December’s Featured Add-ons

Firefox Logo on blue background

Pick of the Month: Enhancer for YouTube

by Maxime RF
Watch YouTube on your own terms! Tons of customizable features, like ad blocking, auto-play setting, mouse-controlled volume, cinema mode, video looping, to name a few.

“All day long, I watch and create work-related YouTube videos. I think I’ve tried every video add-on. This is easily my favorite!”

Featured: New Tab Override

by Sören Hentzschel
Designate the page that appears every time you open a new tab.

“Simply the best, trouble-free, new tab option you’ll ever need.”

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. Here’s further information on AMO’s featured content policies.

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 in 2017

A little more than a year ago we started talking about where add-ons were headed, and what the future would look like. It’s been busy, and we wanted to give everyone an update as well as provide guidance on what to expect in 2017.

Over the last year, we’ve focused as a community on foundational work building out WebExtensions support in Firefox and addons.mozilla.org (AMO), reducing the time it takes for listed add-ons to be reviewed while maintaining the standards we apply to them, and getting Add-ons ready for e10s. We’ve made a number of changes to our process and products to make it easier to submit, distribute, and discover add-ons through initiatives like the signing API and a revamped Discovery Pane in the add-ons manager. Finally, we’ve continued to focus on communicating changes to the developer community via direct outreach, mailing lists, email campaigns, wikis, and the add-ons blog.

As we’ve mentioned, WebExtensions are the future of add-ons for Firefox, and will continue to be where we concentrate efforts in 2017. WebExtensions are decoupled from the platform, so the changes we’ll make to Firefox in the coming year and beyond won’t affect them. They’re easier to develop, and you won’t have to learn about Firefox internals to get up and running. It’ll be easier to move your add-ons over to and from other browsers with minimal changes, as we’re making the APIs compatible – where it makes sense – with products like Opera, Chrome, and Edge.

By the end of 2017, and with the release of Firefox 57, we’ll move to WebExtensions exclusively, and will stop loading any other extension types on desktop. To help ensure any new extensions work beyond the end of 2017, AMO will stop accepting any new extensions for signing that are not WebExtensions in Firefox 53. Throughout the year we’ll expand the set of APIs available, add capabilities to Firefox that don’t yet exist in other browsers, and put more WebExtensions in front of users.

There’s a lot of moving parts, and we’ll be tracking more detailed information – including a timeline and roadmap – on the WebExtensions section of the Mozilla Wiki. If you’re interested in getting involved with the add-on community and WebExtensions, we have a few ways you can do that. We’re looking forward to the next year, and will continue to post updates and additional information here on the Add-ons blog.

For more information on Add-ons and WebExtensions, see:

Note: Edited to better identify specifics around Firefox 53

webextensions-examples and Hacktoberfest

Hacktoberfest is an event organized by DigitalOcean in partnership with GitHub. It encourages contributions to open source projects during the month of October. This year the webextensions-examples project participated.

“webextensions-examples” is a collection of simple but complete and installable WebExtensions, that demonstrate how to use the APIs and provide a starting point for people writing their own WebExtensions.

We had a great response: contributions from 8 new volunteers in October. Contributions included 4 brand-new complete examples:

So thanks to DigitalOcean, to the add-ons team for helping me review PRs, and most of all, to our new contributors:

WebExtensions in Firefox 52

Firefox 52 landed in Developer Edition this week, so we have another update on WebExtensions for you. WebExtensions are becoming the standard for add-on development in Firefox.

API Parity

The sessions API was added to Firefox, with sessions.getRecentlyClosed and sessions.restore APIs. These allow you to query for recently closed tabs and windows and then restore them.

The topSites API was added to Firefox. This allows extensions to query the top sites visited by the browser.

The omnibox API was added to Firefox. Although in Firefox the omnibox is called the Awesome Bar, we’ve kept the naming the same so that extensions can easily port between Chrome and Firefox. The API allows extensions to register a unique keyword for providing their own suggestions to the Awesome Bar. The extension will be able to provide suggestions whenever its registered keyword is typed into the Awesome Bar.

image00

Screenshot of an extension which registered the keyword ‘dxr’ for searching the Firefox source code.

The storage.sync API is now ready for testing, but not yet ready for full deployment. This API relies on a back-end service provided by Mozilla to sync add-on data between devices or re-installs. It is most commonly used to store add-on preferences that should be preserved.

Until the main production service is set up, you can test out storage.sync by making a few preference changes. To sync add-on data, a user will need to be logged into a Firefox Account. There is a limit of 100KB in the amount of data that can be stored. Before data is stored on our server, all data is encrypted in the client. By the time Firefox 52 goes into Beta we plan to have a production service ready to go. At that point we hope to remove the need to set preferences and switch users to the new servers.

