On Friday, Mozilla’s Senior Director of Firefox Engineering, Johnathan Nightingale, said that the company’s popular Web browser is about to get a lot more social. The team has been working on social-specific features since the beginning of the year, and the first components are expected to be dumped into Mozilla Central — the primary Firefox development repository — this week.
According to Mozilla’s roadmap, the Web has become inherently social. “The browser is not yet playing a significant role in enabling the social experience. Firefox will begin to enable easy sharing and a more social browsing experience.”
Nightingale said the team first began working on a social feature called Share. As the label indicates, it allowed users take a link and push it to a social service. But as the team moved deeper into its development, they discovered that they could do more by simply creating an open social API for browsers. A similar approach was made with Mozilla’s creation of the open search API years ago.
“In March, we shared some preliminary thoughts about the technology touchpoints between the browser and social providers. That work has progressed steadily and we are now figuring out how this will feel for Firefox users,” he said.
Although the first social components have already landed in Mozilla Central, the actual social-based user experience will roll out one step at a time. For starters, Mozilla will offer an easy way to recommend things that Firefox users discover on the Web. After that, the team will add support for notifications coming from the service. Once that’s launched, the team will start on integrated news feeds and chat.
“We’re going to need a lot of feedback from our community about how to evolve and fine tune the Firefox social experience over the next few releases. We’ll also be listening closely to feedback from social providers about the API itself. Even in these early days, though, we’re really excited about the possibilities that an open social API represents for the future of browsing. We hope you are, too,” he said.