I'm Aza Raskin @aza. I make shiny things. I simplify.

I'm VP at Jawbone, focusing on health.

 

The conondrum of releasing Ubiquity 0.5

Ubiquity 0.5 has a number of awesome features, all made possible by a large group of dedicated people like Mitcho, Cers, Satyr, Brandon, Jono, just to name a few. We’ve revamped the natural language parser to be much more robust: gone are the days of ugly hyphenated commands, as well as awkward commands like “add-to-calendar 3pm lunch with Mitcho”. Instead, you can say “add 3pm lunch with Mitcho to calendar”. We’ve also added the ability to use Ubiquity in many languages other than English. Like Japanese, Catalan, Portuguese, and Danish. We’re excited to see more soon.

And all these changes break compatibility with 3rd party Ubiquity 0.1.x commands. By pushing an upgrade to Ubiquity 0.5, we’ll break a lot of currently working functionality: people will just wake up and things that worked yesterday won’t work today.

We’re left in an interesting position.

Ubiquity is a Mozilla labs project that has around 400 thousand active users. As as leading-edge experiment we need to be agile and iterate quickly, and yet we don’t have the right to break the daily habits and work flow of so many people.

It’s a conundrum. This video describes our solution.

How We’re Releasing Ubiquity 0.5.

RT @aza The conondrum of releasing Ubiquity 0.5 | Follow @aza on Twitter | All blog posts

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Aargh! Flash video! :-(


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Breaking existing installs is one thing, but the “Get It Now” your page http://labs.mozilla.com/projects/ubiquity/ still provides a direct download/install of v0.1.9 instead of the latest v0.5 , which makes no sense at all for new users – please update this accordingly!


Not only is 0.5 not the default download on ubiquity.mozilla.com, but the choice is really confusing. The big button which is labeled “Ubiquity ⍺” points to 0.1.9 and the smaller text “latest beta” points to 0.5 (in fact 0.5pre6 and not the final 0.5). Since both are pre-release, one doesn’t know which is the most recent, and the “⍺” label makes 0.1.9 seem the more cutting edge.

Also, is it not possible to push automatic updates within each stream? One had to download each iteration of 0.5pre manually…


Hey guys, really sorry about that. Somehow that didn’t get updated in the push.

We’ve now updated the link!


I expect Ubiquity to be a rough ride, I’d rather that than you stop innovating.

However, the one thing I would like is a way to find out new features. I’ve been following since day 1 and have no real way of discovering new additions without reading up about them.


Out of curiousity I installed 0.5 yesterday and having read the release notes I wasn’t surprised that the 3-4 search commands I had written myself in the command editor now don’t work any more.
So I wanted to rewrite them for 0.5 and I just can’t get them to work. Could someone please point me to a “template” for a very basic search command for 0.5. I don’t even need results preview or stuff like this, just a simple command that takes one argument.



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Ah, forget it. For me 0.5 just doesn’t work. It’s quite sluggish and commands often disapear while typing. Also 0.5.1 didn’t bring any changes in this respect.
So I downgraded to 0.1.9 just now and it works again!
Just to clarify, I respect all the developer’s work who contribute to Ubiquity and I really like this addon. Makes my days on the web so much easier/faster. Please keep up the great work!
I guess I’ll just wait a little before upgrading to 0.5…



jeffrey tucker

Devastated that Ubiq no longer preserves formatting in emails! I used the old feature constantly.


I downgraded to 0.1.9 too, I know you need beta (alpha?) testers but ubiquity 0.5 doesn’t work well enough yet. I have problems with the interface and the tab button doesn’t seem to work properly. Waiting another little bit too. Keep up with the great work you’re doing. ;)



Anon

Why the HELL are they using a Flash video?



Ty

Isn’t there any way for Ubiquity to integrate the old command functions in with the new (and if/when the time comes, phase out the old commands *eventually*)?

