YubNub Mobile

 YubNub YubNub is a web app that has been generating a lot of buzz ever since Jon Aquino created it a year ago to win a Ruby on Rails programming contest. If you haven’t heard of YubNub (Ewok for “hooray’, BTW) it’s a “command line for the web”. Just like the MS-DOS > prompt or a *nix shell, you type commands into YubNub and wonderful things happen – or not – if you mess up. As the web takes on more and more of the role of an operating system it makes sense that there should be a command line for the web. And it’s not just for power users. There are lots of simple, ready to use YubNub commands that do neat things. Here are some examples:

g query <- do a Google search for query
lynx http://yeswap.com <- displays the html source code for yeswap.com
gim daibutsu <- Google Image Search for “Daibutsu”
yt Mickey Mouse <- Search YouTube for “Mickey Mouse”

There are currently over 11,550 commands in YubNub. Fortunately there is a search command “ls
ls Google <- lists all Google related commands
ls mobile <- lists all mobile related commands

The examples above are all simple, but some YubNub commands are more complex,taking multiple arguments, for example;

xe -amount 100 -from USD -to EUR <- currency conversion of 100 US Dollars to Euros (ouch!).

 YubNub So how do you know that you have to enter -from and -to and which currency codes you can use? For that there is the “man” (manual) command:
man xe
Which takes you to this helpful description page.

The above examples just scratch the surface, YubNub is really a powerful scripting language with logical operators like ifThen, functions like random and the ability to pipe the output of one command into another. To get up to speed with YubNub, first take a look at Jon Aquino’s blog post announcing YubNub. Other good YubNub resources include the YubNub Google Group and Jeremy’s Picks which is a good list of essential YubNub commands. I find looking at the code of existing YubNub commands, which is displayed as the first line of the the man command’s output, to be a big help in figuring out how to do things in YubNub.

If your still with me at this point, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with mobiles? Actually, a lot. While the normal YubNub homepage is at least marginally usable on a phone – especially if you turn off images, there is a better way. There are at least two mobile front ends to YubNub.

Metroblogging’s YubNub Mobile, metroblogging.com/yubnub is a mobile-sized YubNub prompt where you can type YubNub commands and view the results. Because the results aren’t transcoded and they are not always mobile friendly. You need to limit yourself to mobile specific YubNub commands like:
gmobile url <- returns url transcoded by Google. (There’s also skw and iyhy which do the same thing using Skweezer or IYHY.) YubNub
blm <- launches Bloglines Mobile
amo query <- searches Mobile Answers.com for query

A really useful pair of commands are mo and mot. Both of these take a YubNub command as an argument and return the result transcoded by Google. mot strips out images while mo doesn’t. The bottom image shows part of mot’s man page.
mo xe -amount 100 -from USD -to EUR <- convert 100 US Dollars to Euros and mobilize the result.

Another way of mobilizing commands is to use url and {}. url is a YubNub function which converts a YubNub command into a url. Enclosing a YubNub command in curly brackets allows you to pass its results to another YubNub command. So,
iyhy {url g Motorola i850}
first creates the url necessary to do a Google search for “Motorola i850” and then feeds that url to IYHY.

MetroBlogging YubNub Mobile: xhtml
Features: *** Usability: ***


You don’t need to restrict yourself to mobile specific commands if you use the other YubNub Mobile which was created by Phil Bogle. Phil is a Blackberry guru who writes an entertaining Blackberry focused blog and who has also created Berry411, a Blackberry Java ME front end to numerous web services. I don’t have a Blackberry so I haven’t tried Berry411 but it sounds pretty cool. Phil’s YubNub Mobile is at www.thebogles.com/yubnub.html and looks almost the same as the Metroblogging one but it uses Skweezer to mobilize the results of any YubNub command.

Bogles YubNub Mobile: xhtml
Features: **** Usability: ****


The best part about YubNub is that anyone can create a new commands using the create command. Creating and sharing what you’ve created. That’s the social aspect of YubNub which has been called “The social command line for the web”. If you type the following into YubNub;

create newCommandName

You’ll be prompted to enter the url that executes the command along with a description which becomes the man page. You can and should test your command right on the same page. If your writing a complex command that takes parameters you may have to do a little trial and error before you get it right. You should only save your new command when you are absolutely sure it works as intended. Once the command is saved the only way to modify or delete it is by emailing Jon Aquino.

YubNub is a lot of fun and downright useful. Give it a try. So you don’t have to type type those long url’s into your phone browser I’ve added both mobile versions of YubNub to the Search/Web/WAP Search section of YesWap.com

7 thoughts on “YubNub Mobile

  1. I don’t know if this would work on OperaMini, but I have verified it to work on iPhone and on Palm Treo:


    It takes a command and an argument. I got it into my Palm Treo bookmarks by saving it in delicious as


    Then I clicked the resulting link, bookmarked it, edited the bookmark to remove everything before “javascript:” I hope this is useful for other phone browsers too.

  2. Brent, YubNub is great but I don’t know how a YubNub Opera Mini bookmarklet would work.

    YubNub’s real power is as a command line interface. The user needs to enter a YubNub command and often some arguments.

    There’s a good YubNub bookmarklet at http://osdir.com/ml/search.yubnub/2006-09/msg00061.html. You highlight some text and invoke the bookmarklet which prompts you for a Yubnub command.

    But that bookmarklet won’t work in Opera Mini because Opera Mini doesn’t support the JavaScript prompt() method to get information from the user. Opera Mini doesn’t have anyway of highlighting text either.

    One could create bookmarlets for specific YubNub commands like tiny, lynx or alexa that act on a url and don’t require the user to enter anything except a url. You would need a separate bookmarklet for each command and because this type of YubNub command is really just a wrapper around a call to a web service(lynx calls Rex Swain’s HTTP Viewer, tiny calls tinyurl.com, alexa calls alexa.com) you could write the same bookmarklet without even using YubNub.

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