Editing Webmonkey.com in Thimble. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey
Mozilla Thimble is a new web-based code editor, part of the company’s recently unveiled “Webmakers” project. Thimble is designed to give novice webmakers an easy-to-use online tool to quickly build and share webpages.
You can check out Thimble over at the new Mozilla Thimble website. Keep in mind that Mozilla hasn’t formally launched Thimble; the company is still testing, fixing bugs and iterating the app.
Thimble is slightly different than other online code editors you may have tried, putting the emphasis on teaching HTML to newcomers rather than catering to advanced users. Thimble offers side-by-side code editor and code output panels which help new users see immediate results. Type an <h1> and you’ll immediately see a headline. The instant feedback is not only helpful for spotting and fixing errors, but encouraging for those just starting out since you can see what you’ve created right away.
Thimble is very purposefully not aimed at veteran HTML junkies, but for those just learning how to write HTML — which is the focus of the Webmakers project — Thimble is one of the friendliest, easiest-to-use code editors we’ve seen.
Thimble can also load pre-made project templates to help users get started with some content that’s ready to build on. Currently the featured projects section of the Thimble homepage is still awaiting content, but among the coming projects is a tutorial on editing and creating your own Tumblr theme, as well as others from Mozilla’s various Webmaker partners.
To help new users get their Thimble-created projects on the web Mozilla has also bundled a publishing function directly into the editor. Once you’ve got your Thimble page looking the way you’d like it, just hit the “Publish” button and Thimble will output and host your page, offering up a URL to share with friends and another to edit your page if there’s something you need to change.
Mozilla has kicked off a new effort to do something that’s very near and dear to Webmonkey’s heart — helping people create cool stuff on the web. Mozilla Webmaker, as the new initiative is known, wants to create “a new generation of webmakers, and a more web literate world.”
Mark Surman, Mozilla’s Executive Director, calls web literacy “the world’s second language,” and goes on to say Mozilla believes web literacy is “a vital 21st century skill — as important as reading, writing and arithmetic.”
To help bring that literacy to more people around the world Mozilla’s Webmaker will offer a variety of different things to try, each aimed at different interests:
1) Tools. Authoring tools and software, designed and built with our community. From supercharging web video with Popcorn, to remixing with Hackasaurus, to making your own web pages with Thimble.
2) Projects. Practical starter projects, how-tos and recipes, designed to help people at all levels make something amazing with the web. From tweaking your blog template to building apps that change the world.
3) Community. Bringing people with diverse skills and backgrounds together. Teachers, filmmakers, journalists, youth. From web ninjas to newbies. All making and learning together at events, meet-ups and hack jams everywhere.
Webmaker isn’t just Mozilla, either; the company has partnered with the likes of Tumblr, Creative Commons, Code for America, and dozens of others.
To get things started, Mozilla will kick off what it calls a “Summer Code Party” on June 23. And yes, it sounds a lot like Google’s Summer of Code, but with a focus on building the open web. Head over to the Webmaker site to search for something near you or start your own event.
For more info about Summer Code Party and other aspects of the Webmaker initiative head over to the new site, or check out the intro video below.
[Update: Several readers have asked about Thimble, mentioned in the Mozilla quote above. A Mozilla spokeperson tells Webmonkey, "Mozilla Thimble is the name of a web app we're building that provides a live side-by-side code editor for webmakers -- code on the left, live preview on the right." Thimble will also provide error checking and code tips find and fix mistakes quickly. Mozilla says the goal is to "give webmakers a tool to build and share web pages and also allows them to load in our pre-made project templates with guided content." Mozilla Thimble will launch as a beta in early June, in time for the Summer Code Party campaign.]
A coalition of 30 technology companies hopes to turn the web into a competitive platform for building mobile applications. They have launched a Core Mobile Web Platform (coremob) community group through the W3C to provide a venue for collaborating on next-generation mobile web standards.
Facebook and Mozilla are among the leading members of the group. In an announcement today, Facebook discussed its motivations for participating. The social networking company says users who access Facebook through the mobile website outnumber the collective audience of all Facebook’s native mobile applications.
Facebook consequently wants to ensure its mobile website matches the quality of the experience users get from the native applications. In order to make that possible, open web standards will have to evolve to offer tighter device integration.
Mozilla is also working through W3C to turn the APIs into open standards so they can be supported by other browser vendors. The coremob community group will provide a means for mobile web stakeholders to discuss their technical requirements and help shape the emerging standards.
Facebook also announced the release of Ringmark, a test suite for evaluating the capabilities of mobile web browsers. The tests will help developers make informed decisions about what features they can safely use in various mobile web environments. Facebook hopes such information will help developers contend with the highly fragmented mobile web browser landscape.
The Core Mobile Web Platform community group has announced Ringmark, a test suite for evaluating the capabilities of mobile Web browsers.
