Vim search Dash

I use MacVim as my editor and Dash as my documentation browser. They’re great. Also, Dash has the best nag-screen mechanism I’ve ever seen.

If you use them, too, I wrote a bit of Vim script to make looking things up about 0.5 seconds faster each time. Imagine, all that productivity! Just position your cursor on the word you want to look up, leader-d, and the script will try to search the right docset in Dash based on the filetype you’re editing. E.g. for JavaScript files, I have it configured to launch js:term in Dash, which searches both the jQuery and JavaScript docs for that term. (Source: a great tip from Kapeli himself. Herself? Itself?)

I’d love to hear suggestions on how to generalise this, without manually adding docsets each time. I tried passing in the filetype to Dash as the search term, but got tripped up by some asset files in Rails that Vim thought were ERB…

Keyboard-only searching with Safari 6’s unified URL bar

A couple of months ago, I adapted a user script called knogs (“keyboard navigation on Google Search”) into a Safari extension. knogs restores Google’s search page keyboard navigation shortcuts (background here), so you can navigate between search results with j (down) and k (up), and get to the search field with /.

Unfortunately, Safari 6’s new unified “URL + search” bar behaviour retains focus after a search. As a result, you have to click in the search page to use any keyboard shortcuts, rendering the extension fairly useless unless you like searching for JJ Abrams by mistake.

So I’ve updated the extension to remove focus from the unified search bar. (It’s an ugly hack, though–I did it by prepending an input field on the page, calling focus on it to remove focus from the search bar, and then removing focus with blur. Let me know if you have any better ideas.)

Download the Safari extension here, and the source (userscript version) is available here. If you were using the previous extension, it should have auto-updated, if I set it up right. Test it out by searching in Safari’s URL bar, waiting a few milliseconds, and entering j, k, or / to navigate.

A couple of notes on usage:

  • You have to be searching with google.com for this to work, and not any country-specific domains. This is due to the way Safari handles extension whitelisting–I can’t get it to whitelist google.com.* URLs.
  • Disable Google Instant search in your account settings, otherwise typing j will just append that letter to your search terms. Thanks to Nick Farina for helping me find this issue.

Re-enabling J/K keyboard navigation on Google search

Google runs a series of Experimental Search trials which any user can join — “new features aimed at improving the search experience”. A short while ago, they had one called “keyboard navigation”, which allowed users to navigate results using the keys J (down), K (up), and O (open). I loved this to bits, and used it all the time… until it went away, replaced by an enhanced “accessibility” feature which makes search results look hideous:

Omg ugly  Google Search

So I went and tried DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine for a while. It looks great, is highly customisable, and has my beloved keyboard shortcuts… but I can’t quite get behind it because: (a) it’s a bit slow, especially compared to Google, (b) there isn’t native Safari support for it (I have to go through a GlimmerBlocker script), and (c) I just can’t shake the feeling that Google’s search results might be better, so I end up switching to another browser and checking on Google, just in case. This, naturally, was a recipe for madness, so I started looking into how to get back my beloved keyboard shortcuts in Google.

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in my tribulations: the Google Experimental Search forum had quite a few others sharing my pain of having to use their mice while searching. One thread led me to this post on a blog called “Not Quite Zero”, where the author found Google’s original JavaScript for keyboard shortcuts, and re-injected it into the webpage using a user script, hence re-enabling the plugin. Yesss!

If you’re on Firefox or Chrome, the script linked in that post is all you need, but I did edit it to fix a couple of things for myself:

  • Re-aligned the search arrow to get it in line with the searched item; and
  • Packaged it as a Safari extension.

Here are my new versions. Once again, all credit goes to the original author; all I did were some minor styling fixes and packaging. MIT/X licensed.

Important: For these to work, you do need to disable Google Instant, first at Google’s search preferences and, if you’re using Chrome, in its browser preferences. Otherwise, Instant’s search bar will grab focus when the page loads.

Note that Google’s original extension JavaScript is still hosted on their servers, so if they remove it, these extensions will do nothing! Let me know if that happens, and I’ll fix it ASAP. (As I was finishing this post, the author replied to say he put up his extensions on Github — might want to take a look there instead, if you’re interested in the original JS version. I’ll probably fork it with the styling changes.)

Update, July 2012: I’ve updated the extension for Safari 6. The above download links should point to the new version, but this link explains the differences.