Pagehop – Your Terminal for the Web

PageHop logo

Developers are weird creatures. We always want to optimize everything and make sure that we lose as little time as possible while doing our job. Our thought usually goes faster than a computer, so we get irritated when we need to wait or spend clicks and keystrokes to do simple things like browsing the web, or opening applications. This is the reason text editors like Vim are extremely popular. They are a mess by modern UX standards, and using them feels like going back in time, but because they save so much time and make automation possible, people still love them.

Today, I stumbled upon another automation tool, which tries to trim more seconds from a developer’s precious time – it’s called Pagehop. Pagehop lets you navigate the web without opening your web browser. It lets you type commands and take action on the results in a simple text box. Any user of Alfred or Vim will feel right at home. I’ve been a user of Alfred for a long time now, and I’ve grown to love it. It’s the start of everything I do on my Mac, weather that would be opening an application or searching Google. But although Alfred has multiple extensions – it only goes so far. Most of the stuff it can do is limited to offline applications. Searching Google seems to be all that falls into its scope when doing things online.

Pagehop is Alfred for the web. Not only can you open web pages with it, but it also lets you navigate multiple links, or search the content of each result. Let’s see how that works.

Once installed, Pagehop can be invoked by pressing Ctrl-Option-Space on your Mac. A textbox appears. You can do a simple Google search by typing “g <your search term>”. Let’s try it by searching for the React javascript framework.

Google Search for React in PageHop

The results of the search are shown immediately below the text box. Pressing Enter would take you to the selected result, but you can also go through them, or type further to filter more. Let’s say that we actually want the React documentation rather than the homepage. We can extend our search by typing “:l docs”.

Search React Links and go directly to documentation

The “:l” tells Pagehop that we want to go through all Links in the result, and search for the string “docs”. Pressing Enter takes us directly to the documentation page. This is where Pagehop feels much more advanced than Alfred. While in Alfred you can tab through the different results, Pagehop lets you use issue custom commands. Apart from selecting links, it also lets you do fuzzy search, regex search or search through the URLs rather than text. It’s like having a terminal for the web. You can call commands, and pass them options and arguments.

Of course googling isn’t the only thing Pagehop can do. It has a number of built-in recipes. A recipe is just a different source of information that Pagehop can pull data from. There are built-in recipes for Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Wikipedia, MDN, HackerNews, StackOverflow, and others. You can list all recipes by typing “allr”. Pagehop lets you search documentation or read developer news just by typing, instead of opening your browser. Of course once you are done with your search, Pagehop opens the result in your default browser so you can read at peace.

I already mentioned Vim, and developer’s love for it has caused the creation of tools like Vimium – a browser plugin which lets you navigate Chrome using the Vim shortcuts. Pagehop lets you do something similar without even opening your browser. It provides the simplicity of Alfred combined with the power of Vim to navigate anything with a keyboard.

But the best news of all is that Pagehop lets you extend it with third-party recipes and tools. If recipes are the sources of information, tools are the commands that you can pass to each recipe. If you know JavaScript, and you have an idea for a new recipe that may fit your personal development workflow, you can go through the developer documentation to learn how new recipes are created.

I’ve only been playing with Pagehop for an evening, but it feels wonderful and I suspect that any automation geek will feel at home. Go play around with it.