Firefox aims to simplify cross-browser Extension development

in code on (#J940)
Mozilla has been rethinking its add-on architecture for browser extensions, and has just made an announcement that may have profound implications for developers and browser users everywhere:

"Mozilla today announced major changes to how Firefox will implement add-ons going forward. The most important of these is the adoption of a new extension API that will be largely compatible with the one currently in use by Blink-based browsers like Chrome and Opera. This so-called WebExtensions API will ensure that developers will only have to make a few small changes to their code for their add-on to run on Firefox.

"We would like add-on development to be more like Web development: the same code should run in multiple browsers according to behavior set by standards, with comprehensive documentation available from multiple vendors,"Mozilla's Kev Needham writes in today's announcement. "

Not everyone is happy about it. The developer of the popular DownThemAll browser extension has proclaimed this move to be the end of his extension, and potentially many others. He says,
Gone with DownThemAll! will be add-ons that e.g. let you change major bits about the Firefox user interface (e.g. tabs tree add-ons), add-ons that allow you to do more "advanced" stuff than just showing or slightly altering websites, such as e.g. restarting the browser upon click (unless mozilla kindly provides an API for that, which won't be compatible with Chrome, of course). Add-ons like NoScript will be severely limited in their feature set as well. Say byebye to Greasemonkey and hello to Tampermonkey, with it's limitations. Want that add-on that lets you change the new tab page for something else or enhances that page? Maybe it will be available, maybe not, depending on if and when mozilla kindly provides WebExtensions APIs for such things. And of course, depending on if there will be an author creating this entirely new add-on from scratch.

What this also means: Almost all your existing add-ons will be broken, entirely, save for some Add-on SDK add-ons, namely those that don't do anything fancy. Sure, even today, lots of add-ons break, and some add-ons will not get updated when they do and there are no suitable replacements. However, with this change, almost every add-on will be completely broken and in need of major updating by the extension authors. Good luck with that.

Re: When they're all the same . . . (Score: 1)

by on 2015-08-27 17:18 (#JMYM)

I'm not sure I agree with you. As I remember it, Opera had tabbed browsing since the earliest days I used it, maybe 2001? Firefox added it after Opera, and IE added it many years after that. Opera had the "speed dial" feature first, Firefox added it afterwards.

Might be the early-onset alzheimers, but I am almost certain Opera was the innovator here. You mention a 'second, entirely different method of adding tabs.' I don't remember that, or don't know what you mean.

Vivaldi is where I'm putting my hope. After Opera 12 the management team changed, and the new team decided to just copy Chrome badly and strip out whatever innovative features Opera ever had. Pathetic.

Used to be where I could install a Linux distro, add mutt, slrn, and opera, and be good to go.
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