Mozilla's TowTruck project brings real-time collaboration to websites

A project fresh out of Mozilla Labs should let website owners add customisable Skype-like real-time voice and chat capabilities.


Mozilla has taken the wraps off an early version of TowTruck, a Mozilla Labs project that aims to bring Skype-like collaboration to websites using new real-time capabilities shipping with Firefox and Chrome.

Mozilla Labs yesterday unveiled a proof of concept version of TowTruck that will enable real-time authoring, chat and voice on any webpage simply by adding the TowTruck JavaScript snippet to the site.

Sites with TowTruck enabled would feature a TowTruck icon, which users can click to bring up their user profile. A unique link generated by TowTruck can then be shared with another person to initiate a text or voice dialogue. It currently supports text-based collaboration, but also has options such as a calling icon and a microphone for WebRTC-based Audio Chat in the pipeline.

TowTruck however does not yet support voice calls, or Live Audio chat features, an "experimental feature" that is the product of the WebRTC (Web Real Time Communications) standard, whose participants include Mozilla, Google and Opera.

Read this

Mozilla's Firefox OS eyes mobile domination - with tablets to follow

Mozilla's Firefox OS, shown off at Mobile World Congress, is gaining traction with operators, particularly those in emerging markets, but what does the future hold for the platform?

Read More

Mozilla notes however that Live Audio is supported in its Firefox Nightly build (for developers) and it believes the latest release of Chrome too.

"Sometime in 2013 support for this should be available in new (non-experimental) versions of Firefox, Chrome, and both Firefox and Chrome for Android," Mozilla notes on its Github Live Chat page.

The TowTruck project is working towards broader collaboration capabilities, according to its roadmap, including three-user chat, colours for different participants, the ability to create archives of TowTruck sessions, adding 'sticky' notes to collaboration documents and an excerpt tool.

The features could, for example, be used by a company's customer support team, or parties collaborating on a project. However, some features will be left to website owners to configure: enabling calls to directly be routed to a customer support team would be a matter for website owners to sort out, for example.

Google and Mozilla showed off WebRTC video conferencing capabilities in Firefox and Chrome earlier this year, which aim to provide real-time collaboration capabilities within web apps without the need for plugins.