Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Yahoo! BrowserPlus Released

Category: Browsers, Yahoo!

Yahoo! has had a big day with a lot of Open platform releases (OpenSocial, YAP, etc) and to add to that they have released Yahoo! BrowserPlus version 2.1.6, which is important as it opens up the BrowserPlus platform for anyone to use.

It features:

  • Google Chrome and IE 6 support
  • Smaller 2mb installation
  • End user configuration panel for managing permissions on a per site basis
  • three new services
  • a fun game using the macbook’s motion sensor!
  • full API documentation, code samples, and a new forum for developers

The services now available out of the box are:

  • DragAndDrop: Support drag and drop of files from desktop to web browser.
  • FileBrowse: Present the user with a file browser dialog.
  • FileChecksum: Allows client side MD5 of user selected files.
  • FlickrUploader: Provides an interface to the Flickr Authorization and Upload API.
  • ImageAlter: A service based on ImageMagick to alter images locally and and serve them over HTTP.
  • InactiveServices: A built-in corelet which allows for the exploration of available inactive services, which may be downloaded and activated.
  • IRCClient: A service that allows you to connect to IRC chat servers.
  • JSONRequest: Allows secure cross-domain JSON requests, inspired by
  • Log: Access plugin logging facilities. The available levels in order of severity are Fatal, Error, Warn, Info, Debug.
  • Motion: Use the hardware based motion sensor or mouse position to attain the (virtual) orientation of the computing device. Mouse position allows a resonable fallback for machines that don’t contain an accesible motion sensor.
  • Notify: Post notifications to the desktop. Supports Growl on Mac OS X, if installed.
  • PStore: Provides a persistent store.
  • RubyInterpreter: A service which allows other services to be written in Ruby.
  • TextToSpeech: A corelet that interfaces the OS provided text to speech facilities.
  • Uploader: This service lets you upload files faster and easier than before.

A lot of cool stuff there, and motion? nice!

I chatted with Lloyd Hilaiel of the YBP team, and he kindly answered some questions:

What are you most excited about with the release?

Most exciting to me personally is widening our audience. Throughout
the development of BrowserPlus we’ve been romping around Yahoo!
talking to people. Getting criticized, encouraged, and sharing ideas
about how the platform should work. This feedback has been critical
to our development, and has fueled some of the better decisions we’ve
made. During our sneak release we’ve gotten an order of magnitude
more feedback. Patches, hacks, and challenges from people all over.
Ultimately the kind of discussion that’s needed to make good software.

So opening the platform for the world to use is the most exciting part
about this, and getting to hear more what people think.

Where do you see Y!BP fitting in with the Open Web?

Well, the problem we’re most focused on is the difficulty in
authoring web plug-ins, both in terms of making them safe
(having robust features like revocation and versioning), and the
complexity of writing them (many platforms, many browsers, many
distribution and update mechanisms).

So possible contributions to the open web? Well eventually,
a decentralized means of supporting emerging standards by making
reference implementations safe and easy. We’ll see how far we get!

Can you elaborate on the model of creating your own corelets? Can
you do so easily and sign them? Or just Y! for now?

From the beginning, even before we were thinking about opening the
platform, we felt that a centralized model for extending the web
inside Yahoo wouldn’t scale well. We wanted to empower *other* people
to build the ‘services’, the things that actually deliver features
people can understand. So from the beginning we’ve tried to make it
as easy as possible for services to be prototyped, built, signed,
published, and consumed.

But the flip side, is being able to author code that can run
unsandboxed on end user devices can be extremely dangerous if there
isn’t anyone there to commit to and stand behind end user security and
privacy. So we are going to be taking steps to responsibly balance
end user security with developer freedom in terms of authoring
new BrowserPlus services. This is obviously a hard problem that we don’t take
lightly, but we’ve got a couple ideas of different approaches. We’d
love to hear what other people think might work.

So concretely, today, *distributing* new services is
restricted to Yahoo! and its partners. Stay tuned.

Anything else fun that you think the Ajaxian audience would want to know?

Sure! Write a level for the marble maze game! A level is just a bit of
JSON. Pop it on our forums and we’ll get the top 5 on our site
with your name up in lights! (you gotta pick your own nickname though).

Posted by Dion Almaer at 9:56 am

4 rating from 13 votes


Comments feed TrackBack URI

yay. more code to add to my persistent storage module. ._.’

Comment by V1 — October 29, 2008

Compare gears/browserplus

Comment by Cloudream — October 29, 2008

Congrats on releasing Yahoo BrowserPlus! There are alot of cool ideas in here.

Comment by Brad Neuberg — October 29, 2008

The choice of plugins seems a little disappointing. The drag-and-drop plugin is essentially useless without a generic upload plugin (not just FlickrUploader)

Comment by tlrobinson — October 29, 2008

tlrobinson: i believe general uploading is available through the Uploader service. see the last one in Dion’s list. when the developer site comes back up we should be able to confirm that.

Comment by skylar — October 29, 2008

FYI, the site is back. General uploading is available with this release (same domain restriction). Confirm away.

Comment by jambalaya — October 31, 2008

Yep. Site is up for good. Uploader service pushes multipart post, respects system proxy settings, and gives accurate progress. Intended as a dropin replacement for input type=file…

Throw tomatoes & ideas in our forums,


Comment by lloydhilaiel — November 1, 2008

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