Firefox plugins given April deadline to whitelist

Authors of Firefox plugins have until March 31st to apply to make a whitelist of plugins that will avoid Mozilla's click-to-play plugin model.

Mozilla is set to take the next step in discouraging the use of plugins in Firefox, with the browser maker setting a deadline of March 31 for plugin makers to apply to avoid Firefox's upcoming click-to-play plugin feature.

Shipped in Firefox's alpha "Aurora" channel in September, click to play prevents all plugins, except Flash, from running unless the user explicitly grants permission .

Plugin authors looking to avoid click to play will need to complete an application to be placed on a temporary whitelist for a total of 30 weeks, 24 of which are in the general release channel, and six weeks in the beta channel. To be approved, applicants must show a "credible plan" to move away from NPAPI-based plugins and reimplement functionality in "standards-based web solutions".

Applications are due on March 31, and, once approved, plugin authors are able to reapply for another 24 weeks in the general release channel.

"Though we believe that plugins are today both largely unnecessary and costly to the user experience, many of our users and developers still rely on a relatively small number of them for critical functions," Mozilla's Plugin Whitelist Policy states.

"We also recognise that authors need some time to adjust to web-based replacements. We therefore invite such plugin authors to apply for a short-term exemption to our plugin blocking policy."

Firefox's model is similar to how Google decided to deal with NPAPI plugins in Chrome .

Google's browser also blocks NPAPI plugins unless they are on a whitelist, but the exceptions list extends to Silverlight, Unity, Google Earth, Google Talk, and Facebook Video.

By September, Google expects to have unpublished all Chrome Web Store content that uses NPAPI.

Both browser makers cited performance issues, hangs, complexity, security issues, and lack of support on mobile devices as justification for moves against NPAPI plugins.

"Our vision is clear: A powerful and open web that runs everywhere without the need for special purpose plugins," said Chad Weiner, Mozilla director of product management, in a blog post.

"The steps outlined here will move us towards that vision, while still balancing today's realities."