How fuzzy matching is transforming interfaces

Summary:A number of innovative interface features are gradually improving our collective user experience of software.

Google, Sublime Text and Ubuntu all have something in common: fuzzy matching.

It is the grooviest thing. For example, I simply type in "fuzzy m", and magically the first search result is Fuzzy matching - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Likewise, with the Sublime Text editor, I type Shift + Cmd + P and up pops the Command Palette, with the next command only a keystroke or two away. And ditto Ubuntu's Unity desktop, with the Intent Driven Interface aka Heads-Up Display — now with added advertising .

What fuzzy matching does is make it easier to search than to type or move a mouse. Now when I'm working on a web project, I rarely use the Sidebar for locating and opening files in Sublime Text. Instead I use Cmd + P to bring up Goto Anything, which is far faster.

Sublime-Text's-Goto-Anything-feature-in-action
Sublime Text's Goto Anything feature in action.

Anything that reduces clutter and speeds up the interface is welcome, and for touchscreen-savvy websites, another example — this link needs a touchscreen — is off-canvas panes. All these incremental changes are slowly improving our collective interface experience.

Topics: Software Development

About

A web designer since the 20th century, I am a pragmatic advocate of Free Software and I use proprietary software when appropriate. I made the full-time switch to Linux back in 2007, and my desktop tools of choice are Linux Mint, Inkscape, GIMP and Sublime Text. As a Front End Developer, my core skills are HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, an... Full Bio

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