Here you'll find weekly news and headlines from Mozilla's Emerging Technologies organization, as shared at Mozilla's Weekly Updates meeting. (If that meeting doesn't occur, which happens occasionally, there won't be corresponding headlines here...)
|2019 ET Headlines|
|Latest: December 2nd, 2019|
|November||4th, 11th, 18th, 25th|
|October||7th, 14th, 21st, 28th|
|September||9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th|
|August||5th, 12th, 19th, 26th|
|July||1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th|
|May||6th, 13th, 20th|
|April||1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th|
|March||4th, 11th, 18th, 25th|
|February||4th, 11th, 25th|
|January||7th, 14th, 28th|
December 2nd, 2019
- Rethinking the Smart Home -- The Mozilla Foundation published a special edition of the Internet Health Report called "Privacy Included: Rethinking the Smart Home", highlighting the increasing importance of privacy and security in today’s world of connected devices. The report is based on conversations with more than two dozen people working from different angles to better the global ecosystem for smart home devices, including members of our ET WebThings team. “Rethinking the Smart Home” is a companion to Mozilla’s 2019 “*Privacy Not Included” buyer’s guide, both designed together to help you shop for safe, secure connected products (just in time for the holidays).
- On The Road Again -- Our Mozilla Developer Roadshow Asia concluded its five city tour on November 20th, having reached 649 developers at events in Tokyo (76 attendees), Seoul (88 attendees) , Taipei (130 attendees), Singapore (135 attendees) and Bangkok (220 registered). The videos aren’t yet available but we’ll let you know when they are. In the meantime check out the latest videos on our new Mozilla Developer YouTube channel, which has garnered over twelve thousand subscribers since its launch in October.
November 25th, 2019
- New Mozilla Developer Portal -- Last Tuesday we (soft) launched the new Mozilla developer portal (http://developer.mozilla.com). The goal is to provide a central place where developers can see everything Mozilla has to offer them and easily get to it. The content pointed to includes Firefox for developers, MDN documentation, and developer-facing content across Mozilla We’ll be measuring impact through reach (traffic) and engagement (number of pages, time on site, clicks to additional content). Plans for 2020 include expanded content hosting (move Mozilla Hacks Blog to the portal), video hosting to offer an alternative to YouTube, and premium content and videos.
- No More Waiting for Async-Await -- In the recent Rust 1.39.0 release async-await syntax hits stable Rust! This work has been a long time in development -- and we are very proud of the end result as support for asynchronous I/O is expected to be an increasingly important part of Rust's story. While this first release of "async-await" is a momentous event, it's also only the beginning. The current support for async-await marks a kind of "Minimum Viable Product" (MVP). We expect to be polishing, improving, and extending it for some time. To get involved in that work, check out the Async Foundations Working Group; if nothing else, you can help us by filing bugs about polish issues or by nominating those bugs that are bothering you the most, to help direct our efforts. Many thanks are due to the people who made async-await a reality.
- Tech Speakers 2020 -- The 2020 Tech Speaker application period has opened! Tech Speakers are volunteer speakers, with varying ranges of public speaking experience, who give technical talks and workshops worldwide on topics aligned with Mozilla products and technologies. We are specifically concentrating on increasing regional representation in Asia (Mandarin speakers in particular) and growing women and non-binary speakers. Please encourage anyone interested to apply!
November 18th, 2019
- You’re Watching Via Hubs, Right? -- Hubs Commons is now live for Monday Project call viewing. Over the past several months we’ve been casually watching the Mozilla project calls in Hubs (and occasionally presenting from Hubs) and starting this week, Hubs Commons is now broadcast alongside the physical office locations and is available for Mozillians to join in. No special hardware required, by the way -- just join us in Firefox. Check out the #et channel on Monday mornings for details!
- Bytecode Alliance Announced -- Last week Mozilla, Intel, RedHat, and Fastly announced a new open source community called the Bytecode Alliance, dedicated to creating new software foundations building on WebAssembly outside the browser. The Bytecode Alliance is committed to establishing a capable, secure platform that allows application developers and service providers to confidently run untrusted code, on any infrastructure, for any operating system or device, leveraging decades of experience doing so inside web browsers. A Code Cartoon post from Lin Clark on the Bytecode Alliance web site details the overall vision, contributions from each participating company, and insight into what’s to come in bringing this exciting new computing model to fruition.
- Mozilla WebThings Gateway 0.10 -- Last week we released an update to Mozilla’s WebThings Gateway. Version 0.10 comes with support for thermostats and smart locks, as well as an updated add-ons system including extensions add-ons that enable developers to extend the Gateway user interface. We’ve also added localization settings so users can customize the Gateway to their locale. Delightfully, though the release has only been out for four days, we already have three localizations contributed by our enthusiastic community members (“Thank you!”). You can read more about it in our Hacks blog post. And we’re happy to note that last week saw the 100,000th download of WebThings Gateway since our first release in February of last year..
November 11th, 2019
- Local Languages First — A major part of our enthusiasm for developing open source speech technologies like our Deep Speech speech recognition engine and Common Voice open data platform is that they can help communities create leading edge voice experiences in the languages that mean most to those communities, not just the ones that represent the largest commercial interests. Te Hiku Media, a non-profit New Zealand organisation, has been a contributing partner in our voice and speech work as part of their commitment to the revitalisation of Māori language and culture. They recently won a thirteen million New Zealand dollar award to build a multilingual natural language processing platform for many languages, starting with te reo Māori — the Māori language. Some of that grant will go to funding additional Deep Speech developers as a component of that platform. Congratulations Te Hiku Media!
- Tech Speakers Meetup — Mozilla Tech Speakers had their second 2019 meetup in Singapore over the weekend of November 2nd and 3rd, with twenty-eight volunteer evangelists from across Asia, Australia, and India (plus a few other countries) getting feedback from coaches on their lightning talks, attending workshops on Voice technologies and Developer tools, and having a professional photo taken for their bios. All those great Tech Speakers talks we hear about every week at the Mozilla Project Call and appreciate so very much take a lot of work behind the scenes to master new technologies, hone speaking skills, and share knowledge across the global Tech Speakers community.
November 4th, 2019
- On The Road in Asia -- Mozilla Developer Roadshow 2019 rolls into several cities in Asia in the month of November and we hope you’ll consider joining us. The Roadshow, organized by our Developer Relations team, is a meetup-style, Mozilla-focused event series for people who build the web. Come hear highlights of the latest and greatest Mozilla and Firefox technologies and the story of how the web continues to democratize opportunities for developers and digital creators. We’ll be in Tokyo next Monday, November 11th, then in Seoul on November 13th, Taipei on November 15th, Singapore on November 18th, and Bangkok on November 20th. All the events are free to attend, but we ask you register in advance as space can be limited. All the details are on the event web page.
- Status Report Gone Viral -- Our speech and machine learning team is part of an EU funded grant to develop neural machine translation capabilities so we can bring automatic language translation of web content to Firefox. We’ve talked about this project before, which is code named “Project Bergamot”. Recently we submitted a mandatory grant status report to the EU, incorporating a very early video demo of German to English translation in Firefox (which we highlighted here three weeks ago) and weren’t prepared for the reaction. At least 30 articles were written in 18 different languages in Europe, South America, and Asia about the project and interest continues to roll in. In case you haven’t seen it, that video demo is here.
- Industry and Academia Collaboration -- The first annual Alliance for Open Media (AOM) Research Symposium happened last week. Many of the companies who participated in AV1 along with a host of top university researchers outlined their work and how it could be used as part of broad, collaborative effort to bring ever more advanced video encoding, playback, and distribution to the world using royalty-free, superior quality technologies. You’ll find the event agenda as well as all the presentation slides and abstracts on the event web site.
October 28th, 2019
- Firefox Reality News -- VR Focus, a Virtual Reality news site, published a video interview from the recent Oculus Connect 6 event with our own Lars Bergstrom, Director of Mixed reality, about the key role the web will continue to play in the growth of VR. Lars highlights trends we’re seeing with users in experiencing the web in VR, the importance of voice input, and new features coming in upcoming releases. Last week we also launched a new version of Firefox Reality for standalone headsets, focused on top bugs but also accompanied by a new Halloween-themed set of content. Happy Halloween!.
- Developer Relations -- Last week was a busy one for Mozilla Hacks blog: Firefox’s New WebSocket Inspector by Jan Honza Odvarko & Harald Kirschner received some of the highest traffic of the year (and some love on Twitter), and Faster Layouts with CSS Grid (and Subgrid!) by Miriam Suzanne reached #1 on Hacker News. Other posts last week included Developing cross-browser extensions with web-ext 3.2.0 by Luca Greco & kumar303. And on the video front, the Mozilla Developer YouTube channel we launched three weeks ago passed 6k subscribers on Friday, picking up some attention from our Developer Newsletter and the Friday Hacks post about CSS subgrid videos (plus promotion on our social channels and other team efforts).
- Events in Hubs - Last week Hubs was excited to host a VR version of the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST). Individuals from around the world were able to not only drop in to live-streams of conference talks in a custom designed Hubs environment, but also attend virtual poster sessions - giving them an opportunity to connect directly with researchers and learn more about their work.
There were a few other exciting public events in Hubs last week, for example, Hubs’ community member Max Krieger launched a VR art gallery in collaboration with @y2k_aesthetic. The environment is a throwback to late 90s and 2000 design trends, and received quite a bit of love on social media.
Today's update is coming to you live from within Hubs. Every week the Hubs team hosts a screening of the project call in the Mozilla Commons. We invite any Mozilla employees interested in joining to find the link in the #ET channel on Slack - no VR headset required.
October 21st, 2019
- Firefox Reality Top Picks -- So you bought yourself a fancy VR headset, you’ve played all the zombie-dragon-laser-kitten-battle games (we have too!) and now you’re wondering… what else is there? Where can I find other cool stuff to explore while I have this headset strapped to my face? We felt the same way, so we built Firefox Reality to help you in your quest for the most interesting VR content on the Web. Firefox Reality Top Picks is the start of what we hope will evolve into a thriving and sustainable ecosystem connecting creators, VR content, and audience. And unlike other browsers that recommend content by mining your data and using AI, the content featured in the Firefox Reality Top Picks menu is curated by real humans. We build relationships with creator communities and scour the Web seeking the best experiences we can find from around the world. If you have or know of an amazing 360 video or interactive experience you’d like our team to consider featuring on Firefox Reality Top Picks, please submit it to us here.
- Mozilla Developer Roadshow -- Want to know what over 400 local developers and designers in Germany & Austria saw when they came to the Mozilla Developer Roadshow in Nuremberg, Munich, Linz, & Vienna? You, too, can watch An Update on Firefox and Mozilla (Ali Spivak), Understanding Modern CSS (Chen Hui Jing), XR in the Browser (Fabien Benetou), Engineering for Privacy in Mixed Reality (Diane Hosfelt), and WebAssembly in the Browser and Beyond (Dan Callahan), plus some short speaker interviews.
- Seal of Recognition -- The Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance (META) brings together researchers, companies, users, and other stakeholders in advancing language technology as a unifying influence for the people and markets of Europe. At META Forum 2019 Mozilla was awarded the META Seal of Recognition 2019 for our work to “enrich a multilingual European society with supportive products and technologies”, including DeepSpeech, Common Voice, and bringing speech to the browser. The award is on display in our Berlin office.
October 14th, 2019
- Automated language translation in Firefox -- The Emerging Technologies Speech/ML team is collaborating via an EU Horizon 2020 grant (code named “Project Bergamot”) to develop neural machine translation capabilities that would allow Firefox to automatically translate content from one language to another. As part of that work we’ve documented our first integration milestone along with code and a video demo to the EU. In the demo you’ll see early results of automatic translation of a German-language mozilla.org page into English, in real-time in Firefox. This is a two year grant, so there’s more work ahead, and more languages to come.
October 7th, 2019
- View Source 2019 -- In its 5th year, Mozilla’s annual web conference, ViewSource 2019, featured talks by Selena Deckelmann (Our Privacy and the Web), Mike Taylor (Browser Compatibility), Kadir Topal (MDN Developer Needs Survey, originally a keynote at W3C TPAC), Mozilla Tech Speakers Ali Spittel & Chen Hui Jing, and panelists Yulia Startsev & Andreas Bovens. View Source also included interactive conversation areas where Mozillians & attendees discussed What’s New in Firefox, Browser Compatibility & Interoperability, the Web Speech API, Mixed Reality Privacy, and MDN Browser Compatibility, among many other topics. There were also audience lightning talks and live podcasts from Command Line Heroes & Voices of VR. Videos of the talks will be posted within a few weeks, but in the meantime you can check out what people had to say on Twitter.
- Mozilla Developer -- Mozilla’s brand-new developer video channel on YouTube launched with a series exploring Firefox Developer Tools and web development. The channel has close to 3k subscribers after its first week, and additional videos will be released weekly.
- From WebVR to WebXR -- Last week’s Oculus Connect event highlighted the many ways the Web is a core part of the VR experience today, as two thirds of Oculus users browse the Web on their VR headset. Web XR is the next generation of VR on the Web, helping fuel that growth, by enabling whole new kinds of augmented reality and mixed reality experiences along with new more portable, sophisticated glasses and devices. Our Brian Peris provided a look into the emergence of WebXR in a presentation at Oculus Connect showcasing our social mixed reality work with Hubs by Mozilla.
September 30th, 2019
- Faster than Realtime -- Mozilla’s Deep Speech speech recognition engine now runs faster than realtime on a single Raspberry Pi 4 (RPi4) core. This means Deep Speech can process ten seconds of spoken voice data in less than ten seconds on a small, inexpensive device like the Raspberry Pi 4. This opens up many possibilities for small-platform speech-to-text (STT) applications. Look for more information soon on how you can get your hands on a copy.
- Simulating Virtual Reality -- Interested in using your web content creation skills to create mixed reality experiences but don’t have a suitable device to use for development and testing? Not a problem. Last week we published an early version of a WebXR API emulator as a browser extension you can install in desktop Firefox or Chrome and responsively run WebXR content without any special headset or controller hardware needed. You’ll find the emulator on AMO at: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/webxr-api-emulator/ and the code is on GitHub.
- AV1 in the News -- Last week we highlighted Mozilla’s AV1 joint software demo with Intel in their booth at IBC Show. We can also report that Broadcom showed AV1 support in hardware at IBC 2019, in the form of a system-on-a-chip (SoC) component designed for satellite, set-top, and IPTV boxes. AV1 support in hardware is a big boost for putting more AV1 content in more consumers hands, worldwide. There’s also a noteworthy update to our rav1e AV1 software encoder with many new features: better rate control, two-pass rate control, and a C-callable API so rav1e, written in Rust, can be used from within C-based applications.
September 23rd, 2019
- MDN in VSCode and Around the World -- Microsoft VSCode, a hugely popular editor for web developers, has added backlinks to MDN in the current version. As developers edit they’ll see “intellisense” auto-completion information with a hoverable highlight that links directly back to the more detailed information on MDN. This makes it easy for developers to get right to relevant information on MDN without interrupting their workflow. And speaking of MDN, you might be interested to know that a deep dive into MDN demographics shows 16.6% of its users visit from the United States, 9% India, 7.5% China, 5.5% Japan, and 4.4% France. (Brazil, Germany, Russia, UK, and Canada round out the top 10).
