Swaroop C H

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Yahoo Toolbar for Firefox

10 Feb 2005

The Yahoo Toolbar for Firefox (beta) is released! This is handy for me since I use Yahoo Mail, Calendar, AddressBook and Notepad a lot. Two features I liked are 'Search only the current site' and the bookmarks integration.

The only downside is that it takes up a chunk of screen estate (of course).

On an unrelated note, check out the new Yahoo! Music logo - me liiiike! :)

Note: The toolbar page says 'Requires Firefox 1.0 for Windows' but its working fine for me on Linux. The beta release notes has more info.

Update: I just noticed that Google has a IE-only toolbar.

Update : Officialspeak at the Yahoo! Search blog

Comments

Swaroop C H says:

> That’s why I prefer yahoo to run their own jabber server instead of coming up with their own solution
> (something which IBM did and failed)

That's a business decision. I won't comment much on it.

I can't come up with a valid business argument for it. For one, its not backward compatible with existing protocol of a messenger provider. You can't ditch that, no matter what. Another, what's the incentive for the messenger provider to undertake such a massive effort?

However, I personally would like to see such a thing happen.

Sriram says:

Sridhar - Yahoo has been up for a *lot* longer than Jabber. It has millions of users. It would be sheer stupidity to not focus on those millions..and switch them to something that has not been proven at such a large scale. You talk about IBM failing - here, Yahoo has clearly succeeded - I dont know of anyone who hasn't used Yahoo Messenger atleast once. On the other hand, Jabber is yet to prove their viability on such a large scale that MSN, Yahoo and ICQ have. If you're against people coming up with their own solutions, you might as well go back to 'talk' and IRC

srid says:

Great! Yahoo! entered first. Btw, Google seems be planning more than a toolbar for firefox. ;)

Swaroop C H says:

Sridhar: Yep, Google seems to be quite 'foxy' about it... :lol:

Swaroop C H says:

Angeline: Yep, Firefox is better in so many ways. Yeah, Avatars is IE-specific :( ... enjoy the toolbar ... and yeah I love that logo - neat, simple, to-the-point and yet elegant... somehow this list of 4 features reminds me of myself... just kidding ;) !

Sriram says:

Also, Yahoo is a public company. They have to justify every decision to their share holders. If you were the Yahoo CEO, and your shareholders ask you "What are we getting in return from opening our protocols?"...what will you reply?

angeline says:

I find firefox so much more efficient & convenient than IE..although firefox doesn't support yahoo avatars...
btw, thanx for the info abt the toolbar,I am downloading it as I write this..and yeah I saw the new Y!music logo..it's funky!

srid says:


On an unrelated note, do people actually use Jabber? Don’t consider this as a flame, just a curious question


I use jabber. On unavoidable occasions, I use yahoo too. I don't use separate clients for IRC, yahoo, jabber, ... I use bitlbee.org, an IRC IM gateway and use my favorite IRC client for all kind of communication. It's just perfect. Wanna a screenshot?
http://srid.bsdnerds.org/stuff/bitlbee2.png
http://srid.bsdnerds.org/stuff/bitlbee-irc.png

True that, mom, sisters won't be using jabber, but msn or yahoo. In that occasion, there are multiple-IM clients. Everyone wins!

I feel Y! can switch to jabber, they don't lose anything. Their realiable service is an advantage for them. I would switch to yahoo.com (from jabber.org) if they did so. :)

srid says:


Yahoo has been up for a lot longer than Jabber. It has millions of users. It would be sheer stupidity to not focus on those millions..and switch them to something that has not been proven at such a large scale


Not a big issue. Make yahoo messenger server as a proxy to yahoo jabber servers to support legacy accounts. Of course, it must implement the exact protocol and connect to real jabber server behind the hoods.


On the other hand, Jabber is yet to prove their viability on such a large scale that MSN, Yahoo and ICQ have.


