Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Emacspeak Web Tricks --- The Web Command Line!

The Web browsing environment within Emacs is primitive compared to what is available in mainstream browsers today. However, the bare-bones Emacs/W3 within Emacspeak still provides a bagful of powerful tricks. Here is how:

  • Module Emacspeak-websearch.el implements a set of powerful search wizards.
  • Module emacspeak-url-template.el implements a library for programmable URLs.
  • Additionally, the HTML received by W3 can be filtered via XSLT stylesheets.

Combining the above turns the Emacs minibuffer into a powerful Web CommandLine. The modules enumerated above were implemented within Emacspeak starting in 1998, with url-templates arriving circa early 2000. These tools were an access necessity due to the visual complexity of the Web; it's now interesting to see similar Web tools emerge on the mainstream web to help users complete tasks more rapidly. As an example, search Google for Web Command Line --- you'll see that there are now simple browser add-ons for all the mainstream web browsers that implement similar shortcuts. Another popular means of achieving such Web shortcuts today is via simple Web widgets or portlets that are dropped into one's home page --- as an example, see Google Modules .