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Is Mozilla Ubiquity Dead?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-man-it's-everywhere dept.

Mozilla 148

darthcamaro writes "Remember Mozilla Ubiquity? It was an effort to bring natural language commands to the Firefox browser. Now after almost two years of development and a half million downloads, the project is no longer being actively developed. Project founder Aza Raskin is now working on other projects, including Mozilla Jetpack, so Ubiquity is on the back burner. '"There is huge demand for being able to connect the Web with language — to not have to move from one site to another to complete your daily tasks," Raskin said. "And there is huge demand for anyone to be able to write small snippets of code that lets them command the Web the way they want. Ubiquity gave everyday developers a voice with how the browser and the Web works."'"

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148 comments

Open Source Projects (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279340)

It happens to a lot of OSS projects. Suddenly the developers interest just dies and they start doing something else. Just like in our childhood we coded some funny little game for a day (not that I didn't make some cool stuff back then :) and then started on an another project. It needs more motivation to continue some project past the starting interesting.

Re:Open Source Projects (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279408)

At least when [insert big company] does get this working they wont be able to patent it stop others doing it.

Blame The Underachieving Niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279550)

Inner city blacks didn't do as well with the natural language queries, so the project was immediately declared racist in nature and quietly abandoned. Sort of like IQ tests.

Equal opportunity does not guarantee equal results, but just try telling that to a bleeding-heart Liberal. Just try it.

Re:Blame The Underachieving Niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279702)

So that was the Obama change that we were supposed to believe in? Lying about the sophistication of a nigger's intellect (yes, yes I know that this is an oxymoron)?

Re:Blame The Underachieving Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279720)

The question I have for Obama is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single fat colored mammy sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check?

And as far as Ubiquity goes, I'm sure B. Hussein Obama doesn't give a rat's ass. For my part, I give the death of Ubiquity two thumbs up.

Re:Blame The Underachieving Niggers (1, Troll)

AlmondMan (1163229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279828)

You sir, should be shot.

Re:Blame The Underachieving Niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279836)

The question I have for Obama is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single fat colored mammy sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check?

The latter. She and all other niggresses like her are keeping KFC, Popeye's and Church's Chicken in business.

Re:Blame The Underachieving Niggers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279732)

Equal opportunity does not guarantee equal results, but just try telling that to a bleeding-heart Liberal. Just try it.

And they'll agree with you, yeah. Your point?

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

FooBarWidget (556006) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279438)

Why do you talk like this phenomenon is exclusive to open source? It happens all the time in closed source projects too, you just never hear about them because of NDAs or whatever.

Re:Open Source Projects (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279504)

With closed source/proprietary projects it usually happens for different reasons, mostly income being the reason. With proprietary projects there will always be coders, and the existing coders will stay coding, because there is income involved with that. Money is a good motivator to continue doing projects you otherwise would had lost interest on.

Great example of this is really the games. Gaming industry develops some really stunning games, and theres big corporations like EA, Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft and then theres the small indie developers and everything in between. But what about open source games? They're mediocre at best, almost always unfinished, and otherwise pretty much shitty. These are long projects, taking up to 500-2000+ men work years to finish, and the quality difference in that comes from the fact that the developers are paid to have the interest to finish the product instead of jumping to their latest new idea.

Re:Open Source Projects (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279616)

Way to milk that ballmer cock sopssa!

Re:Open Source Projects (5, Funny)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279760)

Wesnoth isn't "shitty" nor "mediocre"

Re:Open Source Projects (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280026)

True it is not shitty nor mediocre, it is in fact both shitty and mediocre.

Re:Open Source Projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280226)

Just out of curiosity, what is so "shitty and mediocre"? I like criticism as much as the next guy but maybe you could try actually explaining yourself. Just saying.

Re:Open Source Projects (2, Insightful)

Wizarth (785742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280532)

I agree. Neither is OpenCiv.

That said, there are a LOT of open source games that are terrible. But I wonder how many concept pitch games there are that we never see, that are terrible?