- Aligning Text and Speech -- In order to properly train speech recognition engines like Deep Speech you need audio data of spoken voices aligned with accurate text translations so you can decisively link the spoken utterances with the words being spoken. While such aligned data sets are rare, there is an abundance of recorded speech with accurate associated transcripts, they’re just not properly aligned. That’s why we’re building Deep Speech Aligner, which uses machine learning and Deep Speech STT itself to do the alignment and synthesize new trainable data sets. Last week we tested the Aligner by creating a 2.5k hour English speech corpus from data licensed, for free, from National Public Radio. This opens up the possibility of efficiently obtaining large speech data sets with little invested in the way of time and money.
- Open Source Codecs are Transforming Online Video -- blog post.
September 16th, 2019
- Weekly project call in Hubs - Today's update is coming to you live from within Hubs' virtual meeting space. Every week the Hubs team hosts a screening of the Project Call in the Mozilla Commons. Come celebrate the team's achievements and latest updates together with us in VR. We invite any Mozilla employees interested in joining to find the link in the #ET channel on Slack - no VR headset required.
- Hubs on television -- Last week, eNCA, a 24 hours news channel in South Africa, held the first televised interview in a virtual space hosted in Hubs. The team from SingularityU South Africa, who was hosting the interview and demo, did a great job and had some amazing avatar and scene customizations, showing off the many ways Hubs can be used for different groups and purposes. The same group also held the first virtual press conference that we’re aware of in Hubs.
- Firefox Reality 1.4 Launch! -- MozVR blog post, including hints about more new features coming soon. You’ll find Firefox Reality 1.4 in the Viveport and Oculus stores.
- MDN and Caniuse Team Up -- caniuse.com and the caniuse project, and last week we announced those two efforts would be joining forces. Now all Caniuse search results will include MDN compatibilitty data, adding our over 10,000 data tables to the 500 available on caniuse.com. More information on how this collaboration works and our datasets will continue to work and grow together is in our post on Mozilla’s Hacks Blog.
September 9th, 2019
- Diversifying Voice Recognition -- Our Kelly Davis was interviewed by The Next Web for a story entitled “How Mozilla is Crowdsourcing Speech to Diversify Voice Recognition”, highlighting our work on Mozilla’s Common Voice project. The article highlights that while voice control is the future of human-machine interaction, its innovative potential is widely untapped because developers, researchers, and startups around the globe working on voice-recognition technology face one problem alike: a lack of publicly available voice data in their respective language to train speech-to-text engines. That’s why Mozilla’s Common Voice and Deep Speech projects, along with other “non-corporate” community efforts, are so important.
- Social VR Updates -- Our Social VR team has pushed a couple of updates including enhancing Spoke, our tool for creating 3D social spaces for Hubs, so it supports multi-object editing and project loading improvements. Also, if you’re left handed you might be pleased to hear we’ve added support for left-handed controller configurations to Hubs!
- Reminder/Request -- ViewSource 2019 begins three weeks from today with lots of great speakers and talks about the shape of the web and the web platform (which we'll record so you can watch them any time). Love to have you there, and/or to help us spread the word via social media, blogs, and developer conversations you may have between now and then. Details on speakers, venue, hotels and more are all on the web site. Thanks!
August 26th, 2019
- WebAssembly Interface Types -- This week we took another important step in enabling WebAssembly outside the browser by publishing a proposal that lets other programming languages easily incorporate WebAssembly modules into applications. This gives languages like Python, Ruby, and Rust the beneficial advantages of WebAssembly -- easier sharing of native code across platforms while at the same time running that native code in a secure sandbox and avoiding having to compile it on every user’s device. We’ve also shared an implementation of that proposal, known as WebAssembly Interface Types, so developers can see how it works and also start experimenting with it. You can read all about it in Lin Clark’s post on our Mozilla Hacks Blog, complete with helpful Code Cartoons.
- Event Updates -- Mozilla Developer Roadshow is in Germany and Austria from August 26-29 (that's this week!) and has over 400 attendees registered for the events! Roadshows are free, meet-up style events where Mozilla speakers share our emerging technologies and Firefox updates with local developers and designers. Meanwhile, View Source Conference Amsterdam registration is still open. Our robust two day program covers the web platform with great speakers, interactive “Conversation Corners”, live podcasts and demos. You can follow along viva our View Source Twitter feed, and also retweet to help us spread the news.
- Technology and Protest -- Jofish Kaye and Janice Tsai are co-authors with Hanlin Li, Nicholas Vincent and Brent Hecht of Northwestern on a paper accepted at the Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) conference, entitled "How Do People Change Their Technology Use in Protest?: Understanding 'Protest Users'", which explores how people boycott and otherwise change their use of technology companies’ products in protest of their policies. A key finding is that in 2019, 30% of US-based survey respondents told us that they were protesting technology companies by changing their usage patterns in at least some way, up from 9% in our 2017 survey.) Overall, 48% of respondents indicated that they were either active or potential protest users; a major roadblock is lack of alternative products. Among active protest users, the most commonly reported motivations were concerns about business models that profit from user data and concerns about privacy.
August 19th, 2019
- Better Browser Compatibility Data --
- Rust 1.37.0 Released -- The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.37.0. Highlights include support for vendoring dependencies so they can be copied for reference locally; the ability to declare a default binary in a multi-binary crate and PGO—profile guided optimization—which can meaningfully speed up resulting code. PGO is especially interesting as it allows the compiler to optimize code based on feedback from real workloads. It works by compiling the program to optimize in two steps -- a first run against sample data to generate a profile, and a second build using that profile data to make better decisions about code placement, inlining, and other optimizations. Also, we'd like to thank two new sponsors of Rust's infrastructure who provided the resources needed to make Rust 1.37.0 happen: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
August 12th, 2019
- Mozilla Text to Speech -- Last but not least there’s me, that voice in your ear. Recently I was compared, by actual humans, against voices from Google, Apple, Microsoft, Voicery, and Amazon. Also, real human voices were in the competition too. I don’t mean to brag, but I beat out all the synthetic voices and almost all the humans. I know Kelly, for one, welcomes our new computer overlords as you should too.
August 5th, 2019
- Mile High Video -- caught the attention of the broadcast industry with a live encoding and streaming demo of AV1 into all four major browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Safari) at the Mile High Video workshop sponsored by Comcast and NBCUniversal. For Firefox (x86 and ARM), Chrome and Edge (dev build w/ Chromium) this was easy since AV1 is natively supported with the dav1d decoder. In Safari, which has no AV1 support, real-time play back was achieved using a WASM build of dav1d! Try it yourself here! This marks a major milestone for video on the web and is particularly important to broadcasters who primarily ship H.264 (in significant and growing amounts), as our own Nathan Egge described in his presentation to the industry heavyweights in attendance.
- Reality Update -- We launched Firefox Reality on the Oculus Quest, to good press response. We have seen a nearly 33% increase in DAU due to this launch and additional press and other updates around the launch and the similarly-timed 1.3 release. For Hubs, we recently published our July update to the Mixed Reality blog, which highlights a variety of new features such as enhanced permissions, moderator tools, and a spectator camera. Over the last several months we’ve seen more people using Hubs to host meetups with their communities using Discord and Twitter -- these new features are primarily focused on increasing safety and quality of experience for these kinds of events with semi-trusted audiences.
July 29th, 2019
- Wireless Routers Too -- In April we announced that the Mozilla IoT team was evolving WebThings Gateway into a full software distribution for consumer wireless routers as our way of providing a trusted agent for the smart, connected home. This week, with the 0.9 release, we’re happy to make available the first experimental builds for our first target router hardware, the Turris Omnia. These builds are based on the open source OpenWrt operating system and feature a new first-time setup experience enabling you to configure the Gateway as a router and Wi-Fi access point itself rather than connecting to an existing Wi-Fi network. Basic router configuration is just our first step along the path to a full software distribution for wireless routers. We’re not ready to replace your existing wireless router yet. We also continue to support the existing Raspbian-based builds for the Raspberry Pi. In fact, the 0.9 release is the first version of WebThings Gateway to support the new Raspberry Pi 4. You can now find a handy download link on the official Raspberry Pi website as well as our Mozilla project page.
- Hubs and Firefox Reality Updates -- Hubs by Mozilla has added additional moderation tools, allowing public sharing of links and content without worries about toxic interactions in Social VR. In addition to a growing number public meetups, academic meetings, educational settings, and enterprise usage, we’re seeing Hubs growing really well and several commercial use cases emerging. In addition to Hubs updates, Firefox Reality version 1.3 has been released and is now available in HTC Viveport, Oculus Go Store, Google Play Store, and, for the first time, in Oculus Quest Store . This release focus on performance and stability, and includes key fixes aimed at providing richer Firefox Telemetry.
- Rust at Microsoft -- Rust’s global adoption, growth and popularity are increasingly visible in the news these days, but recently some extra attention surfaced when Microsoft announced they thought Rust was “the best alternative to C and C++” and were actively exploring its widespread use. Of particular note from their blog posts was analysis by their Security Research team showing that over the last twelve years 70% of all their software patches were to address memory vulnerability bugs, hence their strong motivation towards adopting Rust as a memory safe language.
July 22nd, 2019
- New Developer Roadshows -- The next set of Mozilla Developer Roadshow events will focus on outreach to German and Austrian developers. We will be kicking off on 26th August in Nuremberg and following over the next three days with events in Munich, Linz and Vienna. Four events in four days! Five speakers will cover What's New at Mozilla, WebAssembly, Mixed Reality, and CSS layouts with Firefox DevTools. You can register for any of those events through links on the Developer Roadshow web page.
- WebThings Gateway via Raspberry Pi dot Org --- Thanks to a connection through MozFest and our respective communities, Mozilla WebThings Gateway is now listed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation as an available operating system for the Raspberry Pi. If you visit their official download page, as most people do when they get a new Raspberry Pi, you’ll see WebThings Gateway along with offerings from Ubuntu, Microsoft and Oracle, and can click through to our download page to grab an installable system image.
July 15th, 2019
- #1 Developer Program -- Every year SlashData, an industry analyst firm focused on the developer economy, conducts a global survey of over 20,000 developers to benchmark the performance of developer programs and understand what drives developer satisfaction. They’ve just announced publication of the most recent results in their SlashData Developer Program Benchmark Report H2 2018 (reports come out 5-6 months after the targeted range). Mozilla was the number one developer program in five categories, including Documentation and Blogs/Newsletters, and made significant gains in developer program engagement and satisfaction. Quoting from the awards recap, “...arguably the most spectacular jump in performance, is Mozilla. Mozilla’s engagement has risen consistently over the past five surveys, from 37% in Q2 2016 to 56% in Q4 2018. Developer satisfaction with Mozilla has similarly jumped from -10 to +15 over that period.”
- Sign Up! --- Tickets for Mozilla’s View Source Conference, September 30-October 1 in Amsterdam, are now on sale, and the event schedule with speakers and topics is live on the web site. In addition to talks, panels and demos, two popular podcasts will be recording episodes live on-site. View Source Amsterdam was formed in collaboration with our friends at Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and W3C to provide a dive deeper dive into the workings of the web.
July 8th, 2019
- Get Together on Hubs -- Why not have your next community meet-up in VR using Hubs by Mozilla? We’re seeing a growing number of groups do that and on a regular basis too. As as example, Spatial Assembly, a community that focuses on sensory design and spatial computing, has hosted several such sessions since May gathering about 30 attendees at their most recent event to discuss the AR cloud. Hubs is all about helping bring people together and you don’t need any special VR gear to take part, so feel free to give it a try or drop by our Hubs Discord channel and ask us how to get started! If you’re curious, you can watch a video of the most recent Spatial Assembly meet-up and see what it’s like.
- Mozilla Research Grant Results -- We are very happy to announce the results of our Mozilla Research Grants for the first half of 2019. This was an extremely competitive process, seeking proposals addressing twelve strategic priorities for the internet and for Mozilla including better support for integrating Tor in the browser, understanding ad preference controls, using speech on mobile phones in India, and alternatives to advertising for funding the internet. We had 84 responses, and our awards went to 12 excellent researchers — 4 women, 8 men — at 11 institutions in three countries — the US, Ireland, and India. Over 130K people saw our award announcements and 5k people came to the web site to learn more. Our research grants benefit Mozilla's Resilience and the internet as a whole across a wide range of impacts - simple outputs (papers, talks), strategic guidance and code contributions, and larger scale impacts like building our own behaviors, influencing the research ecosystem, building relationships with academia, and demonstrating our commitment to inclusive innovation.
- Hardware AV1 -- We’ve talked a lot about AV1 and our work both to provide decoding support in Firefox as well as encoding software support with content partners like Vimeo. Last week AOMedia member Realtek announced the first hardware-based support for AV1 aimed at 4K UHD content SoC that does 4k UHD AV1 decoding for set top boxes. Watch for more hardware announcements in the future.
July 1st, 2019
- Big Apple Video 2019 -- Last week Mozilla and Vimeo co-hosted Big Apple Video in New York City, gathering over 100 people in person plus about 1000 remotely around the world to talk about the state of the art in video technologies. This included the ability for remote questions (including completely anonymous questions) which made engagement very high. BAV2019 featured eight highly technical talks by industry leaders from Intel, Cisco, Twitch, YouTube and more. All the presentations are on-line (in high-quality video, naturally). Response and interest were strong, Vimeo and Cisco announced AV1 support around the event, and there’s already talk of arranging another one in the future.
- IndieWeb Summit 2019 -- The ninth annual IndieWeb Summit took place this past weekend, hosted at Mozilla’s office in Portland. It was the largest IndieWeb Summit thus far, with over 50 attendees from around the world plus remote participation via Zoom and Twitch. Like the many IndieWebCamps the community organizes globally, IndieWeb Summit gathered web creators of all kinds, to discuss and advance the independent web. The first day featured five inspiring and deeply human keynotes covering a range of topics from growth of the peer-to-peer web, changing online identity, building for inclusivity, and using mobile personal site apps & services instead of surveillance social media.Technical leaders collaborated to advance topics such as private posts, social discovery, and continuing to make it easier for more people to participate. Keep an eye out for upcoming IndieWebCamps in Oxford, Amsterdam, Brighton, and more. Join the movement. (And the 2020 IndieWeb Summit will be June 27-28 also in Portland, so save the dates)
June 10th, 2019
- Mozilla Research Grants -- Our Mozilla Research Grants funding series just closed its 2019H1 call for proposals on May 31st. We received 83 submissions prior to that deadline, which continues to reflect the strong interest we’ve seen with our research grant collaborations over the last several grant series. The next step is for our proposal review team to consider all those submissions and choose 12 winners across our 12 Research Questions (in three categorical areas -- Growing the Web, New Interaction Modes, and Privacy & Security).
- Spreading the Good Word about AV1 -- You’ve heard us talk more lately about AV1 and our video codec work in ET in part because we have a goal this year to facilitate adoption of our royalty-free video technology, but even more so because we’re now shipping AV1 in Firefox including the latest high-performance codec. Still, it’s a bit of an exotic, less familiar technology, even to us. (Perceptual Vector Quantization??). Our Nathan Egge gave a great talk at last week’s Video Tech NYC meetup that helps demystify AV1, including taking a “Mythbusters” approach to dispell some of the misconceptions you might have heard about bringing high-quality video to everyone on the web.
- ET Lightning Talks at Whistler -- For those of you who’ll be attending our All Hands in Whistler next week we’ll be hosting our traditional ET Lighting Talks on Wednesday afternoon, given folks in ET a chance to talk briefly about what they and their teams are working on. Love to have you join us, and it’s right before the All Hands demos session so you can enjoy the talks and then go hands-on with some of our work. If you aren’t at our All Hands we’ll work out how to share those talks and demos afterwards, perhaps through this meeting.
