A holiday present: Beta Channels, Get Satisfaction, and Localized Browse

Nick Nguyen (osunick)

18

As we’re closing in on the end of an amazing year in add-ons, we’ve finished a few new features which we think will bring some holiday cheer to the lives of add-on developers and users alike.

Beta Channels

betachannel

Our add-ons platform has been around for years, and there are quite a few add-ons which could be considered software products in and of themselves.  Naturally, this means that many users expect a high level of stability and polish from their add-ons, while others are willing to live life on the edge to get to the latest pre-release add-ons.  With Beta Channels, add-on developers can release beta or prerelease versions of their add-ons without pushing updates to their entire user base.  Unlike experimental add-ons, beta channels provide automatic updates to users who install a beta version.  Beta add-ons are unreviewed and can only comprise up to 20% of your total active user population.  For more on how to use this feature, visit our Documentation page on the Developer Hub.

Get Satisfaction

getsatisfaction

Providing support for your users is both important and not always easy.  Now, thanks to Get Satisfaction, you can integrate your support communities directly in AMO.  With a free Get Satisfaction account you can create a community where you can easily keep track of your user’s problems, get feedback, and empower your community to help each other for support problems.  Simply sign for a free account, create your community and enter the pertinent information in your Developer Control Panel.

Localized Browse

German add-ons

We’re working to make the AMO experience better for the many add-ons users who don’t speak English.  Towards this end, we’ve created a filter for the browse pages so that you can restrict the view to only add-ons with a localized description for the selected locale.  Check out our listings of add-ons with German descriptions to see how this works.  We’re going to expand this feature to work on larger parts of the site, and this is a first step towards making add-ons more accessible to the non English speaking world.

18 responses

  1. Wladimir Palant wrote on ::

    Sorry to mention that but your link for add-ons with German descriptions features a grammatically incorrect sentence: “Nur Deutsch Add-ons anzeigen” (should be: “Nur deutsche Add-ons anzeigen”). I guess the original sentence is “Show only %s add-ons” with the language name inserted dynamically? Building together sentences dynamically is generally a bad idea, English is one of very few languages where this won’t fail.

    I also wonder – why isn’t Adblock Plus in that list? It certainly has a German description.

  2. Atte wrote on :

    That Get Satisfaction thing. Is there some actual integration between amo and gs, or are you just promoting gs (nothing wrong that, just asking)?

  3. Tony Mechelynck wrote on ::

    @Wladimir Palant: …or rather, English is one of the few languages where adjectives don’t vary. In most languages, they have to agree in gender and/or number and/or case etc. with the noun which they determine (sometimes complex, as with Russian agreement rules for number + adjective + noun, or the ten or so “noun classes” [“genders”] of Swahili). Mozilla l10n already has complex language-dependent rules to make nouns agree with numbers, why not also for adjectives with substantives?

    @Nick Nguyen: As a user, I like the idea of separate stable/beta/experimerntal channels and of satisfaction feedback — let’s see how they’ll *really* look like. About localized browse, I’ve always felt that software manuals in English were more readable than those in my native language so I guess that this is not for me. As Æsop said, language is the best and the worst of all things: this new option may incite developers to have their addons “described” in as many languages as possible, or it may “help” ostracize even more anyone who has a poor knowledge of English, by presenting him/her with only a limited number of addons if a user, or by limiting his/her user base if a developer.

  4. snoring wrote on :

    I do not think it is a good idea to treat version numbers ending in ‘a’ or ‘b’ as betas. Quite a lot of software uses letters in version numbers for other purposes than indicating a development stage – for an example OpenSSL 0.9.8a and 0.9.8k are both stable releases.

  5. Chuck Baker wrote on ::

    Questions about Beta Channels.

    Can an existing add-on exist both as a public release and a beta release? For instance, if MyAddon-v1.0 is already public on AMO, will uploading MyAddon-v2.0beta affect it in any way? Both, of course, will have the same extension id (GUID) but a different version number. And when the beta is ready for public release, how do we remove it from the Beta Channel?

