Back in the 1990s my then-colleague Steve Muskie maintained a local HTML page for staff at Yankee Publishing, a sort of “company dashboard” with links to the company’s websites, and to useful third-party sites like Yahoo and Altavista. It was a pleasantly graphical page, and I recall thinking “I should really do something like that for myself.”
Now, years later, I finally did:
I’ve been using this page as my browser “home page” for a week now, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how useful it is. The problem, though, is that to be really useful the page needs to adapt to my needs over time, and for that to work effectively, editing the page has to be friction-free.
It’s just a simple HTML page stored on my computer, which is pretty friction free. But over time, especially if I leave it alone for some time, I’ll forget where I stored the page (yes, yes, I know: the file’s location is in the browser bar; I have low thresholds). And the page will become static and less useful.
Back in 1999 Dave Winer mused about the complexity of editing the web. He titled his post “Edit this Page.” Which I recalled when I came across the TextMate URL Scheme. TextMate is my text editor of choice. And its “URL Scheme” is a way to construct URLs so that a click on a link in a browser can fire of TextMate to edit a given local file. Which means that if I link the “Edit this page…” link on my personal “dashboard,” to a URL:
then when I click that link TextMate will open the HTML source for the page, and I can easily edit it. Without having to remember anything. Which takes the friction down to zero.