The tests consist of two separate “rings” which represent sets of standard web features. The inner ring focuses on fundamentals like support for HTML video, native JSON parsing, CSS animation, and the Canvas element. The second ring includes a broader feature set, such as fullscreen support, touch events, and the device orientation APIs. I ran the test suite on an iPhone 4S, which passed all of the tests in the first ring and 229 of the 306 tests in the second ring.
In addition to Mozilla and Facebook, the coremob community group also includes major mobile network operators, hardware manufacturers, mobile platform vendors, and other web companies. The lineup includes AT&T, Verizon, Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Intel, Microsoft, Opera, Adobe, Netflix, Zynga, Sencha, among others. Conspicuously absent from the list: Apple and Google.
This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.
Mozilla announced today that it has partnered with mobile network operator Telefónica to deliver a complete mobile operating system built around standards-based web technologies. They plan to bring the platform to market later this year on a prototype device that they are developing in collaboration with Qualcomm.
The new operating system, which is called the Open Web Devices (OWD) platform, is based on Mozilla’s Boot2Gecko project. Mozilla launched B2G last year with the aim of building a Linux-based mobile computing environment with an application stack that runs entirely in Gecko, the HTML rendering engine that is used in the Firefox web browser.
According to a statement from Mozilla, Telefónica was already evaluating the feasibility of creating its own web-centric mobile platform when the B2G project was first announced. Telefónica subsequently decided to bring its ideas to B2G and join Mozilla in a cooperative development effort.
Their initial target is to produce devices with smartphone-like capabilities that can be built inexpensively and sold at the price of a common feature phone. Telefónica believes that the unique advantages of a platform built around web technologies will potentially reduce development and production costs, enabling the company to make devices that are a good fit for regions where smartphones have historically been too expensive for widespread adoption.
“From our experience in Latin America we know that a huge part of the market is not being catered for by current smartphones,” said Telefónica Digital product development director Carlos Domingo in a statement. “With new open web devices we will be able to offer a smartphone experience at the right price point for these customers.”
Mozilla has been working with the W3C to turn its new APIs into open standards with the hope that the technology will be embraced by other browser vendors. In today’s announcement, Mozilla revealed that it plans to take this effort one step further by turning the whole OWD platform into an open standard.
“Because of this initiative’s commitment to openness, this reference implementation will be submitted for standardization to W3C,” Mozilla told us in an e-mail. “The objective is that there are no proprietary APIs within the device architecture, making phones developed using it the only truly open devices on the market.”
The initial OWD prototype device will be built around a Qualcomm chipset, but the exact specifications have not yet been disclosed. In light of the focus on low cost, it’s likely that the specs will be modest. Mozilla contends that OWD is lighter than some other mobile platforms because its simple HTML-on-Linux architecture eliminates the need for a lot of the intermediate layers that would otherwise be necessary.
It does seems clear, however, that the extensive use of HTML will help accelerate OWD development and vastly simplify the sort of customizations that mobile network operators typically make. Mozilla was able to get its B2G home screen interface up and running very quickly due to the strengths of HTML as an environment for creating interactive user experiences.
Another question that is left unanswered is which handset manufacturer will actually build the launch device for Telefónica. A number of rumors that have circulated over the past few days suggest that LG will be involved in building the first handset based on the B2G project. It’s possible that LG is involved, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.
This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.
Mozilla has unveiled a new distributed online identity system dubbed Mozilla Persona. The new Persona project is Mozilla’s latest effort to tackle online identity management by shifting the focus from individual websites to the web browser.
Mozilla has been playing with the idea of a browser-based identity manager for quite some time. In 2010 the company launched its Account Manager project, though it failed to gain much traction and was later scrapped.
More recently Mozilla has been working on Browser ID, a similar effort to move the process of managing passwords and online identities to the browser, rather than relying on any particular website’s login process. The Browser ID project offers developers a means of creating a browser-based login system for their sites. The code is available through GitHub and while using it is considerably simpler than similar efforts like OAuth, Browser ID has yet to catch on with many sites.
Mozilla Persona will build on Browser ID’s foundation (Browser ID will continue to be the name of the developer-facing aspect of the protocol), but add in more end user features like “an identity dashboard.” As with Browser ID, Persona will face a chicken and egg problem — why bother supporting Persona when few people are using it, and why bother using it when so few sites support it?
Thus far, aside from the proposed dashboard, Mozilla’s goals for Persona are only vaguely outlined. The closest Mozilla comes to giving it a concrete definition is to say that Persona will consist of “a collection of components and experiences we’re designing to manage the whole of a user’s online identity.”
If you’ve got ideas or opinions about what Persona ought to offer, you can let Mozilla know your thoughts via the mailing list or through Twitter using the #browserid or #mozpersona hash-tags.
For those wondering about the old Personas, the toolbar background images that can be applied to Firefox, fear not, they remain available and Mozilla is already on the hunt for a more fitting name.