Ben is Vice President of Global Products at, where he works closely with his long-time friend Dion Almaer.

Open Web Tools Directory

Several weeks ago, I blogged about the Open Web Tools Directory, another Mozilla Labs experiment we launched to explore making some sense of the huge and diverse web tools ecosystem. Thanks for taking a look at the site, for telling us about your favorite tools and your own projects, and for all the feedback!

We’ve just pushed out another minor update to the directory, including the more updates to the tools database and some tweaks and bug fixes to the user interface. (We’ve still got more tools to add and will do another update next week.)

So what’s next for this project?

At Mozilla, we try hard to do things out in the open and engage the community in the development process very early. We’re a mission-driven organization and that mission is to maximize the Internet’s benefit to the public, so we like to get the public involved as much as we can in telling us what we should be doing.

Can you help us decide what the next steps should be?

The Open Web Platform

To get the conversation going, let me share our vision for this project. I’ll start with the big picture, and work back towards the Tools Directory.

At some point over the last few years, the web browser evolved from being a way to render hypertext documents and has become an application run-time platform. This new emerging web-based platform has been called the “Open Web Platform” with increasing frequency; I like the name and have used it for the past few years and will use it throughout this post to describe the technologies available to web applications (provided to them by the browser and occasionally plug-ins).


I’m extremely enthusiastic about the Open Web Platform and its potential to liberate: to liberate applications from the shackles of operating systems (e.g., you must own [Operating System X] to run this application), to liberate developers from the tyranny of learning multiple SDKs (e.g., you must learn n entirely different technology stacks to get your app onto n different platforms), and to free users to customize their applications easily and to share those customizations freely (e.g., the Greasemonkey / “user script” vision). As the web platform gains in capabilities, it frees us from traditional unnecessary barriers that sap our productivity and block our progress. I’d like to expound on each of these “liberations”, but it’s a bit orthogonal to today’s theme, so I’ll move on for now and circle back another day.

(Don’t get me wrong: I fully support empowering application developers to chose the platform that allows them to best express their vision and meet the needs of their customers, and I want people to be able to profit from selling software. But I’m working as hard as I can with thousands of other people to make the Open Web Platform be the platform of choice for as many developers as I can. Because when that choice makes sense, we all win. Big time.)


One of the reasons folks call the web platform “open” is that it’s beyond that control of any one person, entity, vendor, government, etc. As a consequence, knowledge about the platform is fragmented. There’s not one resource you can leverage quite like the developer networks of other platforms. There have been some attempts by the market to meet the obvious demand created by this void, but it’s pretty difficult to make money selling developer tools or developer-related services. A few companies succeed at this, mostly at a small scale, but much larger numbers of companies fail.

We’d like to do something about this.

Open Web Developer Center?

We think the web could really use something like an “Open Web Developer Center”, a site where you can go to find integrated documentation for the various browsers and specifications that compromise the platform and learn more about its capabilities, where you can find the tools that can increase your productivity and augment your capabilities, and where you can socialize with other developers.

Perhaps most important of all, we want a place where that helps more people get engaged in influencing the future of the platform in direct, tangible, and meaningful ways–to help realize the vision of the Open Web Platform as the People’s Platform, of the people and for the people.

The Tools Directory

So the tools directory is a first step towards realizing this vision. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we think the next immediate steps are:

  • Provide great ways to navigate and filter the data. Seeing a centralized mass of tools is useful, but it’s much better to sift through the noise to find just what you want. Crowd-sourced tagging (i.e., folksonomies) are one step in this direction; we’d also like to add features that show you the tools that your friends use, the most popular and highest rated tools, and tools that industry luminaries use. What are useful filters / discovery techniques should we employ?
  • Crowd-source the data. What’s the right mix of data stewardship? Submit revisions and have them reviewed by “trusted editors”? Allow each tool to have an “owner” that modifies the data? Wikipedia-style free-for-all?
  • Efficient and accessible interface. The current UI is certainly… graphical but has a bunch of usability and accessibility problems. We think the right move here is to focus on a more traditional data-centric UI for the main view, but provide one or more graphical “explorers” for a different perspectives onto the data set and a bit of fun and whimsy. We’re making the data open to anyone to consume (we have a JSON-producing MySQL-backed web service we’ll make available soon, once we nail down the API a bit more) so we’d love to see folks create their own explorer interfaces on top of the data in addition to the one we’ll provide.

What Do You Think?

Are these the right immediate next steps for the tools directory? What do you think of the overall vision of the Open Web Developer Center?

I really wish all of us interested in this sort of thing could get together and brainstorm about all this. In fact, we should do just that. Look for another post on this topic shortly.

In the meantime, please do send in feedback, either via our mailing list or comments right here. Thanks!



Post a comment
  1. July 23, 2009

    I really like the idea of an Open Web Development Center. I wonder if this could be promoted by a series of ‘Powered by the Open Web’ buttons that apps could use?

  2. July 23, 2009

    MDC should be the Open Web Developer Centre, at least for the web dev parts. There’s absolutely no reason IMO why the entry on XMLHttpRequest, after explaining the standards-compliant spec, shouldn’t tell you how it differs in IE and how to write cross-platform code that works with both.


  3. matrixik #
    July 26, 2009

    At please give option to show only free tools.

  4. February 17, 2013

    First off I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick
    question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior
    to writing. I have had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting
    my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like
    the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Many thanks!

