Firefox plug-in takes address book up a notch

Firefox application Sxip overlays contacts with Web pages.

Sxip, which develops the free single sign-on plug-in for Firefox called Sxipper, is working to revolutionize the use of address books by helping Web surfers link their contacts to information they are searching for on the Web.

Dick Hardt, the CEO of Sxip, showed off the prototype of the application during a demo at Defrag 2008, a conference held this week that focuses on making sense of the volumes of information that individuals, groups and organization are trying to digest today.

Sxip's so-called "address book 2.0" feature, which is being added to Sxipper 3.0, marries data on a Web page and a user's e-mail, contact information, which can be spread across local address books and connections on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Applications such as the address book feature Hardt was introducing are becoming known within social networking as flow applications. They are applications that bring multiple flows of information into a single view.

The address book software is activated as a user surfs the Web. For example, if the user visits a vendor site the Sxipper feature compiles a list of the user's contacts related to that company. The list is presented along the left side of the screen.

The user sees people they know at that company and people their contacts may know at that company. The data is gleaned from a user's address book and profile data from people they are linked to on social networking sites.

From an enterprise perspective, Hardt says the tool could have value for sales people, customer support and business development.

"Anywhere you are trying to use your network to get work done," he said.

The application is browser only now, but could be extended to work with e-mail clients.

A company called Xobni has an Outlook plug-in that helps users organize their in-box and pull together contact information on users, how often they exchange e-mail, when and other data.

Hardt says the point is how to get to data that is relevant at a particular time.

"With Sxipper, you are showing your interests by the Web page you are on so we ask what else might be relevant," he says. "Users have all this information on friends and friends of friends so how do we filter that and make it available."

Hardt did not say when the application would ship, but he says the prototype he showed is about 60% complete.

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John Fontana

Network World

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