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.

Add-on Compatibility for Firefox 31

Jorge Villalobos

14

Firefox 31 will be released on July 22nd. Here’s the list of changes that went into this version that can affect add-on compatibility. There is more information available in Firefox 31 for Developers, so you should read that too.

General

Content

XPCOM

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 31, 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 30.

July Featured Add-ons

Amy Tsay

Pick of the Month: SearchWP

by Georges-Etienne Legendre and Robert Katić

Find terms entered in the search box easily with jump-to-word buttons and highlighting. Words typed in the search box are converted into buttons that can be used to find them in the current page.

This is a must have for anyone who does serious Internet searches. I do accounting research for a living and SearchWP saves me time and saves my eyesight.”

Get SearchWP »

Also Featured

FireSSH by Mime Čuvalo
FireSSH is a free, cross-platform SSH terminal client for Mozilla Firefox. Written entirely in Javascript! Get it now »

KeeFox by Luckyrat
Simple and secure password management. Login automatically, never forget another password, stay in control of your passwords and improve their security. Get it now »

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-on Guidelines Update

Jorge Villalobos

Since we introduced the Add-on Guidelines, we’ve had a much better way to tell developers what is allowed or not for non-AMO add-ons. We also have a much clearer set of rules for blocklisting add-ons that we think don’t provide a good user experience. We also told you that we would announce any changes to the policy in this blog, which is what this update is about.

I updated the guidelines to make it clearer that it’s not okay to install “setting protectors”. These are generally implemented as system services that are installed alongside an add-on, to ensure that the search settings that were changed by the add-on can’t be changed again by other add-ons (and sometimes users themselves). This clearly limits the control users have over their own settings, and will predictably lead to stability problems if more than one of these services ends up being installed in the user’s system.

We will blocklist add-ons that are installed with setting protectors because we believe that users come first and should always be in control of their browsing experience.

Add-ons Update – Week of 2014/06/23

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.
  • 165 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 3 weeks.
  • 96 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 3 weeks.
  • 136 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 29 Compatibility

This is a big one. The Firefox 29 compatibility update is here, and there are some additional posts explaining some of what’s new:

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

Firefox 30 Compatibility

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

How to develop a Firefox extension

Jorge Villalobos

26

It’s been a while since we published a guide on extension development in this blog, and we recently discovered that many of you are hitting a very old blog post about it. There’s plenty of documentation out there, but it can be hard to find, so here’s an overview of what you need to know about extension development.

As with everything Mozilla, the first place you should look for developer documentation is the Mozilla Developer Network. There’s an add-ons section there where you will find everything you need to know about how to develop Firefox extensions, as well as other add-on types.

There are a couple different ways to go about creating an extension for Firefox, so I covered each in the sections below.

Add-ons SDK extensions

The Add-ons SDK is a set of simple APIs you can use to quickly build good Firefox extensions. It’s what we recommend for new developers. It should be easy to work with, especially if you’re familiar with Google Chrome extensions or userscripts. It abstracts away most of the XUL / XPCOM infractrusture in Firefox, giving you a more familiar HTML and JS environment to work with.

The current approach to building an SDK extension is to download and set up the SDK, code locally,  then package your extension (an XPI file) using the cfx tool included with the SDK. The SDK team is working on making this process much easier by integrating it into Firefox developer tools. Soon you’ll be able to build your extensions very quickly, right from Firefox.

You can learn more about the SDK and get help here:

Bootstrapped extensions

Bootstrapped extensions don’t require a restart to be installed, like SDK extensions, but they don’t have the easy access to SDK APIs or sandboxing. You’re basically doing everything manually, like tracking windows to add or remove your UI. However, there are various great tools available to you via existing JavaScript Modules, like CustomizableUI.jsm for toolbar UI and Services.jsm for frequently used Firefox components.

Compared to the old way of making extensions (see Overlay extensions below), the only notable loss are overlays. Bootstrapped extensions have the bootstrap.js file instead, which is what serves as the starting point for your code. Otherwise, everything should be familiar to you: install.rdf, chrome.manifest and code files, all packed in a ZIP file with a .xpi extension.

Other than Bootstrapped extensions on MDN and the pages they link to, all the available developer resources are the same for overlay extensions (see below).

Firefox for Android extensions

Extensions in Firefox for Android are slightly different. Since the UI is native instead of XUL, the way extensions can modify it is different and a bit more limited. This also means overlay extensions are not supported, so your options are the SDK and bootstrapped extensions.

Since mobile applications have very limited screen real estate, browsers need to maximize the content area, meaning extensions can’t add buttons or toolbars to the browser. However, the Firefox for Android team recently developed the Firefox Hub API that lets extensions add their content to the home page. This is a smart place to put your extension UI if you need it.

You can learn more about Firefox for Android extensions and get help here:

Overlay extensions

Overlay extensions are the old way of making add-ons. It might still make sense for you to use this approach if you need to create a very complex overlay or have other specific needs. However, having to restart Firefox to install this kind of extension is annoying because it breaks the user’s workflow, so you should definitely consider using the SDK or bootstrapped extensions first.

You can get help about extension development in general here:

June Featured Add-ons

Amy Tsay

Pick of the Month: Download Status Bar

Download Status Bar manages every aspect of your downloads (Launch, Show, Scan, Rename, Checksum, Pause, Resume, Cancel, Clean, Delete), generates statistics from your download actions, keeps a record of your downloads, and much more.

Thanks a lot for this excellent add-on. I especially love the feature of setting an audio file for notification after all downloads are completed.”

Get Download Status Bar »

Also Featured

Greasemonkey
Customize the way a web page displays or behaves, by using small bits of JavaScript. Get it now »

YouTube ALL HTML5
Play all videos on youtube without flash in your preferred size using only HTML5. Get it now »

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!