Re:Open Source Projects (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280544)

Except that OpenCiv is really a clone of an existing game. So its already based off something that was popular. What about Wesnoth though? What's it based on?

Re:Open Source Projects (2, Informative)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280964)

It's extremely derivative of the Warlords series of games: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warlords_(game_series) [wikipedia.org]

And for the record, since it's often mentioned in threads like this, Frozen Bubble is a total clone of Bust-A-Move: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puzzle_Bobble [wikipedia.org]

So now you know.

Re:Open Source Projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31281120)

In general, like most Open Source software, the point is not innovating but freeing something.

In the case of games the situation is aggravated because unlike developers which have a culture of selflessly contributing to interesting projects(not all of them of course), artists in general expect to be paid for any scribble they draw on toilet paper or any distonal song they sing/compose.

At best you could gather free artistic talent for one good Open Source game. In practice most games get 0 to 1 artists(that might not even be very talented), and that is the main problem.

Good looking games with great stories and/or great gameplay would attract developers like shit does flies. Good code isn't enough for games.

Re:Open Source Projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280818)

I've played every variation of Civ, and Openciv is easily the worst. It's basically unplayable.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280934)

Shitty's a little extreme, but I'm all behind mediocre. If I were playing that game in, say, 1996, then I think it'd be better... now it's just kind of yawn.

I'm sorry we insulted your little pet project.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280572)

With closed source/proprietary projects it usually happens for different reasons, mostly income being the reason.

Never underestimate the power of management capriciousness and/or shifting corporate priorities, though...

Re:Open Source Projects (2, Interesting)

Winckle (870180) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280636)

Tell that to the nethack devteam.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280674)

But what about open source games? They're mediocre at best, almost always unfinished, and otherwise pretty much shitty.

The game is more than code. More than the game engine.

When you look at the classic Lucas Arts adventures, what you see is a strong sense of story.

Art design and animation. Music. Dialog and vocal performance.

Half-Life brought a strong sense of place to the FPS. Black Mesa felt real as you were moving through it.

Not a dark house ride like Doom.

Re:Open Source Projects (3, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280766)

But has there been any open source games that are good at story, art, animation, music, dialog and vocal performance? Those are actually the things that are missing in them most of all. As someone here points out [slashdot.org] , there's technical problems like path finding etc too, but some of the games are technically ok (like nethack, as the previous poster mentioned). But they all lack that polished art, music and story even more.

Re:Open Source Projects (2, Interesting)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280952)

Polished art, story and music Battle for Wesnoth, and to top it off it's the best turn-based tactical game ever (HoMM? bleh. KB? good, but Wesnoth is better).

But there are huge problems towards developing story-based open source games, which Wesnoth averts mostly by making it extremely easy for a single man to create a campaign of his own: single-player games you usually play once, twice at most. Hard to keep interested in improving a game when you've already played through it a dozen times, and you know you'll have to play it a dozen more just to test the changes you're making.

And that's, also, why there's such a plethora of great multiplayer F/OSS games out there. Warsow in particular not only looks gorgeous, it's also the best arena shooter since UT2004 in terms of gameplay and that's because, when the devs improve the game, they improve it for *them* as well, not just for everybody else.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

Simmeh (1320813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280708)

Warsow's code is GPL, it's a great game.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

aflag (941367) | more than 4 years ago | (#31281076)

Is that a sign that working isn't fun?

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31281208)

They're mediocre at best, almost always unfinished, and otherwise pretty much shitty.

That's probably because they don't have code monkeys to whip into 100+ hour weeks before the holidays. Also those games aren't exactly declared "complete".

hese are long projects, taking up to 500-2000+ men work years to finish, and the quality difference in that comes from the fact that the developers are paid to have the interest to finish the product instead of jumping to their latest new idea.

Keyword: finish. Most open source games are so huge in scope/vision that most would-be developers looking at it are scared away for good. Compare the Linux kernel: when it started out, its main feature was that it booted, and Linus explicitly stated in the announcement that it "won't become big like HURD or Minix".

