Mozilla Says Buh-Bye To Firefox Add-Ons In Favor Of Chrome Extensions: Why This Is A Good Move


Through its official blog, Mozilla announced that it will be making changes to how Internet browser Firefox will be handling add-ons in the future, with the most important change being Firefox's adoption of the WebExtensions API.

With the new API, which has compatibility with the ones used by other Internet browsers such as Google Chrome and Opera, it will be easier for developers to adjust add-ons made for other browsers to work with Firefox as they would only need to make a few changes.

"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," wrote Kev Needham of Mozilla in the blog post making the announcement.

Developing Firefox extensions have been more complicated compared to developing add-ons for Chrome, partly because Firefox uses technologies such as XUL and XPCOM. While the technologies allowed Firefox to be written mostly in JavaScript and made sure that developers would be able to access most of the underlying features of Firefox, they added levels of complexity.

These technologies and the current model being used by Firefox for its add-ons will now be phased out within 12 months to 18 months.

The changes, however, will not be applicable to developers that will be using the newer Jetpack SDK to develop add-ons, as long as the creation of the extensions are confined within Jetpack and does not use any lower-level APIs.

Beginning with the release of Firefox 42, the extensions created by developers will also be first reviewed and then signed by Mozilla before they are deployed. Mozilla, however, hopes that the adoption of the WebExtensions API will lead to faster reviews for add-ons, with the company looking to decrease the review time for add-ons to be released to the public to only five days.

Mozilla also said that it works to split the tabs of the browser and its user interface into separate processes, which will prevent a crashed tab from taking down the entire program.

Named the Electrolysis project, the feature will be default enabled in the first beta release of Firefox 43. It will cause incompatibilities with certain add-ons though, so developers are being urged to test their codes in preparation for the change.

The changes will ensure that developers will only need to make a few adjustments when writing extensions to make them work for both Firefox and Chrome, which is a good thing for both developers and users. However, developers were able to do things within Firefox that was not possible with other browsers, and with these changes, this unique feature will be compromised.

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