As 2007 winds down, Mozilla without much fanfare announced a new project called Weave yesterday. The idea is to “deeply integrate” the desktop (i.e the browser) with the world of online services by allowing users to store their metadata like bookmarks, passwords, user names and other personal information on servers, “in a cloud” instead of their local environments. I downloaded Firefox 3.0 beta 2 (you need it to talk to Weave) and registered myself on Mozilla Services. After logging in my bookmarks and history information automatically synchronized with Weave and was transparently available across multiple instances of FF on different machines. When I fired up FF on my wifes laptop it “knew” what tabs I had opened and automatically opened them up for me on her machine. All my bookmarks were available too. Because FF 3.0 b2 is a beta version the browser was a little flaky but that was expected and Mozilla warned us about it.
At this point Weave is at it’s infancy and in all fairness is only a synchronization engine for FF right now and the user is not truly operating in a cloud. However it seems to me that there is potential for Weave to be a neutral broker for all kinds of web based services that are independent from the hardware i.e the computer or handset.
We’ve set out some basic organizing principles to help frame the approach that we’re going to explore. We will:
- provide a basic set of optional Mozilla-hosted online services
- ensure that it is easy for people to set up their own services with freely available open standards-based tools
- provide users with the ability to fully control and customize their online experience, including whether and how their data should be shared with their family, their friends, and third-parties
- respect individual privacy (e.g. client-side encryption by default with the ability to delegate access rights)
- leverage existing open standards and propose new ones as needed
- build a extensible architecture like Firefox
As stated in their guiding principles above, to really enable operating in a cloud would mean allowing full user-control for storing customization/personal data along with data encryption and a robust API . With projects like Weave we’re slowly but surely seeing a shift in that direction. It’ll be interesting to see how Mozilla goes forward with Weave and more importantly will FF/Weave be the de facto web platform.