The Quick & Dirty Way to Test Your Add-ons in Fx 3.1b2

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’re pretty hot on getting as many add-ons as possible up to Firefox 3.1 beta 2 compliance. For users, it’s extremely important that the add-ons that make their browser unique and useful are immediately available when a new version of Firefox is released.

The most cumbersome part of this whole process is having to do a new build of your add-on just to change the maxVerison in install.rdf so you can test it out. Well, that’s not necessarily the case and while more experienced developers may know this, I want to ensure that contributors that are new to the Mozilla platform are aware that you can test your add-on in Fx 3.1b2 without having to physically update it.

All builds of Firefox allow you to turn off the add-on compatibility check which prevents unsupported add-ons from running in newer versions of the browser. By disabling this check, you’ll be able to install your add-on and run it through its paces. The process is painless and described below:

1. In your address bar, type the following: about:config

2. You may see a message that says, “This might void your warranty!”. Click on the “I’ll be careful…” button

3. Right click on any entry to display the context menu and select New > Boolean

4. Set the preference name to extensions.checkCompatibility and the value to false

5. You should now see the new entry listed

6. Finally, restart Firefox and install your add-on

Once you’ve tested your add-on, you can then decide how to best handle the maxVersion update. In many cases, if your add-on works perfectly and does not require any Fx 3.1-specific code changes, you can simply update the maxVersion via the developer tools on AMO.

If you find that your add-on isn’t working correctly, then that’s when you’ll need to correct any issues and upload a new version for review. The following page lists common issues that may cause your add-on to break:

As Nick mentioned earlier, as of Fx 3.1b2, no changes are planned which should affect add-on compatibility so now is a great time to ensure you’re compliant and that your users will be able to continue to take advantage of your excellent work.

NOTE: Please be sure to set extensions.checkCompatibility back to “true” once you’re done testing. Otherwise, you’ll bypass checks during your normal browsing that could dramatically affect your experience. It should ONLY be set for testing your add-on and is not recommended for normal browser usage.

3 comments on “The Quick & Dirty Way to Test Your Add-ons in Fx 3.1b2”

  1. Henrik wrote on

    You should also mention the add-on “Nightly Tester Tools” which makes the whole process a lot easier and gives some nice additions for nightly testers.

  2. Alfred Kayser wrote on

    Or just open the package with a zip tool, edit the install.rdf file, change version, close the package, and install. Also just 5 steps…

  3. John Silvestri wrote on

    I second Henrik’s recommendation for an important reason: It’s really bad advice to tell people to turn off compatibility checking if it’s supposed to mean anything. Nightly Tester Tools lets you pass individual extensions with 2 clicks, while keeping Firefox in its normal state otherwise.

    (I could be wrong, but I thought Mozilla’s gotten kind of bent out of shape in the past when sites (e.g. /., Lifehacker, et al.) recommend turning off compatibility checking.)