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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 BhaKi ( 1316335 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:16PM (#31279384)
    If the code written so far is well documented, there should be no problem for anyone to continue development.
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @07:32PM (#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.

  • by Thinboy00 ( 1190815 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (00yobniht)> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:06PM (#31279830) Journal

    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.

  • Pity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by etherlad ( 410990 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nostawnai)> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:08PM (#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.

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:29PM (#31280030) Journal

    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:Ubiquitous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:41PM (#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 DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @08:52PM (#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.

  • by Winckle ( 870180 ) <> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @09:56PM (#31280636) Homepage

    Tell that to the nethack devteam.

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Thursday February 25, 2010 @10:17PM (#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 [], 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.

  • by Draek ( 916851 ) on Thursday February 25, 2010 @10:53PM (#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.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire