Jetpack: The Road Ahead ( Part 2 )

In my last post I talked about the process currently underway to shift SDK development to match the Firefox release schedule. This work has taken up a ton of time over the last year or so, but most of the benefits to add-on developers are around unexciting things like compatibility and maintenance. Developers want new exciting capabilities, and thankfully we have a few plans up our sleeve.

The next phase ( Firefox 23 & Up )

Shipping in Firefox does not mean that the SDK is ‘done’; quite the opposite! The team still needs to maintain the SDK’s APIs with future versions of Firefox. As I mentioned in my previous post we do expect this work will be simplified because we will no longer need to support a range of Firefox versions with the same code-base.

What are we going to do with all this spare time? I’m glad you asked! There are three key initiatives that I mentioned in our Roadmap that are top priorities for Jetpack in 2013:

Simple, Powerful Firefox UI integration

Based on Stephen Shorlander’s excellent mockups, we will be implementing a set of high-level, useful APIs that allow developers to integrate custom UI into Firefox navigation bar in a reliable an efficient way. There will be no markup, no need to manually handle unload. These APIs will be available to all add-on developers, not just those using the SDK.

Rapid Prototyping of Firefox features

One of the goals of the SDK has always been to help make Firefox feature development easier. We’ve come a long way towards helping this by embedding our powerful, module APIs and CommonJS loader into Firefox, but we think we can go even farther by easing the pain for not only creating feature prototypes but also shipping the tried and tested code-base the prototype becomes in Firefox all using a modern, modular approach.

Awesome tools for Add-on Developers

A key goal for the team is to help improve the developer experience for add-on developers. We believe the best way to approach this problem is to create great native tools that leverage the work of the already fantastic Firefox Developer tools and provide add-on developers with the features they’ve been asking for, such as debugging, rapid prototyping and in-browser packaging.

A related goal for the team is to continue to support Add-on Builder as we move through this transition. Next week I will publish a road-map for Add-on Builder that provides more detail about Builder’s future.

4 comments on “Jetpack: The Road Ahead ( Part 2 )”

  1. tom jones wrote on

    “excellent mockups” link is missing

    1. Jeff Griffiths wrote on

      Fixed, thanks for the tip!

  2. Siavash wrote on

    My questions may have obvious answers, but:

    Do we have to use Firefox’s beta versions to test SDK’s APIs?

    Do we have to build Firefox for contributing to Add-on SDK?

    1. Jeff Griffiths wrote on

      Excellent question! In both cases, no, we have added an option that allows you to use existing builds of Firefox and load a local copy of the SDK’s apis.

      Note that you could run into problems using HEAD from github against a release build Firefox, as HEAD is targeted at Firefox Nightly.