Firefox gets its first Facebook-flavored taste of Mozilla’s big plan for social

firefox social
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Mozilla isn’t a social media company, but it’s increasingly trying to make Firefox a social product.

Today, the web browser maker announced Firefox is getting preliminary support for Social API, which lets developers bring their social services right into the Firefox browser in a nifty sidebar.

“As services integrate with Firefox via the Social API sidebar, it will be easy for you to keep up with friends and family anywhere you go on the Web without having to open a new Web page or switch between tabs,” we read this morning on the Mozilla blog.

“You can stay connected to your favorite social network even while you are surfing the Web, watching a video or playing a game.”

Here’s how that works on the technical side: When you fire up Firefox, a “service worker” from the social service in question is instantiated and starts receiving push events from the mothership. In the browser window, the sidebar instantiated and communicates with the service worker, which then pulls in a list of event sinks. The service can then send more content to the sidebar as needed. If you click on sidebar content such as a chat conversation, Firefox opens a new window where you are already logged in and can continue using the service.

The first service to use the Social API will be Facebook Messenger. Messenger itself has been a particular object of affection over at Facebook, where engineers have spun the product off into its own mobile and desktop apps separate from Facebook proper.

But of course, the Social API won’t be just for Facebook apps. “The Social API will ultimately support multiple providers and has endless potential for integrating social networks, e-mail, finance, news, and other applications into your Firefox experience,” the blog continues.

Firefox beta testers should see social sidebars coming up in the next few weeks. Interested developers can check out a sample Social API integration on GitHub and go over the rest of Mozilla’s documentation, as well.

Top image courtesy of Jonathan Lundkvist, deviantART

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