Sharing is a big part of the web today and there are countless services to share fun or interesting websites with your friends and even more ways of doing so, share, tweet or like buttons, extensions and so on. But their number is actually a drawback, with so many options, both users and website owners find it hard to make a choice. This is what F1, a new Firefox extension from Mozilla Labs aims to fix.
F1 makes sharing part of the browser rather than something done on a website. This makes a whole lot of sense, users can share any web page they want over any service they want, provided it's supported by Mozilla.
With F1 installed, Firefox 4.0 users will notice a new button on the right of the search box. Hit the button and you'll be able to share the page you're currently visiting on Twitter, Facebook or with Gmail.
A small dialog is displayed enabling you to enter a message and add a recipient, depending on where you're sharing. It really doesn't get any easier than this.
F1 doesn't come with an extensive list of sharing services, but there are several reasons for that. The Mozilla chose these three services since they offer support for OAuth and APIs for sharing content. Gmail also offers a contacts API, so the extension can offer auto-completion for the recipient.
Support for Yahoo Mail was considered at this stage, but the sharing service requires an additional step by asking users to solve a CAPTCHA, so it was not included in the public release.
This is the first iteration of the F1 extension so you can expect support for more services in the future and a larger set of features.
Mozilla has bigger plans for F1 in the long term, it wants to see services communicating with the browser to let it know there is a sharing API available. A standard way of sharing content could also prove very useful.
"The long-term story, however, is that the system should know which sharing service you use, and offer to use those! That will require sharing services to advertise to the browser that they offer a sharing API and the browser to see which services you use," Mozilla said
"Furthermore, sharing is not a standardized activity, so some protocol is likely needed for user agents to offer users the service they want without having to know about all of them," it added.
F1 is in line with Mozilla's overall strategy of making the browser the center of your online experience and the keeper of all your data. The idea is to let users be in control of what they share and how, with websites and services accessing only what they need and what the user wants to share with them.
The Contacts in the Browser
extension, also from Mozilla Labs, is another example of this idea.
Mozilla Labs has been on a roll lately and it seems like the project is really starting to pay off. There have been a couple of interesting extensions
from the Prospector team and the recently launched Lab Kit
is proving a great platform for getting experimental add-ons out there. In fact, F1 comes bundled with Lab Kit and should be automatically installed if you have it.