Tuesday, August 26th 2008

Four ways to improve form filling in Firefox

Over at Aza Razkin’s blog a flood of discussion has been going on for a few days, on ways to improve Firefox. This post is esentially a cross-post of my reply there.

In my view, form-filling is one area that can be improved a lot. I have been trying a few extensions that aim to improve form filling on the web, but they aren’t smart enough and they require a lot of pre-configuration.

Instead, form filling in Firefox should take a few lessons from the awesomebar:

  1. Use data from forms on all visited websites to give suggestions. So if I have ever entered David Naylor into a box it will be suggested when I want to enter it (and start typing D…) on a website I never visited before.

    Using all the saved entries as suggestions will give us a problem of very/too many suggestions. This can be countered by the following improvements:

    1. Count form entries per site: When visiting Gmail, keep track of the fact that I’m entering my own user name almost every time and put it at the top of the suggested list (even before I type anything). Then stick my girlfriend as number two, etc. (Currently entries are listed in the order they were first entered, right?)

    2. Count form entries across sites: When I visit a new webshop, understand that I’m most likely to type David Naylor when I start typing D… into a form.

  2. I guess, ideally, Firefox should understand whether I’m about to type into a name box or an e-mail box and use that knowledge to bring up the relevant suggestions quicker/further up. This function would have to be implemented with non-english websites in mind though. Perhaps this could be done by learning the names/labels (?) of the boxes being submitted with certain pieces of information.

  3. When asking whether to save a password, Firefox should give the user the option to log in automatically (fill login + password and submitting) in the future.

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