I don't know. The architecutre of Jabber makes it reliable. A single IM provider need to handler much traffic, now that is a different issue. Jabber is a specification, not am implementation. It is the implementation that's got to deal with reliability. You are just talking - jabber is not reliable. Don't like existing jabber servers? write one!


If you’re against people coming up with their own solutions, you might as well go back to ‘talk’ and IRC


? Explain what do you mean here?

Praveen A says:

I've experience where yahoo is partial to IE and google recognising firefox and other platforms and browsers.
Well, I am talking about yahoo ( to be exact yahoo mail (and to be precise yahoomail composer) ). I remeber the days I used to compose in html with yahoo mail (not any more after I stopped using IE). I forgot about it these days that yahoo in Firefox don't offer composing in html (I think i sent a mail to yahoo support indicating this -- and I can understand the high volume of requests they get, I didn't get any reply) but I've seen people composing in html in yahoo in our cc (where we had to accept some Windows PCs as 'order from top'). I hope you'll take up this issue to the right places.

It's nice that yahoo 'recognised' firefox as a browser and I was about to download the beta but the licence .. says

b. YOU MAY NOT:
(i) decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, rent, lease, loan, distribute, or create derivative works (as defined by the U.S. Copyright Act) or improvements (as defined by U.S. patent law) from the Yahoo! Software or any portion thereof.

Sorry I cannot sign this agreement (Now I clicked 'I disagree')

Sorry It does not give me the following freedoms
( http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html )
* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
* The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
* The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
* The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Also it does not conform to the spirit of Mozilla
http://www.mozilla.org/MPL/MPL-1.1.html

And Why Software should be free ?
( http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html )

srid says:

(sorry for the second post .. I got connection error for the former post .. hence re-posted it)

Swaroop C H says:

For a company's intranet, that works out fine. What about ordinary users? Like moms and pops who know nothing about IM but just want to talk with their son who's somewhere else. Do you expect them to go hunting for Jabber servers that are going to work and not work?

I can think of a way where the IM client connects to the messenger provider's server (let it be Yahoo or ICQ or etc), and they forward you to another open Jabber server. But who's going to verify the reliability and security of that server? Not to mention it is a privacy concern. If the server goes down, who does the Mom blame? The messenger provider, of course, not the Jabber server maintainer.

Swaroop C H says:

I am discussing about the Yahoo protocol and on whether opening it up is going to help or not, __not__ about switching to the Jabber protocol. I can't comment on the latter. That's more of a business decision.

On an unrelated note, do people actually use Jabber? Don't consider this as a flame, just a curious question.

srid says:


For a company’s intranet, that works out fine. What about ordinary users? Like moms and pops who know nothing about IM but just want to talk with their son who’s somewhere else. Do you expect them to go hunting for Jabber servers that are going to work and not work?


Have you used Jabber? They don't need to learn anything new. All they need is a jabber id. Unlike with the tedious yahoo registration process in web, they could easily register it through the jabber client. Now adding buddy is as simple as adding their jabber id. My dad and brother uses it.


But who’s going to verify the reliability and security of that server? Not to mention it is a privacy concern. If the server goes down, who does the Mom blame? The messenger provider, of course, not the Jabber server maintainer.


You are still missing the point. Say you and your mon want to chat. Assume yahoo is running their own jabber server and there are tons of other alternatives (servers). You and your mom had been using Yahoo for reliability, now would you go for other jabber servers? If you want reliability you will go with yahoo jabber servers right?

That's why I prefer yahoo to run their own jabber server instead of coming up with their own solution (something which IBM did and failed)

srid says:


Similarly, if the yahoo messenger protocol was made open, lots of people would start using it, but they will all use it for free. Who is going to pay for the bandwidth and maintenance of the messenger servers? Again, who is going to monitor and check its abuse?


Agreed, Yahoo has no intention to open the protocol to public. For those who are worried about it, use Jabber or better use IM clients like Trillian, Gaim or Bitlbee.

