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Mozilla Software

Is Mozilla Ubiquity Dead? 148

Posted by timothy
from the no-man-it's-everywhere dept.
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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Is Mozilla Ubiquity Dead?

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:11PM (#31279340) Journal

    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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

    • 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.

      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:31PM (#31279504) Journal

        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.

        • by Thinboy00 (1190815) <{thinboy00} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:00PM (#31279760) Journal

          Wesnoth isn't "shitty" nor "mediocre"

          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

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

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Wizarth (785742)

            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?

          • by Blakey Rat (99501)

            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.

        • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Winckle (870180)

          Tell that to the nethack devteam.

        • by westlake (615356)

          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.

          • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @09:17PM (#31280766) Journal

            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: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Draek (916851)

              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 yo

            • by BitZtream (692029)

              They lack polished code as well, you just generally don't notice since you don't see it and you are being beaten with poor quality story/graphics.

              You just don't notice the code is substandard because everything else is.

        • by Simmeh (1320813)
          Warsow's code is GPL, it's a great game.
        • by aflag (941367)
          Is that a sign that working isn't fun?
        • by Jurily (900488)

          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".

        • With proprietary projects there will always be coders, and the existing coders will stay coding, because there is income involved with that.

          Actually, proprietary projects often die because of lack of income involved in them. Just because something is proprietary doesn't mean it is bringing in money to support continued development (contrariwise, just because something is open source doesn't mean its not bringing in money.) "Open source" doesn't mean "not profitable", and "proprietary" doesn't mean "profita

      • by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:05PM (#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.

    • 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.

      • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:58PM (#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.

        • "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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Thinboy00 (1190815)

          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. T

          • by Rockoon (1252108)
            You have forgotten that what developers are willing to invest time in is a form of artificial selection that does not reflect what the market-at-large wants or needs.

            Developers are a breed unto themselves and you can plainly see the effect that this has on (for example) GIMP, where there is a very big market for a decent photo editing and manipulation package (as Photoshop will attest), but GIMP falls way short on the usability/accessibility department. It is because GIMP is written FOR developers, rather
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      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.

    • by gencha (1020671)
      Thou shalt not close parenthesis with an emote!
    • Firefox is the best. Moreover while conceptually, Taskfox and Ubiquity might seem similar, Raskin noted that Taskfox is actually quite different than Ubiquity. http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/ultimate-max-burn-review-free-trial-now-1809994.html [articlesbase.com]
    • I just watched the Ubiquity video again for the first time in years to refresh my memory. It's pretty awesome. But it's also a pretty major project that Mozilla can't really do themselves. Web sites need to implement "verbs" for it to work. And browsers other than Mozilla need to implement it too.

      That said, I hope it comes back to life and improves. Hey, maybe this /. post will entice some readers to become Ubiquity developers. Maybe Google can help too and bring it to Chrome - and I don't mean as an extens

  • Ubiquitous (Score:5, Funny)

    by pitchpipe (708843) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:14PM (#31279358)

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

    You might even say that Ubiquity is not Ubiquitous.

    • Vimperator replaced Ubiquity in my browser.
    • Re:Ubiquitous (Score:5, Interesting)

      by icebike (68054) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:41PM (#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.

      • by c0d3g33k (102699)
        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.
      • 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.

      • by Yaztromo (655250)

        "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.

        I agree. I was one of those "everyday developers", and one afternoon quickly put together the first ROT-13 encoder for Ubiquity 0.1 (link [me.com]) (probably one of the first 20 Ubiquity plug-ins). I added it to their Wiki, and registered it with Ubiquity Herd. I watched it for some time to see the number of people who were using it, and was happy to see a variety of people doing so. It was simple, well debugged, and worked as expected.

        Some time later, they upgraded Ubiquity, and required all of the plug-ins to

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        I couldn't agree more.

        Half a million downloads may be a lot, but lets put that in perspective. From addons.mozilla.org: over 1.8 bln downloads for 109 mln add-ons in use. That means 17 downloads for one use. Or only about 30,000 users for Ubiquity. AdBlockPlus, the most popular add-on, clocks almost 900,000 downloads weekly, for a total of over 72 mln downloads now. Even geeky NoScript is doing almost 400,000 a week.

