As we work towards the 0.6 release (and eventually 1.0), I wanted to share more details on what we are working on.
I am going to do this by grouping the work we are doing into four distinct categories.
* Performance improvements
We are concentrating very hard on initial sync performance. Initial sync is important for both new users as well as when you set up Weave Sync on new devices. We are working on a few different ideas to help improve initial sync performance.
- WEP 102 is an attempt to allow “Weave to decide what subset of data to pull from the server and how to continue fetching the rest of the data later.”
- WEP 105 aims to create an importance metric so we can come up with a meaningful subset of data.
While these two are more near term, we are also exploring some ideas that are a little farther out. For example:
- WEP 101 describes a proxy service that can perform encryption/decryption routines on a user’s behalf which might be particularly useful on phones, netbooks and computers with less resources.
We are working on setting up benchmarks and getting more quantitative data (who doesn’t like pretty charts), but I think we are definitely getting better.
* Weave usability (first run and ongoing)
This is one of the key focus areas of the upcoming 0.6 release. We have completely revamped the sign up and set up pages, UI and flow. I am personally very excited about the changes. I think these changes will using Weave a lot more intuitive.
We are also trying to see if we can remove the requirement for a separate password (used to sign in to the Weave service) and passphrase (used to encrypt/decrypt your data). WEP 100 has our current thinking on how we might achieve this. If there are any security minded folks interested in helping out, we could certainly use your help with this.
So, if you have tried setting up Weave in the past and been turned away by the 9 or so screens/steps between downloading the Weave add-on and actually using it to sync your data, you should have a siginificantly better experience with the upcoming 0.6 release.
* Weave is more than Sync
Weave, as a Mozilla Labs project, is a collection of experiments around integrating services in/with the browser. The two most active experiments we have going on are related to synchronizing your web experience and integrating identity in the browser. While we want to drive both of these forward while still carrying on new experiments, our current focus is on stabilizing Sync.
This means, in the short term, Weave is going to be mostly about Sync. We are also thinking about launching a separate development train for all the neat experiments we’ve been planning. Once we do that, I think the true potential for the Weave platform will start to become clearer.
* Weave bugs, consistent behavior
For a project that’s in alpha and working towards beta, I think we are actually of pretty good quality. However, we do need to get more detail oriented. Here are some of the specific things we will be working on to improve usability:
- Revamp user documentation to clearly describe which features are supported and which aren’t. (Sync is stable, identity is experimental for example)
- Describe what is expected to work and how (Syncing bookmarks works both to and from the cloud, for example)
- Get the basics right (more unit tests, better performance benchmarks, buildbot integrations etc.)
- Pay attention to edge cases and common user frustrations (captcha issues during registration, random change password/passphrase issues etc.)
To summarize, we have a solid plan for a great 0.6 release and beyond. We look forward to building an unbelievable user experience.
In the meantime, keep using Weave and help us make it better. Let us know what you think, even if you decide not to use it. And if you have questions/comments on any of this, let us know in the comments.
– Ragavan Srinivasan, on behalf of the Weave team