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Mozilla Towtruck project offers real-time web browser collaboration

Allows web developers to add customisable Skype-like voice and chat tools
Mon Apr 15 2013, 17:00
Mozilla Firefox icon

SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Mozilla has unveiled a project called Towtruck, which allows web developers to collaborate in real time using web browsers.

Presently in the Alpha stage, the software has been shown off in a video and is implemented in Javascript, so no other software or plugins are required to install it. Since it's so easy to install, Towtruck can be enabled in existing web pages easily, thus making it much more intuitive for web developers to use to collaborate.

"All you need to do is include a couple lines of Javascript and your site has Towtruck tools enabled," Mozilla said in a statement. "When a user comes to your site, they'll be able to activate the Towtruck tool and send a link to a friend to start collaborating on the web site."

Once the full version is rolled out, the idea of Towtruck is that it will enable websites to feature a Towtruck icon, which users can select to bring up their user profile. From here, a unique link is generated and can be shared with another system to begin a text or voice dialogue in real time. Though Towtruck plans to take advantage of Skype-like voice tools via a calling icon and a microphone for Web RTC based Audio Chat eventually, the early build currently supports only text based collaboration.

"Sometime in 2013 support for this should be available in new (non-experimental) versions of Firefox, Chrome, and both Firefox and Chrome for Android," Mozilla wrote on its Github Live Chat page.

Other features include cursor mirroring, so you can see another collaborator's cursor on the screen in real time, mainly for editing purposes. It will also have the ability to create archives of sessions, adding "stickynotes" to collaboration documents. You can try it out here.

Mozilla's announcement comes not long after the firm's CEO Gary Kovacs said he would step down to make room for former CEO Mitchell Baker to expand her role to include more involvement with day-to-day operations. µ


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