June 3rd, 2019
- WebAssembly Outside the Browser -- Back in April we announced WASI, the “WebAssembly System Interface”, as part of introducing the idea of running WebAssembly (WASM) outside the browser. Interest in WASM and WASM outside the browser continues to grow, as was evidenced by the large crowd in attendance at the WASM meetup in San Francisco, hosted by Docker. Still, WASM can be a bit hard to get your brain around, so you if you’re curious you might want to watch a talk Dan Gohman gave at last week’s meet up, providing a lot more background and explanation about WebAssembly, WASI, and why there’s so much excitement (like from the Docker folks who hosted the meetup.)
- Augmented World Expo-- AWE (Augmented World Expo) is the world’s most essential AR+VR conference and expo, with annual dates in the USA, Asia, Israel and Europe, as well as meetup chapters around the world. The tenth anniversary AWE event took place last week in Santa Clara, CA and featured our own Sean White and Tony Parisi on stage together talking about the past, present and future of the 3D web. Video of that session should be available soon, and we’ll keep you posted.
- Quick Public Service Announcement -- It’s come to be the time of year where conferences, meetups, hackathons, camps, and lots of other events are happening. We know this is true because a bunch of us in Emerging Technologies (including Sean) are suddenly out on the road, fitting as much as we can around our upcoming Whistler All Hands. Our DevRel sponsorship team often gets complimentary tickets to events which we’d like to share with you all. That’s why you’ve started to see us list those events here in the Project Call each week, with a link to the request form in case you’d be interested in taking advantage of any of those free tickets.
May 20th, 2019
- Spoke, Now on the Web -- Spoke, the editor that lets you create 3D scenes for use in Hubs, is now available as a fully featured web app. When we the beta for Spoke back in October it was the first step towards making the process of creating social VR spaces easier for everyone. At Mozilla, we believe in the power of the web, and it was a natural decision for us to make Spoke more widely available by making the editor entirely available online - no downloads required. Check out the team’s MozVR blog post on the new web app version, which shows a few great examples of the spaces you can create with Spoke and gives you more info on getting started.
- Big Apple Video -- More than ever, video is how people consume content and share their stories with the world. At 80% of all internet traffic, understanding the process of video creation and distribution is essential to building cutting-edge products and services that democratize video across the globe. Mozilla and Vimeo's announced “Big Apple Video” a day of detailed talks on state-of-the-art video technology we’re co-hosting at Vimeo’s New York City headquarters on June 26, 2019. If you’re curious but can’t make it, the talks will all be streamed on-line so you can register and attend remotely. Watch for updates on the event agenda, guest speakers, and more.
- Mozilla WebThings at Maker Faire --
May 13th, 2019
- Firefox Reality Update -- Firefox Reality version 1.2 is out this week. Our browser for the 2D and 3D immersive web on standalone virtual reality headsets now features support for the just-announced next-generation devices from Oculus and HTC, and major new support for text entry in Chinese and several European scripts.
- WebThings at Maker Faire -- Look for our Mozilla WebThings team at Bay Area Maker Faire on May 17-19. We’ll have a booth and be showing off our latest Gateway release along with a variety of clever ways folks have used the WebThings Framework to build smart, connected devices for the web. If you’re at Maker Faire come see us and if not keep an eye on @MozillaIoT on Twitter for news and photos from the team.
- View Source 2019 -- Save the date! Join us for our fifth View Source conference in Amsterdam in September 30th to October 1st. This year, we are expanding View Source to bring you a deeper dive into how browser vendors and others create and support web standards, as well as best practices for implementing standards for the web. At View Source we'll feature visionary speakers, discussion areas, and Q&A with engineers from Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and others, and provide opportunities to connect with and learn from like-minded people in a collaborative, inclusive environment. More details will be forthcoming, and you can sign up on the site to be notified.
May 6th, 2019
- Impromptu Wizardry -- At Smashing Conference San Francisco, our own Jen Simmons live coded a design given to her in the moment - no safety net, no preparation! Sight unseen she received a snapshot of a stylish two-page magazine article layout, the embedded images, and the article plain text, and asked to build it as a web page using CSS Grid. In addition to doing it, she provided color commentary in her analysis of the layout, thinking about the design, and showcased the power of Firefox developer tools. It’s an hour of amazing creativity, expertise and talent, which you can watch on video (and read the subsequent buzz and feedback).
- Firefox Reality Steaming Along -- Mozilla is working with Valve to bring the immersive web to Steam VR. Mozilla will bring a desktop version of Firefox Reality to Steam. You’ll be able to install it from a new web dashboard button and launch a browser window over any OpenVR experience. You’ll be able to tweet or chat or any of your other favorite web activities without leaving the immersive experience. Also, your cookies and bookmarks will be synced with your Firefox account so you won’t have to log in twice.
- Our Latest Research Grants -- Mozilla Research Grants 2019H1 are open for applications. For this funding series we are only looking for proposals that answer any of a list of twelve specific research questions sourced from colleagues across Mozilla and which we’ve grouped into three categories: Growing the Web, New Interaction Modes, and Privacy & Security. The proposal deadline is May 31. Please pass along our questions to your research networks!
- Mozilla WebThings Gateway Update -- Hacks blog post, grab the download from the project page, or join the community conversation on Discourse.
April 29th, 2019
- Mozilla WebThings -- After two years of development and seven quarterly software updates that have generated significant interest from the developer & maker community, “Project Things” is graduating from its early experimental phase and from now on will be known as “Mozilla WebThings”. That change in naming coincided with the latest release of what is now known as our “WebThings Gateway”, introducing new features like interactive graphs of accumulated data, alarms, and enhanced network configuration. In addition to continuing to support RaspberryPi, WebThings Gateway will also soon be available built on OpenWRT, aimed at consumer routers. And response has been great, with lots of views of our Hacks blog post and press pick up from eWeek, SD Times and more.
- More Than Coders -- Lately the Rust compiler team has been changing the way they work, with a goal of making it easier for people to track the work that’s happening and to get more involved with the Rust project. That might sound like something intended for programmers, but Niko Matsakis’ blog post describes how the team is taking a much broader approach to engaging interested community members in ways that go far beyond coding. A new “working group” approach seeks to engage writers, communicators, coordinators, and more, and also to enable occasional involvement so people can contribute even if just a few hours now and then. If that sounds interesting to you, check out Niko’s post for more info.
- IndieWeb Events -- You often hear news from IndieWebCamps here at our weekly Project Meeting and perhaps you’d like like to attend one. Registration is now open for upcoming Camps in Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Utrecht, as well as for the ninth annual IndieWeb Summit we’ll be hosting at our office in Portland. (We’re hosting the Berlin Camp, too.) You can always keep up with what’s going on in the community via the IndieWeb Weekly Update.
April 22nd, 2019
- Hubs integration with Discord -- Our Mixed Reality team announced integration between Hubs, our social virtual community space, and Discord -- a popular platform that provides text and voice chat for communities. We’ve been using Discord ourselves to engage with our community around Firefox Reality and Hubs, so it seemed natural to bring the two more closely together. The Hubs Discord integration allows members to use their Discord identity to connect to Hubs and brings Discord channels into Hubs rooms to capture the text chat, photos taken, and media shared between users in each space. In this way Discord becomes part of your shared virtual experience in Hubs, and Hubs allows extended interaction and sharing for Discord communities through social VR. Read more in Liv Erickson’s post on our Mixed Reality Blog.
- Developer Roadshow 2019 -- Our Developer Relations team announced Mozilla Developer Roadshow 2019, a meetup-style, Mozilla-focused event for people who build the web. Our previous Roadshow organized 55 events around the world in 2017. This year’s series is back to tell the story of how the web continues to democratize opportunities for developers and digital creators, and kicks off with events in New York and Los Angeles with additional sessions planned in Europe and Asia Pacific. Keep an eye on the Roadshow website for more details on topics and speakers, and when an event will be near you.
- Building a machine to help us fix Bugs -- Mozilla receives hundreds of bug reports and feature requests from Firefox users every day. Figuring out how to properly get them to the right person so they can be addressed long been a manual process, which we call “Bug Triage”. Our Firefox Release Management team wondered if we could use software to help that process along and so built BugBug, a machine learning tool that analyses new bug reports and automatically assigns them so they can get addressed. Trained on over 100,000 bugs and initially deployed in late February, BugBug has now triaged around 350 bugs and reduced the typical week-long manual assignment effort to a median time of two days. You can read more about BugBug and what’s next in Marco and Sylvestre’s Hacks Blog post.
April 15th, 2019
- Most Loved, Again -- Every year StackOverflow surveys the developer community and this year nearly 90,000 respondents answered questions about everything from their favorite technologies to their job preferences. For the fourth year in a row, Rust was their most loved programming language, reflecting the impact and engagement Rust continues to gain as more developers use (and love!) it and more companies put it into production.
- Most Loved, Surprisingly -- We love that Rust was again named most loved programming language in the StackOverflow survey, but perhaps you weren’t surprised by that. What probably will surprise you, though, is that the fifth most loved programming language (after Rust, Python, Typescript and Kotlin) was WebAssembly! You might argue that WebAssembly isn’t even a programming language, but clearly developers love as if it were, and we take that to mean there’s huge excitement about using WebAssembly both inside and outside the browser.
- AV1 at NAB -- Last week was NAB Show, the National Association of Broadcasters annual event, billed as “the ultimate event event for media, entertainment and technology professionals looking for new and innovative ways to create, manage, deliver and monetize content on any platform.” Mozilla was there, along with our AOMedia partners, sharing what’s new with our AV1 royalty free codec including both ongoing implementation progress and rapidly growing adoption. Press coverage was great too. AV1 shipped in Firefox 65 in January, with performance enhancements coming in Firefox 67 (now in Beta).
April 8th, 2019
- VR Where You Might Not Expect It (Part 1) -- IEEE recently hosted the fourth workshop on K-12+ embodied learning through virtual and augmented reality (KELVAR) and Blair MacIntyre from our Mixed Reality team gave the keynote. Entitled “Reshaping Learning Environments with Immersive Technology”, Blair’s talk showed how VR can provide focused learning experiences at all ages, based on his own work with students around two projects -- face-to-face class interactions using AR and enhanced online social experiences using VR.
- VR Where You Might Not Expect It (Part 2) -- Diane Hosfelt presented Mozilla’s position at IEEE’s first ever workshop on ethics in VR (“EVR”). The goal of the workshop was to bring together researchers and technologists to discuss VR-specific ethical frameworks for representation of people, distribution of content, removing financial barriers for consumption as in education and training, and social behavior in social VR. Enriching the ongoing explosion in VR content with attention to responsible rating, critique, and distribution of that content is needed in order to elevate the medium of VR to maturity -- all things we’re understandably passionate about.
- Follow-on Interest in WASI -- Last week we mentioned Mozilla’s role in forming and announcing WASI -- the WebAssembly System Interface -- to bring WebAssembly outside the browser. Interest in WASI since then has been strong, with over 34,000 page views of Lin Clark’s Hacks blog post and broad press coverage from The Register, ComputerWorld and HTML.it. There was also a lot of conversation on Twitter including a tweet from Solomon Hykes, founder of Docker, saying if WASM+WASI had existed in 2008 he wouldn’t have needed to create Docker. If you’re curious about WASI, watch the overview and demo video on YouTube.
April 1st, 2019
- Mentoring and Networking -- Mozilla San Francisco hosted the CGX Mentors Lounge event as part of the annual Games Developers Conference (GDC). We had 96 attendees onsite, 65% identified themselves as women (at a game developers’ event!), and 35 industry leaders & engineers served as mentors in one-on-one sessions exploring all areas of game development across leadership, tech, creative, and industry initiatives. Videos of the event along with comments from participants are available on the Mentors Lounge web site.
- WebAssembly Outside the Browser -- This past week Mozilla, along with Fastly, Node, and NPM announced WASI, the WebAssembly System Interface, as a standards effort to enable use of WebAssembly outside the browser. WASI, along with a WebAssembly runtime like Mozilla’s Wasmtime, enables developers to get all the benefits of WebAssembly -- speed, efficiency, portability, and security -- for broad deployment across operating system environments. You can read more about it in Lin Clark’s Hacks blog post including some video of WASI and Wasmtime in action.
- Rust Governance -- The Rust project announced a Governance Working Group. With now close to 5000 lifetime contributors and over 100 active project members, Rust has grown to become one of the larger FOSS projects. The Governance Working Group is designed to make the workings of the Rust project more predictable and transparent by examining, documenting, and proposing improvements to some of the policies and procedures used to run it. If you’re interested there will be opportunities to get involved in some of the topical subteams, so stay tuned.
March 25th, 2019
- Breathing While Speaking -- Last week we highlighted recent work our Machine Learning Group has done to integrate a new realistic-sounding human-like voice in our text-to-speech engine, which hopefully you had a chance to listen to. This week we can share a further update on the quality of our speech synthesis, adding the ability to emulate when humans breathe while talking. Listen here after the word “voice” and see what you think.
- Horizon 2020 Grant - The Machine Learning Group, in partnership with 4 European universities (Edinburgh, Sheffield, Charles, and Tartu), secured a 3 million Euro grant from the EU to produce an open neural machine translation engine to translate between all 24 of the official EU languages. This grant, Project Bergamot, also funds extending Firefox with this engine. In addition, the translation engine will run on-device, enhancing users’ privacy and security, as their sensitive documents need not be sent to a server that’s out of their control.
March 18th, 2019
- Iodide -- In the last 10 years, there has been an explosion of interest in “scientific computing” and “data science”, triggering a renaissance in programming languages, tools, and techniques that help scientists and researchers explore and understand data and scientific concepts, and to communicate their findings. But to date, very few tools have focused on helping scientists gain unfiltered access to the full communication potential of modern web browsers. That’s all changing thanks to Iodide, an experimental tool meant to help scientists write beautiful interactive documents that can contain graphics, 3D plots, VR, and other interactive data displays all using standard web technologies and all within an iterative workflow that will be familiar to many scientists. You really have to see what Iodide can do to fully appreciate it, which is why Brendan Colloran’s Hacks blog post is a must read.
- Faster Behind The Scenes -- In order for you to enjoy watching high-quality, royalty-free video on the web someone, somewhere has to encode it. AV1 is still very new, though, and work on the initial release focused on making playback fast. Over the last six months, though, some great work has happened to make encoding much faster -- about twelve times faster according to a recent performance test published by StreamingMedia.com. That gets AV1 into the range where it’s worthwhile for streaming sites with large audiences, like many of the companies behind the Alliance for Open Media that produced AV1, so expect to see a lot more online content using in the near term. Meanwhile, teams continue to work on making the encoder faster yet, as well as getting playback support in ever more software and even in hardware.
- How Does It Sound? -- In experimenting with new ways of generating realistic-sounding human-like voice our DeepSpeech team has implemented a specialized recurring neural network technique called “WaveRNN”, and produced a sample you can listen to to see what you think. Check it out at https://soundcloud.com/kelly-jay-davis/wavernn-tts-integration-results, and keep in mind the audio you’re listening to was produced by our text-to-speech engine based entirely on a string of input text.
