Most people at Mozilla are remote so each quarter we sync up face to face as a group for an all-hands meeting. There are over 600 employees! We of course sync up in smaller groups more frequently but this is a chance to see what's going on across the entire Mozilla horizon.
So what's happening at Mozilla? We're on the cusp of a huge shift towards an open web platform. That is, something more than a web browser -- something you can run "native" apps on. There's a lot of work left to do, of course. Here is a random dump of interesting projects in the works:
- What if you didn't need a separate login for every site you use? What if you didn't have to trust your identity to a single corporate silo? Browser ID attempts to solve all that and you can actually use it right now in just about any browser. In the future, it may be implemented directly in the Firefox UI and in other browsers (should they choose to implement the spec). There have been several attempts to solve this problem but Browser ID is focusing on the parts that matter: a concise user experience, privacy, and security.
- Playdoh: Mozilla's Django starter kit. We build a lot of Django apps at Mozilla and they need to meet stringent security requirements, scale to millions of users, and support many different languages. Playdoh is what we've been working on to provide an easy way for anyone in the community to build similar web apps.
- Deuxdrop: Secure messaging with the distributed federation and delivery model of email but with the contact list model of chat systems like jabber. If Mozilla starts supporting social interactions then this might be part of the platform.
- Mozilla is building an app store and, well, it's pretty much done. We are re-using the platform that has scaled addons.mozilla.org to serve more than 10,000 requests a second. The app store should be launching soon.
- The Services team that has built Sync for hundreds of millions of users to sync data between Firefox desktop and mobile will be deploying many more services in the future. Thus, Sagrada is intended as a platform for easy rollout of new Python service apps. This is focused in Services but has the potential to turn into a general purpose runtime, perhaps to host open web apps built by the community. It will probably focus on Python at first and might feel similar to Google App Engine. There, I said all that without using the word cloud!
- The Nightly build of Firefox Mobile has a nice UI for larger Android tablet displays. It still has some performance issues but it looks and feels pretty smooth. There are also some crucial Android speedups that are about to land.
- Mozilla has a phonebook of employees but there isn't anything similar for the larger Mozilla community -- those that work with us to make the web better. Mozillians is a project in the works to connect all these people.
- Can we make the web better on iOS? Probably yes. Different people use the web in different ways and not everyone understands URL bars, tabs, and bookmarks. Pancake is an ambitious attempt to capture flows of intent through a better tablet UI. It's in early stages but is one to keep an eye on.
- Oh yeah, Firefox. It's super fast and fun to use. Give it a try if you haven't for a while.