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Mozilla Hubs Is Shutting Down, Will Be Handed Off To The Community

Mozilla Hubs Is Shutting Down, Will Be Handed Off To The Community

WebXR social networking framework Hubs has lost its biggest sponsor, Mozilla, after six years of effort.

The Mozilla Hubs service, pitched as "private, virtual 3D worlds in your browser", is being wound down alongside the team maintaining it, even if the underlying technology lives on with community support as an open source project on Github.

WebXR experiences with hand tracking are some of the first truly cross-platform worlds you can visit from both an Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest. WebXR as a technology is still in its infancy, but Mozilla Hubs represented a bright spot for the concept with Web-based rooms you could meet in across different types of devices with very little set up involved.

Mozilla will shut down its demo server residing at hubs.mozilla.com, subscriptions, and community resources on May 31, 2024.

Three members of the Hubs team will oversee the shutdown transition to community-maintained project. In a blog post from Mozilla explaining the shutdown plan, it was noted that the demo server saw the creation of "115,732 custom avatars, 215,923 scenes, and hosted meetups for close to 10 million attendees."

"After the conclusion of the shutdown, Mozilla will not continue active development or maintenance of Hubs codebases and other community resources," the organization noted.

Mozilla encourages people with additional questions to post on the community Discord, where there's been a somber outpouring of support for the effort.

Tributes posted on Discord about Mozilla Hubs

Last year, Microsoft-owned Altspace issued a shutdown plan with a tool to download content before the servers went offline, and Mozilla is following suit with a tool for downloading data, though the tool is still in development. Mozilla noted:

"Our goal is to enable users who have assets hosted on Mozilla-run servers to download their data in a format compatible with Community Edition instances or other webXR platforms. All data on Hubs is associated with user email addresses. We plan to release a tool for you to download all uploaded media associated with your email, including 3D models, audio files, image files, and video files uploaded through Spoke, as well as gLTFs of published spoke scenes and avatars. This tool will also make it possible to retrieve all Hubs URLs, including scene URLs, room URLs, avatar URLs, and spoke project URLs."

Mozilla added that the avatars, scenes and "other assets" published by its Hubs team should be open sourced as well.

"Many former Hubs team members have returned to the Discord server to remind the community that Hubs was built with life outside of Mozilla in mind. The project’s commitment to open source and focus on self-hosted versions of Hubs mean that no one entity can determine Hubs' future; only this community can do that."

Installing the "community edition" of Hubs requires Kubernetes experience.

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