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The (Never?)Ending Typeaheadfind Story

One of the last legacy modules SeaMonkey currently is still importing from old CVS is extensions/typeaheadfind. This modules drives the suite's "Find as you type" feature in browser and even mailnews message content areas and is invoked by just typing some text to be found, possibly prefixed by / or ' to specify searching in any text or just links, and giving UI feedback on those actions in the status bar. While this is quite convenient for the power user, it's hardly discoverable for people who don't know it.
Because of that, Firefox developers have forked that code into the toolkit, reworked it a bit and developed the "findbar" UI that appears at the bottom of browser windows based on it, merging it with the "find in page" feature that was/is an annoying separate dialog in the suite and making it much better discoverable.

Now, SeaMonkey supporters have basically had two problems with that approach for quite some time:
  1. Even for an advanced user, there's no possibility to get rid of needing an additional UI element, reducing screen estate more than those users want
  2. Having this find bar at the bottom of the window conflicts with usual user workflow that is top-to-bottom - that's why every window that constantly shows a search bar has that bar above the searched content.
The former probably could be addressed with a pref and some coding if wanted, the latter was actually an intentional decision: If the bar would open at the top of the content part of the window, Firefox devs said it would push content down, and moving content is a bad experience. Now they did implement moving content with notification bars, but even there it's suboptimal. A look at Safari shows how a solution for such issues could look like UI-wise: We could just open such a bar more or less over the top part of the content, just adjusting the scrollbar so one could scroll up to the now hidden top of the content, leaving the page itself completely in place. That only works well when a scrollbar is already shown, but then, I think people mostly use such a findbar on pages that already show a scrollbar.
In any case, any of those solutions would need someone to work on, and actually, the "find as you type" feature works well enough for most SeaMonkey devs not to think about this and not pick up such work.

Now enter today: Benjamin Smedberg checked in a "deCOMtamination" patch that breaks suite typeaheadfind, and it's hard to just fix this as the code still lives in CVS and is shared with 1.9.0-based Camino. There are multiple reasons why I tried very hard to keep things this way and not move the code to suite/ in comm-central:So, how to fix the breakage introduced by this deCOM patch, when it can't be done in CVS but importing into suite/ is a bad idea as well? For now, I think the best idea is removing the whole module from the SeaMonkey build. Yes, that means we won't have a "find as you type" feature at all for the moment - but perhaps exactly that is a reason for someone to step in and finally hack on something that builds on toolkit code, is maintained, and really does what it should do. I'm very interested in how this works out.

Oh, and if you can help here, we'd very much appreciate it!

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on October 30th, 2008 19:59 | Tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey | 14 comments

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    AuthorEntry

    Close

    quote
    Thank you
    Find as you type has only ever been annoying by jerking the view around when I thought I was typing in a text box. I have NEVER intentionally used it, always accidentally. Good riddance.
    2008-10-30 22:34

    Nomax

    from Belgium

    quote
    Noooo
    Damn, this is bad news...

    I use this feature all the time in SeaMonkey and don't like the way it behaves in Firefox.

    Unfortunately I can't help but it's really a pity to have to remove this great feature!

    Maybe someone could adapt the Firefox module to behave as SeaMonkey does...
    2008-10-30 23:59

    Marcus

    quote
    type as you find is the only way i search in webpages. Very fast, no extra dialog - i'm gonna miss it. Hopefully somebody can provide this feature for final 2.0.
    2008-10-31 00:33

    csf

    quote
    Find as you type is the single most useful feature of SeaMonkey as opposed to FF.

    I considered switching to FF some years ago when it was all the hype, but this is essentially the reason I stuck with Mozilla/SeaMonkey.

    I really hope it's back again (as we know it) by the next public release.
    2008-10-31 09:09

    Jan!

    quote
    Type-ahead find in Firefox
    csf, you can still use type-ahead find (Find As You Type) in Firefox. Enable it under Prefs -> Advanced -> General.
    2008-10-31 13:27

    Vicne

    quote
    No "find as you type" feature ???
    Well, sorry, I was eagerly waiting for the Seamonkey 2.0 beta, but without "/" launching find as you type, that would be as useless as having a browser without CTRL-N or CTRL-T.
    Seriously, for sure, I don't grasp all the complexity that's behind FAYT, but even if its GUI is annoying, I'd much prefer to have Firefox's implementation instead of nothing...

    Just my 2 cents

    Vicne
    2008-10-31 23:53

    Vladimir

    from Ru

    quote
    find as you type
    I use Find as you type every day, it's one of the main features in SM.
    3-4 news like that and no reason to use new releases of SM.
    2008-11-03 13:16

    Blizzard

    quote
    Would be very sad if it would disappear. I really like the feature and use it pretty often in my daily use.
    2008-11-03 14:59

    Bielawski

    quote
    Firefox did it right
    I would love to see Firefox's integrated find and FAYT feature in SeaMonkey.
    2008-11-04 01:16

    Keith

    from US

    quote
    The Firefox find-as-you-type isn't bad. Certainly more annoying things made their way into SeaMonkey 2.0 alpha 1 (*ahem* the blocked popups message). And the Firefox way has the advantage of being able to edit its contents easily. I say if the maintenance of the current code is too much, maybe it would be best to go ahead and just use Firefox's code.
    2008-11-04 22:55

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