Q and A on Firefox Scholar

Thanks so much everyone who emailed me over the past week in response to hearing about Firefox Scholar. It’s great to get a sense that a wide range of people (from a number of countries) feel that the time has come for this kind of enhanced scholarly web browser, and it gives our team at the Center for History and New Media a great deal of confidence as we move forward. I’ve received a lot of questions about the project, so I thought I would answer some of the common ones here.

I thought the name of this software was going to be Smartfox. Where did Firefox Scholar come from?
Yes, it’s true that the original name of the project was Smartfox, but after filing our grant proposal to the Institute of Museum and Library Services we discovered that someone had “created” (if we can generously call it that) a copy of an early version of Firefox and renamed it Smartfox. They also acquired the smartfox.org domain name. As so often happens with overlapping domains and names, if you search on Google for “Smartfox” you now get a confusing mix of hits which makes it seem like we are already producing the software. To make things clearer for everyone, we’ve changed the name to Firefox Scholar (which we actually like better). We plan on posting information about the project at firefoxscholar.org (but not yet).

Are you going to use X, Y, or Z protocol/schema to acquire metadata about books, articles, and other objects on the web?
The short answer is yes. In other words, we plan on taking advantage of all existing standards and metadata schemas to acquire metadata into one’s Firefox Scholar folder. OAI, OpenURL, COinS—you name it, we want Firefox Scholar to be compatible with it and take advantage of it. The idea of Firefox Scholar is that there will be tiny widgets for each of these that will enable the browser to natively recognize and store their formats.

I want to beta test the software as soon as it’s available. And by the way, when will it be available?
Great! Just let me know via email and I’ll put you on the list. We plan to make an early version of the software available in the late summer of 2006.

Will the software be available for Internet Explorer?
Sorry, it’s only a set of extensions for Firefox. We understand that a lot of people use Internet Explorer, but among other things (better security, free and openly available source code) Firefox has terrific ways of extending and enhancing it. In turn, we would like to make our own software extensible and enhanceable, and encourage other developers to make additions to it.

I’m a developer and would like to get involved with the project. How can I do so?
Please contact me.

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