March 11th, 2019
- Fearless Security (part 3) -- Diane Hosfelt published part 3 of the blog series about security and safety in Rust, this time talking about the real world impact of rewriting a browser component in Rust -- specifically the Quantum CSS (“Stylo”) project. While Quantum CSS resulted from a need to improve Firefox page performance, using Rust allowed substantial improvements in security as a happy byproduct, and Diane takes a detailed look at security bugs that would and would not have been prevented by Rust. It’s the most-read post on our Hacks blog so far this year.
- The Benefits of Being Local -- Our ML & Speech team submitted a pull request to integrate Deep Speech into Firefox Reality via the androidspeech library Firefox Reality uses to do speech recognition. Bringing Deep Speech to Firefox Reality means we’ll be able to do on-device speech-to-text completely within the VR experience rather than depend on sending voice data off to the cloud to be processed. That brings us one big step closer to full local processing for mixed reality.
- Free for Everyone, and Now the Largest Too-- Last week Mozilla, led by our Open Innovation team, released Common Voice 2.0, the largest to-date public domain transcribed voice dataset -- now encompassing 18 different languages representing 1400 hours of recorded speech from 42,000 contributors. You can read more in the team’s blog post including the exceptional diversity in languages and language data. There was lots of great press pickup too, as in the first three days there were 150 different articles written about Common Voice 2.0, published in eighteen different countries. We’re far from done, though, as data is being actively collected in over seventy additional languages thanks to continued extraordinary community involvement.
March 4th, 2019
- Firefox Reality for Hololens 2 -- Last week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Microsoft announced its partnership with us to bring Firefox Reality to the Hololens 2! The prototype, expected to be complete this summer, will work on the original HoloLens as well as HoloLens 2. And, while Reality won’t be the only browser for HoloLens, the announcement signals a larger commitment to openness by Microsoft. Importantly, the move continues Mozilla’s momentum bringing the immersive web to a variety of platforms and devices. In December, our Mixed Reality team released a preview version of Firefox Reality for the Magic Leap One AR device; and at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we announced Firefox Reality as the default for all HTC Vive headsets. Great press coverage all around, many thanks to BD and Marketing!
- Immersive 360 Video -- We recently highlighted that Firefox Reality added a cinema mode to maximize enjoyment of video entertainment in VR, but you may not know our Mixed Reality team curates a steady stream of great 360 videos you can access directly through Firefox Reality. You’ll find all sorts of great new content showcased every week like the Apollo 17 moonwalk, tour of the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan, The Batmersive Lego Batman experience, and creative features like “Crow: The Legend” and the “Water Bear” series. And you can play “Jingle Smash”, the WebVR game our DevRel team built as a way of showing developers how to craft interactive experiences in VR.
- Hubs Tips & Content Search -- Last week brought a number of big improvements to Hubs. First, we’ve added support for Google Cardboard to “peek into” rooms using your phone and a low cost cardboard headset -- this was a common request from folks who were looking to use Hubs in contexts with minimal access to VR hardware yet, like in schools. Last week we also added the ability to search the web for content to add into your rooms without leaving the app. This makes it possible to quickly surface and share web content “at the speed of thought”, which we’ve found to a be powerful and fun way to communicate. Finally, now, when you visit Hubs, you’ll be greeted with some onboarding tips which will teach you all the tips and tricks about getting around, sharing media, and connecting with others. If you’ve tried Hubs before and were scratching your head a bit about how it all worked, these new tips should help a lot with getting started. We’d encourage you to take Hubs for another spin!
February 25th, 2019
- Fearless Security (part 2) -- Diane Hosfelt published the second in her three part “Fearless Security Hacks blog series on Hacks, this time on thread safety -- highlighting ways to design programs and use languages to make it easier to write concurrent code. Not totally surprisingly, this leads to a great discussion of how Rust manages concurrency, making fearless security a lot more accessible to programmers. You can also read part one, and should stay tuned for part 3 to come...
- Inside AV1 -- Tim Terryberry’s AV1 talk at Linux Conference Australia was picked up by “The Broadcast Knowledge” a website dedicated to showcasing freely available information on the broadcast industry. As a result a much wider audience watched the video, and now know more about AV1 and how it works. Check it out if you’re curious about AV1 and high-quality royalty-free video on the web.
- Ruby to Rust -- Deliveroo, a British online food delivery company, recently rearchitected the Dispatcher service that predicts and schedules the routes of all their drivers, transitioning it from Ruby to Rust. They’ve published a detailed blog post about the challenges that led them to rewrite Dispatcher, why they chose Rust, how they interconnected Rust with the rest of their Ruby services and did the Rust build out incrementally, and the 17x performance improvement they’ve seen in the core computational parts of Dispatcher as a result.
February 11th, 2019
- MDN PAB -- The MDN Product Advisory Board met in New York January 17th & 18th, discussing the Browser Compatibility project on MDN, the upcoming Developer Needs survey, and the joint developer event (View Source) planned for September in Amsterdam among other topics. You can view the complete meeting notes on the MDN PAB github repo.
- FOSDEM -- FOSDEM is one of the largest free, open source developer events anywhere (if not the largest) and we had several folks attending/presenting, including Mitchell Baker who was there to keynote (“FLOSS, the Internet, and the Future”). We also hosted the Mozilla room, an all-day (with no breaks!) set of short talks on topics we thought developers would find interesting. Slides and video are available on-line.
- Computing History, and Future -- Bryan Cantrill, one of the best-known systems programmers (and the CTO at Joyent), gave a talk investigating whether operating systems should be written in Rust. In contemplating this question Brian explores the definition and (fairly long) history of “operating system” and observations on system software as we know it today. His conclusion is exciting: he argues for rewriting the most low-level parts of a computer’s software stack in Rust.
February 4th, 2019
- Tech Speakers 2019 -- We’ve completed the selection process for the newest group of Mozilla Tech Speakers, which started back in Q4 before the holidays. There were 275 applications from which we accepted 51 people into the program (50 confirmed). The new cohort is 55% women and spans 23 countries. We’ll be onboarding the new speakers in eight groups over the next month or two. Look for more Tech Speakers out in the world near you, and turning up all over social media and the web.
- Web Assembly post-MVP -- Lin Clark and Till Schneidereit gave a talk about the future of WebAssembly, with a focus on out-of-browser use cases, at ForwardJS and at the inaugural meeting of the WebAssembly SF Meetup -- filling SF Commons to capacity! (There were 135 pre-registered attendees, in fact!) It was great seeing that much community interest in WebAssembly and what’s coming next. If you missed the event you can see Till & Lin's talk in our Hacks YouTube channel. Stay tuned for more info from Lin, Till and the team.
- Enabling Inclusive Development -- You’ve heard us talk about our XR Studio project, which provided mentoring, resources, and a collaboration space for women interested in machine learning and mixed reality. Miriam and our Strategic Foresight Team have built and released the Inclusive Development Space Toolkit v1, sharing learnings from XR Studio and paving the way for future cohorts to create similar studios that can include all our areas of exploration. The toolkit release was promoted at Sundance, and you should take a look if you or someone near you is interested in starting up something similar.
January 28th, 2019
- Project Things 0.7 Release -- Last week Mozilla’s IoT team released version 0.7 of our Things Gateway, adding support for a range of new devices including video cameras, and temperature and lead sensors. Using our rules engine you can now create rules to take action when your house is too warm or cold, or there’s a leak in the basement, and use an image or streaming video to see what’s going on. Check out Ben Francis’ Hacks blog post for all the details, and some insights into what the team will be working on next.
- Movie Night Comes To Hubs -- Hubs by Mozilla, our new way of sharing content and experiences on line, has added support for watching video streams (e.g., Twitch, YouTube Live, Crunchyroll) with your friends. VR meetings are certainly awesome, but why not have your next movie night with people everywhere, and in a virtual theater you can build and share. Oh, and Firefox Reality passed 19k monthly average users (MAU).
- Build Your First VR Project -- Our first Developer Outreach video project of 2019 went live on our YouTube channel this week, featuring Josh Marinacci in a series of seven short tutorials to help anyone and everyone build a simple VR project in their browser. All the code and assets are available so you can follow along at home as Josh shows you how to build an interactive, immersive birthday card (with music!) in VR. Check out the Hacks blog post for more details.
January 14th, 2019
- Firefox Reality By Default -- HTC and Mozilla announced jointly at CES that Firefox Reality will be the default browser for Vive and Vive Pro headsets, significantly extending our reach into the desktop or “tethered” VR market to much press applause. HTC's Vive Pro is a new virtual reality headset designed to deliver premium VR experiences through greater display resolution and integrated eye tracking, making possible a a nifty rendering technique called “foveated rendering”. Firefox Reality will be built in by default to deliver those enhanced experiences.
- Love The Web? So Do We! -- Our weekly Developer Newsletter continues to grow, having exceeded our overall 2018 goal by 15% and now reaches over 300,000 subscribers. Each edition brings you coding techniques and best practices, MDN updates, info about emerging technologies, developer tools tips, and more. If you haven’t already, we’d love to have you sign up and join us.
- ARVR Women Futurist in Residence Program -- ARVR Women, an online network and real-world meetup focused on increasing representation and multicultural leadership in Virtual and Augmented Reality, announced its Futurist in Residence program to develop on Hololens 2 and Magic Leap. One third of the group is composed of alumni from Mozilla’s XR Studio program, and the Futurist in Residence program builds on that tradition by providing access to AR/VR technologies and funding residencies to further communication, education, and professional growth. You can find out more about the group and get involved at https://arvrwomen.com/
January 7th, 2019
- Rust News -- The Rust team revamped the official website. It’s now much more geared to high-level descriptions of Rust’s core strengths, and should be more approachable to decision makers in addition to individuals interest in programming languages. In particular, now with Rust 2018, the answer to “Why Rust?” is all about performance, reliability and productivity. And the website also talks about how to get involved with the Rust community, so check it out and come join us.
- Rust in 2019 -- With the new year, it’s also time to be part of the Rust community’s efforts to explore what’s next. In particular the team published a call for blog posts about ideas and needs. We did this a year ago and saw over 100 posts from folks all over the word and which meaningfully impacted decisions around the Rust language, so are keen to hear what people think for 2019.
- Bringing Rust to the Web -- In the first year of its existence, the Rust/Wasm Working Group received contributions from 207 people, mainly from the Rust and the web development communities. This shows the intense interest both these communities have in using Rust to target the web.
- Hacks’ Top 10 of 2018 -- Check out Havi Hoffman’s retrospective on our Mozilla Hacks Blogs with the ten most read posts in 2018. It'll link you to all those articles, so it's easy to recap and relive the year.
December 17th, 2018
- Firefox Reality 1.1 shipped -- Firefox Reality 1.1 is now available for download in the Viveport, Oculus, and Daydream app stores. This release includes some major new features, including localization to seven new languages (Mandarin - simplified and traditional, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean) including voice search support, a new dedicated theater viewing mode, bookmarks, 360 video support, and significant improvements to the performance and quality of our user interface.
- Winning Clubhouses -- Last month Sketchfab and Mozilla announced a VR Clubhouse Design Challenge to encourage creation of visually rich virtual reality meeting rooms compatible with our Hubs by Mozilla social VR environment. The design challenge has ended and our panel of judges has selected the winners. You should definitely check them out via the announcement post on Sketchfab’s blog, as the top three were a multi-story wizards library, a beautiful tea house with dragon fountain and scroll library, and a sprawling playground with numerous interactive games like bowling and checkers. The Honorable Mentions are awesome too (including the Space Smuggler Pirate Clubhouse). Amazing!!
- Rust 2018 released -- Rust 2018, the first major edition since Rust 1.0 shipped in 2015, launched last week with an emphasis on productivity, including tooling, documentation networking, web assembly, and devices. The Rust 2018 feature set came through an extensive survey of the Rust community and active developers.
November 26th, 2018
- Eight IndieWebCamps Completed in 2018 -- This month we hosted IndieWebCamp at our Berlin office, the eighth city in this year’s series of global grass-roots BarCamps helping individuals take back their data and online experience from the content silos. By bringing users, designers, and developers together, we helped accelerate the adoption of decentralized web standards, from Webmention which broke the 1 million mark at the start of this year, to emerging building blocks like Microsub which enabled the launch of new mobile social readers that put users in control, instead of advertisers & algorithms. And you too can become part of the movement at an IndieWebCamp near you as we have at least eight planned for 2019 along with the monthly HomeBrew Website meetups we help host.
- Tech Speakers 2019 -- The applications period for the next round of our Mozilla Tech Speakers program closed on November 22nd (last Tuesday). We had 200 applicants submitted from outstanding candidates representing 41 countries. We appreciate everyone’s interest, and will let you know how the selection process proceeds!
- Firefox Reality Update -- As we close in on our 1.1 release, we’ve not only landed bookmarks support and a UI completely rebuilt for performance and visual fidelity, but also localized voice and text for 7 additional languages. Thanks to everyone from the l10n team who has pitched in to make that happen! Make sure to try out Firefox Reality, the rest of our AR and VR projects, and everything else we’re doing in ET during the demos session next week in Orlando.
November 19th, 2018
- First from XR Studio -- The first product developed by a participant in our XR Studio program launched last week: "Spot the Surveillance" from EFF rockstar Laura Schatzkin, who taught herself A-Frame over the summer! Spot the Surveillance, which works best with a VR headset but will also work on standard browsers, places users in a 360-degree street scene in San Francisco. In the scene, a young resident is in an encounter with police. Users are challenged to identify surveillance tools by looking around the scene. The experience takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. For access to the VR experience and instructions on its use go here.
- Kupu Hohonu -- New Zealand’s Te Hiku Radio received $500k of funding to develop speech-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities for Te Reo Māori (The Maori Language of the indigenous people of New Zealand). They are training Deep Speech using their collection of 1,300 speakers and over 193,000 recordings totaling over 300 hours of audio, and already getting state of the art results. They plan to contribute back data and code to the Deep Speech project.
November 12th, 2018
- Virtual Clubhouse Competition -- Mozilla is partnering with Sketchfab in sponsoring a competition to encourage creative design of personalized virtual reality meeting rooms (or perhaps better yet, “clubhouses”) for Hubs by Mozilla. The idea is to generate a rich range of customizable social VR spaces to which anyone could then add artwork, videos, or even other Sketchfab models. More details on the competition as well as some great examples are available via the Sketchfab blog. In the meantime you can also build your own spaces for Hubs using the Spoke tool we launched last month.
- Become a Tech Speaker! -- Mozilla’s Tech Speakers program brings together talented, trained volunteer contributors who can present at conferences, organize workshops and trainings, and mentor others on technologies driving the open web. We provided training, speaking opportunities, and funding, and have seen fabulous impact not only in reaching new audiences but in helping our Tech Speakers broaden their reach. (And you hear about them every week in our Project Call). We’re now accepting applications for our next cohort of Tech Speakers, so if you’re interested or know someone who is, please take a look at the online application. And Havi Hoffman’s case study of the Mozilla Tech Speaker program just appeared in Mary Thengvall’s The Business Value of Developer Relations book.
November 5th, 2018
- Relive View Source 2018 -- Mozilla’s View Source conference took place on Friday, October 26th in London as part of the larger sweep of events during MozFest week. We had a sold-out audience of 175 attendees and a great all-day agenda of nine exciting, informative speakers (plus some awesome short lightning talks). If you weren’t able to join us in person you can still have nearly the full View Source experience by watching recorded videos of each presentation on YouTube (with availability on AirMo coming soon).
- Rust update -- Rust 1.30.0 was released. This is the last stable release before Rust 2018 Edition. The two biggest changes are significant additions to the macro system, including custom attribute-like and function-like macros; and improvements to how the module system handles extern crates. As for most big changes as part of the Rust 2018 Edition, these changes help make the language more consistent, expressive, and approachable to new users.
