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Mozilla Software

Is Mozilla Ubiquity Dead? 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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Is Mozilla Ubiquity Dead?

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  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:11PM (#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.

  • In a nutshell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:14PM (#31279362)

    Remember Mozilla Ubiquity?


  • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:25PM (#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.

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:31PM (#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 Ltap ( 1572175 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:32PM (#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.
  • by Ltap ( 1572175 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:35PM (#31279526) Homepage
    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.
  • by PybusJ ( 30549 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:38PM (#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.

  • Not surprised (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:39PM (#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.

  • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:58PM (#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.

  • by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:05PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:11PM (#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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @09:20PM (#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.
  • by Wizarth ( 785742 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @09:38PM (#31280532) Homepage

    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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 25, 2010 @09:40PM (#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?

  • by Razalhague ( 1497249 ) on Friday February 26, 2010 @05:24AM (#31282870) Homepage
    Clones (mediocre or not) are another thing that isn't exclusive to open source.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351