Changing things around

Add-on. Add-in. Plug-in. Extension. These are all words that describe third-party pieces of software added to a browser to enhance functionality. Different platforms call it different things. In the world of Mozilla, “add-on” is an umbrella term encompassing extensions, themes, dictionaries, language packs, plug-ins, and search providers. But is it the correct term?

Suppose we have a bicycle shed, and we want to add a new shelf to store some spare parts. It’s a fairly straight-forward task: we’ll just be adding something new onto the bike shed, so it makes sense for this new shelf project to be considered an add-on. Say, however, that the shed’s door opens into the shed, and we’d like for it to open out for more room. This sort of functionality change is a common task for extensions, but it’s not really adding anything onto the bikeshed. It’s just changing things around. mascot
Extensions are extremely powerful and can do everything from turning the browser into a brand new kid-safe environment to synchronizing your bookmarks and other data across all of your devices. Not all of those activities fall under the label of “adding on” to the browser. That’s why, after much thought and research, we’ve decided to rename add-ons to change-arounds.

This first phase of this change is visible starting today, as we’ve renamed the Firefox Add-ons site to Firefox Change-arounds. The second major change will occur when the Add-ons Manager becomes the Change-around Manager in the upcoming release of Firefox 3.5.

These are exciting times for web browser extensibility, and this re-branding of add-ons as change-arounds is reflective of a renewed commitment to improving the Firefox ecosystem for add-on users and developers alike. We’ll be posting more information on our planned improvements in the coming months, so stay tuned to this blog.

Update: Please see our latest post regarding this issue.

55 comments on “Changing things around”

  1. 2 wrote on

    Forgot a place:
    Fashsion your Firefox says add ons still.

  2. Ghodmode wrote on

    “Add-on” and “extension” are both comfortable terms. “plug-in” is less comfortable, but still better than “change-around”.

    The term “extension” should be used to describe anything that extends the functionality of Firefox / Thunderbird. Although familiarity will cause us all to continue to use “addon”.

    “Themes” describe a separate and unrelated thing, so we should continue to use that term.

    Of course, this is all just my opinion.

    If this is just an April Fool’s Day joke, you should really have tried to be a little more creative.

    — Ghodmode

  3. XOR wrote on

    firefox Translate

    1989 : Amiga500 (Workbench) ReNAME :: user menu ReNAME

    1999 : Google 🙂 yes ReNAME >>> HELLO WORLD <<<

    2009 : PC (Windows + Linux + MacosX) NO-ReNAME (internetwork) no-uploading !!!!??? 🙁

  4. klonos wrote on

    I like the terms ‘extensions’ & ‘themes’ much better.

  5. Alex Faaborg wrote on

    I can’t believe you turned down my idea of “non-defaulters”

  6. Tomer wrote on

    Most people are misunderstanding the difference between ‘addons’, ‘extensions’ and ‘plugins’. Most people I know are using ‘plugins’ in order to describe extensions. After translating to Hebrew it become even more complicated, as ‘plugins’ and ‘addons’ are very similar in translation.

    (Really bad April Fools joke, IMHO. Please revert the changes on AMO as soon as possible)

  7. Frédéric Wenzel wrote on

    @2: Thanks! We are actually in the process of modifying the site, and it’ll take a while!

    @faaborg: Come on, “non-defaulters”? That’d be just silly. And the UX people would have killed us for that.

  8. HK wrote on

    The term “change-around” sucks.
    It’s a dumbed-down name for extension and it’s kind of insulting.

  9. finny wrote on

    non-defaulters is awesome and hilarious at the same time

  10. Bill Smith wrote on

    Funny how this comes out on April fool’s day but if this isn’t a joke “change-arounds” just sounds silly. Why don’t they call it Transformers or innies and outies, They sound just as good or bad. 😀

  11. Mike-RaWare wrote on

    Worst. April Fools joke. Ever.

  12. Lars wrote on

    Come on! ‘Change-arounds’? Made me laugh anyway.. 🙂

  13. Browser wrote on

    Change arounds? Why not just Mods? Browser Mods.
    The firs one can be a change around to rename everything to Browser Mods.

  14. selio wrote on

    April Fools?

  15. Andrew Maiman wrote on

    Happy April Fool’s Day! (At least, I certainly hope so, this is a terrible idea.)

