Add-on Compatibility for Firefox 35

Jorge Villalobos

2

Firefox 35 will be released on January 13th. Here’s the list of changes that went into this version that can affect add-on compatibility. There is more information available in Firefox 35 for Developers, so you should also give it a look.

General

New!

Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything missing or incorrect on these lists. If your add-on breaks on Firefox 35, I’d like to know.

The automatic compatibility validation and upgrade for add-ons on AMO will happen soon, so keep an eye on your email if you have an add-on listed on our site with its compatibility set to Firefox 34.

How we manage user review moderation

Jorge Villalobos

3

Anyone with an AMO account can leave a user review and rating for an add-on. User reviews are an invaluable part of AMO, helping users decide which add-ons are the best at what they do. However, as any open forum on the web, it needs some monitoring in order to keep the content relevant and useful. We have a set of writing policies and a moderation process for handling user reviews. A link to the policies is presented when you post a user review, but the moderation process may not be very clear, so I’ll explain it here.

We don’t actively monitor users review posted on AMO. Instead, we provide a way for users to request moderation for reviews that are in violation of the content guidelines. Anyone with an AMO account can do this, including the developer of the add-on for which the review was posted. You can find the moderation report link by clicking “See all user reviews” on any add-on listing page and looking at the bottom-right corner of a review. It’ll let you choose the reason for the report and add some information to it.

After a user review is reported, it goes to a moderation queue, where a member of our add-on review team will give it a look and decide if it should stay or be deleted. This is the same team that handles add-on code analysis (confusingly also called add-on reviews). It is mostly comprised of volunteers with a background  in add-on development.

Policy

We want reviews to be useful for add-on users, so our policy encourages user reviews that speak to the advertised features of the add-on. User reviews aren’t meant to start a conversation with the developer or other reviewers, nor are they meant to act as a bug reporting tool. Most add-on listings on the site include contact or support information to get in touch with the developer about these issues.

Deciding what is or isn’t useful is a very subjective call, so it is difficult to obtain results that are consistent, or satisfactory for all users. Some people will get annoyed if we delete a user review that is critical of an add-on, and proceed to write new reviews complaining about the deletion, which are then also deleted. It’s a sub-standard experience that we are aware of and want to fix.

Limitations

While user reviews and their moderation are an important part of AMO, they haven’t had much work done in many years (I should note this isn’t the only part of AMO that has this problem). We don’t have a good way to undelete reviews, or to communicate the reason behind a review deletion to its author.

We haven’t changed our review policies for a long time, and they need some work. Moderating reviews is a secondary task for our review team, and having a team composed of add-on developers probably introduces some bias against negative user reviews. We have been thinking about creating a new team in charge of user review moderation, ideally with less of a developer mindset. I think we’ll also need to relax our policies in order to encourage more diversity of opinions.

User reviews aren’t abundant, and we only show the last 3 in the add-on page. This means that an unwarranted negative review can linger for a long time, causing the developer to lose users. We need to implement a way to mark user reviews as useful or not so we can surface the most useful ones (a common feature found on sites like Amazon and the iTunes Store).

Unfortunately our main limitations are time and people, so it might take a while before we can change user reviews in a meaningful way. Separating the review team and changing the policies is something we can do relatively quickly, so I hope we will be in a better place early next year.

Add-ons Update – Week of 2014/12/05

Jorge Villalobos

3

I post these updates every 3 weeks to inform add-on developers about the status of the review queues, add-on compatibility, and other happenings in the add-ons world.

The Review Queues

  • Most nominations for full review are taking less than 9 weeks to review.
  • 185 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 5 weeks.
  • 101 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 5 weeks.
  • 159 preliminary review submissions in the queue awaiting review.

If you’re an add-on developer and would like to see add-ons reviewed faster, please consider joining us. Add-on reviewers get invited to Mozilla events and earn cool gear with their work. Visit our wiki page for more information.

Firefox 34 Compatibility

The Firefox 34 compatibility blog post is up. The automatic AMO validation was also run already. Note that there were also some changes in the search UI that could affect your add-on.

