Mozilla Weave

I’ve been a huge fan of the Firefox browser for several years, and the folks at Mozilla just keep making it better. The latest enhancement I’m taking advantage of is called Mozilla Weave. I just started using it a few days ago, but so far it’s amazing. The stated goal is to “broker rich experiences while increasing user control over their data and personal information.” I haven’t read much detail on what their vision entails, but the first component released for testing certainly lives up to that goal.

The first component is a service called Weave Sync, “a prototype that encrypts and securely synchronizes the Firefox experience across multiple browsers, so that your desktop, laptop, and
mobile phone can all work together. It currently supports continuous synchronization of your bookmarks, browsing history, saved passwords and tabs.”

This is extremely useful for me because I use Firefox on three different computers at various times and often find myself frustrated with the experience. For example, I might find and bookmark a useful site at work, then struggle to find the site when I’m at home and using a different laptop. I’ve been using the GMarks add-on to handle this for me, but Weave Sync makes the feature more integrated with the browser. The synching of saved passwords is also a time saver, because I will be less likely to use the “forgot my password” feature of sites that I visit on multiple computers.

Of course, all this additional convenience would be pretty much useless if it required a lot of configuration or constant user intervention. But so far, I haven’t noticed any of that. Initial configuration was amazingly simple. Once you install the service (similar to installing an add-on in Firefox), you simply set up an account with a username, password and passphrase. Then setting up another computer requires the same steps, but there is additional wait time for first-time synching. Once each computer is set up, the synching is automatic and unnoticed by the user.

As other browsers continue to try and play catch-up with Firefox, I’ve experimented with them to see if they’ve closed the gap. So far, none have come close. In fact, some of the latest versions, such as IE8 and Google Chrome, seem to be taking steps backwards. Meanwhile, Firefox marches forward with more and more intelligent and useful features.


About Martin Witters