Swaroop C H says:

Sridhar: I think you missed the point. Its not that Yahoo has no intention of opening the protocol. There have been many debates (someone referred to it as a full-scale religious war) on opening the protocol, but doing so means opening a big can of worms (read as 'abuse') as well as the bandwidth and server costs. Hence, it was not done. If you can suggest a better way to opening the protocol, I am willing to consider forwarding the idea to the appropriate people.

Third party clients like Gaim have reverse-engineered the protocol and allowing to interoperate with the Yahoo messenger.

srid says:



but doing so means opening a big can of worms (read as ‘abuse’) as
well as the bandwidth and server costs.



Yahoo protocol is already like an opened up protocol (see several open source software using it - gaim, bitlbee, libyahoo?, ....). Yes, they reverse engineered it!, and it works! The attacker could just use it to cause any abuse. There is no point for them to wait till the offcial announcement of "Y! protocol specs made available for public!"

I don't know how it will cost Yahoo bandwidth, .. if they open up the protocol. Look at Jabber.

Swaroop C H says:

Jabber relies on somebody running a server which users can tap into. This is like Usenet. First of all, I still don't see any takers giving away free Jabber servers for use. Another, users trust Yahoo for their reliability. How can Yahoo guarantee the reliability and security of someone else's servers? Just won't happen.

Swaroop C H says:

Sridhar and Praveen: To reiterate, the point I am trying to emphasize is that it is a hard problem to solve. Just making it an open protocol or open source isn't going to solve it. There's more that needs to be done to get anywhere near a solution.

srid says:


Jabber relies on somebody running a server which users can tap into. This is like Usenet. First of all, I still don’t see any takers giving away free Jabber servers for use. Another, users trust Yahoo for their reliability. How can Yahoo guarantee the reliability and security of someone else’s servers? Just won’t happen.


That is the advantage of jabber. A company could run its own IM client for security reasons. Users need not register an account with a specific server for just chatting with the user on that network (eg. Yahoo messenger). With jabber, you just communicate like email! AFAIK, jabber.org is quite reliable (sridharinfinity@jabber.org) for my needs. As far as Yahoo! is concerned, they can either adapt jabber and run a jabber server farm within their walls allowing clients from other jabber servers to connect (which is a good solution IMO) or stick with Y! messenger.

If people choose yahoo messenger merely for reliability, they could choose the former case and be happy with it.

A good solution which requires death of Yahoo messenger protocol (but with adaptation of Jabber for the new "Yahoo Jabber Server"). What do you say swaroop?

srid says:

That is the advantage of jabber - ability run in any server. If I wanted to talk with a friend in YM, I am forced to register an yahoo account and user their client. With jabber I could just use it like an email. This is my jabber id: sridharinfinity@jabber.org If you yahoo runs a jabber server my friend's jabber id will be foobar@yahoo.com. I could just use my (open source) jabber client to connect to him. Here I do not need to register an account at yahoo.com

Why should yahoo rely on third-party servers? They could just run their own server.

My suggestion:


Kill YM protocol (it's locking up the users, it's just bad!!)
Use Jabber
Run jabber - yahoouser@yahoo.com is the users jabber id
Now I (sridharinfinity@mypreferedserver.com) could easily chat with 'yahoouser@yahoo.com' without 'relying' on yahoo for everything!


Will yahoo do this?

Swaroop C H says:

Praveen: I am well aware of what freedoms the GPL insists on. Believe me, open source is a very good word in Yahoo! Due to some 'business decision', they don't publicise it. For example, did you know that the FreeBSD port of Valgrind was sponsored by Y! ?

I am not privy to the conversations on why the toolbar was not open sourced, but I can think of many reasons it could be. The single biggest concern that I myself would have is how to prevent abuse. If I open sourced the code which allows you to connect to yahoo and get your email, people can abuse this terribly, just like we have spam now since everybody can email for free. Remember that about 80% of emails on the internet are spam now. Similarly, if the yahoo messenger protocol was made open, lots of people would start using it, but they will all use it for free. Who is going to pay for the bandwidth and maintenance of the messenger servers? Again, who is going to monitor and check its abuse?

