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Monday, December 4, 2006

Is This A Feature Or A Bug?

Hi Visitors,

To be frank I am in a dilemma, last day I downloaded a copy of Mozilla. My intention was to be a part of the Mozilla Testing Community and test Mozilla. For testing Mozilla browser I used Internet Explorer (IE) as an oracle. I started testing Mozilla, and I reached the bookmarks menu. I compared the bookmark feature of Mozilla with favorites feature of IE. I found a feature in IE that is missing in Mozilla.

To add more to my excitement some doubts crawled into my mind. And my doubt is "That feature in IE is really a feature or a bug". Because that feature has both advantages and disadvantages. And I verified all other browsers (Firefox 2.0, Mozilla 1.7.13, SeaMonkey 1.0.6, Netscape 7.1 and 8.0) to check do they have the similar feature or not. And for my surprise other browsers don’t have such feature.

I hope you all are curious to know the feature. Shall I explain?

In IE if a web page is added to Favorites, Then it is possible to browse that page by giving the name we saved that page.

EG: - Open the link "www.google.com" in IE

Click on add to favorites

In the name field give "G" and click “OK”

Type G in the address bar

IE will load www.google.com web page.

"WOW" was my first reaction to this finding. And as I said earlier I checked all other browsers and for my amusement they all lacked this feature. You may say now "Oh this is an advantage. You were talking about some disadvantages also. What was that?"

I started digging more into it. I started giving G for Google, Y for Yahoo etc and it worked fine. And I felt like it makes browsing easy, a really cool feature. But then I tried to save a web page with the name of some other web page. Eg: - Add Yahoo to favorites by giving name as www.google.com. Oh God what is happening? When I give www.google.com I am getting Yahoo page.

It makes browsing easy.

In a Public Internet cafe some one adds a webpage to favorites using some other webpage name. And if some other guys came here to browse and he gives a web address and if it is taking him to some other page, then he do not know or care for the reason, and they will switch to some other browsers.

Further Investigation:-
I did some further investigations to check weather some where this feature is already specified or not. I checked IE documentation (i.e. help), Microsoft online support documentation and googled the net. No one has specified about this feature any where.

The link for Microsoft online support documentation is http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/ie6/using/howto/share/favorites.mspx#EZC

In IE documentation they have only specified “To open one of your favorite pages, on the Favorites menu, click the page you want to open”. And they are not mentioning about a feature like this.

I believe that this is a Bug rather than a Feature. Please let me know your opinions.

Nishanth Balachandran.


James Bach said...

I didn't know about that feature. I agree with your analysis. This is a clear security problem. Although I always type "http://" before website addresses, I know lots of people don't.

Nice story. I'd like to see more of your writing.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Excellent Nishanth!

I am happy about the way you have investigated the issue. Before I appreciated you, I too tried the same and yes it is reproducible too, on my end.

I too would want to see more such coming from you. Not just about finding bugs but more.

Nishanth Balachandran said...

On James Bach's and Pradeep Soundararajan's Comment.

Reading your comments about my blog is a real Inspiration and Motivation for me. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment on my blog. Thank you Pradeep for reminding me to write about other things also. I will try to do my best to make this blog informative and intersting.