September 02, 2012

Mozilla's Hackday on Porto Alegre - Review

Hello there!

One day after BrazilJS 2012, Mozilla had the idea of promoting a hackday here in Porto Alegre, Brazil. They talked about a Firefox OS and it got my attention.

So, I went there. I and loved the idea.

We started the day with a good breakfast, had some presentations around the new Firefox OS and some news about webapps. After that, we got up stairs to the ThoughtWorks office to start the hacking.

On the end of the day, a lot of documentation was translated to portuguese and we had a lot of cool demos.

There were some interesting points:

The Firefox OS


The Firefox OS is a mobile framework. Really light-weight, fast, customizable, and powered by JavaScript/HTML/CSS! The idea is to have a small linux kernel booting up the phone interface on a custom firefox browser, and providing phone apis on javascript (like contacts and more).

It would make it a good OS for  low-end smartphones, for places where smartphones are expensive (like Brazil).

It is powered by Gecko, and you can run the phone interface (a.k.a. Gaia) on your computer using Firefox Nightly build. If you are running the Nightly build, you can install applications even on your computer, without the Gaia interface. You can provide a good looking icon in your applications list of your preferred OS, like any native app, and it will run on a web wrapper, with the application name as the title. It is completely cross-platform!

Creating applications is really easy. You use a manifest to say it is installable, and build it like a normal webapp. This means it run on any OS, since it is a small webapp running on the internet (or even locally). You can write everything using javascript, bundle it using a cache manifest file, and run everything locally. (Awesome for todo lists in js ;)

Mozilla Marketplace

Mozilla has a beta marketplace, where you can publish your applications, like Google’s Play or Apple’s Appstore. It will provide ways to comercialize apps (70-39% if you want to sell it). They are using Mozilla Persona on the website, which might help to spread Persona for non-tech people.

There is no developer fee, which is interesting for spiking super small apps, check the acceptance by the market and keep moving. 

Hackday results


We had a lot of cool games, using canvas and Mozilla WebGameStub <https://github.com/mozilla/WebGameStub/>. During the talks, someone asked about screen reading capabilities, and it inspired me to try out a speech-to-text webapp. So, me and Tainã (@tainaonichi) sat down on a hot evening and coded it! The result it here <https://gist.github.com/3603997>

Final thoughts

The day was really interesting, with a lot of cool stuff from Mozilla’s labs. A lot of talk about gaming, some cool 3d examples and a super light phone OS. I would totally buy a Firefox OS phone, if the price is as low as they said when it comes out.