Mozilla Raindrops on Google’s Wave

Mozilla Labs Raindrop
Mozilla Labs Raindrop

The recent hype surrounding Google Wave’s 100,000 new invitees appeared to be one of their most successful campaigns since Gmail was first launched by invitation in 2004. The social media platforms seemed filled with tweets and Facebook status updates pleading for an invite if anyone had a spare available. The issue around supply and demand continues to be a successful format for increasing hype and exposure for technology brands.

So a recent low-key announcement about a new test communication solution seems to break all the rules for generating hype.  However, it just happens to be from the team that developed the “Spread Firefox” campaign which was responsible for close to one billion downloads.

The new lab release called Raindrop was built by Mozilla’s team responsible for building its successful Thunderbird email messaging platform. Raindrop seeks to provide a better solution as it moves away from the current information overload that seems common to many new technologies such as Twitter and RSS.

Unlike Wave, which requires a Google login to use the platform, Raindrop can be used with your existing email and social accounts.

The current planned architecture that currently only works within the browser but will be expanded to more devices.

Where Google Wave engineers built a new platform for a problem that doesn’t exist, they also combined it with a requirement to retrain your communication habits. When they started Raindrop, Mozilla just worked to improve how you handle communication overload.

Raindrop continues to lead the communications market with the ability to control where you host your data, if you want it hosted locally or within the cloud.

As Techcrunch points out, Raindrop seems to allow your inbox to be personal again by focusing on highlighting and separating personal comments from general emails. Raindrop seeks to find the important conversations, break out personal conversations, and also discover important links hidden deep with the email text.

Raindrop also appears to be a much cleaner interface than Wave.  The open API also allows you to hack together your own custom conversation dashboard. This integration and filtering of multiple streams of information can potentially help business move towards sustainable one-to-one social media campaigns.

Using any modern web browser except Internet Explorer (Firefox, Safari, Chrome) and using its mini web server, you can fetch your conversations from multiple sources:

  • Email
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feeds
  • Facebook (possible)
  • YouTube (soon)

The design philosophy behind Raindrop was to design a open product for today’s messaging habits, not create a new platform for colloboration as Google Wave did. Instead of creating a new way to interact with multiple contacts, it works to cut through the noise and focus only on the information of interest.

It is also useful for business today and can assist with coping with today’s problems of overflowing email boxes or delayed and missed responses to social media messages.

Mozilla knows it has proved difficult with email clients to differentiate between personal and broadcast messages “mailing lists“ so Raindrop seeks to assist by categorising messages and prioritising them. To assist with the sheer volume of incoming mailing lists, Raindrop gives them a separate category from your personal messages.

The Raindrop inbox consists of multiple widgets to filter and display your data streams.

The core set of functionality provided can be customised by new extensions. To assist with quicker development of new widgets Mozilla has provided the extender. This tool offers instant feedback to prototype widgets without having to reload the application.

Front-end and backend extensions that are used by your Raindrop are listed.

Extensions to display Flickr URLs can be quickly edited live and easily cloned with a single click.

Google Wave and Raindrop are very early in the process of development.  Which solution will be more suitable for your business?  Both?

Update: This project is considered inactive