Re:Open Source Projects (3, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279812)

It happens all the time in closed source projects too, you just never hear about them

If a tree falls in the woods and I don't hear it, do I care? No. Open source is generally publicly known, especially if it is a large project, so I do feel a bit of remorse when I know a project has been abandoned by its lead.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

iNaya (1049686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280106)

If a tree falls in the woods and I don't hear it, do I care? No.

Classic.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279656)

Yes but the difference between OSS and proprietary software is that if the main OSS developers just lose interest in the project, the project can be forked/development work taken over by another part of the OSS community. The question is whether there is enough interest in the OSS community to resurrect Ubiquity.

Re:Open Source Projects (3, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279730)

Yes but the difference between OSS and proprietary software is that if the main OSS developers just lose interest in the project, the project can be forked/development work taken over by another part of the OSS community.

Sure in an ideal world. In the real world, though, it just means the project stagnates and dies.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279810)

"Possibly" is better than "can't." A project that doesn't have enouh people to be resurrected by OSS would have even less chance of surviving had it been closed source.

Re:Open Source Projects (2, Interesting)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279830)

If the product stagnates and dies it means no one cares about it enough to put in the effort it takes to fork and actively lead a FOSS project. Personally, I think that's a good thing because it means most FOSS is either well supported by some sort of community or else it is too marginal to bother with. It means the community serves as a litmus test for quality. If there are three active developers then maybe it won't be as good as if there are 300. Also, bear in mind that FOSS is a volunteer effort. The only reason FOSS exists is because someone went to the trouble of writing it. If it is stagnating or nonexistent and you want it, write it yourself! If you don't care enough to do so, don't whine about how no one else is either.

Re:Open Source Projects (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280198)

It happens to a lot of OSS projects.

It happens a lot to closed source projects, too, though since it is more likely (in either project) to happen when a project is in a state before it is consider "ready for prime time", its a lot less visible in closed source projects, since they aren't as likely to be widely available at that stage.

Re:Open Source Projects (1)

gencha (1020671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280220)

Thou shalt not close parenthesis with an emote!

Re:Open Source Projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280566)

Yeah, it's like registering an account on Slashdot to post insightful comments and then realizing that your nickname backwards reads ASS P.O.S., which by itself would cause anyone intelligent to abandon it, but you decide to keep it, because you're writing bullshit comments all the time, so you're just being true to your nickname. You came here to be insightful, but you're just spreading bullshit that gets modded insightful.

Ubiquitous (4, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279358)

... the project is no longer being actively developed.

You might even say that Ubiquity is not Ubiquitous.

Re:Ubiquitous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279626)

You might even say that Ubiquity is not Ubiquitous.

Try it this way:

You might even say that Ubiquity...
*dons sunglasses*
...is not ubiquitous.

YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH!

Re:Ubiquitous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280474)

how about NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Re:Ubiquitous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31281550)

Was that the Who? And why do you keep taking off and putting on your sunglasses?

[Horatio mode] Because Mr. Coward.....(puts on sunglasses and pauses)....I'm cool[/Horatio mode]

YEEEEEEAAAAAAAH!

My late mother once asked me while watching the show: "What is up with that sunglasses thing he does?"

Vimperator (1)

DaveSlash (1597297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280016)

Vimperator replaced Ubiquity in my browser.

Ditto here (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280552)

I fiddled with Ubiquity for a while, but when I discovered Vimperator, I found I never used the darn thing.

Re:Ubiquitous (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280112)

You might also say that Raskin works from a different definition of "Huge Demand" than the rest of us.

"There is huge demand for being able to connect the Web with language — to not have to move from one site to another to complete your daily tasks,"

Ah, no, Raskin, there isn't a huge demand for this. I don't want to deal with my bank account while logged into Google, and I don't want to have every thing I do on the web done from one place.

"And there is huge demand for anyone to be able to write small snippets of code that lets them command the Web the way they want.

