Network World reports that “a handful of universities, including the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley, is working to build a software architecture and reusable components that can make Web applications easier to develop and use. The Fluid Project‘s work focuses on user-centered design practices. Vendors such as Mozilla Foundation, IBM and Sun are also taking part.”

Here some more information on the project:

The Fluid Project is an international community of academic institutions, community source software projects and corporations working together to address the precarious values of usability, accessibility, internationalization, quality assurance and security within academic software projects.

Fluid combines both design and technology to create a living library of sharable user interface components that can be reused across community source projects. These components are built specifically to support flexibility and customization while maintaining a high standard of design quality. The Fluid framework will enable designers and developers to build user interfaces that can more readily accommodate the diverse personal and institutional needs found within community source projects.

A critical component of the Fluid project is the task of effecting systemic changes within the community source software projects and establishing a viable process for embedding user experience design, knowledge and consciousness into the community development cycle.

The Fluid project is led by the University of Toronto, represented by the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, with core participation from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Cambridge, the University of British Columbia and York University. Many other universities are contributing resources and expertise. Corporations participating in the project include IBM, Sun Microsystems, Mozilla Foundation, and Unicon.