October 29th, 2018
- The Future of and with Web Assembly -- Firefox was the first browser to ship WebAssembly support back in March 2017, and adoption has been fast and widespread. All that popularity and visibility doesn’t mean today’s WebAssembly is fully evolved, though. There’s a rich roadmap of coming features, which will unlock more powerful achievements on the web as well as for applications and tools broadly. You can get a glimpse of that grand future through Lin Clark’s latest Hacks blog post, which describes what’s to come for Web Assembly in the form of an ever more powerful skill tree, as if in a video game (and in unique Code Cartoons style). There’s a lot to read and learn, but that’s because the potential for WebAssembly is enormous, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
- Following The Arch -- We’ve talked about the WebAssembly Arch before, our interactive, bus-sized art installation containing 30,000 WebAssembly-powered LEDs that visitors can control through simple Rust programs. It made an appearance two weeks ago as a main-entrance centerpiece at the GitHub Universe event in San Francisco, and was immensely popular with attendees. And we’ve heard there’s some chance the Arch might be putting in an appearance at our All Hands in Orlando, so keep your fingers crossed (and think about what you might do with 30,000 programmable LEDs).
- More Servo Magic -- Servo now loads and displays 2D web content on Magic Leap AR headsets, continuing our drive to build basic browser functionality for all headset types and to bring the rich range of existing web content into the world of mixed reality. This also provides a foundation to explore and prototype new web standards and new browser UX, UI, and security concerns targeting mixed reality environments. Any enthusiasts with access to a Magic Leap SDK and the Servo source code can give it a try.
October 22nd, 2018
- Hubs and Spoke -- Last week we launched Spoke (https://hubs.mozilla.com/spoke), a tool that lets you design and build your own personal social space for use with Hubs. Hopefully you’ve tried Hubs, our new way to get people together using Virtual Reality, and in doing so have thought about how great it’d be to construct your own personal world and equip it with whatever strikes your fancy. Spoke makes that easy, including acquiring all sorts of ready-made scenes, furnishings, animal companions, and more by adding existing 3D models from Sketchfab. There’s a great getting started video that will have you up and running in five minutes. (Though you can spend a lot more time than that if you’d like to get creative.) Indulge yourself, and share it with your friends!
- View Source 2018 -- This coming Friday (Oct 26) we’re hosting Mozilla’s fourth View Source event, which will take place in London as part of the overall week of activities associated with MozFest. View Source is an intimate, single-track conference for front-end web developers and designers, and we’re excited about the great range of speakers who’ll be there. Hopefully you already have your ticket as we’re sold out, though you can still come join us for MozFest. https://events.mozilla.org/viewsource2018.
October 15th, 2018
- Close Conversation is the Future of Social VR -- Most user studies depend on participants doing their best to carry out a task designed and requested by a researcher. Our Hubs project team just published a usability study in which users invited to explore social virtual reality mostly ignored instructions and just started goofing off with each other once they entered the immersive space. Delightfully, that helped us see how people found that space to be natural, private, personal, and fun. We’ve begun a redesign of the Hubs experience based on these findings, which you can check out for yourself (or better yet, with a friend) at https://hubs.mozilla.com.
- Listen to your Pocket -- Pocket 7.0 shipped this past week and with a new reader capability powered by technology from ET’s Scout project, including generating the audio server-side so we have much more control and higher-quality voices. In fact, can you tell which voice is human and which is generated by our Text To Speech model? We bet you can’t, but either way you should definitely give Pocket 7.0 a try.
- Your Home, Your Data -- Version 0.6.0 of Things Gateway by Mozilla was released by our Project Things team with a special focus home monitoring capabilities that let you keep an eye on the state of your home over the web. Version 0.6 adds support for door sensors, motion sensors and customisable push notifications and a wider range of Apple HomeKit devices, as well as general robustness improvements and better error reporting. Everything a connected home needs, but no monthly fees, your private data stays in your home by default, and you can choose from a variety of sensors from different brands.
October 8th, 2018
- MDN Revenue Experiment Launch -- This past week we launched our first MDN revenue experiment, seeking direct support from our users in order to accelerate growth of MDN Web Docs content and platform. After some gentle tests with beta users we ramped up to 1% of the general MDN audience (selected by random sample), showing them a promotional box in the footer of MDN. There’s also a direct payments page if you’d like to take part in the experiment with us.
- You should watch more videos! -- YouTube has started to encode content in AV1, which works well in Firefox Nightly. You’ll need to enable AV1 playback in nightly but there’s information on the YouTube page about how to do that. Spend some time and check it out!
- Firefox Reality Update -- We’ve continued to see solid interest in Firefox Realty. Seven days after launch we’re at 1.5k DAU, 9.3k WAU, 10k+ total installs, >50k sessions. Firefox Reality is one of the top 5 free apps in the Oculus Go store. In this market, those are excellent numbers. Also, Mozilla Hubs now has a camera tool for capturing and socially sharing pictures of your experiences in VR.
October 1st, 2018
- Faster with WebAssembly, and with Firefox -- Folks at Unity published new results of their Unity WebGL benchmark, this time done using WebAssembly to see how performance compares to previous testing using asm.js. You can read all the details in their blog post, which concluded overall that modern browsers load faster and perform better thanks to WebAssembly, and that developers can expect a more consistent user experience for web content. Moreover, they found Firefox to be the fastest browser in nearly all benchmark scenes and on both Windows and MacOS.
- Debugging Reality -- One week after the Firefox Reality launch we have over 3k downloads (a significant portion of the total daily active users (DAU) on standalone VR headsets today!) and continued good press. And if you’re one of those developers interested in delivering content through VR you should check out Josh Marinacci’s post on remote debugging in WebVR using Firefox Developer Tools.
- Rust in Space -- The 2019 IEEE International Conference on Space Mission Challenges for Information Technology (SMC-IT) has issued its call for papers, including soliciting presentations on Rust in real-time and spacecraft systems as well as on WebAssembly for space applications.
September 24th, 2018
- Firefox Reality ships! -- Firefox Reality passed final review and was released last Tuesday, September 18 on Google, Oculus, and HTC VR stores. Response has been great -- we’ve spotted 94 articles in nine countries, 3.6 million impressions of our launch tweet, and our announcement video has had 40,000 views and become the number one watched video on the Mozilla YouTube channel this year, all in just in the first 3 days! Our Mixed Reality team put a lot of effort into designing a browser that really works for virtual reality, leading to features like full speech input for searching the web, a feed of amazing VR content integrated into the Firefox Reality home screen, and private browsing enabled by default. And we’re already seeing that work pay off in the reaction to those features from users around the world.
- Tech Speakers Meetup --
- DeepSpeech v0.2 release -- Last week the Machine Learning team released DeepSpeech v0.2. The main new feature is streaming support, which lets users transcribe audio live, as it's being recorded. It also includes much lower CPU and memory utilization, and it's our first release that included Common Voice data in the training! We published Streaming RNNs in TensorFlow on Hacks detailing the changes and improvements.
September 17th, 2018
- On The Road With AV1 -- IBC 2018 show in Amsterdam, which is billed as “The world's most influential media, entertainment & technology show”. They’re there showcasing AV1 with our Alliance for Open Media partners Bitmoovin and VideoLAN, highlighting media creation and playback products that support AV1, including Firefox. That day when we’ll have high-quality royalty free video on the web is coming soon, very soon...
- Rich and Beautiful -- Firefox 62 launched on September 5th and among the many cool new features are two designed to enable richer page layouts and more beautiful use of typography -- CSS Shapes and CSS Variable Fonts respectively. We’ve published two posts (CSS Shapes, CSS Variable Fonts) on our Hacks Blog to tell you much more about how to use those new capabilities in your web content, including lots of great examples. And Firefox 62 includes a nifty Shape Path Editor tool to make shaping and flowing text even easier. Give them a try!
September 10th, 2018
- Special Learning Edition - It’s back to school time here in North America and probably lots of the rest of the northern hemisphere too so perhaps that’s why “learning” seems to have worked out to be a recurring theme for our ET headlines this week.
- Learning about Rust -- It’s great to hear how other developers, teams, and companies have built new products and product ideas in Rust, and in that process what their learning experiences have been. Some great, illuminating and educational examples:
- After his talk on Rust explorations at Joyent from a few weeks ago, Node.js co-conspirator and generally highly influential systems engineering personality Bryan Cantrill published his first production Rust code, and gave another talk about it.
- Rust Language Server is a background resource for IDEs, editors, and other active development tools, intended to make it easy for them to support creating and building applications (and crates) with Rust. Nick Cameron explains what 1.0 means for the Rust Language Server, and what the future looks like.
- Automattic’s Ivan Enderlin explains how Wordpress use a combination of Rust and Binaryen to bring their Rust parser for their new modern blog post format to older browsers.
- Catherine West’s keynote at RustConf 2018 provides fabulous insight into why Rust (and the Entity-Component-System pattern) is great for game development, and can help you get started building that video game you’ve always wanted to create: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKLntZcp27M
- Learning about the “DWeb” -- More and more these days we’re hearing talk about “decentralizing” the Web, broadly inclusive of significant personal and policy questions as well as some very interesting technical challenges. We’re publishing a series of articles on our Hacks Blog to help introduce those topics and some of the innovative developers working to address them, which we think you’ll find informative:
- Learning by Listening -- Our Project Things team recently reached out to developers who’ve downloaded our Things Gateway, asking them to give us some feedback viv a survey. This will help us vet aspects of our adoption hypotheses with different audiences: Firefox users, leading-edge makers, and representative samples of conscious choosers and general population in the US and the UK. If you’re one of those folks and receive the survey, we very much appreciate you spending a few minutes to fill it out. And if not, then it’ll only take about the same amount of time for you to download the Things Gateway and learn what all the excitement is about.
August 27th, 2018
- Media Meets Social Mixed Reality -- Hubs by Mozilla, our experiment to bring social mixed reality to the browser, officially launched a new set of media tools, allowing users to share images, video, 3D models, and any content from anywhere on the web with others in a Hubs room simply by pasting a link. You can also upload files and share them, so the next time you need to review code or a slide presentation with colleagues why not do it together in mixed reality‽ Check our blog post for all the details.
- World’s Best Summarizer on Newsroom data set -- If you haven’t had a chance to see our summer intern Rishi Bommasani’s Automatic Summarizer work yet, check out his presentation slides. You can also see an example of summarizations of long and short articles.
- Saving millions of dollars with Rust and WebAssembly -- Read a report (via Twitter) on how a long established, very large (and somewhat old school) Fortune 500 insurance company saved millions of dollars by moving costly computation from the server to browser clients using WebAssembly, thanks in large part to the initiative of one of their internal developers. Oh, and it only took them about two weeks to go from idea to deployable solution.
- Would You Like To Take A Survey? -- The 2018 Rust language survey is out and we’d love to hear from you whether you use Rust or not. The survey is available in 14 languages, and in the first 24 hours we’ve had more responses (3100) than we had for the 2016 survey overall (and about 25% in languages other than English). Please feel free to share the survey link with friends, developer colleagues, at meetups, and broadly around your communities. Thanks!
August 20th, 2018
- Gigabit Community Celebration -- In 2014 Mozilla, the National Science Foundation, and US Ignite launched the Gigabit Community Fund to invest in bringing gigabit networking services to five pilot cities around the US. -- Eugene, Oregon; Austin, Texas; Lafayette, Louisiana; Kansas City, Missouri; and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Over those four years innovators, educators, community leaders, and volunteers have demonstrated just what a 250X increase in internet speed can mean when paired with technologies like VR, IoT, and streaming/recorded video. This past week representatives of those communities along with US Ignite and NSF gathered with us and other Mozillians in Mountain View to celebrate the end of that program. The celebration showcased how what’s been accomplished has strengthened and transformed those cities through the impact of technologies we've been working on at Mozilla, and has led to opportunities for new collaborations with us in ET in areas like augmented reality, machine learning and speech.
- Designing for Social Good -- The Boost VC podcast, hosted by venture capitalist Adam Draper, just aired an episode featuring our very own Sean White. Boost VC focuses on emerging technologies through conversations with industry leaders so was an ideal setting for Sean (whom Adam called “The Tony Stark of Mozilla”). You can listen to the episode and hear how Sean and Adam talk about Mozilla’s work in user agency, augmented reality, social VR, on-line identity, collaborating with the Tech Museum, and the future of human/computer interaction.
August 13th, 2018
- The Presence of Rust in the World -- We often talk about the growing buzz around Rust in the trade press and on social media, but it’s good now and then to step back and talk about the growth of usage and see how broadly people are incorporating Rust into what they’re doing. Jonathan Turner’s recent blog post does just that, highlighting Rust’s continued exceptional usage both as direct evidence (repos, pull requests, company showcases) and indirect use such in job listings and community meetups. That perspective is timely given last week’s the informative blog post on Rust 2018 as the first major update to the language since 1.0 shipped in 2015. Rust 2018 will be released on December 6, 2018.
- Control, At Your Fingertips -- Consistently across the coverage of last week’s Project Things 0.5 release in both tech press and maker press was the special attention paid to the new, experimental “Smart Assistant” functionality that lets you interact with the gateway and control devices either through spoken instructions or through a chat-style interface in which you type in commands in and the Smart Assistant carries them out and replies conversationally. Combined with the enhanced rules engine that lets you easily create your own situational triggers and have your devices predictably interact with each other, Things Gateway 0.5 provides a powerful and totally open platform for building behaviors and putting you in command of your devices, all the while keeping your data private and safe. Oh, and it’s fun to have and use.
August 6th, 2018
- AV1 and codec news -- The official 1.0.0 release version of the market-redefining AV1 codec is now available in Firefox Nightly and on all platforms! (Make sure to toggle the pref media.av1.enabled to true in about:config.) There’s not a lot of content yet so stay tuned, and in the meantime you can watch this clip.) Also, our Daala team landed support for CDEF (Constrainted Directional Enhancement Filter) in the rav1e AV1 encoder, which is particularly noteworthy because it is written entirely in Rust. CDEF is a feature Mozilla contributed to improve the video quality of AV1.
- Things Gateway 0.5 Release -- Our Project Things team released version 0.5 of the Things Gateway last Thursday, which is packed full of new features including customisable devices, a more powerful rules engine, an interactive floorplan and an experimental smart assistant you can talk to. There’s been lots of buzz on social media and in the trade press, and 300 downloads in just the first few days. If you haven’t tried it yet, grab a Raspberry Pi, install the software, and watch as Things Gateway discovers the smart devices around you and helps you get the most out of them.
- Decentralizing the Web -- Last week the Decentralized Web Summit took place in San Francisco, bringing together innovators, policy makers, and entrepreneurs to talk about rethinking and reapplying technologies to “lock the web open” and create the web we truly want (and deserve). Mozilla was well represented through talks, sessions, a keynote by Mitchell Baker, and a hands-on hackathon we hosted at Mozilla’s San Francisco office. Learn more about our efforts through our blog post, and follow along for more as the work continues.
July 30th, 2018
- Announcing View Source 2018 -- View Source, Mozilla’s one-day, intimate, single-track conference for front-end developers and designers, will be taking place on October 26th in London, and the web site has just gone live at https://events.mozilla.org/viewsource2018 with the program and logistical details. That happens to be the day before MozFest (https://mozillafestival.org/), so why not plan to come join us in London for both events?!‽
- Take Control of 30,000 colored LEDs -- In June, Mozilla collaborated with an artist named Ian Brill to create an installation called the “Arch” at JSConf EU in Berlin. This interactive environment allowed people to experience the intersection of art and technology in a physical, pulsating, immersive way, and to control that experience through web technologies including Rust and WebAssembly. Check out the video and post on our Hacks Blog to see the Arch in action, and watch for it to make an appearance at future events.
