An Important Update on Mozilla WebThings

Flying the Nest: An important update on Mozilla WebThings

Dear WebThings Community,

We are writing to inform you that the WebThings project is being spun out of Mozilla as an independent open source project.

The project will be renamed from “Mozilla WebThings” to “WebThings” and will move to a new home at webthings.io.

Why is this happening?

Mozilla is winding down its direct investment in WebThings and is transitioning control and responsibility to the community. It is important this happens in a way that allows easy continued contribution to the project as an open source effort, and so all the WebThings Gateways running around the world continue to function properly. To enable that independence from Mozilla some changes will be needed in how the project is named as well as how project infrastructure operates.

What does this mean for my WebThings Gateway?

Because your smart home gateway is designed to operate locally inside your home without the need for a centralised cloud service, it will continue to work just as before. You’ll still be able to monitor, control and automate your home via the gateway’s web interface inside your home network.

Future software updates will be provided by the WebThings community rather than the Mozilla Corporation and we will let you know how to opt-in to those updates.

What does this mean for my *.mozilla-iot.org domain?

If you access your gateway remotely using Mozilla’s secure tunnelling service at a *.mozilla-iot.org domain then this service will continue to operate until 31st December 2020.

Before that date, we plan for a replacement service to be made available at webthings.io and you will have the option of transferring to that service before Mozilla’s servers are shut down. Your existing registration will not automatically be transferred outside Mozilla servers so you will be required to opt-in to this new service if you would like to use it.

What will Mozilla’s involvement in WebThings be going forward and how will it be governed?

Governance of the project will be passed to the community using a module ownership system independent of the Mozilla Corporation’s organisational structure, like the one used by the core Mozilla project. For continuity the initial module owners of the top level WebThings module will be Ben Francis and Michael Stegeman from the original Mozilla IoT team. These module owners will then be able to create sub-modules and assign new module owners and peers to help govern the project going forward.

The WebThings project will no longer be directly affiliated with the Mozilla Corporation so will stop using Mozilla trademarks and will instead operate under its own WebThings brand.

How will the community communicate?

For the time being the WebThings project will continue to use the Mozilla IoT forum on Mozilla Discourse, and the #IoT channel on Mozilla’s Matrix chat server.

If you would like to be kept informed with updates regarding WebThings then you can sign up to the new WebThings newsletter at webthings.io and you can follow @WebThingsIO on Twitter.

We encourage you to continue to file issues and submit pull requests on GitHub at the new location github.com/WebThingsIO.


We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your contributions and support for the project so far. The team is looking forward to this new chapter in the WebThings story, as the project flies the nest from Mozilla to make its own way in the world! We hope to take you all along for the ride, so remember to sign up to the newsletter at webthings.io if you would like to be kept updated.

The WebThings team

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Woo hoo! Thank you @bfrancis and @mrstegeman for championing continued development!

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Great to hear this is being continued!
1 question: How about the localization?

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Hi all :wave:

Well done and thanks to @mrstegeman, @benfrancis and @dbryant for taking the initiative to get this transition set up and happening in such short timescales. :smiley::clap::+1:

I’m not sure how i can help, but if you think i can then please let me know :slightly_smiling_face:

Cheers :slightly_smiling_face:

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Localization will continue in Pontoon for now. In the future, we may set up our own instance, but that’s not been decided yet.

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I am very happy to see this project continuing. My many thanks and gratitude towards the amazing community behind WebThings.

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Glad to hear this. I think WebThings is the most flexible and underrated iot platform that exists today with a great community behind it. Would be willing to assist in any way possible. Thanks.

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Was hoping something like this would happen! Big thanks to those who made it happen… Awesome News!!

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I see @mrstegeman is active on https://github.com/WebThingsIO continuing maintenance of modules and transitioning the branding.
Has there been any progress in determining the future structure of the project? The WebThings Gateway seems to me to have the best combination of support for privacy and technology architecture compare with the competition (open source and closed), so I’d like to see it continue.

  • As it’s relatively quiet here, I wonder if this is still the main form to discuss the WebThings gateway?
  • Regarding the project, it seems that without the backing of Mozilla, it seems to me that @mrstegeman will need further community support.
  • What roles need to be filled?
  • What competencies are needed?
  • What time commitments?

Hi @chas_iot,

Thanks for asking! Yes, this is still the main forum for discussing WebThings for now, along with the #iot channel over at chat.mozilla.org.

Community support will definitely be needed for the project to continue to thrive and grow. As mentioned in the original post, WebThings will be governed with a module ownership system along the lines of the one used by the Mozilla project, with Mike and I as module owners for the top level WebThings module. I will document this all on the wiki but you can assume it will work pretty much the same way as the Mozilla system.

Mike and I have started to contact some previous contributors to invite them to be module owners or peers of various sub-modules, but anyone can jump in and start contributing wherever they have an interest as a first step. There are no specific roles to fill or a minimum time commitment needed in order to contribute, but some examples of ways that you can contribute include:

  • Development - Pick a bug, task or feature off the Product Backlog and start hacking
  • Testing - Either writing or fixing automated tests, or manual testing of builds of the latest master branch
  • Add-ons - Write an add-on (or help maintain an existing one), to add support for a new type of device or protocol, add new notification mechanisms or extend the UI for new use cases
  • Things - Build a new web thing using the WebThings Framework to expand the Web of Things ecosystem, or even create a web thing library in a new programming language
  • Documentation - Our documentation could do with some love, and we’re planning on overhauling this section of the website
  • Support - Help other community members with questions and problems here on the forums and in the Matrix chat channel
  • Localisation - Help translate the WebThings Gateway into new languages using Pontoon (though we may have to transition off Pontoon at some point)
  • Evangelism - Talk about WebThings at events, on blogs and on social media, give talks and run workshops to help spread the word
  • Standardisation - Help with standardising the Thing Description and Web Thing Protocol (see the recent call for use cases & requirements)

Next Steps

After a bit of a break for some family time/parental leave, @mrstegeman and I are hard at work preparing for the transition to webthings.io, with help from @dbryant inside Mozilla.

As you’ve noticed Mike has been very busy working on a bunch of things including various bits of re-branding, but also moving the hosting of some add-ons off Mozilla infrastructure. He will now be starting on stepping up the replacement cloud infrastructure for the remote access and automatic update services, which my startup Krellian will be sponsoring.

I’m currently working on the new website and designing the UI for the gateway to allow users to opt-in to the new services.

At some point before the end of the year we plan to push out an update for the WebThings Gateway which includes the re-branding and transition UI and a bunch of other new features currently on the master branch. We’ll try to give as much notice as possible for people to opt-in to the new services before the Mozilla servers are shut down at the end of the year.

Stay tuned!

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