Is Mozilla preparing to ditch Firefox add-ons as we know them?

Is Mozilla preparing to ditch Firefox add-ons as we know them?

Summary: One of the features that attract geeks and power users to Firefox is add-ons. these simple browser extensions allow you to customize pretty much everything about the browser, from the page being displayed to the browser itself. Extensions are powerful stuff, but Mozilla is working on a project that could see add-ons as we know them disappear.

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TOPICS: Browser
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One of the features that attract geeks and power users to Firefox is add-ons. these simple browser extensions allow you to customize pretty much everything about the browser, from the page being displayed to the browser itself. Extensions are powerful stuff, but Mozilla is working on a project that could see add-ons as we know them disappear.

The project is called Jetpack. According to Mozilla this technology "enables anyone who knows HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create powerful Firefox add-ons." And it seems this idea has legs and could very well be set to change how add-ons are developed.

OK, so Jetpack will make add-ons easier to develop. Isn't that a good thing? Won't it mean that we see more add-ons being developed? More choice and quality for all?

Hmmmm ...

First off, I'm not sure if lowering the development bar for add-ons is necessarily a good thing. At the very least I hope that Mozilla will make it easier for to rate apps (directly from the browser would be good), as well as making it easy to erase all traces of apps that users no longer want.

But there seems to be a deeper issue with Jetpack than just lowering the dev bar. Some developers claim that the Jetpack infrastructure isn't up to the job of handling sophisticated add-ons. Here's what Wladimir Palant, lead developer of the popular Adblock Plus add-on, had to say about Jetpack:

Jetpack has to support Adblock Plus, not the other way around. As it is now, Jetpack isn’t suitable for complicated extensions.

This is worrying, as it raises the possibility that other popular extensions that are complicated and modify the source of the page to be displayed, such as FlashBlock, Greasemonkey and GoogleCustomize might also not work under Jetpack. Equally worrying is that add-ons that change the browser UI might also not function under Jetpack.

I can see why Mozilla wants to revamp the add-on mechanism as it's quite clearly broken. Want an example? No problems. Let's begin by asking why add-ons need to break with new versions of Firefox. Bottom line, that just shouldn't happen. Then there's the whole mess of bugs that are associated with extensions that relate to memory leaks and instabilities. In an ideal world, this shouldn't happen.

So, Mozilla's doing the right thing by revamping the add-on infrastructure, but unless the new mechanism can accommodate the features that popular add-ons already do, Jetpack will be a huge step back for Mozilla, Firefox, and, more importantly, Firefox users.

Thoughts?

Topic: Browser

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51 comments
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  • Oh don't worry yourself Adi. Mozilla know what they are doing.

    Get busy on researching a decent topic.

    No more copy-paste and regurgitating other peoples' stories.
    D T Schmitz
    • But that is exactly what you do?

      You have to be the biggest hypocrite on here.
      bobiroc
      • More name calling today? Read the CBS Terms of Use

        nt
        D T Schmitz
        • Just pointing out a fact

          sorry if the truth hurts. Maybe quit posting nonsense on every blog here and repeating yourself to death and things will get better for you.
          bobiroc
          • adblock plus

            Adblock is the only reason I use Firefox. Adblock is that good.

            Without it I use Safari. IE is not an option.
            gertruded
          • Consider Opera

            It's my primary browser, with Firefox as backup for pages so badly written they don't work in a full standard-compliant browser.
            fairportfan
          • Not only that...

            Adblock is the only reason I use Firefox. Adblock is that good.

            Without it I use Safari. IE is not an option.
            **********************************************

            No IE for me either.

            The last time I checked, and I admit it's been quite some time, of the lousy selection of IE add-ons available, LOTS of them expected you to pay for them.

            By comparison, I've yet to encounter that with Firefox add-ons. (I'm not saying that there aren't any "for pay" add-ons for Firefox, I'm simply saying none of the ones I've ever looked at, or used, required payment.)

            That's when I stopped using Internet Explorer, Firefox and it's huge array of free add-ons arrived.

            For the also-rans: I don't want to use Safari, and as for Opera... uh, no... not today, tomorrow, or any other time. You couldn't pay me to use it.
            Hallowed are the Ori
          • ... and FlashBlocker / ScriptBlocker

            It'd be unacceptable to use a browser w/o those features.
            LBiege
          • Nothing is contributed to the Dialogue by making personal attacks

            Read CBS' Terms of Use.
            D T Schmitz
          • A little hypocritical...

            bobiroc said nothing worse than you did. I suggest you practice what you preach.
            webmasteraaa8
          • Wrong.

            I was posting a reply to Adrian--NOT to you or bobiroc.

            bobiroc has a propensity for name calling and making personal attacks--against CBS' Terms of Use.

            You are welcome to reply but keep it clean.

            It is my opinion that too often the ZDNET blogs are filled with copy/paste regurgitated information taken from some other source.

            This is supposed to be a 'Hardware 2.0' blog yet today's subject matter has no relation, case in point.

            When Adrian is petitioned to write covering specific topics, he ignores them and instead shoots from the hip with the likes of last week's <a href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=6668&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+zdnet%2Fhardware+%28ZDNet+Hardware+2.0%29&utm_content=Google+Reader">flame bait</a> article.

            So, get it straight. It's not name calling to ask the author Adi to exercise his mind and put out an 'original' article with substance.

            This is the kind of 'feedback' he needs when he gets 'lazy'.
            D T Schmitz
          • Never happen

            History shows us this will never happen. Thanks
            for making the good point, though.

            :)
            use_what_works_4_U
          • Woops...replied to wrong post...

            NT
            Mr. Slate
          • Well I apologize

            but you do have a long history of repeating yourself to death and posting links to other websites that contain information to support your outrageous claims. I guess I was just taught to call a spade a spade. I didn't mean to offend and my intent was for you to examine yourself before you criticize someone else. I do not agree with all of Adrian's blogs but you are the last person that should be criticizing anybody.
            bobiroc
          • Apology accepted.

            And, yes, I do have a reputation that precedes me.

            That includes repeating important points when I feel I can relate them to what is being blogged.

            I don't hide my real name or my agenda.

            I am an unabashed Linux Advocate.
            There will be no apologies for that.

            So, please allow me to apologize to [u]you bobiroc[/u] anyhow for misjudging you.

            There. Done. Moving forward!
            D T Schmitz
          • RE: Apology Accepted

            There is no reason to apologize for being a Linux Adcocate, it is the lies, FUD, Conspiracy Therories, and Biased opinions that you spread and repeat over and over again that we (I) have a problem with. If you stick to the truth then we don't have a problem. It is the truth that you have a problem with.
            bobiroc
          • So, Dietrich....

            [i]This is the kind of 'feedback' he needs when he gets 'lazy'.[/i]

            Calling someone "lazy" isn't a personal attack? Also, has Adrian given you or anyone else permission to call him Adi? Getting rather personal, don't you think?

            And if you were truly interested in providing constructive criticism, wouldn't it be a better idea to click the link for his bio and send him a private email? Or does that just not give you the opportunity to display what you believe is your intellectual superiority?
            Mr. Slate
          • Slow day stalking Mark? Things will pick up for you.

            nt
            D T Schmitz
          • I'll take that as a hypociritcal "yes"

            Truth hurts, eh?
            Mr. Slate
          • Pot meet Kettle.

            Or, do you have a mirror handy?
            No_Ax_to_Grind