Add-ons Blog

2013 in Add-on Reviews

As most of you know, we have a team of experienced add-on developers who volunteer their time and knowledge to code-review and test all add-ons and add-on updates that are listed on AMO. As we begin 2014, I want to take some time to look at what we accomplished last year.

Highlights

  • Though introduced in 2012, 2013 was the year we were able to really gauge the usefulness of the reviewer incentives program. Thanks to this program, volunteer reviews are up from 48% in 2012 to 64% in 2013!
  • 17 new reviewers were added to the team, 4 of whom are still be active.
  • We were able to meet again with many of our top reviewers in Brussels, for the European leg of the Mozilla Summit.

Review numbers

Here’s how we have done in the past 4 years of review work.

Nominations Updates Preliminary Super review Info request Total
2010 4602 (35%) 6874 (52%) 0 (0%) 275 (2%) 1568 (12%) 13,319
2011 5037 (24%) 9045 (43%) 5452 (26%) 484 (2%) 848 (4%) 20,866
2012 4056 (22%) 7819 (42%) 5673 (30%) 440 (2%) 765 (4%) 18,753
2013 3737 (21%) 7111 (39%) 6266 (35%) 287 (2%) 646 (4%) 18,047

As you can see, the review volume and distribution was very similar to last year’s. I like that there’s a small downward trend in super reviews and information requests, since they tend to slow down reviewing an add-on significantly.

(The inflated numbers in 2011 were due to some major changes that happened in the review process around that time, which required lots of re-submissions.)

Top Reviewers

And here are our top volunteer reviewers for the year:

Review count Name
4360 Teo (Leszek Życzkowski)
1763 Diego Casorran
1435 Andreas Wagner
1201 Henry Perez
836 Nils Maier
385 Aris
278 Axel Grude
190 Michael Balazs
179 Baris Derin
170 rctgamer3

I should point out that Andreas recently joined us as a contractor helping with admin reviews, so his volunteer review count would be slightly lower if we wanted to be perfectly accurate.

Thank you, Review Team!

We can’t thank you enough for all the hard work that you do. We’re always thinking of ways we can make it up to you, and there are still many ideas left unimplemented that will better tell the world how awesome you are and how much you have contributed to the Mozilla project.

This year I hope we have the opportunity to meet again, or for the first time, and that you feel happy and properly rewarded for the time and energy you dedicate to helping us. Thanks again from the Add-ons Team and the Mozilla project.

Add-ons Update – Week of 2013/01/08

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 3 weeks to review.
  • 33 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 5 days.
  • 28 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 5 days.
  • 34 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 26 Compatibility

The blog post was published and the accompanying compatibility bump for AMO add-ons was done shortly thereafter. Apologies for the delays.

As usual we recommend using the Aurora and Beta branches to test your add-ons ahead of time.

Firefox 27 Compatibility

Coming up…

Australis!

Australis, the new Firefox theme, is currently starting its second cycle on Nightly. I just posted the first installment in a series of posts about it. Check it out: Part 1 – Toolbars.

It’s very important that you test your add-on as soon as you can and figure out if there’s anything you need to do to make it compatible, or if you discover any bugs in the new theme. The blog post has instructions on how to report bugs for it effectively.

January Featured Add-ons

Happy 2014! Here are some featured add-ons to start off the year right:

Pick of the Month: FindBar Tweak

FindBar Tweak supercharges your find toolbar with a “Find in all Tabs” feature and many others!

This add-on is a necessity if one has to search endless pages of text for similar terms. Its ability to keep the searches across multiple web pages is awesome. Thank you!”

Get FindBar Tweak »

Complete Theme: Classic Compact

A very compact and highly customizable theme that minimizes space consumed by menu and tool bars without hurting the overall usability. Supports Windows, Mac & Linux.

This theme allows you to get the most use of your browser window. With this you can shrink things down without losing any usability.”

Get Classic Compact »

Also Featured:

Tab Notifier
Enables desktop notifications, even when the title of a tab changes while the tab is not focused. Get it now »

YouTube High Definition
YouTube High Definition is a powerful tool that will let you play all YouTube videos in High Definition automatically. Get it now »

QR Code Image Generator
Create a QR Code of the selected text or current URL, and customize the image with different colors and sizes. Also possible to create a QR Code from free text within Firefox. Get it now »

Slower review queues expected during the holidays

The end of the year is upon us, and lots of people will be taking time off to enjoy time with friends and family. The add-on community’s group of volunteers, contractors, and paid staff are expected to review add-ons intermittently through the rest of the year, so we expect the queues to slow down a little during this time.

We’re pushing to get as many done as possible before the end of this week, so the queues should be in good shape heading into the holidays.