  16. Srsly? wrote on

    Just not even funny. How awkward.

  17. Kurt wrote on

    If this isn’t an April Fool’s joke then this is the stupidest thing Mozilla has done in a long time. The name is just ridiculous. I would love to throw some curse words in the previous sentenace.

    The name sucks badly and will only add to the confusion because most people would still refer to add-ons, extensions, themes and plug-ins.

  18. max wrote on

    I like it. In keeping with the new terminology will you be renaming Firefox Foxfire?

  19. Justin Uthermann wrote on

    At first I though this was an April Fool’s joke, but upon further investigation I realized that the name change was genuine.

    Firefox Change-Arounds? I don’t think that is the best name, especially considering that “Arounds” is not even a word, although I guess it is ok in this case because it modifies the noun Change-Around to make it plural. Still, I think the name is too long.

    But of course, I am Justin Uthermann.

  20. anomymous wrote on

    Are people known that they should to search for “change-arounds” instead of plugins, extansions or addons?

  21. Bob wrote on

    I sure hope this is just an April Fools joke.

  22. wrote on


  23. Rosie wrote on

    Have the staff at Mozilla got so much spare time on their hands that they must resort to dreaming up new unnecessary names for things that were already perfectly fine?!
    I hope this is a April Fool’s joke, albeit a moronic one. If not, please concentrate on attending to the things that require change, and leave silly crap like this for when you’ve really got nothing better to do.

  24. Thomas Wyker wrote on

    Who had the lame-brain idea to change add-ons to change-arounds. The one thing that really separates Firefox from all other browsers is the add-ons. When you want people to switch to your browser you emphasize what these add-ons can do. It is and has been the main selling point for Firefox. For years you have used a name that people associate with things that are added to the browser to provide greater function. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an extension, theme, plug-in, or search engines. It is something added to the browser. Now you want to change the name? This is only going to muddy the water and confuse folks that don’t need further confusion. Do you really think this new name is going to make it easier to embrace the add-on concept? In my opinion this move is ill thought out.

  25. david wrote on

    nice joke

  26. Robert Kaiser wrote on

    Too bad this was done in a manner non-coordinated enough that localizations apparently haven’t caught up yet. I would have expected nothing else than the usual perfection (like, say, with swift reviews and almost-zero queues we’re so used to nowadays) from the Mozilla Change-arounds team. I really hope we can have consistent naming across all localizations at least within a few days.

  27. Gregory wrote on

    Changearound? Are you serious? However incomplete “add-on” may be, “changearound” is semantically inferior, not to mention clumsy. Changearound suggests new goals rather than the means of achieving previous goals. Add-on suggests customization or tailoring or optional enhancement. “Changeover” seems closer to the spirit but it is similarly clumsy and ungainly. If a new word is necessary, why not open that up for discussion or even competition?

  28. Ryan Garvin wrote on

    If this is an April Fools joke, fine, but if this is real.. I have to protest. People aren’t going to Search for “Change-Arounds,” they’ll think Add-Ons. Anyway, “Change-Arounds?” That’s just plain confusing, even for people who aren’t used to it being called Add-Ons. I’ll never turn away from FF, but I do think these opinions should be valued, take it from the people here, if you really mean it, change it back. 🙁

  29. lvfirfox wrote on

    april fools day joke!

  30. Jimmy P wrote on

    I for one approve this move. I was hesitant to use “add ons” soley because of the naming convention. I’m now much more comfortable using things called “change arounds”. That just seems homey to me.

    Do I want to “Add on” and make my software bloated and bigger and crash all the time? NO!

    Do I want to “Change Around”? YES! that sounds good, I’ll be able to tweak things and not add on and nothing with crash if I just change a few things here and there.

    I dub this project “CAAMY” (Change Arounds At Mozilla? YES!)

  31. Vincent wrote on

    Hope this is just an April Fools’ joke (which is totally not funny).

  32. scott wrote on

    i lost my internet explorer !need help !

  33. RJ wrote on

    Oh, please tell me this is just some sort of awkward April Fool’s joke.


  34. Emperor MAR wrote on

    If this was real wouldn’t the blog be called the Mozilla Change-Arounds Blog? That’s a hole in this joke to me.

  35. Ken Saunders wrote on

    This has got to be an April Fools Day joke because Mozilla works transparently and we all would have heard of this before today, but as others have said, a very bad one.

