Add-ons Update – Week of 2014/10/01

Jorge Villalobos

7

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 7 weeks to review.
  • 124 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 6 weeks.
  • 88 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 6 weeks.
  • 147 preliminary review submissions in the queue awaiting review.

The Add-ons Team met last week to discuss various issues related to the add-ons world, including the time it takes to perform a review and what we can do to improve it. I’ll be posting a summary about everything we discussed shortly.

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 32 Compatibility

The Firefox 32 compatibility blog post is up. The automatic compatibility validation was run shortly thereafter.

Firefox 33 Compatibility

The Firefox 33 compatibility blog post is coming up, probably tomorrow. Expect the automatic compatibility validation to be run sometime next week.

As always, we recommend that you test your add-ons on Beta and 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.

Add-ons Update – Week of 2014/09/10

Jorge Villalobos

6

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 7 weeks to review.
  • 134 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 5 weeks.
  • 74 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 4 weeks.
  • 127 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 32 Compatibility

The Firefox 32 compatibility blog post is up. The automatic compatibility validation was run shortly thereafter.

As always, we recommend that you test your add-ons on Beta and 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.

September Featured Add-ons

Amy Tsay

2

Pick of the Month: CoolPreviews

by The Cooliris Team

Browse faster—preview links and images without leaving your current page or tab. Just mouse over any link and a preview window appears to display the content.

“Everyone that I know that doesn’t have Firefox already, is switching to it, to be able to get this add-on. It is fantastic. I use it everyday and would be lost without it.”

CoolPreviews

Get CoolPreviews »

Also Featured

Font Finder by Ben Dodson, Eric Caron, Jake Smith, Andy Portmen
FontFinder is created for designers, developers and typographers. It allows a user to analyze the font information of any element on a page, copy any piece(s) of that information to the clipboard, and perform inline replacements to test new layouts.

Pray Times! by Hamid Zarrabi-Zadeh
Display daily Muslim prayer times.

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. If you’d like to join, keep an eye on this blog for the next application cycle.

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!

Add-ons Update – Week of 2014/08/20

Jorge Villalobos

2

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 6 weeks to review.
  • 114 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 3 weeks.
  • 79 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 3 weeks.
  • 113 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 32 Compatibility

The Firefox 32 compatibility blog post is up. The automatic compatibility validation will be run soon.

As always, we recommend that you test your add-ons on Beta and 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.

Announcing Add-on SDK 1.17

Jeff Griffiths

9

I’m pleased to announce the immediate availability of Add-on SDK 1.17! You can download the SDK directly in either zip or tarball format. This is a maintenance release of the cfx tools to more easily support new apis added to Firefox in the future ( see bug 1032275 for more information ). The AMO validator tool has been updated to support extensions created with SDK 1.17 as of August 13th.

This will almost certainly be the last release of this tool; developers using the SDK are encouraged to try out the new JPM tool instead. JPM has some key advantages:

  • developers can create and use npm modules as dependencies in their add-ons.
  • installation via npm is much simpler: `npm install -g jpm`, particularly for developers already used to node.js.
  • cfx was a complex tool built for a time when sdk dependencies were packaged with each add-on. JPM removes a lot of this complexity and just does a few things well: running, packaging and running tests.

For more on migrating to JPM, please see Erik’s excellent post.

As always, we’d love to hear from you about your experiences with this release. You can contact us in a variety of ways:

post to our discussion group
chat with us on irc.mozilla.org #jetpack
report a bug
check out the source and contribute bug fixes, enhancements, or documentation

For more information on the Jetpack Project check out our wiki.

Add-on Compatibility for Firefox 32

Jorge Villalobos

6

Firefox 32 will be released on September 2nd. Here’s the list of changes that went into this version that can affect add-on compatibility. There is more information available in Firefox 32 for Developers, so you should read that too.

General

Content scripts

Implement Xrays to Object objects, Implement Xrays to Array objects. This extends an important security barrier between privileged and unprivileged code, called Xray Vision. In a nutshell, it protects privileged scripts from running unexpected code when calling familiar functions in content code, like window.alert, which can be replaced by page scripts. It ensures that you always call the original function.

For better separation between privileged and unprivileged code, we recommend that you start looking into the Message Manager. We will be writing more about it soon, because using the Message Manager will be necessary when Firefox moves to a multi-process architecture (known as Electrolysis or e10s for short). The sooner you start using it in your add-on, the better.

XPCOM

New!

  • Provide add-ons a standard directory to store data, settings. Most add-on devs know that they should store their data somewhere in the profile directory (preferences should only store small configuration values), but we don’t have a clear standard for this, or a good storage API. This first step establishes a standard directory: [profile]/extension-data/[add-on ID]. The follow-up bug will implement an API to make it easier to store data in that folder. For now, you should consider migrating your data to the new location. Kudos to Alex Vincent for the great work!

Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything missing or incorrect on these lists. If your add-on breaks on Firefox 32, 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 31.

August Featured Add-ons

Amy Tsay

Pick of the Month: Screengrab

by Oleksandr

Screengrab saves entire webpages as images. Just right-click on the page you want to grab and look in the “Screengrab” menu.

I love this add-on…I can use it to grab whole pages of my website designs to use in my portfolio, to show prospective customers. Brilliant!”

Get Screengrab »

Also Featured

iMacros for Firefox by iOpus
Automate Firefox. Record and replay repetitious work. If you love the Firefox web browser, but are tired of repetitive tasks like visiting the same sites every days, filling out forms, and remembering passwords, then iMacros for Firefox is the solution you’ve been dreaming of!