Thank you for all your contributions and support in 2013—because of you, there were 500,000,000 add-ons in use this year!

 

We also appreciate your patience, and wish you a wonderful holiday season!

Add-on Builder

On Tuesday January 7th we will be putting Add-on Builder into read-only mode, meaning that it will no longer be possible to create new add-ons or change existing projects on the site. Users will still be able to access their projects until April 2014, when we will turn off the service entirely. During this period we recommend developers download their existing projects, and we will continue to communicate this change throughout this period.

Update: to be clear, Builder will also not be updated to use SDK 1.15.

Why we’ve made this decision

Recently we took a look at how developers are using Builder. What we found is that while many developers have tried out Builder, very few ( less than 1% ) ever actually publish their add-on to AMO. Additionally, the most popular SDK-based add-ons on AMO are instead built by developers using our command-line tools. As a result, we decided it makes most sense to focus our efforts and resources here.

What’s next

The Firefox Developer Tools team has introduced the Browser Console and Browser Debugger / Toolbox to improve the debugging experience for both Firefox developers and Add-on developers. We will be continuing to look for ways to leverage the work we’ve done recently to help extension authors specifically. Watch this blog for more news over the next couple of months.

Handy links

Add-ons Update – Week of 2013/12/17

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 1 week to review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 5 days.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 5 days.

These stats are taken from the last queue report:

  • 32 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • 36 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • 35 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 26 Compatibility

The blog post was published and the accompanying compatibility bump for AMO add-ons was done shortly thereafter. Apologies for the delays.

As usual we recommend using the Aurora and Beta branches to test your add-ons ahead of time.

Firefox 27 Compatibility

Coming up…

Australis!

Australis, the new Firefox theme, is currently starting its second cycle on Nightly. I just posted the first installment in a series of posts about it. Check it out: Part 1 – Toolbars.

It’s very important that you test your add-on as soon as you can and figure out if there’s anything you need to do to make it compatible, or if you discover any bugs in the new theme. The blog post has instructions on how to report bugs for it effectively.

Australis for Add-on Developers – Part 1: Toolbars

Australis, the new Firefox theme, landed in Nightly 6 weeks ago. Because of the ongoing work being done to it, it won’t be uplifted to Aurora just yet, so it will continue to be available exclusively in the Nightly channel for at least one more cycle. That means that Australis won’t be in Firefox before version 29, which is currently scheduled to make its final release in late April 2014.

We encourage you to download the latest Nightly and test your add-ons in it. If you’re an add-on developer and run into problems, please let us know, or file a bug and add it as a dependency to this tracking bug for add-on issues on Australis. Make sure to give the other dependent bugs a look first to prevent duplicates. If you’re not a developer and want to report a problem in one of the add-ons you have installed, you can install the Add-on Compatibility Reporter extension and use it to let us know.

Now let’s start looking into what has changed in Australis that you should know about. If you haven’t installed Nightly yet, you can use the information in this blog post as reference.

Toolbars

The toolbars have changed significantly. The objective is to maximize the content area available to users by cutting down chrome areas that were generally empty. There were also deeper changes that enable more complex widgets to be added to the toolbar and other areas without compromising on space.

The Add-on Bar at the bottom has been removed. Instead, there’s a new menu panel that extends the toolbar with buttons and widgets. It is activated by clicking on the button at the right end of the main toolbar. All the items in this new menu are customizable and it’s possible to add add-on buttons and widgets to it as well.

The customization UI got a much-needed refresh and now it’s much easier to use and find. The full window view allows users to better understand what they’re doing and have better control over toolbar customization. The possible targets for toolbar buttons are the main toolbar, custom toolbars, the tab bar and the new menu panel. Make sure that your add-on buttons / widgets work well for all cases. There’s currently no way to create new blank toolbars, but the Bookmarks Toolbar can be used by users to add buttons. There is no more big icon / small icon option.

The DOM in the main toolbar is also different. Now there’s a intermediate container between the toolbar element and its children. It’s an hbox with id nav-bar-customization-target.

Toolbar Buttons

The icons in the main toolbar are 18×18 pixels. However, a 1px padding is expected, so the 16×16 pixel icons you should be using for the main toolbar in modern versions of Firefox will work without any changes.

Buttons can be also moved by users or added by default to the new menu panel, so you need to consider this case as well. Icons are 32×32 pixels in the menu panel and also during customization, if they are removed from the toolbar. Smaller icons will be upscaled, so they won’t look very good if you use the 16×16 pixel icons.

