Firefox EWG – Meeting #3

Cross-posted from the Enterprise2.0 blog

Call on Sept 19th was about useful Extensions for the Enterprise. A larger portion of the meeting, however focused on the apparent dwindling interest in Enterprise Firefox within the larger community.

Is the Enterprise simply not ready to bring Firefox in-house? Or, are the majority of institutional adopters simply happy with a consumer product floating about?

Perhaps one of the problems is that we still talk about Firefox as a Web Browser as opposed to a “Productivity Platform” for the Desktop.

Firefox is a Productivity Platform
All the features that make Firefox a consumer favorite deal with productivity. Tabs, keywords, search bars, extensions, dictionaries, etc help us be effective and productive in our work and home lives. When consumer says “better usability”, enterprise says “better productivity”.

Mike Kaply spoke about adoption at IBM. Developers are finding ways to enhance the end-user experience by writing custom extensions for Firefox. Whether the extensions glue several applications together or simply automate the tedious process of filling out web-forms, end result is a boost to productivity.

If Firefox is the gateway or glue between what’s on the Desktop and what’s on the network, potential for productivity-boosting application is something to ponder.

Raising awareness
Mike and I are going to take lead on a few initiatives to help raise awareness on the Enterprise Firefox front:

  • 10 Steps to adopting Firefox in the Enterprise
    Now that we’ve begun to pool experiences, we should be able to bake out a definitive guide of sorts for things to consider when bringing Firefox into an enterprise environment
  • Good Ol’ Conference
    We will begin looking at opportunities to present at some Conferences
  • Blogging – check…
  • Code Day and Training
    The learning curve for any kind of Mozilla-related development is rather high. Perhaps training targeting institutions and enterprises (like an Enterprise track) will help developers scale this wall.
  • Enterprise Firefox Incubator
    Talk has alway been cheap. As we address settings management, security, tools etc we will kick off projects within the Enterprise Working Group.

Enterprise Working Group Incubator
On my end, I’m going to kick off some projects for the Incubator. Specifically there has been interest in:

  • Mission Control – how to get up and running, what the back-end implementation can look like and benefits over GPO
  • Customized Reporter Extension – so that you can redirect Broken Website reports to a repository on your intranet
  • Managed Security Zones for Firefox – how to configure and lock capabilitiy.policy settings in Firefox, how to create a “trusted” zone and fully leverage Web2.0 technologies within your trusted intranet.

As always, if any of these topics or projects are of interest to you, please visit the wiki, participate in the calls or simply leave a comment on this here Blog.

AJAX Toolkit Framework

Some of you may not be aware of another project being worked on by members of my team callled the AJAX Toolkit Framework (ATF). ATF provides an AJAX Tooling Environment in Eclipse that includes things like a DOM Inspector, an HTTP request monitor, JavaScript debugger, JavaScript editor with validation and code completion, and more. This functionality was created by embedding Mozilla technology into Eclipse using JavaXPCOM.

What’s exciting is that we final got all through all the legal hurdles so you can now download one package that contains the entire environment, with stuff that isn’t relevant to ATF removed. So just download the M4 milestone from here, unzip it and you can try it out. If you want to see how it works, you can check out the demos, but note that we are in the process of updating those to the new version.

I’ll be at AJAXWorld next week talking about this project so feel free to look me up. I’ll definitely be at the ATF presentation on Monday at 5:40 and I’ll probably be hanging around IBM booth on the Expo Floor at other times. If you want to set up a time to meet with me about something specific while I’m out there, feel free to contact me.

Firefox in the Enterprise

So it’s only been a month or two, and participants on the Firefox Enterprise Working Group calls have dwindled. So I’m putting out this plea:

If you are at all interested in Firefox in the Enterprise, please either post to the Firefox Enterprise Wiki (participants section), participate in the call or reply to this post with your thoughts.

If we are ahead of the curve here and need to slow down or if phone calls are the wrong communication medium, we want to fund that out. We also need to know is if this is something that is important to a lot of folks or if it’s only important to a handful of people.

So please, let us know what you think we should do next.

Here’s the info about the next call:

We’re planning our fourth call for Wednesday, September 19th at 10:00am Pacific, 1:00pm Eastern, 17:00 UTC. Here’s the meeting details:

  • 650-903-0800 or 650-215-1282 x91 Conf# 280 (US/INTL)
  • 1-800-707-2533 (pin 369) Conf# 280 (US)
  • IRC – – #ewg

The theme is “Extensions.” We’re going to talk about how folks are using extensions in their organizations.

