Mozilla's Ubquity Mashup Solution Mozilla, the same entity that is responsible for providing us with the Firefox Web browser, is expanding Firefox's wide appeal by offering users the ability to interact and control the browser with a linguistic user interface project called Ubiquity. The point of this project is to allow users to create on-the-fly mashups.Mozilla has had its focus on full-fledged applications like Thunderbird and Firefox over the past few years. While the company has been developing other technologies like Prism and Weave, Ubiquity is certainly a step away from the ordinary. Ironically enough, even though it is something different, it really is not that much of a shock that Mozilla would attempt something like this.

Ubiquity Highlights

Ubiquity lets users create, insert, edit, interact, discover and remix data with and from various internet services. You can even do other interesting things like find out weather information, make mathematical calculations and more. To summarize, it allows you to create mashups -- that is Web 2.0 terminology for essentially using data from various places while making it play nicely together. Ubiquity Screenshot

Ubiquity is also very extendable -- Users can freely locate, install and create new commands to add to Ubiquity's functionality. There is already a place where you can view and install community built commands, and users are free to add their own -- and with time -- more interesting commands are sure to be implemented.

A GUI vs CLI Controversy

Juno, an active member of the development community at Mozilla Labs, explained why he cares so much about linguistic interfaces and Ubiquity:
I want it [Ubiquity] to let me work on an even higher level of abstraction than the Firefox GUI. The email verb should let me shoot off a message to somebody just by specifying who they are and what I want to say to them. I don’t want to have to think about navigating to the page for my webmail, or think about which webmail service I’m using or whether I’m logged into it already or not. The email verb should invisibly handle those details for me as much as possible; it should make smart guesses about what I want, while allowing me to easily override it when it guesses wrong, and it should attempt to improve the accuracy of its guesses over time.
However, some questions have arisen about Ubiquity's usefulness. VioletJoker, a commenter who posted on one of Juno's previous blog entries about Ubiquity, sarcastically stated that he thinks that this project just adds an unnecessary element of additional typing:
What a brilliant idea. Less GUI, more typing. In fact, the same thing applies to scripting languages - why all the clean abstractions, what the programmer really needs is more flexibility, so by extension, we should all develop in machine language. NOT
This person does bring up a great point about the fact that graphical user interfaces were developed to make things less complex and faster. Is it really necessary; will it succeed?

Ubiquity: Hit or Miss

It is far to early to pass judgment, but it is clearly obvious that this project will either be a hit or miss with most people who try it. To be quite honest, this project appears to be more like the Quicksilver of the web browser more than anything else; however, it might be an amazing idea that should have been thought of earlier. Many users might soon find themselves in tranquility while using Ubiquity. If you would like to see Mozilla's thoughts on Ubiquity, see it in action or try it for yourself, check out the Mozilla Labs blog.