What´s cooking in Mozilla´s labs? We decided to make some questions to Aza Raskin, user interface guru, son of the great Jef Raskin, founder of Humanized Inc., music search engine Songza and above all Head of User Experience for Mozilla Labs.
First of all, can you tell us something about your-self?
If you open any newspaper to the comic section, you´ll find at least one comic with a guy swearing at his computer. Sometimes it´s a girl. Sometimes it´s a mobile device. It´s always being sworn at. It´s funny because the frustration is a universal experience. My mission is to create a world where those comics don´t need to exists.
You have posted a screencast for Fennec mobile browser UI. A very interesting concept was spatial view. Can you tell us something more about that feature and the semantic placement?
The screencast for the Fennec mobile browser is actually a concept video, meaning it represents a set of ideas rather than a committed set of features that will be in Fennec. With that considered, imagine a large sheet of glass on which your tabs sit. You can move close to the glass to see and manipulate one tab, or you can standfar away from the glass to see them all in context.
Just likes pieces of paper on your desk, you can move them around and group them together in a way that makes semantic sense to you (although unlike your desk, tabs cannot overlap). If you have a couple pages open to your email, and a couple pages open to some vacation planning material, you can place the similarly-themed sites physically together. This makes excellent use of our spatial memory
and muscle memory: finding where you put a page on two-dimensional plane is remarkably swift and requires little cognitive load. With the addition of semantic placement, it´s even better.
Spatial view uses space in a near optimal fashion?all pages are displayed at once in near maximum size so that extraneous interaction is not required to browse through your open pages.
Devolping Fennec UI is a key factor to exporting Mozilla on future mobile platforms. Do you think that Fennec will be successfull on the iPhone as well?
As Head of User Experience for Mozilla Labs you are also involved in Weave, an extension to connect browsers with on-line services. Can you tell us something more about its future development plan?
"The Network is the Computer" is a famous Sun motto. Do you think that we should be expecting a future Mozilla-based operating system?
It´s not about Mozilla. It´s about the web becoming a mature platform. Who needs an operating system, in the classic sense, when you never have to leave the web browser? You´ll wake up one day and realize that you can´t even tell what operating system your running because the web is your world. It will be a silent revolution.