As we make our way into 2020 it is important for Mozilla to provide an update on our plans and roadmap for Mozilla WebThings. As was the case in 2019 (and 2018 before that), those plans can be thought of as being along two lines of effort – evolving the technologies that comprise the web of things as a broad, industry-wide platform, and pursuing possible product offerings Mozilla could bring to market.
Informed by our experience in 2019, Mozilla is making some changes in our overall approach for 2020. First, and perhaps foremost, we are suspending efforts to bring to market Mozilla branded consumer-facing products based on the WebThings code base. In 2019 we invested in exploring ways to incorporate Mozilla WebThings Gateway into commercial router products by integrating with the OpenWrt embedded operating system, including producing packaged distributions that could be installed on existing router products. That experience showed us the market, router product ecosystem, and our Gateway implementation wouldn’t together yield something compelling commercially even though we felt it might offer distinctive value to end users. As a result we have ended that work, ceased active development on that code, and removed reference to our router-based efforts from the Gateway web site.
More broadly, since we have no commercial product development plans for WebThings in 2020, there is no longer an active roadmap for WebThings Gateway and no plans for end-user feature development. However, we still plan to provide technical oversight for the WebThings Gateway open source code base and engage with the community that has grown up around it. In particular:
- The infrastructure supporting WebThings Gateway deployments will continue to operate unchanged. Our tunneling service, update service, certificate handling, and other day-to-day services will still be available. The over twelve hundred Gateways running world wide will continue to operate unchanged, as well as any new Gateways that come online.
- We will extend our packaging options to give developers more ways to incorporate the Gateway into their projects.
- We will continue to answer questions and provide technical guidance on broader use of the open source WebThings code base.
- We plan to continue engagement around the W3C “Web of Things” (WoT) standards effort to represent Mozilla’s perspectives on how the web is the ideal environment and platform for connected devices and “smart device” user experiences. We will do similar gatekeeping for other WoT formal and de facto standards (e.g., CHIP).
- We’ll continue to review add-ons and pull requests in general, and are open to bringing other reviewers into that effort.
- We’ll respond energetically to any issues that may arise in the security of the Gateway itself or any of the services that support running Gateways around the world.
- We plan to make some adjustments to the current Gateway implementation so it is easier for contributors to provide new capabilities, including but not limited to new add-ons and device types. Even so, all the existing code will remain available so nothing is lost in transition. We’d also love to talk to developers interested in contributing to the core Gateway implementation itself.
- We have plans to improve and extend documentation to make it easier to deploy and use WebThings Gateway, and continue to take part in community support conversations through our Discourse and IRC/Matrix channels.
- You may see Mozilla carry out other explorations using WebThings Gateway as a platform, in related areas such as voice.
While we have no plans to produce commercial products in 2020 based on WebThings, we do still have a longer view that the web has a vital role to play in a day-to-day world full of connected things. We want you all – the early adopters who have responded so positively to Mozilla’s exploratory WebThings work – to continue to be able to collaborate at the community level in advancing that exploration.
You likely noticed our recent 0.11 WebThings Gateway release to make some of these updates available, with the rest to come in a follow-on 0.12 release planned for March 2020.
Fellow, Head of Advanced Development