Category Archives: mozconcept

Web browsers in 2012: Ubiquitous or Clandestine?

Web browsers are the first thing people think of when we mention the internet. It somehow reminds me of the days of Windows 3.1 on my first ever computer (a 1995 486DX2). The first thing that anyone did when the computer had boot was fire up the Program Manager! I might take this opportunity to debate the validity of this comparison as non-fiction, or… lets dream a dream that many brilliant minds have already dreamed.

Take a look at what the Mozilla World has envisioned for the next generation of the internet. I will not go into describing again what is already described there, but here is what I personally envision the future of internet to be like, after having been inspired from the recent happenings at Mozilla.

The internet today is capable of understanding various media types. Each of them them have some program on our desktop that understands how it renders. Instead of trying to embed Adobe Reader in Firefox, and using plugins to embed our default video player within the web pages a web browser renders, should we not be using these programs itself? There should be minimalistic application that renders the world wide web like it is today, with Javascript and HTML. We should do away with the web browser interface all together!

An outrageous and abstract claim? Not quite. Take a look at Quicksilver. Its a way to quickly execute whatever task we want the computer to perform without having to fire up the needed programs like iTunes or Thunderbird or your chat application. Enter Ubiquity – the quicksilver for the web!

The way I see it, ubiquity should be pulled out of Firefox and run on the desktop, something like a “Ubiquitous Quicksilver”. It should not matter where the content is physically located. Whether on local hard drive or on the internet. Imagine doing all the same “adding a map to your email” activity that the video shows, but instead, think of doing it in GMail on desktop! What if you wanted this map added to your presentation in “openoffice”, “keynote” or “powerpoint”? How about creating the envelopes for sending some invitation (yes, via snail-mail, dont say its all e-invites these days) to all the a contact addresses you have on GMail or in your LinkedIn or Plaxo account? When Aza adds the “Lunch with Atul at 1pm at Ellite Cafe” in the video, think about it adding to Google Calendar, only this time its an application on your desktop and not in the firefox browser! The location of the content will still be Google servers, but why should that be a problem? You can already do this using Prism.

The web will no longer be limited to HTML pages, you could have URLs pointing to a pdf or any other binary format document, and this could be the starting point of your website instead of index.html. (For those geeks who are laughing on my dream, I know Apache doesn’t allow that. Unfortunately my dream broke here, but I am working on it :p ). The point is, why should URL only be limited to HTML pages, when we know about the MIME Types? “Ubiquitous Quicksilver” is there to map content type to the program that can render it on the client. When a user does a login using http authentication, you could display welcome message as a video instead of taking the visitor to a web page!

I do believe the above can be achieved by simply allowing ubiquity to fire up programs on the local machine depending upon the MIME type it has received. Quicksilver can already do that! All we need is a marriage of Ubiquity and Quicksilver (or maybe a Gecko equivalent of quicksilver?).

Think about what you can do with such power!