Mozilla Ubiquity: Is Mozilla building out a different kind of RIA platform?

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.I watched the Mozilla Ubiquity video last night and it struck a chord.

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

I watched the Mozilla Ubiquity video last night and it struck a chord. The crew over at Mozilla Labs is doing some very cool, forward thinking stuff. In the process, I think they're evolving what the browser is into something more of an RIA platform. Rafe over at WebWare makes a couple of good points about Ubiquity and IE8. What's happening to web pages? It seems like they're going away and I think that's a good thing.

The web's page-based model has been slowly dying for a long time. We just don't interact with the web as pages any more. Sure there's a lot of infrastructure built up around that model but we're seeing more and more applications reside in the browser and fewer and fewer actual pages. What pages we do see are mostly related to SEO or content. So why should those static, boring pages continue to exist? Legacy? All that matters is the content on those pages. That's what's so compelling about Ubiquity. It takes those static pages, grabs the content, and allows you to do something useful with it. I'm a huge fan of Microformats and Ubiquity is kind of like Microformats and Greasemonkey on steroids. You get content when and how you want it and you can interact with it in a meaningful way.

As a developer, I think what makes Ubiquity a platform is that people are going to want to create content for it. I don't see they how they could abstract or generalize something like the Yelp example. Just like a lot of startups today are looking to create AIR applications for the desktop, I see the same phenomenon with Ubiquity. You're going to want to expose your content like that to the user. And Ubiquity seems like the closest thing we've got.

So props to the Mozilla Labs team. You're definitely pushing the envelope and I think you're doing a lot to help move the web in a good direction. The more we can abstract the data, the better, richer experiences we can build around that. For some that may be the command line, but it's not hard to see other applications popping up that would put a GUI face on the Ubiquity infrastructure.