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Web addresses (URL, URI, IRI …) are composed of hierarchical data of several kinds. They are mostly treated as plain text, but browsers have started to highlight certain parts (the domains) and hide others (e.g. the “protocol” prefix) in their location bar. When selecting it, activating edit mode, it becomes plain text though, unlike formulas in recent spreadsheet applications or some templates in OS settings.

Formula editor in Apple Numbers templates with variables in OS X

How would it affect the overall user experience if browsers used their browsing history or deeper knowledge about the address structure to populate dropdown menus or something similar for the parts of an address? Is it very different for local file paths in Finder, Explorer etc.?

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

One could also display key-value pairs after ? in a more friendly way, e.g. line by line, and highlight the fragment part after # which could also show a list of all anchors/IDs in the open document.

  • This would make some sense if all URLs were structured consistently with proper hierarchies and the like. But that's not the case, so I don't know what you really gain from this. Seems like you're just cluttering up what was before a simple text field. – DA01 Jun 2 '15 at 4:01
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I reckon something like this would be a great feature and clearly a better way navigating history.

Coda does something very similar to your proposal:

A breadcrumb in Coda IDE that shows a dropdown when part of the breadcrumb was pressed

And ditto for your anchors proposal:

A screenshot of Coda IDE where a list of functions within a javascript file is shown when the file is clicked on the breadcrumb

There could be some issues as high-level (left) selection may not resolve to a valid URL, but I can clearly see the benefit where resolution is possible.

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