As always, we recommend that you test your add-ons on Beta and Firefox Developer Edition (formerly known as Aurora) to make sure that they continue to work correctly. End users can install the Add-on Compatibility Reporter to identify and report any add-ons that aren’t working anymore.

Firefox 35 Compatibility

Coming up.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis, also known as e10s, is the next major compatibility change coming to Firefox. In a nutshell, Firefox will run on multiple processes now, running each content tab in a different one. This should improve responsiveness and overall stability, but it also means many add-ons will need to be updated to support this.

We will be talking more about these changes in this blog in the near future. For now we recommend you start looking at the available documentation.

December Featured Add-ons

Amy Tsay

4

Pick of the Month: Location Bar Enhancer

by Girish Sharma

Modifies the Location Bar of Firefox into a breadcrumb display with rich and interactive features.

“I absolutely LOVE the page loading progress bar animation. It absolutely modernizes Firefox, especially when combines with Australis curved tabs in Firefox 29. Looks very slick (and very useful)!”

Also Featured

Amazon “Add to Wish List” Button by Amazon Wish List
Official Amazon Add-on. Add anything from any website to your Amazon Wish List!

Nominate your favorite add-ons

Featured add-ons are selected by a community board made up of add-on developers, users, and fans. Board members change every six months, so there’s always an opportunity to participate. Please follow this blog to find out when we are selecting a new board.

If you’d like to nominate an add-on for featuring, please send it to amo-featured@mozilla.org for the board’s consideration. We welcome you to submit your own add-on.

New search UI coming in Firefox 34

Jorge Villalobos

110

Update: it looks like this change will only be visible to a fraction of users initially, so please plan any changes to be backward-compatible.

The search UI was retooled and it will launch with Firefox 34 (at least in the US region). This landed late in the Firefox 34 beta cycle since it is related to our switch of default search provider in certain regions, which was announced very recently.

Unfortunately, this is bound to break some add-ons and themes. If your add-on overlays any content in the search UI or modifies its behavior, we strongly recommend that you test it on the latest beta (only the US English version seems to have this change for now). If you have any compatibility updates related to this issue in the review queues, please let us know on our IRC channel (#amo-editors) or the amo-editors mailing list.

Let us know in the comments if any of your add-ons break because of this.

Add-on Compatibility for Firefox 34

Jorge Villalobos

10

Firefox 34 will be released on November 25th. Here’s the list of changes that went into this version that can affect add-on compatibility. There is more information available in Firefox 34 for Developers, so you should also give it a look.

General

XPCOM

New!

  • Import and use public domain JNI.jsm implementation. This is a useful module for Android add-on developers that need low-level access. It has been renewed with a more complete implementation. You can get the module with Components.utils.import("resource://gre/modules/JNI.jsm");

Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything missing or incorrect on these lists. If your add-on breaks on Firefox 34, I’d like to know.

The automatic compatibility validation and upgrade for add-ons on AMO will happen soon, so keep an eye on your email if you have an add-on listed on our site with its compatibility set to Firefox 33.

Add-ons Update – Week of 2014/11/12

Jorge Villalobos

8

I post these updates every 3 weeks to inform add-on developers about the status of the review queues, add-on compatibility, and other happenings in the add-ons world.

The Review Queues

  • Most nominations for full review are taking less than 9 weeks to review.
  • 201 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 4 weeks.
  • 55 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 5 weeks.
  • 135 preliminary review submissions in the queue awaiting review.

Queue numbers this week are pretty bad, but they were much worse last week. Is this good news? Well, yes, we have a new (part time) admin reviewer on board who should help us with the trickier reviews that most volunteers can’t or won’t touch. Hopefully this will cut down waiting times significantly. We also have some policy changes planned that will cut down review times in the near future.

If you’re an add-on developer and would like to see add-ons reviewed faster, please consider joining us. Add-on reviewers get invited to Mozilla events and earn cool gear with their work. Visit our wiki page for more information.

Firefox 33 Compatibility

The Firefox 33 compatibility blog post has been up for some weeks.

