First look to Mozilla Labs Weave

The door is open again and registration available for Weave, Mozilla Labs’ application for synchronizing Firefox metadata online.

To register, visit Weave User Registration site. You only need to provide a valid email address, a password, proof you’re human (thorugh a CAPTCHA test) and click the activation link you will receive by email.

On activation you will be prompted to install the Weave extension (press Allow in the information bar to authorize which is compatible for Firefox 3 Beta 2 and nightlies.

After restarting Firefox, a Weave welcome page will instruct to click on the status bar icon to sign in. On first run, a wizard appears. Step 1 is an introduction to Weave an a warning on the risks of running alpha software. Step 2 backs up your current bookmarks to the selected location and warns to prepare for some data loss. ” Seriously. We are not kidding.”

Weaver wizard, step 2

On step 3, enter your credentials and create an encryption passphrase to make your data safe to store in the remote server. Once your credentials are verified you are ready to start the first synchronization.

Weaver wizard, step 3

Step 4, is the initial data transfer: bookmarks and history will travel over a secure connection (SSL) to Mozilla’s Weave server. If you already have a Weave account, your local and remote data will be synchronized.

It took a couple of minutes for me which I think is OK considering it included several months of browsing history along with a large collection of bookmarks.

Weaver wizard, step 4

And that’s it. Nothing too dramatic, specially if you have used services like, Google Browser Sync or Foxmarks in the past.

Weave options are conveniently integrated with Firefox window in a new page. Inconveniently, it also adds an item to the Tools menu. (sigh).

Weave advanced options

I then created a new profile, installed Weave, restarted Firefox and signed on to retrieve my previously uploaded data simulating a restore in a different computer. Again it took about a minute or so and then… nothing. At least in my bookmarks. My history however was successfully restored.

I had to delete all my local data (Tools/Options/Weave/Advanced/Reset Client Data) and force a synchronization (Tools/Options/Weave/Data/Sync now) to have my bookmarks back.

I found Weave is smart enough not to import live bookmarks items so you will get them empty and will populate on the next Firefox automatic refresh.

Hiccups and all I think it is a good 0.1 release. Bookmarks and history are just the beginning and I hope everything will be contained in the future: extensions, themes, preferences, advanced preferences, search engines, dictionaries, UI customization including toolbar layout and customized userChrome.css and userContent.css files.

Apparently it will. And not only that but would provide the necessary infrastructure for other extensions to benefit from roaming metadata.

Then comes the sharing factor which should be based on very granular object permission and strong identity management with the necessary interfaces to other online sharing environments. Data privacy is THE angular stone here. Encryption is there. But it is going to demand a dedicated effort to make it clear that the data is secure and how it is secure.

Finally, extensibility. Enough to cater whatever users and developers may come to imagine just in the way Firefox allows this. After all Weave is a child of Firefox extensibility.

Extensibility, sharing and user permission should start appearing on Weave 0.2, early next year.

Weave users are encouraged to join the Weave forum @Mozilla Labs.

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