Earlier this year I was looking for minimalist browsers not based on webkit. While looking through the list at suckless.org, I ran across a new to me project called edbrowse, originally intended for use by blind users.

Edbrowse is a line based editor (like ed) and browser – and more. If you’ve used ed before, it will serve you well in using edbrowse as an editor. However, edbrowse is much more. Edbrowse has multiple buffers. This alone can be a nice feature. It becomes particularly useful when browsing the web. For instance, when looking through a set of search results, you can follow a set of links, placing each in its own buffer. Edbrowse supports flexible macros. I have macros to quickly search duckduckgo and lxr, as well as to get and delete readitlater/pocket lists. Edbrowse also interacts with databases,and functions as a mail client, though I’ve not used these features.

The user’s guide is very informative and a nice read.

There are a few issues. First, at the moment it doesn’t seem to work will in particular with github. The current author of edbrowse also has another project, cligh, which provides a nice command line interface to github – which I also use regularly.

One other issue is that while edbrowse has multiple buffers, loading a page is synchronous. I’ve not found a way to say “b http://slowsite.org and switch to buffer 3 while slowsite loads”. On the whole though, pages load very quickly and it has only been an issue when on very bad network links.

And, of course, for many people the steep learning curve and line based interface will be a problem. Personally, I find it can be very useful in helping to reduce the distractions on the rest of the page.

I’ve not replaced my use of vi with edbrowse. I’ve not even replaced my use of other browsers. But I do use edbrowse several times per day, both as an editor and as a browser. And, yeah, it’s kind of fun.

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