- New Tools and Techniques -- The Rust/Web Assembly working group has been busy, but then there’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm around Rust and Web Assembly these days. They’ve adopted and announced an RFC process similar to the one Rust itself uses, but lighter-weight. This will help ensure that the group’s work is focused on solving real-world issues and make it easier for implementers and stakeholders to coordinate.. And they’ve published new versions of several important tools -- wasm-pack for publishing Wasm modules to npm package manager, the Twiggy code size profiler, and the wee-alloc memory allocator.
July 23rd, 2018
- All The Things and More -- Interest in Mozilla’s Project Things has been phenomenal throughout the first half of the year, and in fact we’ve passed ten thousand downloads of our Things Gateway software which was our initial goal for all of 2018. A new software update is coming soon, with more cool features (and an updated download goal for 2018, too).
- Growing The Library -- We’ve won an NSF grant to support a PhD student in working on Deep Speech at Mozilla, focusing on adding support languages with limited existing speech engine support such as Welsh and Catalan. The grant will also let us get started on a few other languages we’ve wanted to enable but haven’t yet collected open data on -- such as German (which just launched). You can keep track and contribute on the Common Voice languages page: https://voice.mozilla.org/en/languages.
- Hands-On Decentralization - If you’re attending the Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco August 1-2 or if you’re based in the Bay Area, you might be interested in attending a hackathon Tantek Çelik and Dietrich Ayala from our Developer Outreach team are hosting in our SF office on Tuesday, July 31st. We’d like anyone who wants to come discuss, brainstorm, or go hands-on with on any and all decentralized / distributed / indieweb technologies to join us for the day. More details and RSVP info is at https://indieweb.org/2018/SF.
July 16th, 2018
- Reality, Feature Complete -- Firefox Reality has just added support for Immersive WebVR content, reaching V1 feature complete. The team will be heading into a testing and bug fixing phase for the next few weeks as we prep for a wider beta release. Next Wednesday, the 25th, Nancy Hang will have headsets on-hand in the Mountain View office for a lunchtime bugbash - along with the first print run of stickers with the new logo!
- Mozilla Research Grants - Our review team, after much deliberation, chose eight projects out of over 115 applications for the 2018H1 Mozilla Research Grants, including projects to improve Firefox, help us address harassment, make better synthesized speech and improve security for the Web of Things. We award grants each half-year and have seen a growing number of incredibly relevant, impressive proposals. Congratulations to the recipients and thanks to all the submitters for introducing us to so many strong ideas and Mozilla-aligned research programs.
- Faster Firefox With WebAssembly -- We worked with the creators of the PSPDFKIT WebAssembly benchmark before they publicly released results for all browsers. Based on our feedback they changed the benchmark in forward-looking ways which also resulted in Firefox even more decisively beating other browsers, being twice as fast as the nearest competitor.
July 9th, 2018
- Rust News -- Microsoft announced its first project in Rust, the IoT Edge Security Daemon, which is part of Azure IoT -- services and solutions designed to enable end-to-end IoT applications on Azure. While just an initial step, the code is already available on Github and reflects Microsoft’s recognition of the high value of Rust for safety, security and stability.
- Rust News, Part Deux - Also in Rust news, the official "The Rust Programming Language" book is now published and available on Amazon both in print form and as an eBook. It’s currently the #1 book in Software Development and is the perfect companion to “Programming Rust” (which was published back in December).
- Bringing it to the Web -- Our Mixed Reality team launched the 1.4.0 update of our WebVR exporter tool for Unity. Sixty percent of all AR and VR content is built using Unity, so WebVR export allows all those assets to be easily incorporated in virtual experiences on the web. Check out the Mixed Reality Blog for more information including weekly updates on Firefox Reality.
July 2nd, 2018
- Two Million and (Still) Growing -- Our Mozilla Hacks blog and Layout Land video sites are now at over 2 million users for the year! Celebrate by becoming one of them (if you haven’t already), and check out this video on the shape editor Jen published during our San Francisco All Hands.
- Let’s Get Smaller -- At Dropbox, file compression is not just a good idea it’s essential, and even a 1% improvement in efficiency can have a huge impact on their business. This past week Dropbox announced DivANS, a new compression architecture designed around a modular series of stages with open interfaces and an open intermediate representation format, aimed at enabling community innovation and inspired by modern programming languages. Dropbox chose to build DivANS in Rust, citing its speed, reliability and productivity, and runs via WebAssembly to allow it to be embedded in a web page. Early results show compression savings of 2.5% - 12% on representative Dropbox datasets.
- More Languages -- Our Deep Speech team is working on new speech-to-text (STT) engines that are being trained with the data rolling in from Common Voice, which just recently started collecting samples in Turkish, Tatar, Breton, and Chuvash. Samples can now be recorded and validated in fourteen different languages with forty three more under development. More details on the languages supported and in progress are on the Common Voice web site at https://voice.mozilla.org/en/languages.
June 25th, 2018
- Privacy and the Internet of Things - Project Things and the Web of Things working group were featured in a nice piece from Samsung’s developer blog, continuing a series of articles and presentations from them reflecting their excitement about our Project Gateway. This particular post highlights the growing implications of data privacy in the IoT world as the realities of GDPR work their way through the realities of software, hardware, and business models, so is especially timely.
- Watch This Space - Firefox has the ability to read web pages out loud, and we’ve launched a Snippet experiment to test demand for that experience in mobile and desktop by asking users to answer a few survey questions. This is a follow-up from a previous experiment we’d done that showed a surprising number of folks were interested in listening to the web on desktop systems, so we’re hoping to understand that better. Keep an eye on the bottom of the new tab page to learn more…
- Making Browser Music -- Propellerhead Software, a Swedish company dedicated to the idea that everyone should be able to compose and create music, has ported their “Europa” stand-alone wavetable synthesizer to WebAssembly, allowing it to run fully featured in a web browser. Try it out, entertain your friends, and explore the word of audio synthesis at https://www.propellerheads.se/europa?launchEuropa.
June 4th, 2018
- Qt for WebAssembly - Qt (pronounced “cute”), a popular cross-platform UI framework for classic and embedded applications, included in their recent 5.11 release a technology preview of Qt for WebAssembly. Hailed as a key part of an enhanced cross-platform strategy, Qt for WebAssembly allows their developers to target the web and browsers as a platform for applications. Qt for WebAssembly uses Emscripten, and is seen as a great option for multi-app or enterprise environments that need to deliver Qt or Quick applications across multiple target platforms. Check out the blog post for more details and an assortment of good examples.
- Mozilla XR Studio Opens - Thirty awesome women have started their mixed-reality and machine summer project work with us through Mozilla’s XR Studio in San Francisco. Come join open hours in the SF commons space from 9:00am to 11:00am on Mondays and Fridays to meet the participants and learn more about what they’re working on.
- Closing In on Completion - The MDN Browser Compatibility Data project is in sight of the data migration finish line, as the last sprint got us to 77% complete in the overall conversion of in-page data to our new API-accessible repository. Outstanding pull requests bring that close to 90% complete, and everything is on track to have all the data migrated and available by the end of the quarter.
May 21st, 2018
- Lots of Rust News - Last week we announced release of Rust 1.26, possibly the most feature-packed release since 1.0 launched almost exactly three years ago. Rust 1.26 includes not only new language features but an updated edition of the definitive Rust Programming Language book. Check out the blog post for all the nifty details, with a link to the book. Also, the steady stream of interesting open source projects using Rust continues. Sudo_pair is a command line tool developed for internal use at Square, enabling two-user confirmation of administrative operations on sensitive systems, and Askalono (which is Esperanto for “shallot”) is a side project an Amazon engineer wrote to help identify source code license texts.
- At the Faire - Pixelwall project, we engaged with parents on the importance of privacy, security, and interoperability of IoT data. We explained how Mozilla's Project Things let's them *own* the data in their homes, and decide which data to share with cloud-based service providers (or not). The message was extremely well received by lots of makers, educators, and professionals, many of whom proudly exclaimed how they love and use Firefox (and also took home lots of stickers).
May 14th, 2018
- Machine Readable MDN -- Microsoft Visual Studio Code (“VSCode”), Microsoft’s flagship software development environment, started using data from MDN through our Browser Compatibility Data project. The April release of VSCode introduced new features based on the ability to source information on CSS properties including identification, enhanced completion, and value validation all in real-time from MDN during editing. You can see examples of the improved developer experience MDN provides for VSCode in the release update notes.
- More Languages for Common Voice -- The Common Voice project team has been working hard to enable collection of speech data in a wider range of languages beyond English and just recently launched support for twenty-three additional ones spoken by a total of over 2 billion people world-wide. That means they’ve localized the Common Voice site and user experience to those languages, started gathering a suitable set of sentences for contributors to read and validate, and made it possible for volunteers to sign up so they can contribute in those languages as soon as we’re ready. You can check the Common Voice web site to see which languages are coming soon, and sign up to help out if you’re interested.
- Mozilla Research Grants -- Applications closed for the 1H2018 Mozilla Research Grants. We received 115 applications (up from 48 for 2017H1 and 72 for 2017H2) from 22 countries, which would total $4.7M if we were to fund them all. Next step: a whole lotta reviewing.
- Congratulations -- to Lin Clark, who was included in TechNotification’s "10 Twitter Accounts Every Programmer Should Follow", and Jen Simmons for completing Season 1 of Layout Land, with 29 episodes published over 16 weeks reaching 1 million watch minutes and 250,000 views.
May 7th, 2018
- XR Studio Update -- Part of the great response to XR Studio, our mixed-reality and machine learning studio for women in San Francisco this summer, has been interest in how folks who can’t be in San Francisco could still contribute or bring elements of the experience to their local community. We’ve added a survey to the XR Studio information web page to help capture that interest and to give us a chance to follow up and see what we can work out.
- Springtime is Maker season -- If you like building and making, it is definitely your time of year. Bay Area Maker Faire -- a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness known as the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth -- is in San Mateo May 18th-20th and Mozilla’s Project Things team will be there showcasing our Things Gateway work and giving attendees hands-on experience connecting things to the Web. And you can also join us for Mozilla's Global Sprint this Thursday and Friday (May 10th and 11th) -- a forty-eight hour, continuous around the world hackathon that brings a diverse network of educators, engineers, artists, scientists, and many others together in person and online to build projects for a healthy Internet. Gear up for Maker Faire and the Global Sprint by reading James Hobin’s post in our Hacks blog showing you how easy it is to become a Maker using our Things Framework.
- Getting the word out -- It seems like spring is also a time when research publications are sprouting and events are blooming far and wide. Jofish, Janice and Blair represented Mozilla in Voice, XR, and AI workshops at ACM SIGCHI 2018, a group of Mozillians published a paper on the effect of add blocking at Webconf in Lyons, and as always you can see our ongoing research publications on our Research web site. Additionally, Lin was a guest on the Changelog podcast speaking about Rust, Servo and WebAssembly, Jen was featured on Jeffrey Zeldman's Big Web Show speaking about intrinsic Web Design, and Flaki presented on Mozilla and AV1 at foss-north.
April 30th, 2018
- Hubs is live! -- Our Social Mixed Reality Team unveiled a preview release of Hubs by Mozilla, a new way to get together online within Mixed Reality, right in your browser. Hubs is the first experiment we’re releasing as part of our Social Mixed Reality efforts, and we think it showcases the potential for the web to become the best, most accessible platform to bring people together around the world in this new medium. With a single click Hubs will create a web-based room for you and give you a link you can share to invite others to join you. When they open the link on their phone or PC, they’ll join you in the room as an avatar. If they have a VR headset, they can enter the room in Mixed Reality. All with no app downloads, walled gardens, or content gatekeepers, and on any device you wish. Hubs is built with WebVR and A-Frame and therefore, most importantly, through open source software that respects your privacy and is built on web standards. Check it out at https://hubs.mozilla.com/.
- Listen up -- In further exploring how people want to interact with speech-based interfaces we ran a Heartbeat study this past week to ask Firefox users some questions about their interest in having web pages read to them and when/how they might like that to happen. Nearly 1500 folks responded and provided us with some interesting insights. For example, there’s great interest in voice interactions on desktops and laptops, not just mobile. And over half the Android users that responded were interested in listening on their phone -- twice as many as on iOS.
April 23rd, 2018
- XR Studio -- This week Mozilla announced XR Studio, a futuristic studio for thirty women to develop works in machine learning and mixed reality in San Francisco. The space, provided by Mozilla, will be open to participants 24 hours a day, with special access and security, giving participants the freedom to work and collaborate on projects anytime. A mentorship coalition of top engineers, experienced designers and creatives in their fields will provide expert office hours and workshop sessions throughout the summer for participants. Applications are being accepted through May 1st, and participants will be selected and notified by May 5th. Please help us spread the word, and watch the @mozilla Twitter for updates!
- WebAssembly Studio -- Our WebAssembly.Studio Hacks “sneak peak” post reached the top of Hacker News this week. That’s because a lot of folks were interested in learning more about WebAssembly.Studio, an online IDE (integrated development environment) that runs in the browser and helps you learn and teach others about WebAssembly. It’s also a Swiss Army knife that comes in handy whenever working with WebAssembly. Naturally WebAssembly Studio is also an open source project, and is a key part of our strategy to enrich the developer ecosystem with technologies that support openness. If video is more your speed, check out this post on the Hacks YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AQWR7Ly7EE
April 16th, 2018
- AV1 in the limelight -- Last week was a big one for our Research team as there was lots of continued activity and excitement following the recent announcement of the AV1 codec. Check out this webinar with Bitmovin for an external view, and an AV1 Tech Briefing hosted by Havi Hoffman with Michael Bebenita & Nathan Egge. Michael and Nathan were also very busy this past week representing Mozilla and our AV1 work at the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, including demoing Firefox and AV1 in our pop-up booth, co-hosting a public event with Microsoft and Bitmovin, and presenting to press and analysts in a joint panel with other AOMedia partners.
- Deep Speech for Mycroft -- Mycroft, a free and open source personal assistant and knowledge navigator for Linux systems, announced they were adopting Mozilla’s Deep Speech speech-to-text engine in their production systems. They moved to Deep Speech because they saw an opportunity to have human-class performance, greater throughput on today’s hardware, and much better privacy for their users. This is an important proof point for the utility of Deep Speech, and also provides a data source to improve the engine.
- Machine Readable MDN -- The migration of MDN browser compatibility data (BCD) to machine-readable formats is now 64% done and we’re on pace to have all the data migrated before the end of Q2. Two new projects have joined the collection of external efforts using the data: a polyfill compat tool and a plug-in for ESlint. You’ll find the latest information and tools to let you use the data yourself on the BCD project’s github page.
April 9th, 2018
- The New World -- This past week we announced Firefox Reality -- a new kind of web browser that has been designed from the ground up to work on stand-alone virtual and augmented reality (or mixed reality) headsets. Press and social media coverage has been great, with lots of enthusiasm for Firefox Reality as the first cross-platform browser for mixed reality and the only open source browser for mixed reality. Moreover, Firefox Reality has all the qualities users expect and love about Mozilla and Firefox - fast, puts their privacy first, and optimizes for their browsing experience (even though there is a lot to experiment and learn about delivering great mixed reality experiences). We think browsers are the future of mixed reality, so if you’d like to learn more and be part of bringing mixed reality to everyone via the web keep an eye on our blog or follow us on Twitter.