Again Wrong Wrong Wrong. Less than .002 percent of web users have even the slightest desire to command the web the way they want, and even fewer want to "write snippets of code". Its time to expand your world view beyond your hacker-cave.

Ubiquity gave everyday developers a voice with how the browser and the Web works."

"Everyday developers"? WTF? So finally at the end of the quote it becomes clear he was talking about 1/1000th of web users, the people who use the web for development daily, who probably managed just fine without Ubiquity.

This project deserved to die.

Re:Ubiquitous (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280312)

Exactly. And further, people that tend to make grandiose proclamations like this frequently and conveniently neglect the technical "how", which often ends up being a huge amount of work if not virtually impossible. I've seen the pattern many times in the context of big data warehousing projects that are supposed to magically unify all knowledge in the company and make everything better. They never do. This smells like the same kind of "if we wish hard enough, it will happen" project.

Re:Ubiquitous (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280390)

its not that ubiquity isnt good it is but most people don't know what it is or how to use it.

I use ubiquity mainly for translation if i need a language i use ubiquity to translate in either direction this makes it possible to talk with anyone.

Thing is this is one small part of what ubiquity can do i havent a clue about 99% of its functionality.

In a nutshell (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279362)

Remember Mozilla Ubiquity?

No.

Re:In a nutshell (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279972)

Well I do, and I hope it stays at least supported. The shortcuts for mapping, mailing, and translating are very handy. I also frequently use the 'define' command when reading. I generally have 60+ tabs open, and use the tab selection command. When someone asks "just how many freakin' tabs do you have open?", I use the 'count-tabs' command.

Re:In a nutshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280650)

me thinks your using the wrong tool for the job.

Nothing against ubiquity, just 60? tabs open. I track hundreds of web sites, using tabs isnt the solution.

 

Follow best practices (4, Interesting)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279384)

If the code written so far is well documented, there should be no problem for anyone to continue development.

Re:Follow best practices (5, Insightful)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279466)

yes in theory. in practice, this what i've seen. even in a corporate environment where people are paid to maintain and enhance the old code, the new developers never quite "get it". they are able to fix bugs and add features all right, but it's done with without a vision of the overall project. the result is the code slowly loses maintainability and eventually needs to be re-written (or tossed).

maybe this is poor engineering, but it could also just be physiological. developers are less interested in code when they do not feel ownership. coming in and learning someone else's methodology that you probably don't agree with or even like is just not fun. when developers are paid to do it, they get the job done but don't follow through with the care they would otherwise have if they wrote the code from scratch.

Re:Follow best practices (2, Insightful)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279526)

Indeed. The healthiest open-source model seems to be to have different programmers on the development team who differ a great deal; if one has to leave, the other could take over, so that the project could be sustained through introducing new developers. But a single programmer picking up old code and trying to work through it by himself, especially something that would be as tangled a mess as this probably is.

Re:Follow best practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280550)

Amen to that. I once developed a web framework for a corporation that handled things like personalization, profile management, page-level security, etc. I also had the good fortune to have the time to document (in Word!) the entire framework, with code snippets and line-by-line examples of how to configure and use it. People never the less failed to read the documentation and started to fork the codebase when they felt they needed a feature that wasn't avilable. 9 times out of 10, the feature *was* available, and they just didn't take the time to understand the framework - which, incidentally, was built to adapt to future needs.

Re:Follow best practices (1)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31281312)

Sir, while I appreciate your insight, I believe your entire post is as unmaintainable as the code that you are discussing would become. You lack any proper sentence structure making it very difficult to understand what you are trying to do. I recommend, as a start, that you should use some capital letters at the beginning of a sentence; and, read up on proper comma use.

Re:Follow best practices (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280094)

If the code written so far is well documented,

Nope, it's open source.

Re:Follow best practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280134)

As opposed to closed source that may very well be the same but nobody will fucking know since IT'S CLOSED SOURCE!! What maroon.