So, if you have an add-on that adds a toolbar button to the main toolbar using the usual guidelines of overlaying the button to the palette and then adding it to the toolbar using JS on first run, everything should work the same and you should only change your CSS to something like this:

/* Original CSS */
#my-button {
  list-style-image: url("chrome://my-extension/skin/icon16.png");
}
/* Added for Australis support */
#my-button[cui-areatype="menu-panel"],
toolbarpaletteitem[place="palette"] > #my-button {
  list-style-image: url("chrome://my-extension/skin/icon32.png");
}

Note that buttons in the Australis theme have the cui-areatype attribute set when placed in in the UI. The possible values are menu-panel and toolbar. You can use the toolbar value to have different style for the button in Australis and non-Australis themes.

Buttons with type="menu" or type="menu-button" show inconsistent appearance and behavior. There are a couple of add-on bugs filed for them, but it’s unclear if they will be fixed, since the subview pattern will be favored for Australis. See how the History button works on the toolbar and the panel for an example of this. The process of implementing this isn’t documented yet, but you can look at the source code to get an idea.

Add-on Bar Buttons

As mentioned before, the Add-on Bar was retired to maximize the available content area. However, a shim is in place in the main toolbar to facilitate migration (it even contains the old statusbar shim). However, it doesn’t seem to work at present. I filed this bug to keep track of the problem.  While this does appear to be a bug, we encourage you to insert your button in the main toolbar instead.

By the way, an easy way to detect if your add-on is installed on a Firefox version with Australis is to check for the existence of this node ID: PanelUI-menu-button.

SDK Add-ons

As you may know already, the SDK was integrated into Firefox, so SDK add-ons no longer need to bundle the entire set of libraries, making them more or less independent from the SDK version being used. Version 1.15 of the SDK was just released, which generates library-less XPIs by default.

Since the SDK will be built into Firefox, you can expect your add-ons and widgets to work with Australis. You should keep in mind that it’s possible that widgets will be deprecated in the future for something that works better with Australis, but that’s still being talked about, so keep an eye on this blog for updates.

More Documentation

  • CustomizableUI.jsm. This module is the tool that add-ons can use to manipulate the toolbar and its widgets directly. The document is still taking shape, so you might need to look at the source code directly for up-to-date information. Bonus points if you contribute to the doc :).
  • Australis and Add-on Compatibility (draft). At the moment it’s just a collection of compatibility notes. It’s also being worked on, so it will change in time. And, again, bonus points ;).

As the title says, this is only part 1. As we learn more about the compatibility issues add-on developers run into, we will release new installments. Part 2 covers the CustomizableUI object. Let us know what you have discovered about Australis compatibility in the comments.

Announcing Add-on SDK 1.15

I’m pleased to announce the immediate availability of Add-on SDK 1.15! You can download the SDK directly in either zip or tarball format. The main new feature in 1.15 is that xpis files no longer bundle SDK modules. You could get this behaviour previously with SDK 1.14 by using the –strip-sdk argument, but it now ‘just works’. As well, as of this blog post, the AMO Add-on Validator should correctly recognize xpi files packaged with SDK 1.15.

I’d like to apologize to the various people who logged bugs, posted to the list or otherwise had problems over the last few months who were using the SDK and encountered review problems. This release took far too long, but we ran into unexpected problems. Regardless, we’re here now, 1.15 is available and you should no longer have to worry about review issues with xpi files packaged with SDK 1.15.

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.

December Featured Add-ons

The last of the featured add-ons for 2013 are here! If you’d like to nominate an add-on for consideration by the board (you are welcome to nominate your own), just send an email to amo-featured@mozilla.org, and it will be added to the board’s consideration list. Have fun checking out these add-ons, and have a great rest of the year!

Pick of the Month: Bluhell Firewall

Get a faster browsing experience by blocking nasty web resources using Bluhell Firewall, the lightweight Ad-Blocker and Tracking/Privacy Protector.

So happy! Absolutely no ads on any site I go to! Now thanks to this lovely add-on, I won’t have to keep pausing my youtube videos to pause an annoying video app on the sidebar! And it doesn’t slow down anything, so that’s a major plus!”

Get Bluhell Firewall »

Also Featured:

Tab Mix Plus
Tab Mix Plus enhances Firefox’s tab browsing capabilities. It includes such features as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs and windows, plus much more. Get it now »

Password Tags
Adds metadata and sortable tags to the password manager. Get it now »

Add-on Compatibility for Firefox 26

Firefox 26 will be released on December 10th. Here’s the list of changes that went into this version that can affect add-on compatibility. There is more information available in Firefox 26 for Developers, so you should read that too.

General

XPCOM

Binary

DOM

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 26, I’d like to know.

The automatic compatibility validation and upgrade for add-ons on AMO will happen very soon, so keep an eye on your email if you have an add-on listed on our site with its compatibility set to Firefox 25.