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Summary:

Last week we looked into alternatives to the popular Google Browser Sync, the service that syncs your Firefox data across multiple devices on different platforms. Actually, let me rephrase that: I think a better description is that it syncs your "user experience". Yes, it syncs your […]

WeaveupdateLast week we looked into alternatives to the popular Google Browser Sync, the service that syncs your Firefox data across multiple devices on different platforms. Actually, let me rephrase that: I think a better description is that it syncs your "user experience". Yes, it syncs your bookmarks, cookies, saved passwords and more; when I add all that up, I get the same user experience on any machine with the tool. Alas, it’s going unsupported with Firefox 3, so I started to look into Mozilla’s comparable service called Weave. It’s still early going for Weave, but the 331 KB add-on was just updated to version 0.2.0.

So what’s in the new version? Well, some things I thought were originally in the prior rev: I didn’t realize until I started to use Weave that the data types were limited. In version 0.1.30, you could sync Bookmarks, History, Cookies, Saved Passwords and Saved Form Data. The new version adds in support for Tabs and future plans include synched Extensions / Themes, Search Plugins and Microformats.

In terms of functionality then, there isn’t much more here. However, the initial setup is vastly improved and more polished. One caution: new and existing Weave users will need to set up a new account. That wasn’t clear to me until I read the Release Notes, so I struggled for a good ten minutes trying to sign in with my old credentials.

Mozilla also makes mention of an "intelligent scheduler" for the synching of data. I’m looking forward to seeing what that’s all about from a performance standpoint. On my UMPC, the prior version of Weave ran fine in the background. On my Mac? Let’s just say that I thought a jet plane was taking off every time Weave went to sync: the fans fired up, the data started synching, and I fastened my seat belt. The sync on the Mac seemed to take an abnormally long time, so I’m hoping for some under the hood improvements there. Mozilla is also taking further steps towards privacy and security with your data as Weave 0.2.0 introduces

  • Support for NSS, the crypto library used by Firefox.
  • End-to-end encryption, with support for secure sharing of data with a 3rd party.
  • RSA public/private keys, AES encryption.

As with the prior release, this version is experimental. If you want Firefox data synchronization across multiple machines, this is surely worth the look. But as with any "beta" product, you really don’t want to rely on it in a production environment. Foxmarks works well and should be considered. Me? I like to live on the edge, so I’ll be playing with Mozilla’s Weave to keep my user experience consistent across multiple computers.

You can find the free extension available for download here in the release notes.

  1. Kevin I tried Foxmarks that you suggested and I like it. I use it across four Windows laptops. I need to “play” with it and fine tune it, but it works well.

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  2. Mozilla better get their act together. I updated Weave and now it can’t find my Weave account meaning none of my computers can sign in and sync data. I’m gonna have to create a new account and start over, apparently.

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  3. Don’t be too hard on Mozilla… read the post. ;)

    “One caution: new and existing Weave users will need to set up a new account.”

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  4. That is just plain silly. That means all your stored data is not only inaccessible until you create a new account but is now bouncing around the Weave cloud for potential security issues.

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  5. Two related thoughts worth mentioning to folks.

    1. This is a *prototype* service. Folks should expect it to be changing and in flux.
    2. Data isn’t bouncing around the Weave cloud. Once you upgrade to the new service on once computer, the other computers on the older client can’t sign in or access the old data, which is as it should be.

    Ideally, it would be nice for the old stored data to be migrated, but again, this is a prototype of a “point” release. We’ve got to keep our expectations at the same level. Personally, I could care less about having to sync browser data over from scratch. It takes just a few minutes in the background.

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  6. You call playing with Weave “living on the edge”?

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  7. Rick Huizinga Tuesday, July 1, 2008

    I think I’m going to give up on Weave and FF3 for now.

    I installed Weave 0.2 today, but I’m having problems when using it with my Google Reader home page. More specifically, when switching computers my Google Reader session starts fine but I get logged out of Google Reader once Weave finishes its sync. I don’t have this problem when launching FF3 on a machine that has already been synced using Weave, only when switching between machines where the sync needs to be performed.

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