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As we’ve noted before, Mozilla’s Raindrop messaging project holds a lot of promise. Like many early-stage, open-source Mozilla projects, the design of Raindrop isn’t being widely publicized, but there are now more interface clues as to why it could be important.
The underlying design philosophy behind Raindrop is that email is broken. We are flooded with messages from social networking applications, our regular email inboxes, and more. Spam proliferates. Clearly, there is a need for a better way to sift and sort our message flows. That’s what Raindrop — slated to be a free, open-source offering — aims to be.
Raindrop aggregates messages into sortable and siftable views that can be useful on both desktop and mobile devices. On the desktop, aerial inbox views like this one have been shown:
Throughout November and December, Mozilla design guru Andy Chung has been posting screenshots and experimental designs for Raindrop, found here. To get a sense of how Raindrop might work on mobile devices, take a look at Chung’s mockups here:
In the first image above, you can see how Inbox messaging flows, social networking flows, and other views can be accessed through a dashboard-like interface. In the view below, you can see how views of messages from multiple types of social networking sites co-exist in one view:
Raindrop has remained mostly a concept in 2009, but I expect that it will be one of the more interesting projects to watch next year. The challenge with it, Google Wave and other messaging aggregators, is getting interfaces and features exactly right, and providing users with lots of views of message flows. Previous “universal inbox” projects have not beaten those challenges, but Raindrop will take a shot next year.