In an ideal world, all software would be free ; but this is not an ideal world.

If you can find a way to solve this, I'm interested to listen.

srid says:


b. YOU MAY NOT:
(i) decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, rent, lease, loan, distribute, or create derivative works (as defined by the U.S. Copyright Act) or improvements (as defined by U.S. patent law) from the Yahoo! Software or any portion thereof.

Sorry I cannot sign this agreement (Now I clicked ‘I disagree’)


If you prefer free software, why use Y! toolbar when there is http://companion.mozdev.org/

srid says:


I am discussing about the Yahoo protocol and on whether opening it up is going to help or not, not about switching to the Jabber protocol. I can't comment on the latter. That's more of a business decision.


I think that is not going to help anyone. The protocols are already reverse engineered. :)

Sriram says:

One question Sridhar - why? What's in it for Yahoo? Yahoo users are very happy with the service. I know..I'm one of them. What does Yahoo get out of running a Jabber server?

srid says:


One question Sridhar - why? What’s in it for Yahoo? Yahoo users are very happy with the service. I know..I’m one of them. What does Yahoo get out of running a Jabber server?


Yes, people are happy with Windows too .. they why do they talk about switching to Linux? :)

Sriram says:

Hmm..so Yahoo is big bad Microsoft now? I dont mind - I want Swaroop on my side :)

Swaroop C H says:

I don't see anybody switching from Yahoo to other messenger providers and protocols ; but people are switching from Windows to Linux. I don't see what one has to do with the other.

Sriram says:

Hmm..but Sridhar would say that they will. After all, Yahoo's software doesnt give him 'freedom'. How can I be sure that Yahoo Messenger isn't keeping track of all the por...err...educational sites I visit? How can I be sure without the source? Where's my freedom?
What's the matter - dont like a taste of your own (OSS) medicine?
:)

Swaroop C H says:

Yahoo messenger is a messenger client, not a browser. How can it track the sites?

Yes, the Yahoo toolbar could potentially track your sites as well. But so can the Google toolbar. Why isn't Google open-sourcing it? So, as a conclusion to this theorem, Google is evil ??

Sriram says:

Oh yes..we're all one big happy evil family. Bring on the sacrifices and the occult rituals, I say!

Praveen A says:

>Yes, the Yahoo toolbar could potentially track your sites as well. But so can the Google toolbar. Why isn’t Google open-sourcing it? So, as a conclusion to this theorem, Google is evil ??

I'm neither using google toolbar nor the yahoo toolbar !!

>How can I be sure that Yahoo Messenger isn’t keeping track of all the por…err…educational sites I visit? How can I be sure without the source? Where’s my freedom?
What’s the matter - dont like a taste of your own (OSS) medicine?

I can be sure my messenger don't track 'por…err…educational' sites I visit? (I don't use yahoo messenger but if I'm (well ofcourse it'll be gaim or kopete or some other free IM) using it, I can be sure that


Mr. Bush cannot monitor/control what our defence people are doing


(not just the messenger or the browser, I can be sure of the entire OS I'm using)
)

>In an ideal world, all software would be free ; but this is not an ideal world.

GNU project started as an ideal project (and it is still an ideal project) and see the success of it ! We are for an I deal world

Also now I've a free Yahoo toolbar (will be activated next time I restart my browser)

Swaroop C H says:

Praveen: Its good to hear that you are happy using GNU software. However, the debate was not about that. It was whether open sourcing a software or opening a protocol is going to solve anything. Open source (or if you prefer, free software) is not a magic wand. In one point of view, you want the freedom to modify the software. In another ordinary user's point of view, I want the freedom to use Yahoo messenger without worrying about instant message spam and without worrying about reliability. That is what Yahoo provides. Which is more important? That is up to the user decide.

Remember, I am very much a pro-open source guy ; but I do not believe that free software is the only way and do not consider that using non-free software is a crime.

