Service allows website publishers to easily integrate collaboration and communication.
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Real-time collaboration, once a relatively uncommon feature in software applications, may soon be unavoidable on the Web. Mozilla Labs has introduced a service called TowTruck that allows website publishers to easily integrate real-time collaboration and communication.
Easily, in this context, means adding two lines of code -- JavaScipt snippets -- to existing Web pages. Thereafter, website visitors can begin communicating with each other in real-time, thanks to technologies called WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) and WebSocket.
WebRTC has evolved from open source code that Google released in 2011. It provides a way to implement real-time voice, video and file transfers in Web browsers without plug-ins. Google, as it happens, released an API for real-time collaboration in Google Drive apps last month.
At least that's the theory. In practice, it might be a few months before all the bugs get ironed out. Mozilla Labs characterizes TowTruck as alpha-quality software and advises against using it in a production environment. At the same time, the TowTruck code is open source, so anyone can contribute to improve it.
Presently, real-time text chat is functional. Mozilla Labs says real-time video and audio chat are coming. Those using Firefox Nightly builds or the most recent version of Google Chrome should be able to test audio chat.
On Friday, Mozilla said CEO Gary Kovacs will step down later this year, although he will remain on the company's board of directors. In June, Mozilla is expected to release Firefox OS, an open-source mobile operating system that's intended for smartphones aimed at emerging market countries.