Some existing APIs have also been improved. Some of the more significant bugs include:

  • The addition of browser.runtime.onInstalled and browser.runtime.onStartup which are commonly used to initialize data or provide the user with more information about the extension.
  • You can now match and attach content scripts to iframes with about:blank source, which are often used for inserting ads around the web.
  • The manifest file now supports developer information and falls back to the author if appropriate.
  • The commands API now supports _execute_browser_action, which allows you to easily map a command to synthesize a click on your browser action.
  • Bookmark events have been implemented, providing the onRemoved, onMoved, onCreated and onChanged events.

New APIs

Recently, contextual identities were added to Firefox, and these are now exposed to WebExtensions as well, in the tabs and cookie APIs. As an example, the following will query every tab in the current window and then open up a new tab at the same URL with the same contextual identity:

let tabs = browser.tabs.query({currentWindow: true});
tabs.then(tabs => {
  for (let tab of tabs) {
    browser.tabs.create({
      url: tab.url, cookieStoreId:
      tab.cookieStoreId
    });
  }
});

This API is behind the same browser preference that the rest of the contextual identity code is, privacy.userContext.enabled. We expect the API to track that preference for the moment.

You can now suspend and resume requests using the webRequest API. This allows extensions to suspend requests, perform asynchronous checks if necessary, then resume or cancel the request when appropriate, without blocking the parent process.

Out of process extensions

The work to run extensions out of process continues, with multiple changes being made across the APIs to support this. If you are developing an extension using the WebExtensions API then this change should have no effect on you. If you are planning to develop a WebExtensions API, maybe using experiments, or committing into mozilla-central, then please check the documentation for what you need to know.

Examples

The WebExtensions examples repository keeps growing, currently standing at 26 examples. Recent additions include:

All the examples have been altered to use the browser namespace and promises instead of the chrome namespace. The MDN documentation has also been updated to reflect this change.

Web-ext

Web-ext is the command line tool for developing WebExtensions quickly and easily. There were versions 1.5 and 1.6 of web-ext released. Significant changes include:

  • sign can now use a proxy.
  • build uses the locale when generating a file name.
  • --firefox-binary has been shortened to --firefox.

New contributors

Over this release, we’ve had our largest influx of new contributors ever. A shout out to all the awesome contributors who have helped make this happen including the following:

For a full list of the changes to Firefox over this period please check out this Bugzilla query.

Add-ons Update – 2016/11

Here’s the state of the add-ons world this month.

The Review Queues

In the past month, 1,732 listed add-on submissions were reviewed:

  • 1,340 (77%) were reviewed in fewer than 5 days.
  • 130 (8%) were reviewed between 5 and 10 days.
  • 262 (15%) were reviewed after more than 10 days.

There are 220 listed add-ons awaiting review.

If you’re an add-on developer and are looking for contribution opportunities, please consider joining us. Add-on reviewers are critical for our success, and can earn cool gear for their work. Visit our wiki page for more information.

Compatibility

The compatibility blog post for Firefox 51 is up, and the bulk validation should be run in the coming weeks. It’s worth pointing out that the Firefox 50 cycle will be twice as long, so 51 won’t be released until January 24th, 2017.

Multiprocess Firefox is now enabled for users without add-ons, and add-ons will be gradually phased in, so make sure you’ve tested your add-on and either use WebExtensions or set the multiprocess compatible flag in your add-on manifest.

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

Recognition

We would like to thank André Bargull, Meet Mangukiya, Jostein Kjønigsen, euleram, saintsebastian, Rob Wu , Andrew Terranova, Prasanth P, and Venkat Ganesan for their recent contributions to the add-ons world. You can read more about their work in our recognition page.

More ways to contribute to WebExtensions

Since the transition to WebExtensions began, people have contributed bug fixes, APIs, documentation, and tons of valuable feedback. Contributors have given talks about WebExtensions at events all over the world, and developers have taken on the sometimes immense task of migrating their add-ons. It’s been a community effort, and now there are two more ways to contribute to WebExtensions, by participating in the development of APIs.

WebExtensions Experiments: tinker with APIs without having to build Firefox

Previously, if you were a developer who wanted to write WebExtensions APIs, you would have to be familiar with Mozilla infrastructure, like building mozilla-central, working with Bugzilla, and the try server. With WebExtensions Experiments, people who want to prototype APIs for landing in Firefox or use them on Nightly or Developer Edition can do so without having to build Firefox. Experiments work by allowing WebExtensions APIs to be written in another extension, so if you can write an extension, you can prototype a new API.

