Hi. I’m Michael Wu, a winner of the 2006 Extend Firefox contest. I’m currently a 3rd year undergraduate studying computer engineering at Rutgers, but when I’m not busy finishing school work at the last second or wasting time, I hack Mozilla and Linux code. My first attempt at Mozilla hacking was actually due to the first Extend Firefox contest. When I first spotted news of the Extend Firefox contest somewhere on mozillazine and saw the grand prize, I knew I wanted it. I decided to temporarily drop all my other personal coding projects at the time so I could singlemindedly focus on learning how to write a Firefox extension and writing some.
The necessary documentation was found across three sites – developer.mozilla.org, xulplanet.com, and kb.mozillazine.org. That provided a good chunk of information that got me started and the majority of the rest was found by poking around in DOM inspector. It took me about 1-2 weeks poking around and reading documentation before I was somewhat comfortable with what Firefox provided and putting down
actual xul/css/js code. Should be a bit easier these days with better documentation and APIs, but even back then, I thought it wasn’t too hard. (all relative, however! I was hacking a Linux driver before I did Mozilla)
I started off with a simple goal but as I put more code down and looked at what worked, I gradually expanded the scope of what the extension did, dropped features that didn’t have time, constantly tested, and ended up with Reveal. The process was as important as the original idea from where I started.
Anyways, it seems to have worked out. It led to two summer internships at Mozilla and all sorts of other (positive!) things that would take too long to enumerate here. No guarantee that winning this contest will change your life, but it sure helps a college student. Good luck to those trying this year!