Re:Follow best practices (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280622)

Seems a bit counterintuitive, doesn't it? If I'm putting code with my name on it out there for everybody to see, I'm probably going to do my best to make it all purdy-like. OTOH, I've seen more than one corporate environment where upper management cares about nothing beyond "can we ship it?".

Your closed code may indeed be meticulously designed and documented, but unless we can see it we'll just have to take your word for it.

Re:Follow best practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31281538)

Anecdotal and flamebait worthy, but in my experience almost all OSS programmers tend to be hobbyists at best. Driven by results and not a passion for programming. Very few could be called more than a mediocre programmer.

And it's the same experience in the corporate world. But where the difference lies, is that all of the gifted programmers I have met knows that their work has actual (monetary) value, and generally don't have the time or motivation or desire available to dedicate to large-scale OSS projects.

Looking forward to the "but some people aren't driven by money" comments. I hold the same answer to that as I do for "does money buy happiness?" - the answer to both is yes, but not absolute; i.e., money will always hold *some* motivation and give *some* happiness, but not always enough.

And generalizations are always unfair, so I'm twisted as to whether I have a point.

one for all, and all for one (1)

ozzy85 (1427363) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279436)

That's sad! I really wanted it to be a plugin for in all web browsers, if not built into them to create smooth and efficient waves when web surfing.

Why are we surprised? (3, Insightful)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279510)

Ignoring whether or not it being free software makes a difference - every software company tried its hand at it in the 90s. Their main justification for dropping it was that "the technology isn't advanced enough". It all seems to be part of an attempt to copy Star Trek's tech and use voice commands for computers. In reality, voice commands are incredibly inefficient and imprecise, and it's virtually impossible for a piece of software to try and sort through accents, dialects, and mumbling to guess at the true intent.

Re:Why are we surprised? (0, Offtopic)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279530)

My apologies. The summary lead me to believe that this was voice recognition. I guess I should RTFA more often.

Re:Why are we surprised? (0)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279958)

"I guess I should RTFA more often."

LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!! gud 1 brah!

Re:Why are we surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280260)

I think your original point still stands; natural language commands have always seemed like a nice idea, but have never quite worked in practice. Whether those natural language statements are delivered as text, or as speech which is converted to text, is not really significant.

I could see this one coming... (5, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279516)

Not trying to be an annoying "see, I knew this" jerk, but really, this project was so far reaching and poorly defined in how much it should cover, that it was hard to even grasp what the end result should be, and thus also how to support the project. I'm not sure about others, but I have a much easier time building excitement for a project I know what the end result is supposed to be like, than something where the focus is on writing abstract documents on how the browser should more easily be able to be told what you want, and better ignore technical URL's... or something.

Well, yeah, that's an awesome idea, and so is being able to speak to an OS in a few words, and not have to go through the annoying process of clicking on five different icons and buttons to get there.

But it's also far reaching in scope, and not enough narrowed down. There were some concrete stuff done in it, but it felt like features sprawling in different directions, with no sense of direction. Being able to surf to Google Maps more easily, etc, but really with the extension wanting to do more. Hmm.. The article goes on with this

While conceptually, Taskfox and Ubiquity might seem similar, Raskin noted that Taskfox is actually quite different than Ubiquity.

"Taskfox is integrated directly into the URL bar and has a simplified grammar," Raskin said. "It's more accurate to think of Taskfox as a separate product which is Ubiquity-inspired, which has the potential to evolve towards a richer, more Ubiquity-like interface."

Rephrased, I think Taskfox has the right idea here. Software sometimes need to evolve from something more simple, but with a well-defined feature set, and *then* into something more advanced. Or you'll get software with ill defined scope in terms of features in practice, with less motivated developers behind it. Like Windows Longhorn. Or Ubiquity.

Re:I could see this one coming... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279878)

Perhaps, but with Quick Searches you can do 90% of the things you can with Taskfox. Without that extra layer of magically delicious goodness, what is it, really?

