mozilla tries again with snowl browser messaging The first release of Mozilla’s in-browser messaging/content aggregation client was--at best--a terribly executed extension backed by a good idea and a cool looking logo. 

The new version, released just this week, is a far cry from what it once was. In addition to a ton of bug fixes, Snowl 0.2 supports both incoming and outgoing messages from Twitter, and features a much better looking “river of news” view.

Whoo Whoo, Er, Tweet Tweet! 

Although the folks over at Mozilla claim the intention for Snowl is to be all encompassing, currently its only capabilities are reading feeds and Tweets. Thankfully, it doesn’t do a bad job at enabling either.  Subscribe to an RSS feed or connect to Twitter by feeding Snowl your username and password and your feeds show up right there in your browser in the view of your choice: 

The River View

A slim left hand column will appear in your browser window listing the people you follow and shortcuts to websites. The rest of the browser shows the actual content.

river.jpg

Click on a feed or a user’s Twitter icon to display only their material in the main part of the browser or click on the All icon for a smorgasbord of your favorite content. 

The Stream View

Shortcuts to your RSS feeds and entire tweets will appear in a slim left hand column in your browser window. The rest of the browser is left for you to surf as you please.

stream.jpg

A refresh button is included at the top of the “stream” in case you have a sneaking suspicion that things are going on in your content-verse.

The List View

We’re all familiar with this one - it’s just like an e-mail client. Twitter users and feeds listed in the left hand column, titles of each tweet/article in a horizontal column at the top and the main content viewing window in the remaining.  

list.jpg

It can be a little much to take in at first, but all in all, the view choices are pretty nifty. On top of the ability to tweet directly from your browser, Snowl offers up little search fields in each view. You know, in case there’s something you want to revisit but the thought of browsing through tons of content for it makes you crazy.

The Ideology of Snowl

Like we said, it’s a good idea. Practically a lifestream of all your favorite people on the web right at your fingertips. It’s no wonder the hopes for what it could one day become are so high.

Some of the principles of the Snowl developers are as follows: 

  • Feeds are a transport format, not a feature
  • People and conversations are first-class objects
  • One app can satisfy a broad range of users
  • Searching is better than pre-categorization
  • Browser features are useful for messaging
  • A messaging app is a platform

Not a 0.1 Beta, Not Yet a Fully Functional Version

Some serious bugs have been worked out in this version, including:

  • An updated visual design with platform-specific icons for feeds and people
  • Firefox is more responsive when Snowl is refreshing sources and building views
  • Multiple Twitter accounts no longer occasionally get confused for each other
  • Views update more consistently when messages and sources are added or removed
  • The river and stream views always show messages in the order they were received

That’s all well and good, but this extension is still a ways away from what it’s capable of being. Note to developers: the unsubscribe functionality doesn’t work when it comes to Twitter, customizable aesthetics (like fonts!) would be dandy, as would auto-refresh, and we can't wait for the integration of other popular chat platforms. Thanks!

For more information about Snowl and its future, check out developer Myk Melez’s site.