Aug24'10

Sync in Firefox 4 Beta

As many of you already know, last week we landed Sync for Firefox 4, and I’m really excited that it will be a part of the next Firefox 4 Beta update.

Sync has been on our radar for a very long time. One of the original goals for Places was to enable this type of add-on, and Weave was one of the first Mozilla Labs prototypes released, near the end of 2007. We’ve been through a number of changes since that time, largely focused on building a stable, scalable service. I moved over from the Firefox team just over a year ago to help make it something we could ship to all of our Firefox users.

Sync is important to me as the first step in evolving how users think about and interact with web services. The dominant model for services right now generally involves trading your personal data (who your friends are, the emails you send, the websites you visit) in exchange for useful services (social networking, bookmark sync, etc). For the vast majority of users, the real decision is simply “which company gets my data?”. That’s not really a great definition of choice.

Sync took a different tack, and started off with “what if we didn’t want the data? What if even having that data was a failure state?” That led us to cryptography. Sync uses strong crypto to encode your data before it is uploaded. The secret phrase is the key to this encryption, and we never send that anywhere to keep your data secure. This really means that Mozilla can’t see your data, giving you full control. (Which is great, because we really don’t want it!)

What’s most exciting is that this is just the first step. Services is a new place for Mozilla to compete and help shape the future of the Web. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but getting Sync into Firefox was a great first step. We really hope users love it as much as we do.

Mike Connor, on behalf of the Firefox Sync team

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About the Author

Mike Connor

Mike has been around the Mozilla project for a long time, and has the battle scars to prove it. He joined Mozilla Labs to bring Weave into the real world, and drives the engineering side of Firefox Sync.

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Laboratories are where science and creativity meet to develop, research, and explore new ideas. Mozilla Labs embraces this great tradition - a virtual lab where people come together to create, experiment, and play with new Web innovations and technologies.

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