Other upcoming calls include Deployment and Microsoft Group Policy vs. Mission Control.

No Firefox Enterprise Working Group Meeting Tomorrow (Sept 5)

I’m going to hold off on an EWG meeting this week. Our next one is scheduled for Sept 19. The topic will be Extensions, since the last meeting didn’t happen (Sorry about that).

We’re already starting to see things kind of drop off. I’d REALLY like to try to make sure that doesn’t happen. So if you have any interest in Firefox in the enterprise, please plan to attend the meeting on Sept 19. And please feel free to read/update information on the Enterprise wiki.

CoScripter (formerly Koala) Extension for Firefox from IBM

In my Enterprise series, I mentioned an extension from IBM called Koala that could be used to automate business processes.

This extension has now been made available via alphaWorks Services as CoScripter.

From the web page:

CoScripter is a system for capturing, sharing, and automating tasks on the Web. CoScripter scripts contain human-readable instructions for completing Web-based processes, such as changing your mailing address or searching for real estate. If the CoScripter plug-in for Firefox is installed, CoScripter can step through scripts with you, showing you how to perform the task, step by step. CoScripter can also run scripts automatically, eliminating repetitive or mundane tasks for the user.

There’s a more detailed post about it at Luis Suarez’s blog.

Go check it out. It’s pretty cool.

Operator 0.8 is available

Operator 0.8 is now available from

One of the first things you’ll notice is that I changed the default view to be data formats instead of actions. I did this because I found this is what most people did anyway. If you disagree, you can go to Operator Options and switch back to options.
You’ll also notice that if you did any customizations, you lost them. Unfortunately I did some preference rewriting this time around and the migration was getting to be painful. It shouldn’t happen again.

Some of the new features in Operator 0.8 include:

  • RDFa support (courtesy of Elias Torres)
  • eRDF support (courtesy of Keith Alexander)
  • New user interface elements, including an icon on the location bar as well as a sidebar
  • New preferences including auto-hiding the toolbar
  • The address microformats has been split out so that actions can be more granular
  • Actions can now be associated with multiple types of data, so the Google Maps action, for instance, works with Addresses and Locations
  • Much better support for frames and iframes
  • Support for non HTML documents
  • When debugging microformats, Operator connects to Brian Suda’s X2V behind the scenes so you can compare results
  • Lots of bug fixes

I had to break user script compatibility with this release. Most user scripts have already been updated and can be found on the user script page. I also changed the location of user scripts, so old user scripts won’t conflict.

Finally, I’ve created a page specifically to talk about Operator. If I’ve missed anything, please let me know. And feel free to visit my weblog and take my poll about how you interact with Operator.

Have fun!

Special note to users of the 0.8 betas – you’ll need to go Options and delete “RDFa” and re add it as “RDF” to get RDF functionality back.

Third Firefox Enterprise Working Group Call

We’re planning our third call for Wednesday, August 22th at 10:00am Pacific, 1:00pm Eastern, 17:00 UTC. Here’s the meeting details:

  • 650-903-0800 or 650-215-1282 x91 Conf# 280 (US/INTL)
  • 1-800-707-2533 (pin 369) Conf# 280 (US)
  • IRC – – #ewg

The theme is “Extensions.” We’re going to talk about how folks are using extensions in their organizations.

Please check out the EWG Wiki page for more information.

Latest Operator News

Operator 0.8 is getting very close. I’m trying to finalize some UI stuff, specifically for testing some stuff for Firefox 3. Stay tuned. In the mean time, here’s some random things I need to post.

Operator 0.8 is going to have support for eRDF. Because of this, I’m changing “RDFa” actions to simply be “RDF” actions. So anywhere you use “RDFa” in an action, please change it to “RDF” for 0.8 final compatibility.

If you are interested in writing actions, I created an advanced article on creating actions. This is a follow up to my basic article on creating actions

The latest user scripts will always be on the Operator User Scripts page. This will be the home for any user scripts I mention in my blog and will also have links to third party user scripts. If you find bugs in user scripts, check that page to see if the scripts have been updated. I’ll mark any updates to that page with “NEW.”

And speaking of user scripts, there are new user scripts from Dan Noble for mapping hCards and hCalendar with Google Earth, as well as a user script from Thorsten Panknin for the Mister Wong social bookmarking site.

Incidentall, if you are an extension developer and want to try using the new microformats code in Firefox 3, you can download Gran Paradiso Alpha 7 and then follow these instructions to try it out.