- “Web Thing... Groovy” -- Folks from our Advanced Development team demoed their “Web of Things” work and taught a technical workshop for makers and potential hardware collaborators as part of Get Launched! In Oakland. We gave attendees a chance to turn a garden variety “thing” into a “Web Thing” with an IoT-ready microcontroller board and our awesome Things Gateway by Mozilla. One of the team’s core objectives this year is to gain reach and traction with makers and developers, so expect to see us out and about quite a bit over the coming months. (Maker Faire, perhaps? :-))
- Microsoft and WebAssembly -- As we’ve talked about before, adoption of WebAssembly by both new and popular web frameworks is something we’re actively encouraging this year, and we continue to see strong interest in helping make that happen. Just this past week Microsoft announced Blazor, a new standards-based framework, that brings the .NET full stack environment (runtime and tooling) to the web. Blazor provides a full .NET runtime implemented in WebAssembly, and on older browsers falls back to an asm.js runtime. All the code is available on GitHub so folks can join the community and get involved.
April 2nd, 2018
- AV1 1.0 Announced -- Mozilla, as a founding member of the Alliance for Open Media, was part of last week’s excitement around announcement of the 1.0 specification of the AOMedia AV1 video codec including Nathan Egge from our AV1 Codec team participating in the “An Introduction to AV1” webinar with Bitmovin for over 500 registrants including CEOs, CTOs and other decision makers. AV1 is an open, royalty-free technology that unleashes the highest-quality video for creators and consumers on the web and in devices. “Royalty free” is a big deal, as today’s mainstream video systems, including browsers, depend on proprietary tools that incur hundreds of millions of dollars annually in licensing fees. We’ve had AV1 support in Firefox Nightly since last summer, and are looking forward to more news from software, hardware, and video entertainment partners including at the upcoming National Association of Broadcasters show where we’ll be sharing a booth with our good friends at Bitmovin.
- It’s In Print -- The most recent issue of Net Magazine, the #1 print publication for web designers in the world, had not one but two cover stories with ties to Mozilla -- an article by Florian Scholtz’s on our MDN Browser Compatibility project, and a cover feature on Augmented Reality that directly relates to Blair MacIntyre’s blog post on A-Painter.
- Rookie of the Year -- Over the last decade, Black Duck Software - a leader in solutions for securing and managing open source software - has recognized innovative and influential open source projects launched each year through their “Rookie of the Year” awards. Previous winners have include Docker, Kubernetes, and Ansible, and we’re delighted that this year’s award recipients included Mozilla’s Common Voice project. Black Duck was impressed with Common Voice’s remarkable accelerated growth, eager and vocal contributors, and noteworthy community adoption.
March 26th, 2018
- The Gang’s All Here -- The MDN Web Docs team hosted a three day “Hack on MDN” event in Paris with participation from over thirty of our community members and representatives of Product Advisory Board members Google, Microsoft, Samsung and W3C. The aim of the event was to give individuals and teams a chance to work together on specific updates to MDN content and services, with an emphasis this time around on our Browser Compatibility Data project. Thanks to everyone who attended, and we hope to see you next time!
- Registering and Persisting Realities -- There’s great excitement about Mixed Reality, and Augmented Reality in particular, because of the extraordinary ability to create combined physical and virtual experiences in ways that can endure and be openly enjoyed in the real world. There are some interesting technical challenges though, including precisely aligning real and virtual objects and having them persist over time. After all, how can everyone discover the animated virtual Firefox you've put on your front lawn? If you're interested you can read more about these challenges and what we’re doing in both the mixed reality platform and tools to overcome them.
- Most Loved, Thrice -- Rust has been named "most loved" programming language for third year in a row, as voted by over 100,000 developers in the annual Stack Overflow survey.
March 19th, 2018
- An Epoch Year -- A major factor in Rust’s success and popularity is the community-centered planning process, which has just published the Rust 2018 roadmap. That updated roadmap focuses on moving Rust towards its "2.0" style (“epoch”) release called Rust 2018, with major work in WebAssembly, command-line applications, support for embedded devices, and network services (think “large scale, cloud-based production environments”). An additional important goal is building resources to help programmers go from basic knowledge of Rust’s mechanics to knowing how to wield it effectively
- Reading is Fundamental -- We’ve done some research to explore how people in the US (n=162) read articles on the web. As expected, most people have articles they want to read, but are unable to finish (78.4%), and most people tell us they stop reading before they get to the end of an article (73.3%). We saw some slim age differences in how people report saving articles for later: 18-29 year olds are most likely to leave the tab open; 30-44 year olds equally reported leaving the tab open and bookmarking it; 45-60 year olds were most likely to email the URL to themselves, and 60+ year olds were fans of bookmarking. We’re using data to think about better ways to integrate Pocket and other sources of content with voice assistants.
- Mozilla Research Grants 2018H1 -- We’re now accepting submissions for the Mozilla Research Grants, 2018H1 edition. We are explicitly interested in supporting research into wide variety of technological domains -- mixed reality, voice, accessibility, IoT, tools for creators and developers, uses of Firefox, and more -- and in supporting research that goes beyond innovative technology into solutions exploring problems we don't know how to answer. If you’re interested or know someone who might be please check out our call for participation and contact us if you’d like to know more.
March 12th, 2018
- WebVR on MacOS -- Firefox 60, which is scheduled to go into beta this week, will include support for WebVR on Mac OS, making it our first release channel version to do so. WebVR on Mac OS is based on Open VR and is supported at the moment for HTC Vive.
March 5th, 2018
- You Heard It Here First -- Project Thing’s 0.3 release of the Gateway software continues to exceeded our expectations! We’re approaching 5,000 downloads and see 125 or so daily active gateways up and running worldwide. Press coverage has been strong with over 40 articles in the US, UK, Germany & France. The team is continuing to share tricks and engage the community through posts like this WOT clap sensing tutorial on Hacks.
- Rust as Competitive Advantage - We published the first of the series of commercial Rust adoption case studies, highlighting work at Tilde, Inc., a startup based in Portland, OR disrupting the application performance monitoring space. By their very nature performance monitoring agents need to be fast, efficient, and exceptionally stable and after unsatisfying experiments using Ruby and C++ Tilde gave Rust a try and was delighted with the results. Read more about their experience and their next major plans for Rust, and stay tuned for more Rust customer success stories.
- Layout Land? Is that a theme park?? -- Last week was Resilient CSS Week at Layout Land, a YouTube channel recently started by Jen Simmons, Mozilla Designer and Developer Advocate in our DevRel team. Layout Land is all about helping designers and web developers learn what’s now possible in graphic design on the web -- layout, CSS Grid, and more. “Resilient CSS Week” was a special collection of seven brief yet knowledge-packed videos from Jen explaining how to write “Resilient CSS” -- CSS that gives you all the power of great new features like CSS Grid yet which can work in every browser, even the old ones. Layout Land is a magical place indeed, and you should check it out.
February 26th, 2018
- Do less work and get done faster -- Rust release 1.24.0 is now out, with incremental compilation turned on by default. The idea of incremental compilation is basically this: when you’re working on a project you often compile it, then change something small, then compile again. Historically the Rust compiler has compiled your entire project each time, no matter how little you’ve changed the code. With incremental compilation you only need to compile the code you’ve actually changed, which means that that second build (and every one thereafter) is faster. There’s other good stuff in 1.24.0 too, e.g., rustfmt (for “standard style” code beautification). Read more about it in our blog.
- More is better (really, and virtually) -- Unity Web VR export support is now live in the Unity asset store, which means you can use Unity, a powerful tool set very popular with artists and game builders, to create VR experiences that can be viewed on the web. If you'd like to give it a try we’ve published a tutorial to help you get started.
February 12th, 2018
- Last Tuesday’s Big Launch -- Last week’s we launched a major update of our Things Gateway, part of Mozilla’s Project Things, and response has been *fabulous*. We’ve had over 2200 downloads of the software in the first six days and now see an active network of over 300 operating gateways worldwide. Press and social media pick up was outstanding too, tied to a series of blog posts on the launch, new gateway features, and how to integrate your own new devices.
- Taking the Guesswork out of Browser Compatibility -- MDN unveiled The Browser Compatibility project, which transformed all the browser compatibility tables on our documentation pages into an open-accessible database with an API that can be used by developer tools, sites, and even from the command line. Better still, all the data is being maintained by MDN and browser makers, so we’ll make sure it’s always up to date. Check out our blog post to learn more including how you can access the data yourself.
- Royalty Free For All -- AV1 is credited with “breaking” the MPEG business model and bringing an end to proprietary, costly, tightly controlled access to online media for consumers and creators. Read more about this frank recognition of what AV1 has accomplished in a blog post from Leonardo Chiariglione, Chair of MPEG: “A crisis, the causes and a solution.”
February 5th, 2018
- Project Things Update -- Tomorrow the Mozilla IoT team will be launching a new version of our experimental Things Gateway software. You can use this software to build your own "Web of Things" gateway with a Raspberry Pi, to directly monitor and control your home over the web without a middleman. The latest version includes a rules engine for setting "if this, then that" style rules for how things interact, a floorplan view to lay out devices on a map of your home, experimental voice control, and support for lots of new types of "things". There's also a brand new add-ons system for adding support for new protocols and devices, and a new way to safely authorise third party applications to access your gateway. Look out on the Mozilla Blog for the announcement, Mozilla Hacks for a hands-on "how to" guide and come and hang out with us in #iot on IRC. You'll also be able to ask questions in the new Mozilla IoT category on Discourse and follow @MozillaIoT on Twitter.
December 4th, 2017
- Free Speech -- This week we released DeepSpeech, Mozilla’s open source speech recognition engine along with a pre-trained American English model. Our initial release is designed so developers can use it right away to experiment with speech recognition, and so includes pre-built packages for Python, NodeJS, and a command-line binary. DeepSpeech represents over a year of effort by our team and a community of like-minded developers, and provides an open source speech-to-text engine of exceptional quality -- our word error rate is 6.5%, on par with how we do as humans. Check out the blog post for more info.
- Free Speech Data -- As a companion story to release of our DeepSpeech engine, we also announced release of Mozilla’s Common Voice dataset. Common Voice accumulated 400,000 recordings from 20,000 different people, totalling over 500 hours of speech That makes it the second largest publicly-available voice dataset we know of, and it’s still growing through the continued contributions of volunteers. You can download the data via the Common Voice website and we’ve included links to other open data sets that may also be of interest.
- Documenting the Web - We had our first ever meeting of the new MDN Web Docs “Product Advisory Board” last week with representatives from Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and W3C (plus Mozilla, of course). First meetings are always focused on getting things going, but part of the session was a retrospective on 2017 for MDN and it has been an outstanding year. Developer usage of MDN Web Docs, which now stands at 7.8 million visitors per month, has grown by 51% year over year which means we’ve more than doubled the growth rate compared to 2016. We estimate we’re reaching about 45% of web developers on a monthly basis, and along with the other members of the Advisory Board look forward to exciting opportunities in 2018.
November 27th, 2017
- Let’s Get Medieval -- Mozilla and Sketchfab announced the winners of the Real-time Design Challenge we co-sponsored, focused on developing creative commons assets that can be shared and used for building games and experiences in VR. The theme of the competition was “Medieval Fantasy”, and over the four weeks of the challenge we had 105 submissions and were able to crowdsource hundreds of assets. You can see who won and read more on the announcement post. And there’s a follow-on community challenge to come, based on A-frame.
- Understanding Our VR Popularity -- We’ve started to get preliminary results from new telemetry in WebVR to help us understand how it is being used. While the data is still coming in and being analyzed, we do see about a million users a day hitting WebVR content of some kind, which is *amazing*. Stay tuned for more insights here, and a cool new dashboard (soon).
- Business Modeling -- ET hosted a non-traditional business model workshop in partnership with Models of Impact, using their open source toolkit designed for organizations looking to effectively blend revenue and social impact. A group of participants from across the company explored techniques for combining a wide range of business model components for sustainably reaching conscious choosers and developers. You can try it yourself or in your teams -- it’s all open source -- so contact us if you’d like to know more.
- More Quantum, Creatively - Quantum interest is still very high on our Mozilla Hacks blog and Dan Callahan published a post on new features in Firefox 58. Firefox Quantum made Firefox fast again, but speed is only part of the story. A ton of work has gone into making Firefox an exceptional tool for creating on the Web. You can see some of what’s coming for Firefox 58 by taking a look at Firefox Developer Edition.
November 20th, 2017
- Quantum Propulsion -- Firefox Quantum’s release last week was a really big deal, and those of us in ET were especially proud to usher in the release with Lin Clark’s excellent article “How Firefox Got Fast Again” on the Mozilla Hacks blog. Lin’s article was such a hit that it’s currently the 23rd most up-voted post on Hacker News ever, beating out both the death of Google Reader and the debut of Ubuntu on Windows. Lin’s article and the Firefox Quantum release notes were the most popular two posts in the past month. We’ve also had a lot of positive pick-up on our related articles, including Salva de la Puente’s overview of Quantum’s impact on WebVR.
- Are you talking to me? -- Project DeepSpeech continues to train a speech-to-text model that we plan to release by the end of the month. The team is preparing press materials and packaging the code so it’s easy to use from C++, Python, Node.js, etc. Stay tuned, as we may put out a call for volunteers to help test the engine in the near future.
- See y'all in Austin -- We’re eagerly anticipating the Y’all Hands in Austin next month. For those of you who will be there, Emerging Technologies will host a few special sessions that we’d love to see you attend:
November 13th, 2017
- Describe all the things -- Members of our Project Things team represented Mozilla at the W3C Web of Things working group last week. There are a number of aspects of our experimental efforts we’re keen to bring into the W3C working group discussion, and began that process last week by submitting a co-authored proposal for a generalized, extensible way to describe any device connected to the World Wide Web.
- Faster in stereo -- We implemented in Servo a new WebGL architecture that takes a different (but still standards-based) approach to rendering stereo images, resulting in performance improvements of up to 40% in displaying WebVR content. Technical details and some additional related updates are on our Mozilla VR blog.
- Countdown to Launch -- As we all know, Firefox Quantum launches tomorrow and we couldn’t be more excited. Watch for some updates and blog posts from Emerging Technologies as part of the grand festivities.
November 6th, 2017
- Increasing interest in the future of speech technology - An interview with Mozilla Research’s Kelly Davis by British Airways appeared as part of a story on the future of voice recognition as the cover article of their “Business Life” magazine. (And in the “Future” section!) Kelly’s comments highlighted the article’s recognition of speech interfaces for accessibility and in creating a richer, safer world for humans. (You can read the article by flying on British Airways, or by downloading the magazine app on iOS or Android.)
- Fun with Rust (Lots of fun!) -- Popular independent game developer Chucklefish announced they’re building one of their next two projects in Rust, and had some great comments on why they feel strongly about doing so in a post on Hacker News. (Chucklefish is responsible for major game titles like ‘Stardew Valley’ and ‘Starbound’ and publishes on multiple gaming platforms so it’s great to have them actively involved with Rust.)
- Stanford Encourages You to Rewrite it in Rust -- Speaking of Rust, Stanford has added coverage of Rust to its Programming Languages course, and specifically structured the exposure through exercises in which students rewrite three small existing applications in Rust to understand how knowledge can transfer from one language to another and get used to the basic Rust workflow. You can try it out too through the course assignment repo on github.
