Firefox Followup: Parakey

Details have finally emerged about Blake Ross’ secret new project, Parakey. It gets to the meat on the third page.

“Although it looks like a Web site–down to the Firefox-style tabs that run across the top of the page, which each family member uses to display his or her own section–it is, in fact, something much more ambitious: a universal interface. Even though Parakey works inside your Web browser, it runs locally on your home computer, which allows Parakey developers to do things inside your Parakey site that a traditional Web site could not do, such as interact with your camera.”

It uses a new language called JUL. I haven’t found anything about Parakey online, besides registered about a month ago. Most disappointing quote from the article?

“If it were up to us, we’d open source all of it,” he says, “but it depends on how the investors want to do this.”

I’m guessing this might be a misquote. Investors are for money, advice, and connections, not product leadership. There are good examples now of scalable businesses being built on top of open source — don’t let anyone take you down a path you can’t believe in 100%. Think long term. I don’t know who Parakey’s investors are, but I’m sure Blake hooked up with (or could demand) folks smart enough to understand this.

Update: Blake says in the comments, “That is, indeed, a misquote. Parakey will be open source, as I repeatedly told the magazine while the article was being edited.”

20 replies on “Firefox Followup: Parakey”

Darren, WP is managed using plain old HTTP. I’d jump out of my socks if whatever snazzy thingimajig environment is being put together can’t interface with WP. Heck, curl can.

As with all things WP, it’s mostly about who’ll bell the cat 🙂

[…] I have enjoyed the hints, and waited to find out explicitly what they have been working on for the last couple of years, and although they have not sent the email that they have launched, Matt wrote about the IEEE Spectrum article lamely titled “The Firefox Kid” about their secret Parakey. […]

I agree! Further, in one of Matt’s earlier posts he talked about whether anybody would be willing to develop an extension for Firefox. My thinking is that from the few tidbits we’ve heard about Parakey I say forget the extension for Firefox – get wordpress integrated with Parakey and let the good times roll!

@Darren (and ATTN: Matt, hehe)

My question would be more if anyone would consider working towards having WordPress become more friendly for controlling who sees/recieves what in possible private blogging/journaling (an agenda I’d all but given up on pushing) so that it may fit well with Parakey rather than just interface with it for public publishing purposes.

Of course, I need to know a whole heck of a lot more before I can really form any solid opinions on the project. My cynical side (which is wider than a bus) is already wanting to cry “security nightmare” and start pointing out other unrelated issues I could see, but honestly there wasn’t enough to glean from that article to really speculate let alone form anything more solid. We all know how poorly any journalistic treatment can convey the true details of anything as illustrated above by a misquote the article spent a decent chunk of pixels expanding on.


My understanding from tidbits of info I’ve picked up here and there is that one of the features in the pipe for WordPress 2.1 is a more customizable private blogging/journaling solution (i.e. controlling who can see what posts etc.) I’m way way off being any official source however so don’t quote me on that 😆

Sure, Matt. Thanks for the coverage and for updating the post.

As for more public details, the best I can offer right now is that we’ll be growing the Parakey website over the coming months. We’re not offering any release date right now, since we don’t want to release until we’re content with the quality or until I can no longer afford food (whichever comes first).


Being way unofficial yet pontificating nevertheless is one of the joys of life, do it more! Here’s my effort at doing so. Parakey might be a great way to get an ‘Offline WP’ going, but it shouldn’t replace any attempts at an XULish interface to WP because (a) it’s way down the road (b) the gecko installed base is going to eclipse Parakey’s for a while to come.

An awesome thing to do would be to get a behind the scenes collab going and make something to do with WP among Parakey’s example apps (I’m unsure of the terminology here because it’s hard to figure out what on earth Parakey is) upon launch.

Heh, one of the joys in life is indeed speculating 😉 Still it’s worthwhile making that clear so one doesn’t come across as a arrogant know-it-all hehe.

I agree with you on the behind the scenes collab (hence my original comment). I think the key to any Parakey/WP collaboration will be directly related to the ability to direct who can view posts that are published (as you mentioned in comment 10). That would probably be the preliminary requirement for integrating with what might become Parakey.

I think a XULish interface with WordPress is kind of redundant for the moment because I can’t really see what it would accomplish that the current admin interface already does in WordPress. Even if some sort of “offline” interface was established using XUL it seems to me there would still be the extra superfluous step of syncing with the online wpdb and would be hard to customize with all the various plug-in filter combinations that are out there (although I’m sure if somebody had enough desire it could be done.) From what I’ve read about using XUL it is also a pretty big memory hog so the final solution might not be desirable from that standpoint.

The architecture of Parakey (on the other hand) seems to suggest a potentially more seamless integration from the standpoint that you could have “one-install” of the wordpress interface (that interacts with all the plug-ins etc) and hence there would be (hopefully) a much more useful way of extending the ways you publish using WordPress.

That of course is pure, 100% pontification at it’s best 😆 but in the absence of any further information it’s fun dreaming 😉

[…] Thanks to the many people in the blog world who covered the story and offered input (positive and negative) about what we’re doing. I believe Matt Mullenweg was the first to break the story on the Web, and it was then graciously picked up by Matt Marshall, Dave Winer, Niall Kennedy, Om Malik, Aidan Henry, Ajaxian, Susan Mernit, Lloyd Budd, Alex Moskalyuk, […]

Thanks for another very useful pointer, Matt. On my blog, I mused that I would like to see Parakey meet up with Croquet (or something like it).

I wondered at one time why my WP install had posts from your personal blog a-way back when … this is just another answer to that wondering.

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