User Agent Switcher by chrispederick
The User Agent Switcher extension adds a menu and a toolbar button to switch the user agent of a browser.

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. If you’d like to join, keep an eye on this blog for the next application cycle.

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!

Add-ons Update – Week of 2014/07/30

Jorge Villalobos

6

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 6 weeks to review.
  • 81 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 4 weeks.
  • 61 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 3 weeks.
  • 61 preliminary review submissions in the queue awaiting review.

The length of the queues has improved significantly thanks to a couple of new reviewers. We could always use more help, so please read below about how to join our group.

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 31 Compatibility

The Firefox 31 compatibility update is here. The automatic compatibility validations were run as well.

Firefox 32 Compatibility

For Firefox 32, expect the compatibility blog post sometime within the next week, and compatibility validation should follow a week or two later.

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, you can help us test add-ons during the upcoming Add-on Compatibility Test Day, on August 1st. If you want to test your own add-on, the Test Day etherpad has instructions on how to activate e10s on a Nightly profile.

The AMO Reviewer Community Turns 10

Amy Tsay

3

A decade ago, Firefox introduced the world to a customizable web browser. For the first time, you could use add-ons to personalize your entire browsing experience—from the look and feel of buttons, to tab behaviors, to content filtering. Anyone with coding skills could create an add-on and submit it to addons.mozilla.org (AMO) for others to use. The idea that you could experience the web on your own terms was a powerful one, and today, add-ons have been downloaded close to 4 billion times.

Each add-on listed on AMO is thoroughly reviewed to ensure its privacy and safety, and volunteer reviewers have shouldered much of this effort. To properly inspect an add-on, a reviewer has to dig into the code—a taxing and often thankless chore. Nobody notices when an add-on works as expected, but everybody notices when an add-on with a security flaw gets through. These reviewers are truly unsung heroes.

From the beginning, volunteers recognized the importance of reviewing add-ons, and self-organized on wiki pages. As add-ons grew in popularity, it became necessary to hire a few people out of this community to keep it organized and nurtured. Ten years later, volunteers are still responsible for about half of all add-on reviews (about 150 per week). Our top volunteer reviewer is approaching 9,000 reviews.

As a community manager working with volunteer reviewers, I’m sometimes asked what the secret is behind this enduring and resilient community. The secret is there isn’t just one thing. Anyone who’s ever tried giving away free food and booze as their primary community-building strategy has learned how quickly the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

What’s In It For Me?

To understand why people get involved with reviewing add-ons, and why they stay involved, you only have to understand human nature. Altruism tells just part of the story. People are often surprised when I tell them that many reviewers began volunteering for selfish reasons. They are add-on developers themselves, and wanted their add-ons to be reviewed faster.

Some of these developers authored add-ons that are used by tens of thousands, sometimes millions of people, so it’s important to be able to push out updates quickly. Since reviewers are not allowed to review their own add-ons, the only way to speed things up is to help burn down the queue. (Reviewers can also request expedited reviews of their add-ons.) Also, they can learn how other people make add-ons, which in turn helps them improve their own.

Intrinsic Motivation

People who create add-ons are people who write code, so the code itself can be interesting and intrinsically motivating. In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink writes that self-motivated work tends to be creative, challenging, and non-routine, and add-on reviewing has it all: every piece of code is different (creative), security flaws can be cleverly concealed (challenging), and reviewers contribute at their own pace (non-routine).

Not Just Carrots and Sticks

A few years ago, we began awarding points for add-on reviews and introduced a leaderboard that lets reviewers see their progress against other reviewers. The points could also be redeemed for swag as part of an incentive program.

While this is admittedly a carrot-and-stick approach to engaging contributors, it serves a larger purpose. By devoting time and resources to sending handwritten notes and small tokens, we are also sending the message that reviewers are important and appreciated. When you open your mailbox and there’s a Fedex package containing a special-edition t-shirt in your size, you know your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

Community and Responsibility

AMO reviewers know that they play an important role in keeping Firefox extensible, and that their work directly impacts the experience people have installing add-ons. Since about half of the hundreds of millions of Firefox users have add-ons installed, that is no small feat. I’ve heard from reviewers that they stick around because they like being part of a community of awesome people who are responsible for keeping add-ons safe to use in Firefox.

The Magic Formula

Online communities are complex, their fabric woven from a mesh of intrinsic and extrinsic, selfish and altruistic motivations. A healthy, lasting community benefits from a combination of these factors, in varying proportions, some of them driven by the community and some by the attentive community-builders tasked with nurturing it. There isn’t a silver bullet; rather, it’s about finding your own magic formula and knowing that often, the secret ingredient is whatever it is that makes us human.

Happy 10th birthday, AMO reviewers.

The original text of this blog post appears in MozAmy.

Add-ons Update – Week of 2014/07/09

Jorge Villalobos

4

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 6 weeks to review.
  • 164 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 4 weeks.
  • 117 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 3 weeks.
  • 207 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 30 Compatibility

The Firefox 30 compatibility update is here. The automatic compatibility validations were run before the release.

Firefox 31 Compatibility

The Firefox 31 compatibility update is here. The automatic compatibility validations will be run later this week or early next week. So if you have an add-on on AMO with its compatibility set up to a max of Firefox 30, expect the validation results soon.

If you want your add-on to qualify for the automatic checks, you just need to update the max version of your latest release on AMO to 30.*. There’s no need to change the XPI or submit a new version.