Interview with Jonathan Aquino, yubnub.org
TCW: Jonathan, tell our readers a little about yourself and how you found your way into the information technology industry.
Jonathan: I’ve loved computer programming since my mom bought me an Apple IIc in Grade 4. Programming in BASIC, surfing BBS’s – how far we’ve come, now that we have the Internet and cool new programming languages to play with – and all without cost!
TCW: Wow! Your mom bought you a computer when you were in 4th grade. You’ve got a cool mom! But, lest we digress…What is YubNub and what does it do? Can you give us a few examples?
Jonathan: YubNub lets you jump to any webpage or do any web search by typing in a few letters. For example, typing in “gim porsche” takes you to a Google Image Search for Porsches. Typing in “wp alan greenspan” takes you to the Wikipedia page for Alan Greenspan. It saves you from having to wade through 2 to 3 pages to do a particular search.
Why use YubNub? It’s just faster. Need the definition of ephemeral? Type in “d ephemeral” to find it in dictionary.com. How about synonyms for ephemeral? “t ephemeral” shows results from thesaurus.com.
YubNub is easy to use. Visit yubnub.org and give it a test drive. Or even better, integrate it with your browser so the YubNub search box is always available to you. There are instructions for different browsers.
TCW: Can you explain how YubNub works? What makes it a different kind of search?
Jonathan: You know what? YubNub is basically just a database of web addresses – URLs. Users can add new web addresses at any time. As I mentioned, people have already added URLs for Google Image Search, Wikipedia, dictionary.com, thesaurus.com. When new and interesting websites are announced, people can add the URLs to YubNub. So it keeps getting smarter and smarter, and more powerful, as people add new URLs to it.
TCW: YubNub is a great idea, especially for people who search often and would like to reduce the number of keystrokes it takes to find what they’re looking for. The story behind YubNub is interesting as well. Why did you create YubNub?
Jonathan:I was one of the winners of a programming competition called Ruby on Rails Day, which gave you 24 hours to create the coolest website you could dream up within that time frame. YubNub was inspired by John Udell’s idea of the “URL as the command line” and Jason Kottke’s concept of a “Web operating system”.
Actually, today YubNub is finding popularity among people with iPhones and other mobile devices, because it’s so painful to type for a long time on those things. With YubNub, you only need to type in a few letters, like “am gtd” to search Amazon for GTD (getting things done), or “gmaps 10 market st san francisco”.
TCW: You have said previously that the beauty of YubNub is that anyone can help to extend it. How does this process work? Can you give me an example using a form we can find online?
Jonathan Sure thing, Scott. I’ve created a command for searching confabb.com, a popular conference site that I know you like. To create the command, I went to YubNub’s Create Command page and followed the on-screen instructions. Now you can type “cfb DITA”, “cfb XML”, “cfb localization” to search for conferences on those things. And, we’ve got some advanced syntax if you want to create more complex commands.
TCW: Wow! That’s pretty cool. I can think of other exciting ways to use YubNub and I see you have a long list of commands available on the website. Can we save the results of a YubNub query as an RSS feed? Do you know of any examples you could point us to?
Jonathan: There’s an RSS feed for interesting new YubNub commands (which we call “Golden Eggs”).
TCW: Adding a YubNub search box would be a great addition to many websites and blogs. Is there a YubNub widget that users can add to their own sites?
Jonathan: Yup – if you want to add a YubNub box to your site, there’s one on the YubNub blog. Just copy the HTML code – it’s a simple little form.
TCW: What plans do you have for YubNub?
Jonathan: YubNub has two parts: the core, which is the foundation, and the commands, contributed by users. In my mind, the core is done and nothing further needs to be done. It’s up to YubNub’s users now to see where they take it – by adding commands, by building on top of YubNub, by adding completely new ways for commands to interact.
But YubNub itself is complete.
TCW: That’s a great story and a useful invention. Thanks from time-challenged web searchers everywhere. We really appreciate hearing about YubNub and we wish you much success, Jonathan.
Jonathan: My pleasure. Check out YubNub today!