Mozilla don't focus on getting Labs ideas out (2, Insightful)

PybusJ (30549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279556)

Mozilla Labs has started out on some great projects but they don't seem able to make it out into wider use. What happened to Weave, it's been kicking around for years? Ubiquity, a great start with developer/hacker interest, but the ball dropped.

I'm worried for how able Mozilla is to compete against the threat coming from Google and Chrome at the moment. Their core browser is falling behind on speed and stability and I think they'll find it hard to catch up given the size/age/complexity of the Firefox codebase compared to Chrome. Google had the opportunity to start from scratch with the knowledge of all the browser vulnerabilities in the last decade and have a much better architecture for security and stability. It's almost unfeasible for Mozilla to refactor firefox to match.

What they do have going for them is the collection of extensions and the new ideas from Mozilla Labs; if they don't get them out to the wider audience then their competitors will copy and popularise the best of them, essentially benefiting from free R&D.

Re:Mozilla don't focus on getting Labs ideas out (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279850)

I'm worried for how able Mozilla is to compete against the threat coming from Google and Chrome at the moment. Their core browser is falling behind on speed and stability and I think they'll find it hard to catch up given the size/age/complexity of the Firefox codebase compared to Chrome. Google had the opportunity to start from scratch with the knowledge of all the browser vulnerabilities in the last decade and have a much better architecture for security and stability. It's almost unfeasible for Mozilla to refactor firefox to match.

I'm not too worried about convergence or competition between Firefox and Chromium. The way I see it, someone can only switch from Firefox if they either (a) don't use add-ons, (b) can part with the add-ons that they do use, or (c) can find equivalent add-ons in Chromium's library. So, Firefox is going to be for those who need the all-in-one browser that will make a sandwich for you while a javascript/flash-ridden page loads (provided you install the add-on), and Chromium* is going to be for people who just need to browse the web. Each one will get its market share, and my guess is that in the long run (that is, as time t approaches infinity), it will probably stabilize.

* We can further divide Chromium's users into users of Chrome (those who have sold their souls to Google or just don't care enough to avoid the spyware components) and users of Iron (the geeks who know what's in Chrome and think they're doing their parts to keep Google out).

Re:Mozilla don't focus on getting Labs ideas out (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279932)

Mozilla Labs has started out on some great projects but they don't seem able to make it out into wider use. What happened to Weave, it's been kicking around for years? Ubiquity, a great start with developer/hacker interest, but the ball dropped.

Sometimes the idea of a "Labs" is to generate new ideas, but not all those ideas are really something that can be productized.

In the case of Ubiquity, it was a great idea at the time (2008) but not well-defined. As a result, I think it wasn't something that (as defined) could be easily integrated into Mozilla.

Google took a much simpler approach ("Let's present context-sensitive links for a user's email, for things we can recognize") and integrated it into the GMail web experience. Interestingly, GMail's web interface does some of this for you already, for example by recognizing phrases in an email that indicate an appointment, and giving you a link in the right-hand side to add it to your calendar. It does the same with addresses.

I often use the links that GMail shows me when I buy something online, and the vendor emails me a shipping notification. GMail recognizes a UPS (or FedEx, or USPS) tracking code, and gives you a link - right there - to go check on the shipping status of your order.

So in a way, the functionality of Ubiquity has made it into a product, just not by Mozilla.

Re:Mozilla don't focus on getting Labs ideas out (1)

BZ (40346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31281020)

> given the size/age/complexity of the Firefox codebase compared to Chrome

The Firefox codebase was comparable to the Chrome one or smaller, last I checked. Age is an interesting question and hard to measure as parts of a codebase get rewritten. Complexity... a tossup.

Seriously, take a look at both carefully instead of just reading the hype.

Not surprised (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279564)

At the time, I remember thinking how awesome it -could- be, but how limited it was at the moment.

Then I realized that it was the programmer in me talking... Having to type out written commands to make magic happen? That's the Linux command line and most non-techies are horribly afraid of that.

I can't see it happening... Some of the ideas may be used in a GUI medium instead, but the project as it was ... Well, it was pretty much doomed from the start.

