Mozilla's Ubiquity on the back burner
Mozilla's experiment in language driven browsing, Ubiquity, has been placed on the back burner. Mozilla developer Aza Raskin told InternetNews that the core Ubiquity developers, including himself, are now either working on JetPack, Mozilla's next generation extension technology, or on Test Pilot.
Among the challenges the developers faced in developing a natural language interface for Firefox was the problem of working with non-english languages, given that Firefox is internationalised for over 70 languages. Another problem was the relative immaturity of language based interfaces. One of the developers has posted his analysis of lessons learned from creating Ubiquity.
Raskin says that JetPack has benefited from development work done for Ubiquity and that when JetPack SDK 1.0 arrives, the more experimental branch of Ubuquity, 0.5, will be migrated to the new extension platform. Ubiquity 0.1 has been updated to work with Firefox 3.6, but the work needed to update 0.5 for Firefox 3.6 has proven to be "more difficult... than anticipated".
In the meantime, a language extension named Taskfox, is in development. Taskfox uses a simpler grammar than Ubiquity and works in the browser's URL bar. Raskin describes Taskfox as "Ubiquity-inspired", but a different product, although he says it has the potential to develop a richer, more Ubiquity like interface. Taskfox had been intended for Firefox 3.6, but is still under development and there is no timetable for its integration.