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Yahoo to make BrowserPlus open-source

Trying to be more open and to encourage innovation, the company will release source code behind its project to make Web browsers more powerful computing foundations.

It was probably inevitable given what Google did with Gears, but Yahoo said Tuesday it's releasing BrowserPlus software as open-source software.

BrowserPlus and Gears are aimed at improving browsers' native abilities so Web applications can better match those running natively on a computer's operating system, and Gears already is open-source software. Yahoo announced its intent to make BrowserPlus open-source software on its Yahoo Developers Blog on Tuesday.

"Openness is a key initiative and a major theme for Yahoo this year and beyond, and open-sourcing BrowserPlus is part of that commitment," said team member Lloyd Hilaiel. "This will allow developers to rapidly extend the platform in a distributed fashion. Our hope is that community contributions and review will ensure BrowserPlus stays a secure, robust platform running on all popular operating systems and browsers. I'd like to see BrowserPlus become a valuable piece of Internet infrastructure."

Hilaiel also pointed to a number of feature ideas people have suggested.

"Folks on the forums are talking about peer-to-peer support. People are suggesting screen capture technology for better bug reporting. Webcam integration! Easy import of calendaring data! Drag-and-drop of Word documents! BitTorrent! There's no shortage of ideas. Mainly I'm excited to see what the community creates in the coming weeks and months," he said.

He also drew some distinctions between BrowserPlus and Gears. "Gears is attempting to accelerate the evolution of the Web by enabling features with wide appeal that can be implemented everywhere. BrowserPlus is more interested in fixing the Web plug-in environment, making rapid experimentation possible," he said.

BrowserPlus is a framework with a variety of plug-ins; a new version released earlier in November debuted a plug-in to use computer's motion sensors, for example. The plug-in architecture is designed to let Web site designers add new abilities to Web pages without requiring people to restart their browsers. With the new version, anyone may use BrowserPlus framework, which previously had been confined to some Yahoo Web sites.