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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Weave, Mozilla’s take on web services

Weave, Mozilla's take on web services

By Percy Cabello

Mozilla Labs has just introduced Weave, an experimental project that aims to deliver Mozilla's vision for a web services integrated web browser.

Fortunately, this integration won't be with a particular service provider (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or any other). Instead, Mozilla will provide an extensible framework, a set of interfaces where other service providers can plug in to deliver their own content. At the same time, Mozilla will provide a few basic services as an extended feature for Mozilla products and as a working implementation of this framework.

Weave, is both a server application and a Firefox extension that will allow a user to host browser data such as history, bookmarks, extensions, themes and other configuration in the Weave server and be able to get it back at other location in a different device for a truly mobile experience. Furthermore, you will be able to share a particular area of your data with a specific user adding collaborative to the equation.

Weave and Mozilla's vision in general is better explained through the initial use cases Weave aims to address:

1. Automatic backup and restore – Dan's hard drive has died. Like many folks, Dan had never gotten around to getting that backup solution he knew he needed. Dan feels miserable when he thinks of all the software he needs to install, the stuff he's lost, and all the account names and passwords he'll never remember. Then he realizes that his family photos, email and calendar are all hosted online, as well as all of the services he uses to manage his life: his banking, shopping, purchased music and more. With his replacement computer in hand, he installs Firefox, logs in to his Mozilla account and resumes his online life without skipping a beat.

2. Personalization made portable – Myk likes to visit his Mom on weekends. He doesn't have a laptop, so he uses his mom's computer when he visits. He used to be annoyed because, though he installed Firefox on his Mom's PC, he missed having easy access to his favorite sites and RSS feeds, and having to remember all his account names and passwords. He logs into his Mozilla account and his personalized experience returns. And, just as importantly, when he logs out, all of the cookies, bookmarks and other information is cleared from his Mom's PC so that she doesn't accidentally log in to his email account or anything else he was browsing.

3. Get up and go – Rhian and Chris are going to meet their friends at a hip new restaurant in San Francisco. Rhian goes to the restaurant's Web site to check out the menu and see where it's located. Great, the site includes directions. She prints them out, and they hop into Chris's car and head out. Duh! Rhian realizes she left the print-out at the printer (as usual). She fires up Firefox on her mobile phone. Because her mobile Firefox "knew" about what she had been browsing at her desktop, she only needs to type the first few letters of the restaurant name and she's back at the Web site. They easily make their way to a great dinner.

4. Collaborative bookmarking – Ken and Karen are planning a trip to Calfornia. Ken has found some flights, and is looking into rental cars and trying to put together an itinerary to see Disney Land, SeaWorld, LegoLand and the San Diego Zoo. His wife wants to make sure the various hotels are kid-friendly and pick out some good restaurants. Ken creates a new bookmarks folder for the trip and shares it with Karen. He bookmarks their flight itinerary. As he finds pages for hotels that look good, newspaper articles about local attractions and restaurant reviews, he adds them to this folder. When Karen can grab a few minutes, she can look at the pages Ken has seen and add her own. She can reorganize, annotate, and organize them on a calendar. Ken and Karen can organize a great trip, with less stress. We're going to Disney Land!

Weave 0.1, for Firefox 3 Beta 2 and later, was made available yesterday for a brief time window to avoid overloading Mozilla Labs servers. Hopefully, I'll be able to slip in the next registration wave and will share how it went.

Go there..

Weave 0.3 Released

Weave Sync is a prototype that encrypts and securely synchronizes the Firefox experience across multiple browsers, so that your desktop, laptop and mobile phone can all work together. It is part of the Weave project, which aims to integrate services more closely with the browser.

Major Features

What is Weave Sync all about? In short, Weave Sync lets you securely take your Firefox experience with you to all your Firefox browsers — including our mobile browser, codenamed Fennec. It currently supports continuous synchronization of your bookmarks, browsing history, saved passwords and tabs. For example:

  • Get the same results on the Smart Location Bar on each of your Firefox browsers, so you can get to your favorite sites with just a few keystrokes
  • Continue what you were doing: have the ability to open any tab you have open on any of your Firefox browsers
  • Keep the same list of bookmarks on all of your Firefox browsers
  • Easily sign in to all your favorite sites using your saved passwords (this is especially handy on mobile phones, where it's hard to type in complex passwords)
  • Do it all securely: Weave Sync encrypts user data before uploading it to Mozilla's servers, so that only you can access your data

What's new in 0.3?

If you have not looked at Weave recently, now is a great time to jump in and try it out! This release includes a major rewrite of many of Weave's key components since the last major release in June. A few of the major changes are:

Getting Involved with Testing and Development

– Dan Mills, on behalf of the Weave development team


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