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Booting to the Web

Andreas Gal Jul 25, 2011 8:49 AM
Posted in group:

Mozilla believes that the web can displace proprietary, single-vendor stacks for application development.  To make open web technologies a better basis for future applications on mobile and desktop alike, we need to keep pushing the envelope of the web to include --- and in places exceed --- the capabilities of the competing stacks in question.

We also need a hill to take, in order to scope and focus our efforts.  Recently we saw the pdf.js [] project expose small gaps that needed filling in order for "HTML5" to be a superset of PDF.  We want to take a bigger step now, and find the gaps that keep web developers from being able to build apps that are --- in every way --- the equals of native apps built for the iPhone, Android, and WP7.

To that end, we propose a project we’re calling "Boot to Gecko" [] (B2G) to pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web.  It’s going to require work in a number of areas.

* New web APIs: build prototype APIs for exposing device and OS capabilities to content (Telephony, SMS, Camera, USB, Bluetooth, NFC, etc.)
* Privilege model: making sure that these new capabilities are safely exposed to pages and applications
* Booting: prototype a low-level substrate for an Android-compatible device;
* Applications: choose and port or build apps to prove out and prioritize the power of the system.

We will do this work in the open, we will release the source [] in real-time, we will take all successful additions to an appropriate standards group, and we will track changes that come out of that process.  We aren't trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox, we're trying to have them run on the web.

This project is in its infancy; some pieces of it are only captured in our heads today, others aren’t fully explored.  We’re talking about it now because we want expertise from all over Mozilla -- and from people who aren’t yet part of Mozilla -- to inform and build the project we’re outlining here.

brendan, cjones, gal, shaver