Today, Mozilla's Messaging group launched F1, a Firefox extension that aims to make sharing content around the social web much easier.
For webmasters and web surfers alike, seeing a row of a half-dozen "share this" buttons above or below every piece of web content can be both visually distracting and existentially confusing.
Many companies are building work-arounds for this common interaction design problem of the digital age, and Mozilla has just thrown its hat into that particular ring.
F1 gives users an all-in-one frame above the content they're viewing. Once your accounts are connected, you simply click the tiny F1 icon in the toolbar to share the page you're viewing with friends on Facebook (Facebook), Twitter (Twitter) and Gmail (gmail). (Those three services were chosen as the first three supported sharing mechanisms for F1 because of their popularity and OAuth implementation.)
In an ideal world, if every web user was a Firefox F1 user, publishers wouldn't have to provide the usual slew of sharing buttons, and users wouldn't have to connect their social accounts and login credentials to scores of websites around the Internet (Internet). Sharing would be more secure, simpler and (let's face it) a lot easier on the eyes than it is now.
As a Mozilla Labs project, F1 is still being expanded. As Mozilla designer Bryan Clark wrote today on the company blog, "[Eventually], the system should know which sharing service you use, and offer to use those! That will require sharing services to advertise to the browser that they offer a sharing API and the browser to see which services you use.
"Furthermore, sharing is not a standardized activity, so some protocol is likely needed for user agents to offer users the service they want without having to know about all of them."
He also emphasized that publishers can also experiment with this feature; interested parties should check out the F1 wiki for details.
While we've seen similar cross-browser, all-in-one sharing frames and toolbars in the past, this offering from Mozilla is particularly well designed. In fact, we wish there was a cross-browser standard for social sharing; all these buttons have got to go at some point.
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