An elusive goal of software development has been the invention of an easy-to-use platform that end users can write their own programs without having to rely on developers. Of course the very notion of “writing programs” is not exactly the kind of thing that you would expect your grandmother to do, not to mention business stakeholders who do not fall under the category of “power users.” To date, that goal has only been realized with the common office productivity tools that are equipped on just about every desktop which provide bare bones features for extending a spreadsheet or word processed document with a macro, and to varying extents, hobbyist programs like kinder simpler photo editors that are thrown in gratis with Windows or Mac platforms. But for the most part these are automation, not programming tools.
Ubiquity is still at what Mozilla calls the 0.1 phase, which is the equivalent of a community preview alpha. In the long run, we’d doubt that Ubiquity will gain critical mass as standalone. Instead, we’d expect that third parties would write Firefox plug-ins that make the process much more graphical so you don’t have to type in a question, like “find me some reviews,” or more context-centric, such as party, meeting, or travel planners, and so on.
It’s a technology concept that could also lend itself to other leading portal sites like Facebook, Yahoo News, and so on for adding more context-centric productivity drop-down choices to embellish messaging, Wikis, micro-blogging, or other uses limited only by the imagination. Keep your eye on this. But on the other hand, don’t be lulled into the notion that Ubiquity will finally make developers non-ubiquitous at least in the enterprise, as at some point, companies still need to exercise adequate controls over the behavior of software and the data that it exposes.