Like, remember when PS2 came out and everyone said “SWEET I can still play PlayStation games on this rad new system!”?

I kid. I realize it’s different, but seriously, there has to be a way to introduce 0.5 without completely trashing most of the commands from earlier versions. On top of everything else, it seems like a pretty sizable waste of time to have to recode all preexisting commands to work with the new version instead of just being able to update the code to make it work with the new, better features supposedly included in 0.5!

So yeah, I’m gonna wait a while to upgrade. It just doesn’t seem worth the hassle and especially the loss of functionality.

PS- What’s with the Flash video? Surely there’s a way for us up-to-date Firefox users to view it in an open video format instead, since the newest FF version includes open video support.



Ty

PPS- One more thing, then I’m done, I swear:

Seriously, we need to drop this GMail-only bullsh*t with Ubiquity- I’m going to be so very disappointed if there isn’t some Yahoo! Mail support soon.


TOO MUCH.

I realize this might not be the appropriate place to post this message but I think it needs to be heard.

Why do software companies like Mozilla think that it is okay to release so many updates? Being a usability expert I think you can respect the fact the frequency of updates play a huge role into usability.

Lately it seems that between Firefox, Apple (Safari, iTunes, etc.), Micorsoft and Adobe in that order, we (users) are being bombarded with updates. Firefox is the worst because it is not so much that the browser is being updated, now all the extensions to the browser need to be updated.

I have a lap top at home that I don’t use as frequently, yesterday I opened it up for the first time in two weeks. From Start up to the point I could actually use my laptop was over two hours of updates, again Firefox being the most obtrusive.

TOO MUCH < TOO MUCH < TOO MUCH.

I am a power user and generally like to have the latest of everything but even I have gotten to the point that I am not having a good time with my computer when I have to deal with so many issues. I much rather have less frequent more featured updates, or even better yet, if the updates could take place without me noticing or having to pay attention. Example if Firefox down loaded the latest version while I had my browser open and installed itself behind the scene, then completed the installation when I decided (rather than being prompted) to end a session.

The sad thing about this constant hassle by big companies like Mozilla, Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe is that the smaller companies follow your lead. Now in addition to all these other updaters I now have updates from every other software that is loaded on my machine, thus rendering a substantial portion of my day as non productive. This amount of time times the number of computers that I have adds up.

Like I said I am a power user that doesn’t care as much,,, think of people like my mom or my sister that has no clue what benefits these updates offer, to them the updates are equivalent to viruses. McAfee (espeically on a Dell) after the experiation is on the top of the user list as the most annoying experience in computing.

AZA please take note, you are a smart influential person in this industry, I think you can lead the effort to make a difference.


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Lately it seems that between Firefox, Apple (Safari, iTunes, etc.), Micorsoft and Adobe in that order, we (users) are being bombarded with updates. Firefox is the worst because it is not so much that the browser is being updated, now all the extensions to the browser need to be updated.


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And all these changes break compatibility with 3rd party Ubiquity 0.1.x commands. By pushing an upgrade to Ubiquity 0.5, we’ll break a lot of currently working functionality: people will just wake up and things that worked yesterday won’t work today.


nice . Aza, I absolutely love Ubiquity. I think it’s brilliant, and definitely the next step in internet-user-custom-interface-api-fun.ee


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This really is the very best post I understand as of these days.Exactly


We’re left in an interesting position.


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Is it just me or is ubiquity being taken apart. With taskFox and jetPack, it seems like you’re taking the basic parts of Ubiquity apart and sticking them in other things.


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I love Ubiquity 0.5. Thank you for this.


remember when PS2 came out and everyone said “SWEET I can still play PlayStation games on this rad new system!”?


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Ubiquity 0.5 is awesome, I am an avid user!


By pushing an upgrade to Ubiquity 0.5, we’ll break a lot of currently working functionality: people will just wake up and things that worked yesterday won’t work today.


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