  5. March 17, 2013

    I have to convey my respect for your kindness for all those
    that need guidance on this 1 field. Your special commitment
    to passing the answer up and down has been incredibly functional and
    has continually empowered a lot of people just like me to attain their dreams.
    Your remarkable insightful information entails considerably to me
    and specifically to my peers. Thanks a ton;
    from all of us.

  6. March 27, 2013

    Awesome content. I’ve got a concern. As a web-site owner, just how long did it require for your web-site to become successful? Furthermore what do you enjoy most about running a blog?

  7. October 11, 2013

    Excellent site you have here.. It’s difficult
    to find quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individuals
    like you! Take care!!

  8. January 18, 2014

    I’m not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading very slow for me.

    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end?
    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  9. February 1, 2014

    Everything gets simpler when you use Speeder – XP and slow
    down a bit in the game. I instructed Pay – Pal, the
    entire story and they listened very carefully. Phishing is mostly used on a wider scale to target a large
    amount of yahoo accounts.

  10. February 9, 2014

    A person essentially lend a hand to make severely
    posts I would state. This is the frst time I frequented your web page and up to now?
    I surprised with the research yyou made to make this actual publish incredible.
    Excellent activity!

  11. February 14, 2014

    I am really loving the theme/design of your website.
    Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems?
    A small number of my blog audience have complained about my
    website not operating correctly in Explorer but looks
    great in Safari. Do you have any tips to help fix this issue?

  12. February 14, 2014

    I\’m excited to find this web site. I wanted to
    thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every bit of
    it and i also have you book marked to check out new stuff in your web site.

  13. February 22, 2014

    Tɦere is definatelʏ a lot to learn about this issue.
    I like all of the points you havе made.

  14. brave frontier hack gems for free #
    March 30, 2014

    wonderful publish, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t understand this.
    You should proceed your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

  15. April 7, 2014

    Why people still make use of to read news papers when in this technological globe the whole thing
    is existing on web?

  16. April 7, 2014

    Hi tɦere terrific website! Ɗoes running a blog ѕuch as this require a lot of wߋrk?
    I have absolutely ոo expoertise in programming
    but I ɦad beո hoping to start my own blog ѕoon. Aոyways,
    if you have any ideas օr tips for neew blog owners рlease share.

    I know thiѕ іs off subject but I simply ѡanted to ask.
    Thɑnks a lot!

  17. car #
    April 18, 2014

    The brake pedal depressor holds the foot brakes safely that is
    needed in the wheel alignment procedure. Those initial stitches are not designed to pull the tear together in any way; they are there to add strength and structure.
    The water does not look all that deep and you figure that other cars made it through.

  18. April 18, 2014

    Saudi Arabia chanel Bag
    I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog.

    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it
    yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great
    blog like this one today.

  19. April 19, 2014

    So also before the children get to prepare anything, they would manage
    to recognize a great deal about it many thanks to cooking games.
    well i should say that PS4 is not on any online store yet, but if any sites like amazon start selling them, there will be a good discount for Play – Station 4 on amazon.
    However, she’s still got next week to make Monika eat her words.

  20. April 21, 2014

    What’s up, after reading this amazing paragraph і am also happy tߋ share my familiarity Һere ѡith colleagues.

  21. April 21, 2014

    Anim8or is free software that can be used to create 3D graphics.
    This graphic designing computer software can be backed
    for that operating systems Linux, Apple pc OS IN THIS HANDSET By in addition to ‘microsoft’ windows.
    The posting reads, in part: ‘Hello everybody out
    there using minix – I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby,
    won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT

  22. April 21, 2014

    I don’t drop a lot of remarks, however i did some searching and
    wound up here Update on the Tools Directory and the Open Web | Ben Galbraith’s Blog.
    And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright.
    Could it be just me or does it give the impression like a few of
    these remarks come across like written by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing on additional places, I would like to
    follow anything new you have to post. Could you list of all of your communal pages like your linkedin
    profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  23. April 22, 2014

    Truly when someone doesn’t understand afterward its up to other users that
    they will assist, so here it happens.

  24. April 22, 2014

    It makes sense, then, that expanding your mailing test marketing vs market testing list and exponentially increase their profit
    margin. Direct mail is still in especially if you are
    a dentist or a chiropractor, there are many vendors that can offer you direct mail it will
    fail unless your target market.

  25. April 23, 2014

    Summerfair, held at Cincinnati’s Coney Island June 3-5,
    2011, is one of the top 100 fine arts fairs in the USA.
    No one knows exactly when knitting first began since there is
    no actual record of any knitted fabric before 200 A.
    Comfort with style brought about by quality designs and handicrafts are these rugs.

  26. April 29, 2014

    Free Full Game Download provides links to free full legal
    downloads of computer games. The download speeds are also very slow
    and frequently, there have only a limited selection of old psp games.
    If your don’t fix these errors, your Battlefield 3, other programs and your system would don’t work correctly.

  27. June 2, 2014

    Magnifique post, persiste dans cette voie

  28. June 6, 2014

    Saved as a favorite, I love уоur website!

  29. July 13, 2014

    Thanks for finally writing about >Update on the Tools Directory and the Open Web | Ben Galbraith’s Blog <Liked it!

  30. July 20, 2014

    You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation however I to find this topic to be really something that
    I think I might never understand. It sort of feels too complicated and
    extremely large for me. I am having a look forward on your next submit, I will try to get the dangle of

  31. August 13, 2014

    We’re a gaggle of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site offered us with helpful information to work on. You’ve done a formidable task and our
    whole neighborhood might be grateful to you.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mozilla Labs » Blog Archive » Browser Memory (Tools) Directory

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.