has now moved beyond it, despite hacks like #! paths. I think there’s a whole lot of good in the original hypertext vision which we’ve lost in the process, but that’s neither here nor there.