Mozilla Launches Open Web Apps Project

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Mozilla’s Web Application project is intended to challenge the approach of Apple with its ‘closed’ app system

Firefox developer Mozilla last week released the first developer milestone of its Web Application project, intended to challenge the proprietary application-distribution approach of Apple, Google and others.

The release includes stable APIs, developer utilities and documentation to allow developers to start working on “open web applications” and stores.

‘Installable websites’

On the site, Mozilla defines “open web applications” as “installable websites”.

“They are built using standard web technologies with additional metadata that allows the User Agent to discover, install, launch, and grant them additional privileges,” Mozilla states on the site.

The approach is intended to challenge that of companies such as Apple, which popularised the concept of a store focused on selling applications for a single platform or device.

The method of organisations such as Facebook, with web-based applications that only work on a single platform, has also been criticised by the likes of Tim Berners-Lee.

Google last year launched a web store that only works with its Chrome browser.

In the coming weeks Mozilla said it will follow up its initial launch with tools for finding, installing and launching applications; synchronising them to mobile devices; supporting native browser controls; integrating with the operating system; and supporting widgets and notifications.

Open technologies

Open web apps should be built using technologies such as HTML5, CSS, Javascript and other “widely implemented open standards in modern browsers – to avoid interoperability, portability and lock-in issues,” Mozilla stated.

Meanwhile, as this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) delivered its first web applications and a white-label app store that can be customised by individual operators.

The storefront is offered to operators as a cloud-based service and gives users the ability to browse, buy, download, install and rate WAC widgets and native applications. Operator features include the ability to promote individual applications and automatically provide discounts based on customer preferences and buying behaviours.

The storefront is integrated with WAC’s wholesale catalogue of about 12,000 applications, WAC said.

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