Update Moves Weave Closer to a Starring Role in Firefox

Mozilla has updated Weave, its free add-on for Firefox that syncs your personal data across multiple PCs. Weave 0.8 is a vast improvement over its predecessor, featuring a huge speed boost and a revamped user interface that makes Weave feel much more a part of Firefox rather than an experimental hack.

If you’d like to take Weave 0.8 for a spin, head over to the Mozilla Labs Weave page and grab the latest version.

The most obvious change in this release is the new integration with Firefox’s preference pane. Previous versions of Weave used the URL about:weave to provide an interface for signing in and controlling which types of data Weave will sync. It worked, but it was hardly the best interface we’ve seen. Enter Weave 0.8 which ditches the URL and moves Weave’s preferences to a preference pane, which, well, just makes sense.

The move also hints at Weave’s future — becoming a standard part of Firefox. Unlike most extensions, which get their own separate preference panes, Weave’s preferences are now in the main Firefox preferences panel under a new tab “Services.” Given that syncing between PCs is something many Firefox users would welcome (and now that Google has just added bookmark syncing to the latest beta of Chrome) it’s nice to see Weave moving in the direction of a true Firefox feature rather than a separate add-on.

The incremental download support that arrived in Weave 0.7 has been improved for this release and, from out testing, seems to have eliminated the occasional lags and freezes that plagued early version of Weave.

Mozilla’s release notes for this version also claim that incremental download function will give “explicit priority… to your most important data.” The developer roadmap offers a partial clue as to how Weave determines what’s important, claiming the new system is based on “interestingness,” with the most “interesting” items synchronized first. However, thus far, the exact details of how Weave determines what’s interesting remain a mystery.

One thing you won’t find in this release is the “Weave can sign you into this site” option in the URL bar.Previous versions of Weave supported syncing and auto-login for web-based accounts. However, while Weave will still sync passwords, the auto-login feature has been moved off to a new Account Manager add-on that will be developed separately from Weave. If you’re missing the old login feature in Weave, give the Secure Login add-on a try, it offers similar features.

Also note that, if you’ve set up your own server to host and sync your Weave data, you’ll need to upgrade the server software to work with the latest version of Weave.

While we’re already missing the auto-login features in previous version of Weave, the obviously snappier performance and the much nicer user interface still make Weave 0.8 well worth the upgrade.

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