    Will “User Reviews” be available on the Beta Channel? If so, I would suggest calling it “User Feedback” and eliminate the “star” point system. Betas are primarily for testing and users should feel they have the ability to leave support-type comments without being hindered by the Review Guidelines applicable to add-ons on the public pages.

  6. mcdavis wrote on :

    How does the limit of 20% of active users get implemented? Does the beta version no longer appear as a download option on the add-on listing when the limit is reached?

    Are people using the beta version of an add-on included in the overall total count of active daily users for that add-on?

    How are users made aware that they’re using a beta version, after installation? It seems as if a single letter ‘b’ or even the longer ‘beta’ in the displayed version string within the Add-ons Manager would be easily overlooked. Maybe something for the Add-ons Manager redesign (if it’s not already handled and I just haven’t noticed it yet).

    How does a user switch from using one channel to the other — is it that whichever channel the most-recently-installed version came from, that will be the channel that you’ll use as source from then on? And if you want to switch channels, then just install from the other channel?

  7. Ken Saunders wrote on ::

    Is there any way to browse beta channels, or are you counting on developers to just mention them in their descriptions or comments?
    I’m a bleeding edge type of guy so I wouldn’t mind knowing all that’s out there.

  8. Mark Cramer wrote on ::

    Excellent stuff! We especially like the Get Satisfaction integration.

  9. Josh WiseStamp wrote on ::

    Beta Channels is great news!
    Thanks guys keep up the good work!
    WiseStamp

  10. Simon wrote on :

    It seems to me that the beta feature is buggy. It does not incorporate the fact that more than one file can be added for a new version.

    So if I upload e.g a Mac build of a new addon, it gets correctly marked as beta, but the linux and windows builds are marked as public. And there’s no way that I could identify to tell AMO that these builds should be in the beta channel as well as AMO exclusively relies on autodetection here :-((

  11. Tom wrote on :

    You mention a free Get Satisfaction account. Where is that at? At their site, I just see a list of price-based options, and not free account:
    http://getsatisfaction.com/plans

    Tom

  12. work at home jobs wrote on ::

    Great addition with the beta feature!! not sure how I feel about the GetSatisfaction integration. How will that work alongside the existing reviews collected for each add-on?

  13. Mark Cramer wrote on ::

    @Tom – There’s a link on the website you mentioned called “Try our free plan” that will take you to http://getsatisfaction.com/companies/new. You can also go to http://getsatisfaction.com/features which will compare features and enable you to sign up for the free plan.

  14. Pete wrote on :

    Is it possible to display the release notes to the user before they install the beta? (ie. in the Beta Channel section of the addon page)

  15. Axel Grude wrote on ::

    Beta channels are a great idea – I usually release pre versions only to people who ask me for them (or submit bug reports / feature requests) but this would make it easy to try out new versions and bug fixes with a greater audience. Good idea!

    As regards dropping the localized browsing, I am ambivalent about it; although native German I also prefer browsing the English sites, so its a bit of a conflict of interest. Hard to put myself in the shoes of somebody who doesn’t understand english – maybe an integrated google translate section might be less maintenance intensive?

  16. Mary Snider wrote on :

    am trying without success to get either 3.2.7 or 3.2.8 and I can’t find it to download it and I don’t know much how to go to AMO to download the program. I already have 3,0.4, I use to have 3.2.7 but I had to reinstall my computer and I lost everything. So if you can be of some help I would be most grateful and Thank you very much. I love Mozilla Thunderbird ever since I had it and there is none to compare to its capillities. Mary Snider

  17. Sheet Piano Music wrote on ::

    I really think that providing support by GetSatisfaction has been a huge improvement. I have used the service several times successfully. I find that collaborating with so many other users helps to get issues resolved very quickly. For example, I was having trouble with one of my beta plugins I was using with the latest Firefox (3.6.8) and I was able to get it resolved the same day with the Get Satisfaction support.

    Thank you,
    Gary Larson

  18. Jim Happers wrote on ::

    I was wondering if there is a way to browse beta channels? I’ve been looking into it but did not get very far. But I agree with the comment above that support by GetSatisfaction is great.