How to Integrate GridFTP into Firefox

Learn how to build grid protocols into Mozilla-based tools.

The GridFTP protocol is an extension to the standard File Transfer Protocol (FTP) with support for security based on the Globus Grid Security Infrastructure (GSI), high-performance data transfer using striping and parallel streams, and support for third-party transfer across different GridFTP servers. GridFTP is a standard component of the Globus Toolkit and includes the server component and a set of client applications.

Access to the GridFTP server requires user authentication using GSI, followed by the use of a client application, such as the command-line application UberFTP. Because of this, GridFTP users must install and configure the Globus Toolkit software on their client machines — a high burden, given the complexity of the software.

In contrast, standard FTP is directly built into most browsers, allowing users to simply type an FTP URL (ftp://server:port/path) in the address bar of the browser and browse, upload, and download their files.

Find out how to integrate server-based grid computing technologies with desktop-based rich client applications based on the Mozilla framework. As an example of this approach, we integrate the GridFTP protocol, developed as part of the Globus Toolkit, into the Firefox Web browser and package the capability as a Firefox extension. The result is that users can access files stored on remote GridFTP servers in the same way that users currently access FTP files without the need to install and configure the Globus Toolkit or explicitly manage grid security certificates. This approach can be easily extended for other grid protocols and APIs.

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