December 10, 2010
Putting some Butter on Popcorn!

I’m very excited! I was just sent some very cool wireframes from Al Macdonald (aka F1LT3R), developer extraordinaire at Bocoup. He and others at the Boston-based Javascript house are in full stride working on the next release of popcorn.js and the first release of the Graphical User Interface for developing popcorn pages that we like to call Butter.

The goal for butter is that anyone with a video anywhere on the web can build HTML5 video pages that incorporate other elements of the web – allowing non-developers to create what my fellow Mozillian Tristan Nitot has dubbed “Hypervideo”.

In the new version of popcorn (its only version 0.2, so still a ways to go), we are moving all of the functionality from the previous version into plugins. This is a timely step towards a more open infrastructure that will allow any developer to write a plugin that will work with popcorn.js, and then by extension, Butter. So while the first plugins we have developed are for popular sites and services such as twitter, flickr and wikipedia, now anyone can create a plugin to support identica, open street maps, or whatever new thing the web churns out tomorrow. We have big plans for butter, and as we progress towards a 1.0 release in 2011 there will be much more functionality.

Check out our evolving project scope on our etherpad.

We have a goal for popcorn to be part of an open media ecosystem – a great web app and development platform that creators can add to the growing list of HTML5 tools that are available to them. We’ve been very inspired by projects like processing.js and Universal Subtitles that illustrate the advantages of federated and collaborative systems for creating culture that is truly OF the web. We are very early in that process and of course could use all the help we can get!

One of our next goals is to make it more clear how contributors can get involved – the best page for this is at www.webmademovies.org, where you can join our mailing list, talk in IRC or pick up a bug on our Lighthouse issue tracker.

On a personal note, this has been a great learning experience for me, as I’ve seen the power of the open web play out in realtime – a seed of an idea (what if a video could trigger events in a web page?) gets a proof of concept demo, which is turned into a library, which is now being turned into a product that we hope a lot of people will get behind. It’s been inspiring to see students from Seneca College working side by side with seasoned professionals towards a goal that will benefit the web, and makes me happy to be part of Mozilla.

Please stay tuned, and also check out Bocoup’s post on the subject, as well as Scott Downe’s recap of the experience from his end at Seneca, as well as Anna Sobiepanek’s thoughts on the refactoring for 0.2. We’re planning a release just in time for Christmas!

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