Was really useful, but buggy (2, Informative)

chetbox (1335617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279572)

Ha. I just went and read about this myself. Personally I found ubiquity really useful. I loved the way I could select a postcode, press a keyboard combo and then just type "map" to get an interactive Google Map. I especially liked the way I could subscribe to feeds of commands, most of which had a whole host of handy options. The natural language process part of it was simple, but easily good enough for the intended purpose.

The reason I stopped using it was because new versions weren't backwards compatible and cleaning up after an update became a bit of a mess. I don't know if others had the same experience?

Re:Was really useful, but buggy (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280584)

I use a bookmarklet with a keyword for the map function. I just type in "gm 31071" and it jumps to http://maps.google.com/maps?q=31071 [google.com] , and it worked for directions as well. I have a number of others including for dictionaries, synonyms, and one that used to work on CFR lookups, but broke at some point in the past and which I haven't fixed.

Maybe I'm missing something in Ubiquity's capabilities, but as others have said, I don't know that people are really screaming out for such things, especially if even the geeks rarely use it.

Not quite a killer app, but not too far off. (1)

blattin (1335585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279608)

I remember being rather excited when I first saw the demo for it. Now I generally only use it for translation and mapping. Anyone else think Ubiquity is screaming for speech recognition?

Re:Not quite a killer app, but not too far off. (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279664)

Now I generally only use it for translation and mapping. Anyone else think Ubiquity is screaming for speech recognition?

You mean I'll get a better response if I scream "GET ME THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!" than if I type it? Cool!

How does this get me more beamtime? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279624)

Cause last time I checked, we invented the web so we could get more beamtime, and this has nothing to do with getting me more beamtime.

Natural language has always been a fad - it comes and goes in cycles, or at least since the late 70s when I started.

Re:How does this get me more beamtime? (2, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280030)

Don't you mean the late 50s? COBOL was more or less an attempt at natural language and arguably one of the most successful ones.

Re:How does this get me more beamtime? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280050)

I'm thinking more of the craze for LISP and other languages at the time - learned COBOL, PL/1, PL/C, FORTRAN, BASIC back then and these natural language things seem to come and go every few years.

Re:How does this get me more beamtime? (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31281314)

Lisp? That's like the anti-COBOL. Used *for* natural language processing, not so much natural language in its syntax.

Re:How does this get me more beamtime? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280172)

Natural language has always been a fad

Um, what?

Natural language has been pretty popular for longer than all of recorded history, so its clearly not a fad.

Its also been pretty constantly a goal, for quite some time, to get computers to understand something approximating it for human interactions. For pretty obvious reasons -- its certainly a manner in which humans are generally pretty comfortable interacting.

Re:How does this get me more beamtime? (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280366)

It's imprecision is also the cause for most of the problems throughout recorded history. It's not the best form of expression, just the easiest for the most people.

Re:How does this get me more beamtime? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280398)

It never occurs to you twits that if you feel a need to state the obvious, it's because you missed the point. I know, such considerations detract from feeling that the obvious is obvious only to you because you're special just like Mama always said you were.

Natural language (AS INPUT TO A COMPUTER) has always been a fad. That was the context of the statement. Any statements about humans who use natural language to communicate directly with other humans are completely irrelevant, Sparky.

GP was right. Natural language queries (AS INPUT TO A COMPUTER - just for you so you don't get confused again) are a fad that comes up from time to time.

Anonymous Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31279748)

Trust me, open source doesn't do well with user experience, interaction, graphic designers and researchers. You want a good product around open source, let open source community build code while hired designers/researchers do their job. All successful useful products go through iterative design process with a lot of user testing, usability testing. Ubiquity is a bad user experience product, throw it one interaction designer, one graphic designer, two-three user experience designers and a couple of researchers you have useful product Ubiquity Pro( $5 )

Pity (2, Interesting)

etherlad (410990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279846)

Damn shame. I used it all the time to create tinyurls, to translate text on the fly, and so on. It was a handy little utility, and I was excited with the direction they wanted to go it.