33.1

The surprise release of version 33.1 included a couple of not-so-great surprises for add-on developers, specifically for complete themes and add-ons using binary XPCOM. Fortunately they were fairly minor issues and we have received good and timely responses from developers.

Firefox 34 Compatibility

The Firefox 34 compatibility blog post will be up very soon. The automatic AMO validation will be run probably next week.

As always, we recommend that you test your add-ons on Beta and Firefox Developer Edition (formerly known as Aurora) to make sure that they continue to work correctly. End users can install the Add-on Compatibility Reporter to identify and report any add-ons that aren’t working anymore.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis, also known as e10s, is the next major compatibility change coming to Firefox. In a nutshell, Firefox will run on multiple processes now, running each content tab in a different one. This should improve responsiveness and overall stability, but it also means many add-ons will need to be updated to support this.

We will be talking more about these changes in this blog in the near future. We will also begin contacting developers about add-ons malfunctioning with e10s very soon. For now we recommend you start looking at the available documentation.

Firefox 33.1 compatibility

Jorge Villalobos

34

As part of yesterday’s Firefox 10th anniversary celebrations, we released a new special version of Firefox, version 33.1. Since it was meant to be a surprise release, it didn’t ride the trains in the same way as other features and it ended up unexpectedly breaking things for some add-ons.

The new Forget button

There’s a new button in the toolbar palette. It doesn’t appear in the toolbar by default, but you can see it if you enter customization mode. Unexpected buttons can break complete themes and this case is no exception. The solution is to update the theme to support this new button.

Binary XPCOM and version numbers

Binary XPCOM is a legacy technology that we hope to phase out of add-ons soon, in favor of JS ctypes and other pure JS solutions. Current support for binary XPCOM in add-ons is clunky at best, and developers need to rebuild their components for every new major version of Firefox.

After the 33.1 release, we discovered some add-ons doing this in their chrome.manifest files:

interfaces components/component33.xpt appversion=33.0 appversion=33.0.1 appversion=33.0.2 appversion=33.0.3 ...

This allows developers to have components built for various Firefox versions in the same add-on package, and declare which components need to be loaded for which Firefox version. However, since this doesn’t contemplate 33.1, no components are being loaded for that version. The easier solution in this case is just to add 33.1 to that list (33.1 is binary-compatible with the regular 33 branch). I’m fairly sure we won’t have any more surprise releases before we discontinue binary XPCOM, so I don’t think a more robust solution is needed. Update: however, please note there’s already a 31.1.1 and there could be other 31.1.* updates.

Sorry!

I’m sorry for the last-minute inconvenience, but hopefully the fixes are easy enough that you can issue quick updates for your add-ons and most of your users aren’t affected. If your add-on is on AMO, feel free to contact us to the amo-editors list or me directly so we can prioritize your compatibility updates.

October Contributor of the Month: rctgamer3

Amy Tsay

1

Congratulations to rctgamer3, October’s Contributor of the Month! Rctgamer3 is an AMO Reviewer and complete theme developer, and maintains the Firefox 2 theme.

In October, rctgamer3 helped the add-ons team file many blocklist bugs and provide all the required information to deal with them quickly. This is difficult and painstaking, but essential for keeping Firefox users safe.

We’d also like to give special thanks to Jaipradeesh Janarthanan, who single-handedly cleared the Tarako app review queue of 80+ apps, and on-boarded two new Tarako app reviewers, Kailas Patil and Trishul Goel—welcome aboard!

There is a new wiki to kick off November, with some new featured projects and a few carried over from last month. There is a new guided project for contributing to Firetext, so please check it out, and don’t forget to report any accomplishments in the Get Recognized section.

We look forward to collaborating with you!

Add-on Reviewer Meetup at Mozfest

Amy Tsay

Volunteer add-on reviewers are incredibly important to our ability to keep Firefox the most extensible browser available, by ensuring every add-on submitted to AMO meets safety requirements.

Last week, we met with some of the top volunteers in London at MozFest, to talk about what’s working and not working, and plans for next year. Here are some of the photos and blog posts that came out of the meetup:

Blog Posts

Photos

And of course, an obligatory blurry group photo, taken at the London MozSpace:

reviewers in london