If anybody believe that to be true, then I would recommend to stop using the internet since the Cisco routers contain proprietary software (Cisco IOS operating system).

Sriram says:

Hmm..so Swaroop, you expect us to *trust* Yahoo not to do bad things with with our computer. You expect us to *trust* Yahoo that their messenger is not actually spyware underneath. Of course what you're saying is perfectly true and 100% valid .

What about trusting another big company(you know which one :)) now with their software? What about stopping the arguments saying "I really dont know what's happening underneath..and I have a right to know" and offering the same trust?

Sriram says:

>>google recognising firefox and other platforms and browsers.

Sorry for the late response - but I just read Praveen's earlier comment. Praveen - tell me of a single Google related download that works on something other than Internet Explorer and Windows. Yahoo may or may not like open source - but Google on the other hand have *never* put their products where their mouth is.

Google Toolbar - only IE on Windows
Google Desktop Search - Only Windows
Picasa - Yup, Windows again
GMail notifier - Err..you know the drill

So where is Google's 'recognition' now? And all this though they keep hiring Firefox devs left, right and center

Swaroop C H says:

Sriram: I don't think I have ever argued about trusting (you know which) company and trusting their software. The only time I remember arguing is that the [Bangalore One][] project should be open source. Even if the project is by (you know which) company. This is because it is a government initiative and will hold critical data. I want the government to have access to the code which runs the initiative. This will prevent helplessness of the government in case of problems and will have a choice of vendor. Maybe in future, for example, Infosys can maintain the system. I consider this to be a serious issue.

[Bangalore One]: http://atulchitnis.com/b1-statement.php

srid says:

Swaroop, Yahoo! need not open the messenger protocol. Nobody seems to be getting benefitted from that. The one class of people (OSS hackers) would better prefer Jabber over Yahoo for obvious reasons, the other class of people (mom and dad) are just way comfortable with the existing YM. So the question is how are the users (mom, dad, ..) going to be made happy by opening the protocol? The answer is 'no effect'.

Swaroop C H says:

Sridhar: I am very happy that you finally saw my viewpoint. Thanks.

Sriram says:

Hmm..happy ending.Now can we all hug and kiss?
Ok - I should get out of my room and get a life

srid says:


Sridhar: I am very happy that you finally saw my viewpoint. Thanks.


But .....

It is much better (both for hackers and mom,dad,...) if Y! uses Jabber instead of its own IM. There won't be any ecomonic slit on that decision. Users will be happy.

Swaroop C H says:

Sridhar: I would be happy too, but as I said earlier, methinks its more of a business decision. So I can't say anything about it.

Praveen A says:

>I’ve experience where yahoo is partial to IE and google recognising firefox and other platforms and browsers.

I just quoted one occation of injustice by Yahoo. It is well and good that Yahoo support Open source. My intention is not to completely abuse Yahoo, but only these cases and I wanted to see the toolbar as a free software (or open source software whatever you prefer) and I wanted to point out the composer issue to someone in Yahoo. Well let us leave it here or it won't end at all. Have a nice time:-)

rs says:

Would any of you be willing to lose a job in a company (not a GPL favouring one), and be willing to do FSF work??? dont just bluff .. give real answer
Ive seen friends who praised FSF all through their college days, and ended up getting job in some big company and posting proud mails about that company's no of software patents that year etc ..
what is pragmatic here .. should we or shouldnt we? ..

Swaroop C H says:

Praveen: I do not believe it is injustice. That is what I've been trying to say throughout this debate. However, let's agree to disagree and leave it at that.

Swaroop C H says:

Hey, I didn't know that as well. Great to hear it!! :)

Praveen A says:

>Yahoo vows to open all services to Firefox users http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/0,2000061733,39184793,00.htm

>Yahoo has confirmed plans to allow Firefox users to access all its products and services, many of which are currently only available through Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser.

That is really a great news. I've been waiting to compose a mail in html with firefox (Now only avilable for IE) and hope the wait will be over soon.

Cheers to Yahoo!

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