It'd be nice if they could even just do a version update so I could use it with Firefox 3.6.

Re:Pity (1)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280582)

Latest release [mozilla.org] works with Firefox 3.6

Re:Pity (1)

etherlad (410990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280714)

Huh. At one point they made 1.9 (I believe) as a transitional release to 0.5, which had a different, mostly incompatible, command structure.

So they've updated 1.9 to be compatible with FF 3.6, but the latest release I have, 0.5.4, remains incompatible.

Odd decision, but if it works, it works. Thanks for the heads-up.

Re:Pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280598)

Version 0.1.9.1 still works fine.

What's the point? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279860)

The unix shell is much better at interacting linguistically with a user than a browser with a bolted on keyword system. Use the right tool for the job, like Surfraw [debian.org] .

Re:What's the point? (1)

joek1010 (980753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31281162)

I use Ubiquity all the time for text translation. You just highlight the text, bring up Ubiquity and type translate. IMO this is where ubiquity shines; its hardly bolted on, its a really natural way of instructing the browser to work with the page I have open. Its way more convenient than any other option since I don't have to switch pages/tabs.

I'll be honest: I hope so. ;) (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31279994)

Frankly, the basic idea was not that bad. But everything was awful.

Basically, Firefox with Ubiquity had at least 3 things, to do the exact same thing:
1. The search input field (top right): Choose a search and enter the query.
2. The keyword search (URL field): Enter the keyword (e.g. dict), followed by the query.
3. Use Ubiquity, enter the keyword, and the parameters/query.

Of course, Ubiquity was more. Because it was a generalization of [1] and [2] to GET/POSTs with multiple fields.
But that could have easily be implemented right in the URL bar. (Or search field for people who prefer that. [Although I don’t know why.])

Then again, if you think that thing trough to the end, you gonna end up with a general property/option box and a general communication protocol between servers and clients. And such general solutions are great because they usually offer huge emergence (the ability to do much with little interface complexity).
But we already have that. More than once. And the newest standard is XForms.
Doesn’t make much sense to cram it into the browser UI itself though.

And I haven’t even talked about how when you think it trough to the very end, you just end up with algorithms and data structures again.

Re:I'll be honest: I hope so. ;) (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280228)

Dammit! I meant to say “But everything ELSE was awful.”. Slipped right trough the preview, apparently.

Oh, and nontheless, experimenting, and coming up with new ways and ideas, is always a great thing. Even when the result is sometimes bad. Because it always puts us one step forward. :)

Re:I'll be honest: I hope so. ;) (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280512)

If you think it trough, you are likely swine.

Problem imo was, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280036)

for he kind of things i tried to do with it, i can do already with the search engines i installed, and keywords.
In fact, i remember trying out the examples and i had to type more. "w Firefox", is imo pretty fast.

Yo0 Fail It (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280406)

Not surprising (1)

cecom (698048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280478)

Can't say I am surprised. I had never heard of it before, so I diligently clicked all the links in TFA. Yet, within a couple of minutes I still wasn't able to figure out what it was. There were not very useful comparisons with "Launchy", which I haven't heard of either. May be I need to see a live demo to "get it", or may be it is too ahead of its time, or may be it is just garbage. I really don't know, but either way it isn't surprising that it hasn't caught on.

Commands in a browser (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280578)

Vimperator, the one plugin the keeps me on firefox. Of course the kids won't like it much since it requires the use of the keyboard.

Archy (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31280640)

I hope that Raskin resumes work on Archy [wikipedia.org] , a really promising zooming user interface project started by his dad long ago.

Natural selection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31280970)

Dying out is a good thing. It's natural selection at work. This is why open source development is more agile and, in the long run, will produce better results than proprietary software development.

Rolled into the next firefox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31281002)

I thought I read somewhere it was being phased out of an addon because it was being rolled into the official firefox codebase and appear in the next major version. I really liked it, and while it seemed problematic (ie simply not working) for me, I'd like to see it continue.

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