A Damn Good Day to be a Mozillian…

Browsers, Firefox, Innovation, Internet, Mozilla, Mozilla Labs, Open Source, things that are awesome, Web, Web Development, Work 4 Comments

Skimming back through my Twitter stream, it turns out that yesterday was a pretty great day in the ol’ salt mine. Sometimes when you’re right in the thick of it, it’s hard to really notice all the awesome that’s going on around here, so here’s a quick roundup of some of it.

Zarro Boogs!

We hit zero blocking bugs for Firefox 4. This is a pretty big deal for anyone and everyone who has been working on this release, and means we’ll be rolling out a release candidate Very Very Soon…

Demos!

We launched a demo site that includes this fully interactive HTML5 poster (grab a copy of the latest Firefox 4 beta to get the full effect). I’m biased, obviously, but this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen on the Web in a hell of a long time…

Web Apps!

We announced the availability of the first developer integration release of our Open Web Apps project (along with a neat video that explains what the heck we’re actually talking about when talk about “web apps”). ReadWriteWeb says that we make “a better case for web apps in minutes than Google did in months,” so if you’re still not sure what Web Apps are all about, you chould check out the post over on the Labs blog.

If you’re a web developer, there’s also a bunch of documentation over on the Mozilla Developer Network, and a gallery of apps that people have already built.

The best part? We’re just getting warmed up. 2011 is going to be a ridiculously amazing year.

Zenji: towards a simpler web browser (from 2007!)

Browsers, Innovation, Mozilla, Mozilla Labs, Open Source, Ramblings, Web, Work 8 Comments

Robcee and I spent a bunch of time thinking and talking about alternative browser designs back in 2006/2007. He recently posted his idea from back then, so I figured I’d dig through the archive and post mine. I call it Zenji.

Note: Where it says “[EMPTY PAGE]” that’s where the actual Web content or Dashboard would be. So that’s just a lie.

zenji1

Zenji was an attempt to re-envision the browser as something smaller and simpler. Some of the ideas have actually shown up in modern browsers, which is gratifying. Other ideas are just terrible (no back button? whuck?). Were I to sit down now and put together ideas for Zenji 2, I would do a lot of things differently.

That in mind, here’s a quick overview of Zenji. The long version is a 13 page PDF which you can download.

Goals
The primary goal of Zenji was to be “as simple as possible, but no simpler.” It encompassed a pared down feature set that would let most users use the vast majority of the Web without being overwhelmed.

While Zenji was to be as simple as possible, it also had to be able to grow with the user. Novice users become expert users over time, and what they need in a browser evolves as well.

Features and UI

What Zenji doesn’t have:

  • Traditional tabs
  • A URL bar
  • Any form of bookmark organization
  • Back/forward buttons (2010 editorial comment: yeah, what?)
  • A “home page”
  • Context menus
  • Most preferences or customization options
  • Traditional “addons”

What Zenji does have:

Search: Search is the primary focus of Zenji, with the main search bar stretching across the entire top of the window.

Toolbar: The Zenji toolbar does not appear at the top of the window, but rather on the side. Default toolbar buttons are: Dashboard, Stars, Timeline, Subscriptions, Zoom, Widget bar. Additional buttons include: Downloads and Archives.

Dashboard: The dashboard was envisioned as a new breed of “start page” that is local on the users’ machine, but that pulls information both from the browser and the web. It could include things such as: recently starred pages, most frequently visited pages, latest subscription updates, Zenji tips & tricks, help/support info, new widget promotion, user polls & feedback requests, etc.

Stars: Stars are Zenji’s simplified bookmarks. Clicking the “Star” button opens/closes the Stars sidebar, which includes the user’s starred pages sortable by recency and/or frequency. Includes a search box.

zenji-stars

Timeline: Timeline is a hybrid of history & tabs that can be viewed as a list (with favicons) or thumbnails.

zenji-timeline

Subscriptions: Subscriptions are essentially fully integrated feeds. If you subscribe to a page, Zenji shows you the most recent updates to your subscriptions in this sidebar.

zenji-subs

Zoom: Apparently I thought zoom was important enough to have on the main toolbar. This would probably be different now :)

Downloads: Sidebar of stuff the user has downloaded through Zenji, all neatly organized. Everything goes into a single directory, which can be sorted in Zenji in various ways.

Archives: Archived pages (basically saved web pages) are stored in a single Zenji archives directory.

Widget bar: This is where the user can add things to Zenji’s UI and functionality. Widgets were envisioned as a new breed of add-on, being small, very task-specfic, and allowed to change nothing about Zenji’s UI beyond, at most, displaying a panel when clicked. Examples would include: Gmail bookmark/icon with new message count overlay, Facebook w/ overlay, Current weather + temp, Flickr RSS stream and uploader, Personas, etc. Widgets would be a simple drag/drop to install and uninstall.

zenji-widgetbar

Page actions: Star, Subscribe, Archive.

zenji-pageactions

And et cetera. There’s more detail (and more craziness) in the PDF. Turns out thinking about browser design is a lot of fun :)

Check out the Mozilla Labs Chromeless browser experiment if you haven’t — the team is working on making zany experiments like this as fast and easy as possible, which I think could lead to an amazing period of exploration and innovation.

Mozilla Labs website redesign project

Mozilla, Mozilla Labs, Work No Comments

labsbanner

The Mozilla Labs team is launching a grand experiment towards rethinking, redesigning, and redeploying the Labs website, and we need your help. All the details are over on the Labs weblog, and you can join the discussion in the Labs forums.

This is going to be a fun and crazy project, and everyone is welcome and encouraged to take part. We want to build something amazing, and we need your help figuring out what that is, what it looks like, and how it all fits together.

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