    I have an awesome sense of humor but imagine the thousands ( who are downloading Firefox today and visiting AMO for the first time just to return to it tomorrow to see that the name has changed to Firefox Add-ons.
    You may as well have put a big notice up on stating “WE GIVE UP – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD IE8”.

    I appreciate that an effort was made, I really do, but messing your bread and butter isn’t a good idea at all.

  36. Kenton wrote on

    Weak AFD joke, Mozilla. Shame on you.

    (Insert finger wag here)

  37. Hater wrote on

    The name is clunky and would be definitely hard for me to get used to. I referred to them as extensions before I learned what their name was and I hope that this is just a bad April Fools joke.

  38. spencer wrote on

    Oh, my…..I know this isn’t the right spot to address this, but I can’t find an answer! I have a blog at Blogger. I used to be able to upload pix with no problem. Suddenly, when I click on the button to add a picture, nothing happens. I can go to IE and do it with no problem. Where do I get help? What do I do?

    Question two….I have add-ons from Mozilla and would like to change them around, but can’t figure out where to go…….???

    Big help needed here.

    Thanks ever so much!

  39. ME wrote on

    I love Firefox, but sorrym don,t like this change at all. I agree@ Clunky.

  40. SOMEONE wrote on

    APRIL FOOLS!!!!!!!!


  41. Anand wrote on

    For April Fools, they should have made IETab the recommended addon on the front page.

  42. Ken Saunders wrote on

    @ spencer
    Try the official Firefox support site,
    the mozillaZine forums

    I’m not sure what you mean when talking about add-ons (er, um, Firefox Change-arounds) when you say “change them around”.

    If you mean manage them to view, uninstall, access add-on’s options etc then go to, Tools > Add-ons.

  43. max wrote on

    I realize I posted earlier regarding my suggestion that in keeping with this change Firefox should be renamed Foxfire, but I later realized that in fact it should be renamed Stravinsky. Apologies.

  44. Ted Mielczarek wrote on

    I vote that we cut April 1st out of the calendar.

  45. Crogon wrote on

    I always preferred bolt-on personally. I could see differentiating Themes and Dictionaries and etc. Themes are a cosmetic enhancement, a Dictionary is a sort of extension of use.

    Change-arounds?? Ditch it. Too complex, it sucks, I don’t like it. Someone earlier said it’s too clunky. Also, it doesn’t fully describe the genre. I would expect a Change-Around to change around current functionality, as opposed to an add-on adding new functionality.

    Perhaps you could split things out to Add-ons to add new functionality and use say, Change-out, to change currently existing functionality.

    Speaking of changing things out, isn’t it about time you started adopting a few extensions like no-script and ad-block? ..and WHO is in charge of the recommended extensions?? I want their job. I can think of a few dozen more useful extensions than say something to show your facebook pic in your browser all the time.

    While your at it, build some sort of a default theme template. I’m getting sick of having to download a couple of dozen themes to find one that doesn’t break any of my extensions.

    Just food for thought, I hope somebody out there is listening. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that perhaps one or two of these ideas take root.

    Thanks for some awesome software guys, I fully support and stand behind everything you guys do, just trying to throw out some constructive criticism. 🙂

  46. Minh Nguyễn wrote on

    Agreed. Pulling pranks on March 31st of every year makes more sense, anyways.

  47. NettiCat wrote on

    Must be an April joke, otherwise complete nonsense.
    Mozilla seems to have much time – and nothing better to do than creating awkward terms for truly simple things. How about “lack-of-feature-supplement”?
    They celebrate a temporary loss of brain, can’t get it!

  48. P1h3r1e3d13 wrote on

    What do you mean, “Manager”?
    Shouldn’t it be a “Change-around-er”? “Or maybe a Changer-arounder”?

    I propose 3.5 should incorporate the “Change-around Changer-arounder”.

  49. sian wrote on

    very very funny
    especially after reading the comments here that are April fool / omg this is terrible / April fool / new name sucks
    ha ha ha ha ha

  50. Fallout wrote on


    Which is hilarious since I currently have five tabs open for the express purpose of checking out different April Fool’s jokes.

    On the one hand: it isn’t that funny. On the other: excellent job picking a prank likely to fool a lot of people, what with the recent “Sci-Fi = SyFy” crap.

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