teradyneezeri: (Default)
[personal profile] teradyneezeri

Mozilla Webmaker is a tool designed by Mozilla to teach people how to make their own projects for the web. Notice the emphasis, and look at the page. Notice a slight bit of irony?


Yes, it points to an Android native app, not a tool on the web. The real irony is that the Webmaker platform was on the web. It was a browser-agnostic tool that worked quite well on mobile. It taught and encouraged you to explore concepts like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create animations and basic pages.

This new app? It has you place a picture and text, and a button to play through like a slide-show…That is all. It is that simple…but this is not teaching web literacy at all. In fact, the resulting pieces are not accessible from a web browser! No, I am not joking. This is the URI for the resulting shared item:


I am not exactly sure who Mozilla are trying to fool with this endeavor, especially when the previous attempt was such a nice tool that I could recommend to anyone. In fact, I should call Mozilla out for this publicly, as one of their goals is Web Literacy. This Webmaker tool is not only outside of the open web, but is actually a walled garden of its own, and has little to do with teaching actual site-making skills

The reason I sound a bit perturbed by this is because, as I will often mention, I am a proponent of the open web and web literacy. I believe that people should be given free materials to learn how to make their own presence on the web through their own hands, including some level of basic free hosting. This is something I had when first learning web design in late 1990s, and free hosts do exist today.

If Mozilla wishes to promote web literacy, they should promote actual web literacy, just as they are through their Maker Parties and Mozilla Developer Network. They should be giving people tools to work on such projects, like mobile-friendly versions of Composer—and updating the SeaMonkey Composer itself while they are at it. Give people tools to easily create websites and applications for the web, and make it fun to learn those skills. Show that those skills are not something that only geeks and web designers/developers should know.

"If you build it, they will come." Netscape built Mozilla, and people flocked to it, even if it was not when they expected them to flock to it. Google built Chrome, and people flocked to it because of the name alone. Mozilla built Webmaker, and while people did not flock to it at first, they did not exactly give it enough time before moving on to another idea.

In the end, I feel that Mozilla is making a mistake. They need to show people why the open web is better than native applications, especially if their goal is to promote the open web and web literacy. Putting an Android application that allows people to create a slide deck that can only be seen in the application is the exact opposite of what is needed.

Mozilla needs to fix this mistake. Do not fire anyone. Do not try to blame anyone. Just simply fix this issue. The idea of the open web is already being lost on people using the application. Fixing it should be the highest priority.


August 2015

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