        If there were really great demand, then someone would have stepped in and continued develo

      • 90% of the usage of ubiquity can be solved by copy/paste and bookmark keywords (e.g. "maps" -> http://maps.google.com/maps?q=%25s [google.com]).

  • In a nutshell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:14PM (#31279362)

    Remember Mozilla Ubiquity?

    No.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      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.
    • by patro (104336)

      Bad for you. It's very useful for quick calculations, translations, map searches, etc. I find it most useful to add tasks effortlessly to my Google Calendar.

      I suggest you to try it, because it's quite handy.

      • Map searches => Google maps (Not hard, no simplification necessary)
        translations => google translator ( Not hard, no simplification necessary)
        Calculations => calculator ( Not hard, no simplification necessary)

        Its not popular, because it makes already simple tasks, slightly simpler after a gentle learning curve. However those new skills are not portable to other browsers or applications. I said the same thing when it was introduced, and it looks like I've been proved right.

  • by BhaKi (1316335) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:16PM (#31279384)
    If the code written so far is well documented, there should be no problem for anyone to continue development.
    • by farble1670 (803356) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:25PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ltap (1572175)
        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.
      • 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.
      • by morie (227571)

        Lesson to be learned: do not only document code, but also project vision, in an inspiring way which does not only reach peoples minds, but their harts as well. Make percieved project ownership viral in some way

      • by SharpFang (651121)

        That is what "well documented" really, really comes in.

        Not just decent comments on all functions, but a separate document that binds it all together, explaining bigger image of things: the architecture of the project, its flavors, design patterns used (where, why and how), things missing or that could be done better, caveats of "touching this innocent-looking thing will break X", and so on. But above all, the big image of things.

        Every sensibly done project is usually up to ten big modules strung together in

    • by afabbro (33948)

      If the code written so far is well documented,

      Nope, it's open source.

      • 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.

  • 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.
  • by Ltap (1572175) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:32PM (#31279510) Homepage
    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: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Ltap (1572175)
      My apologies. The summary lead me to believe that this was voice recognition. I guess I should RTFA more often.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:32PM (#31279516) Journal

    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: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 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 cod

    • 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 jus

    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      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 we

    • by BZ (40346)

      > 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Killer Orca (1373645)

      What happened to Weave, it's been kicking around for years?

      It's actually been updated recently; it's at the 1.01 release, but they've changed a lot of the options to customize it or at least access them. I even ditched Xmarks in favor of it because of the tab and history sync, and they're looking to add extensions in future releases.. https://mozillalabs.com/weave/ [mozillalabs.com]

  • Not surprised (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @06:39PM (#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.

  • 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

    • 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 t

  • 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?
    • by nycguy (892403)

      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!

  • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DarkOx (621550)

      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.

      • 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.

        • by lennier (44736)

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

    • 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.

      • by c0d3g33k (102699)
        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: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        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 (AS INPUT TO A COMPUTER) has always been a fad.

          Its been a continuous area of research that has been regularly producing new products and offerings for several decades. There are certainly monents in times where particular approaches or areas of application are transitorily popular and might be remotely fairly described as "fads", but the broad subject itself is very much not a fad, and never has been.

  • Pity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by etherlad (410990) <ianwatson@gPARISmail.com minus city> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:08PM (#31279846) Homepage

    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.

    • Latest release [mozilla.org] works with Firefox 3.6

      • by etherlad (410990)

        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.

        • Just to clarify, that's 0.1.9.1, not 1.9 - if you're happy with 0.5 it may be worth considering sticking with Firefox 3.5. I stuck with 0.1 because I found the new command structure annoying (I could have learned to live with it, but ultimately I'd prefer Firefox to be up to date more than I'd prefer the latest and greatest Ubiq ;-)

          • by etherlad (410990)

            I had no problem with the 0.5 release, but I also prefer an up-to-date Firefox over Ubiquity, so I downgraded.

            Thanks again!

  • 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].
    • by joek1010 (980753)

      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.

  • 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

    • 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. :)

    • by maxume (22995)

      If you think it trough, you are likely swine.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • I hope that Raskin resumes work on Archy [wikipedia.org], a really promising zooming user interface project started by his dad long ago.
  • 'twasn't much, but I had hoped for Ubiquity everywhere, not just he browser. It needs to be an OS add-on.
  • Ubiquity was just proof that even good projects can make bad decisions. It was DOA. It interestingly solved a problem by doing something no-one needed.

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