While the main release from Mozilla that most people are expecting is the Firefox 3.0 Web browser, there are groups within Mozilla that are already working on the next generation of Web browsing tools and capabilities.
One interesting project being worked on by the labs at Mozilla is called Weave. What is Weave? It seems that the main goal of Weave is to make it possible to put your data, preferences, bookmarks, browsing history and eventually online application settings onto servers and be able to access them from multiple systems.
The eventual goal of Weave appears to be a full-on Web synchronization of browsing data, with full privacy controls and the ability to host the data on any server or service, from personal data hosts to commercial systems.
However, all that exists of Weave right now is an extremely basic prototype that installs as an extension to Firefox 3 beta 2. And I mean basic. Right now the Weave prototype doesn’t provide much functionality beyond some of the old online bookmark backup features that were in the old Netscape browser.
To use the Weave prototype I signed up for a Weave online account and installed the extension. Once I entered my settings for Weave I could launch an encrypted connection to the Weave service and back up my bookmarks and browser history and then synchronize them to a Firefox-with-Weave-installed browser running on another system.
And that’s it for Weave so far. Not really much to get excited about.
But the vision for Weave appears to go well beyond this, with lots of additional synchronization opportunities, as well as API options for third-party developers to utilize.
I can understand why this functionality interests Mozilla. It is a natural extension of the idea of Web-based operating systems and applications and, along with the offline capabilities of Firefox 3, will extend the ability of Web-based applications.
Still, the privacy issues are definitely a concern. On the Weave forums strong privacy controls seem to be a major priority. But once third-party vendors get involved I wonder how strict they will be in making sure they follow user privacy interests?
Of course right now all of these questions are still quite a ways off. Weave is extremely immature right now. It’s not even a baby, it’s an egg.
But for those interested in testing out this early prototype of Mozilla Weave, go to labs.mozilla.com/2007/12/introducing-weave/