Connect as a first class action in the browser
Today’s Web is highly personalized. If you take a look at a lot of today’s top Web sites, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t allow some sort of personalized experience. From posting photos to customizing your homepage to your banking, your online identity is an important piece of the Web experience.
The experience of signing up and connecting to sites, however, is stuck in time: Consider that the way that we use usernames and passwords to log on to most web sites hasn’t changed in more than a decade, even while the number of unique businesses and services that we use online has increased dramatically.
Even new technologies such as OpenID still require a similar (and sometimes even more confusing) experience. Browsers have evolved slightly to try to cope with the situation by remembering usernames and passwords, but browsers are currently unable to do much more, because so much of the process is different for each site.
What we are doing
As part of the Mozilla Labs Concept Series, we’re actively exploring new approaches to online identity management in the browser. We envision a world where your browser will play an even more active and critical role in helping you control and shape your online experience. Read more about Mozilla Labs’ online identity concepts.
This prototype, which we are calling Account Manager, is an effort to dramatically simplify how users connect to sites. We plan to achieve this by adding the ability for the browser to intelligently act on your behalf.
Here’s a very early mock-up of what you might expect in the future:
The Account Manager prototype consists of two pieces:
- A proposed specification for browsers to discover web site capabilities (e.g. sign in, sign out, create account, etc.), exposing connected state to the user (e.g. are you signed in?)
- A Firefox add-on that implements a sub-set of this specification, providing common UI for connecting and disconnecting to sites
Our add-on additionally has hard-coded support for a few major sites, such as Google and Yahoo!, so that users can get a feel for how the feature might work in the browser.
Try it out!
There is an experimental, alpha version of the addon available for download.
Please be aware that this experimental code. If you are not comfortable with running software that can crash your browser, or potentially cause you to lose your work, you may want to wait.
Since the Account Manager add-on proposes a new way for sites to interact with the browser, Account Management support is limited to the few sites that support it. The goal at this stage is to refine the design and the protocol itself, so we are most interested in feedback from site administrators.
As with all Mozilla projects, Account Manager is developed in the open, and we welcome participation from everyone.