Mozilla wants to help stop the proliferation of “share this” badges currently cluttering the web. These days nearly every page you visit is plastered with dozens of icons offering to like, or tweet, or +1, or thumbs up, or otherwise tell your friends what you think of the page in question. The clutter can be distracting or even overwhelming and, if Mozilla has anything to say about it, unnecessary.
Firefox has a plan to clean up the clutter and move the sharing power into the browser itself. Mozilla Labs has announced a new project, Firefox Share, a Firefox add-on that makes it easy to share webpages on Twitter or Facebook right from the Firefox URL bar.
Firefox Share is currently an alpha quality release and may have some bugs, but if that doesn’t bother you head on over to the download page and install it (Firefox Share does not require a restart).
Once installed the new add-on adds a paper airplane icon to the URL bar, click that icon and a drop down panel allows you to post to Twitter or Facebook or email a message to a friend.
If that sounds familiar it might be because an earlier Mozilla Labs project, known as F1, does essentially the same thing. So, why the new add-on? Well, part of the reason is that Firefox Share features a much better design, one that looks more like a native Firefox widget and looks Mac-like on a Mac, Windows-like on Windows, and Linux-like on Linux. The native look means that Firefox Share probably has a better chance of making it into a future release of Firefox.
Firefox Share is also totally different under the hood. The old F1 add-on used Mozilla’s servers as a middleman between your tweet and Twitter’s servers or your wall post and Facebook. The new Firefox Share eliminates the middleman and does all the work right in the browser, sending the message directly to Twitter or Facebook. That means Firefox Share is much easier to scale (should it one day be included in Firefox proper) and it also eliminates some possible security concerns.
While all of that makes Firefox Share an improvement over the older F1 add-on, it doesn’t come without some cost, namely, far fewer supported services. F1 supported LinkedIn, Google Apps, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and even multiple accounts per service. Firefox Share is currently limited to just Twitter and Facebook and there’s no way to use multiple accounts at the same time.
However, while the current alpha release offers limited support for sharing services, the Mozilla Labs blog assures users that the company has “a plan in place to support a long-tail of service providers, so you won’t have to try and convince us to implement your favorite sharing provider.” In other words, this is an alpha, if your favorite service isn’t supported just be patient, or stick with F1 until Firefox Share catches up.