Help plan and prioritize APIs

Anyone can request an API by filing a bug, and now there is a public triage of these bugs every other week to decide which ones benefit the most developers and users, and support the WebExtensions vision of a safer, cross-browser standard for add-ons. One goal of the triage, which anyone interested is welcome to join, is to provide details and considerations for each prioritized API, making it easier for people to contribute to them. The more complex APIs are also posted on a public Trello board for better tracking.

Join us

If you want to help drive WebExtensions forward, or simply listen in on discussions, please subscribe to the dev-addons@mozilla.org mailing list.

November’s Featured Add-ons

Firefox Logo on blue background

Pick of the Month: Blur

by Abine
Secure all of your personal information online—passwords, shopping accounts and more, plus tracking protection.

“It’s almost impossible to keep up with the number of passwords that we must have for various sites. What makes it more difficult, is making sure each password varies. Blur makes this daunting task a thing of the past. It’s so simple to add/save new passwords.”

Featured: Instant Translate

by Twopeople Software
Translate words and phrases in 100+ languages, use text-to-speech, and easily browse your history of previous translations.

“Big + for having a history of translations. Very useful and simple to use.”

Featured: Privacy Badger

by EFF Technologists
Automatically block sneaky spyware in ads and invisible trackers as you navigate the Web.

“This doesn’t block ads but limits/stops unwanted sites tracking your every click. A must have!”

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, and we just so happen to be looking for new applicants right now! Here’s further information on AMO’s featured content policies.

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!

Apply to Join the AMO Feature Board

Do you like making people happy? Great add-ons make people happy.

Do you like making people happy? Great add-ons make people happy.

Are you a big fan of add-ons? Do you appreciate great functionality? Can you spot stellar design? And do you want to make a huge impact for AMO? Then check this out…

Twice a year we invite a handful of new contributors to become part of AMO’s Feature Board. These folks help identify AMO’s new monthly featured add-ons for six months. Millions of users look to AMO’s featured content to find the best add-ons. Downloads increase dramatically for the add-ons selected.

Now the time has come to assemble a new board for the months January – June.

Anyone from the add-ons community is welcome to apply: power users, theme designers, developers, and evangelists. Priority will be given to applicants who have not served on the board before, followed by those from previous boards, and finally from the outgoing board. This page provides more information on the duties of a board member. To be considered, please email us at amo-featured@mozilla.org with your name, and tell us how you’re involved with AMO. The deadline is Friday, November 11, 2016 at 23:59 PDT. The new board will be announced shortly thereafter.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Add-ons Update – 2016/10

Here’s the state of the add-ons world this month.

The Review Queues

In the past month, 1,755 listed add-on submissions were reviewed:

  • 1,438 (82%) were reviewed in fewer than 5 days.
  • 119 (7%) were reviewed between 5 and 10 days.
  • 198 (11%) were reviewed after more than 10 days.

There are 223 listed add-ons awaiting review.

If you’re an add-on developer and are looking for contribution opportunities, please consider joining us. Add-on reviewers are critical for our success, and can earn cool gear for their work. Visit our wiki page for more information.

Compatibility

The compatibility blog post for Firefox 50 is up, and the bulk validation was run recently. The compatibility blog post for Firefox 51 has published yesterday. It’s worth pointing out that the Firefox 50 cycle will be twice as long, so 51 won’t be released until January 24th, 2017.

Multiprocess Firefox is now enabled for users without add-ons, and add-ons will be gradually phased in, so make sure you’ve tested your add-on and either use WebExtensions or set the multiprocess compatible flag in your add-on manifest.

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

Recognition

We would like to thank Atique Ahmed Ziad, Surya Prashanth, freaktechnik, shubheksha, bjdixon, zombie, berraknil, Krizzu, rackstar17, paenglab, and Trishul Goel (long list!) for their recent contributions to the add-ons world. You can read more about their work in our recognition page.

Add-on Compatibility for Firefox 51

Firefox 51 will be released on January 24th. Note that the scheduled release on December 13th is a point release, not a major release, hence the much longer cycle. Here’s the list of changes that went into this version that can affect add-on compatibility. There is more information available in Firefox 51 for Developers, so you should also give it a look.

General

XPCOM and Modules

New!

  • Embedded WebExtensions. You can now embed a WebExtension into any restartless add-on, allowing you to gradually migrate your code to the new platform, or transition any data you store to a format that works with WebExtensions.
  • WebExtension Experiments. This is a mechanism that allows us (and you!) to prototype new WebExtensions APIs.

Let me know in the comments if there’s anything missing or incorrect on these lists. If your add-on breaks on Firefox 51, I’d like to know.

The automatic compatibility validation and upgrade for add-ons on AMO will happen in a few weeks, so keep an eye on your email if you have an add-on listed on our site with its compatibility set to Firefox 50.