October 30th, 2017
- SPECIAL EDITION: Emerging Technologies in London - This week ET’s Headlines come to you from along the banks of the Thames
- Gateway Up Close and Personal - Our Project Gateway team had a busy week in London, capped by two days demoing at MozFest and also hosting a hands-on Saturday afternoon workshop for a room full of eager developers and curious community members. The week also included further work on our contribution to the W3C “Web of Things” standards working group, which we’re finalizing in advance of a its meeting in early November.
- View Source Recap - View Source, our front-end developer and designer event in London the day before MozFest, was completely sold out and a hive of activity. Twelve presentations covered topics like the “Indie Web”, Web performance and security, WebVR and fonts, new and exciting ways to build for and on the web, hacking your coffee machine, and a powerful call for enlightened technological activism. We streamed everything live and also recorded it for later viewing so stay tuned for details on how you can see everything you missed.
October 23rd, 2017
- Making Web Development A Little Easier - Last week Mozilla announced formation of the MDN Product Advisory Board to bring other industry leaders together and collaboratively grow cross-browser documentation on MDN. Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and the W3C are our initial Advisory Board members, and we’d welcome others to join as well. Six million developers and designers visit MDN each month and readership is growing at 40% annually, and there was lots of positive reaction to our announcement, so we know there’s tremendous interest in learning and sharing information about building for the open web. Microsoft announced they've already started redirecting over 7,700 MSDN pages to corresponding topics on MDN.
- Much Anticipated Incremental Acceleration - The Rust team landed new and incremental compilation updates, and though there’s still lots of optimizing and tuning yet to be done early results show as much as a 30% improvement in compilation times. This is something that has been in the works for a long time, so congratulations to everyone involved. (And hey, it makes is all even *more* productive, so thanks!
- Speed Through the History of Virtual Reality -- How about a quick, five minute journey through the evolution of Virtual Reality from the stereoscope through the ViewMaster, Sensorama, Sword of Damocles, Data Glove, VR pods in malls, VRML, WebVR, and more? Josh Marinacci from our DevRel team is your tour guide, and you’ll find the video here.
October 16th, 2017
- Mozilla Wins Developer Satisfaction Awards - At their 2017 Future Developer Summit this past week SlashData (previously VisionMobile) recognized nine organisations from the software industry as leaders for developer satisfaction based on feedback from over 40,000 developers surveyed annually from around the globe. Mozilla was overall winner for documentation in developer programs (yay, MDN!), and 2nd runner up for engagement through developer programs (yay, DevRel!) We received actual trophies for our awards so will find a way to share them when they arrive. More info from SlashData
- New Project Things Gateway Release - We’ve landed version 0.2 of Project Gateway and there are a whole bunch of great features for you to check out. A built-in speech interface enables voice interaction with the gateway and connected devices, you can upload a floor plan of your physical space and manage devices using it, a powerful rules-engine facilitates command and control, and we’ve made the whole system a lot more robust and transparent. This is the version we’ll be showcasing at MozFest in a couple of weeks, including a hands-on workshop for interested community members. Grab a copy from github, install it on your Raspberry Pi 3, and let us know what you do with it, or just come by and see us at MozFest.
- It’s All About The Jank - Lin Clark’s latest “Code Cartoons” post appeared on our Hacks Blog and gave us a comprehensive walk through of WebRender, another big piece of Servo that’s making its way into Firefox through Project Quantum. To help us all understand why WebRender offers such tremendous advantages in graphics performance and smoothness Lin took us through an up-close tour of the browser rendering engine, patiently explaining and cleverly illustrating all sorts of magic we all benefit from but few understand. The post got a ton of visibility on the web (#1 on Hacker News, for example) and social media. You should definitely check it if you haven’t already.
October 9th, 2017
- It’s Implementation Time! - The Rust community has been hard at work throughout the year on the overall roadmap and enters Q4 at the start of a focused “Implementation Period” dedicated to completing work on committed features. Not all of them involve writing code! There are already 35 teams up and running to plan and implement the features, so if you’ve ever wanted to contribute to Rust but weren’t sure how now is the perfect opportunity for you! We’ve published all the details in an introductory blog post, set up interactive channels for each group, and will be publishing a weekly newsletter to keep everyone involved. Love to have you join us!
- WebVR on MacOS - If you’ve been watching for WebVR support in MacOS you’ll be happy to know that it has just been enabled by default in Firefox Nightly. We currently support OpenVR for the HTC Vive on MacOS High Sierra, with announcements of compatibility on other headsets and confirmed release dates in Firefox still in progress -- so stay tuned for future updates.
- RustFest Zurich - RustFest is an ongoing series of conferences dedicated to Rust and the Rust community in Europe. The second 2017 RustFest event took place last week in Zurich and was the largest one so far with over 220 rustaceans attending two days of talks and workshops. For more information on RustFest and materials from past events, head over to the RustFest website
- WebRender News - An important part of Project Quantum is getting WebRender, Servo’s graphics engine, integrated into Firefox. WebRender is already in Firefox Nightly and early adopters are starting to comment publicly on how much they like it . If you’d like to know more about the novel architecture of WebRender and why it is important for Firefox you should check out a great post on the Mozilla Gfx Team Blog
October 2nd, 2017
- Congratulations André !! -- For the fifth year in a row CNET’s Spanish-language sister site CNET en Español has assembled its annual list of 20 Most Influential Latinos working in technology and we are INCREDIBLY proud that Mozilla’s and ET’s very own André Natal was included, recognizing his many years of continuing contribution to voice and speech software.
- Donate your noise to science - Our research team has been exploring application of deep learning concepts to the classic problem of removing noise from voice, and doing so in a compact and efficient way that could be used everywhere to improve phone conversations, conference calls, live meetings and more. They’ve created a demo that shows and explains how their implementation, RNNoise, works including letting you try it out live from your web browser. Because the deep learning approach requires training you can help us make the algorithm much better by donating a minute of your noise from anywhere you might communicate. Visit the demo site to learn more, or you can go right to the ‘Donate your Noise to Science’ page and contribute.
September 25th, 2017
- Project Gateway at MozFest - Look for our Project Gateway team at MozFest this year (October 28-29th) as we’ll be staffing a demo table throughout both days of the event plus hosting a hands-on workshop to help people get involved. Reminder: Project Gateway’s goal is to let you build your own Web of things gateway based on the Raspberry Pi. More information and all the code is available on github.
- Growing support for WebVR - At their Edge Web Summit last week Microsoft demonstrated support for WebVR 1.1 in Edge on their Mixed Reality Headsets. They showcased A-Frame as part of their demo, which was enabled through contributions from both Microsoft and our team here at Mozilla just in time for the 0.7.0 release of A-Frame. WebVR support is currently available in Edge for developers and is scheduled for broad consumer availability in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update next month alongside the release of the Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
September 18th, 2017
- Big Welcome - This past Monday we had six new folks join our Mixed Reality team, coming to us after working together at Altspace VR. In pursuing ET’s mission of growing new areas for Mozilla we’d identified a key opportunity for virtual and augmented reality in building new services and products around identity, presence, avatar, and multi-user services. We aim to build open services that work across both the tens of millions of VR devices and hundreds of millions of handheld AR devices to be enabled in the coming weeks through Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Definitely watch this space...
- Update on our Voice Fill experiment via Test Pilot -- We’ve fielded 29,955 spoken queries and are working on an update that would add voice integration to even more frequently visited Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Duck-Duck-Go websites. We’re also starting to receive contributions to the underlying code from community members, which is great!
- We’re kicking off our Developer Roadshow in Asia this week and next, with stops in Singapore, Ho Chi MInh City, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Hong Kong. Check out the website for links and more details, especially if we’ll be somewhere near you.
September 11th, 2017
- Project Things mentioned in a publication - The MagPi publication (official Raspberry Pi magazine) has an article about our Things project (issue 61) in the September issue which talks about Mozilla’s efforts in the area of IoT and Web of Things in particular.
- More companies announce they are using Rust in production - Atlassian & Tumblr have indicated they are doing so and will add their names to the “Friends of Rust” page. In case you’re curious, adding those two brings the official total to ninety five -- so stay tuned for word that we’ve reached one hundred organizations with Rust in production.
- We’re number one! - Initial integration of language model into a TensorFlow connectionist temporal classification beam search yielded a 6.48% word error rate on the Librivox clean test data set for DeepSpeech. What the heck does that mean? It means we have the best open source speech recognition engine (as our closest alternative, Kaldi, has a 8.01% word error rate on that same test data set). Booyah!
- More languages for Deep Speech - Oh, and we’ve landed the code that provides multi-language support for Deep Speech so the Community is now actively working on adding French, German, Spanish, Macedonian, Urdu, Persian, and Kurdish.
August 28th, 2017
- RustConf 2017 happened this past week in Portland, Oregon and was a big success. The event was completely sold out, which translates into 275 attendees all involved in and excited about Rust -- and we had lots of positive reactions from them during the conference. We also had conversations with a number of important tech companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, and Baidu, all of whom are looking at Rust and some already using it . (We even heard that Amazon is hiring for Rust so they’re active too.). RustBridge, an all-day diversity-focused initiative, had their fifth meeting at RustConf, with 20 attendees from underrepresented groups learning to program in Rust. Here's a picture: https://twitter.com/ag_dubs/status/898687617427881985
- Lin Clark published another in her series of “Code Cartoons” blog posts, this time on Quantum CSS (which we also know as “Stylo”). In order to properly explain Stylo Lin demystified and illustrated quite a lot of what goes on inside a web engine, and, like her other “Code Cartoons” the post has been very well received -- reaching over 650 points on Hacker News and being picked up by a variety of tech press and social media. Check it out: https://hacks.mozilla.org/2017/08/inside-a-super-fast-css-engine-quantum-css-aka-stylo/
- The second Alliance for Open Media (AOM) face-to-face meeting since the start of AV1 development happened last week. There were twenty-five tools presented over two days. Eleven were adopted or conditionally adopted, and three of those were ours. Google presented seventeen of the twenty-five tools, and had five adopted or conditionally adopted.
August 21st, 2017
- Over 300,000 recorded voice samples have been contributed so far to Common Voice, adding up to over 400 total hours of data. We’ve also had over half a million samples validationsl. (In case you didn’t know, you can contribute not only by leaving us samples of your own voice but by listening to other people’s samples and confirming they match the target phrase. Check it out at https://voice.mozilla.org!).
- To understand a bit more about voice assistants, to inform a project we’re calling Foxy, we gathered about a hundred Alexa logs from Reddit and social media by paying $5 each for them. We found that around 40% of all commands were about music - playing artists or genres, stopping or starting playback, that kind of thing. Another 15% were general search queries: who did the voices for Animanics, or what’s the weather in Seattle? And another 15% were Internet of Things related queries, particularly turning lights on and off, so that’s informing some of the work we’re doing in Web of Things.
- VoiceFill has been running within Test Pilot. We’ve had 11,722 users enable Voice Fill overall. Over 800 users have been active in just in the past seven days, engaging in almost 2000 sessions, and we’re continuing to explore and experiment.
August 14th, 2017
- Facebook is open-sourcing a large Rust codebase! (It’s a modern take on the ancient theme of mediating between humans and trees.) Facebook is releasing a high performance mercurial server written in Rust. It’s open source, GPLv2. The project is called Mononoke and you can take a look on GitHub at https://github.com/facebookexperimental/mononoke.
- Firefox 55 made history as the first desktop browser to ship with WebVR enabled by default! (It’s just as much fun but a whole lot easier to maintain than those flying cars we’ve all been waiting for.) If you have a Rift or Vive, head on over to vr.mozilla.org for immersive demos. And if you’d like to develop VR content, the entire WebVR API is documented on MDN.
- The View Source conference is coming to London in October! View Source is a fantastic single-track conference, bringing visionary speakers to designers and front-end developers, and registration is now open. View Source is on October 27th, right before MozFest on the 28th and 29th. Sign up if you can make it, and spread the word!
August 7th, 2017
- Publish your own 360 degree videos with a new WebVR template! It’s easy to build Virtual Reality scenes with A-Frame, but we’re making that even easier by adding a tool that can get your project started using pre-built templates. A great first example of that is a template for publishing your 360 degree videos in VR. If you’d like to give it a try or just see how it works check out Salva’s blog post (Beware, this new tool is still in pre-release. Here be dragons.)
- Search the web with your voice using Firefox today! The Voice Fill test pilot went live last week and has been receiving a lot of attention: CNBC and TechCrunch both covered the launch with CNBC calling it a “challenge to Google’s AI dominance”. We’re closely monitoring how that experiment goes and working on a follow up release to make it even better and more responsive.
- Automate the web of things in your home! We landed an initial proof of concept prototype of a rules engine for the Things Gateway which lets you set “if this then that” style rules for the web of things in your home. Look out for an upcoming article about Mozilla’s Project Things in the official Raspberry Pi magazine, MagPi. A big shout out to community contributor Ian Gilham for contributing a new device adapter for the Things Gateway! Find out how you can contribute on our web site.
July 31st, 2017
- We need your voice! Literally! We recently unveiled Common Voice, a new project we’ve jointly created with the folks in Open Innovation. Common Voice seeks to create an open collection of labelled voice data anyone can use to build highly-accurate voice recognition software. We’ve asked people to help us out by capturing their voice and are receiving 15-20 thousand recordings a day. And we’re getting lots of good press coverage too. If you’ve participated already, “Thank you!”, and if not but would like to please head on over to the web site. We’re currently only set up to record English language samples but other languages are coming soon.
- WebVR in Firefox keeps getting better! Thanks to some requests from our friends at Sketchfab, we’ve made some substantial performance improvements. Sketchfab released the world’s first WebVR animated short film, including with full sound support. It’s an excellent example of the ongoing feedback loop between folks with the urge to create and our efforts to make the web better at supporting that creativity! Read more and watch (hear!) the video
- Big thanks to Dietrich Ayala for the blog post chronicling the amazing performance improvements in Firefox’s tab handling. We loved the social media and press pick-up around your 1691 open tabs, thanks to Quantum Flow. (I now have a new life goal...so thanks also for that). Check out headlines like “Firefox’s blazing speed with huge numbers of tabs leaves Chrome in the dust” to get the feeling of winning.
- The “Voice Fill” experiment we highlighted last week is slated to go live tomorrow, August 1. It was delayed along with all the pending Test Pilot projects, but we’re very happy it’s going forward now.
July 24th, 2017
- AV1 codec now enabled in Firefox Nightly. Check it out by watching a bit of the short film ‘Tears of Steel’ at http://demo.bitmovin.com/public/firefox/av1/. Keep in mind when you do that the whole idea here is to provide (and improve!) high quality audio and video on the web and make it all completely open and royalty free.
- Stylo has landed in Firefox Nightly on all platforms, so there’s more of Servo (and Project Quantum) for you to explore. It’s off by default but you can turn it on via a pref. Details on how to do that and general Stylo status info is available in a public Etherpad here.
- Keep an eye on Test Pilot this week for news as we’re launching an experiment called “Voice Fill” which will let you interact with the Web by talking to Firefox. Up first will be voice input to search engines so you can initiate web searches through speech.
- We’ve unveiled “Project Things” our Web of Things initiative, and our first project, an open WoT gateway, is available on github for download and use on a Raspberry Pi' Give it a try! Turn your lights on and off at home with it. (We do.)