Add-ons Update – Week of 2015/09/23

I post these updates every 3 weeks to inform add-on developers about the status of the review queues, add-on compatibility, and other happenings in the add-ons world.

The Review Queues

  • Most nominations for full review are taking less than 10 weeks to review.
  • 163 nominations in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most updates are being reviewed within 7 weeks.
  • 88 updates in the queue awaiting review.
  • Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 10 weeks.
  • 152 preliminary review submissions in the queue awaiting review.

The unlisted queues aren’t mentioned here, but they have very low numbers. We’re in the process of getting more help to reduce queue length and waiting times for all queues. A new admin reviewer started helping us this week and we’re looking for a second one.

If you’re an add-on developer and would like to see add-ons reviewed faster, please consider joining us. Add-on reviewers get invited to Mozilla events and earn cool gear with their work. Visit our wiki page for more information.

Firefox 41 Compatibility

The compatibility blog post has been up for a while. The compatibility bump was run on Monday, which is way too late, and I apologize for that. I just lost track of it. Fortunately it was a fairly small validation with very few developers affected.

Firefox 42 Compatibility

Expect the blog post to come up soon. Again, this is something I expected to have done sooner, but it’s coming.

As always, we recommend that you test your add-ons on Beta and Firefox Developer Edition (formerly known as Aurora) 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.

Extension Signing

The wiki page on Extension Signing has information about the timeline, as well as responses to some frequently asked questions. The new add-on installation UI and signature warnings are now enabled in release versions of Firefox.

We recently announced an extension to the signing deadline. The current plan is to turn on enforcement by default in Firefox 43.


Electrolysis, also known as e10s, is the next major compatibility change coming to Firefox. In a nutshell, Firefox will run on multiple processes now, running content code in a different process than browser code. This should improve responsiveness and overall stability, but it also means many add-ons will need to be updated to support this.

If you read Kev’s post on the future of add-on development, you should know there are big changes coming. We’re investing heavily on the new WebExtensions API, so we strongly recommend that you start looking into it for your add-ons. If you have requests for new APIs, please suggest them in the uservoice forum.

10 responses

  1. Mozg wrote on :

    Dear Jorge,
    I wonder why this future of the firefox addons is not an option. Isn’t this a win-win situation for Mozilla and Advanced Extensions community? Proposal:

    Make FF Developer’s Edition as an alternative version of Firefox

    Make it hard to download/ install so that all inexperienced users stay safe (e.g. need to compile). Allow extensions to change browser internals in this version bypassing API (permissive addon model). This way Mozilla achieves following goals:
    1. Calms old-school developers and users and secures their loyalty
    2. Doesn’t spend any resources as both versions are the same except for addons permissions
    3. Sees for real how important advanced features are at no cost of loosing ANY popularity even remotely
    Look, if advanced features are not that much demanded they will die on it’s own, if this is not true than Mozilla could always go back at any time with minimal cost.

    Thank you for reading this!

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on :

      Most add-on developers want a broad audience, which Developer Edition can’t provide. It seems unlikely that most developers would bother working with the unwieldy XPCOM API only to create add-ons that will reach a few thousand users at best. Even power users have a tendency to use Beta and Release for their main profiles, so I don’t think there’s much benefit in supporting the permissive model in Dev Edition (and there would probably be non-trivial cost in keeping that working).

  2. Alex wrote on :

    There’s an abandoned add-on that I have been using for quite a while with a little change to the code (changed “” to “”) and until this signing fiasco everything was fine.

    Now, I wanted to check what it would entail to run it in the future, when signing becomes mandatory.

    First, I wasted two hours mucking with it to get the validation site to accept it.
    Then it tells me it needs to go through manual validation.
    Then this blog tells me that “Most preliminary reviews are being reviewed within 10 weeks.”

    Ten bloody weeks.

    For a 10 second change of one string in one file on one extension that I intend to use on my computer to browse the web as I see fit.

    I do not want to learn the intricacies of writing add-ons, I have other hobbies.

    I do not want to run the “developer edition” or any other alpha-quality software.

    I do not want to wait TEN FREAKING WEEKS for somebody to approve what I do on my machine.

    I now hate Mozilla with a passion

    1. Jim wrote on :

      Firefox 41 broke the Norton Toolbar last week. Hello? You now made browsing insecure for all the Norton users. You also made it impossible to use Norton Identity Safe with all of my “impossible to remember, extra long” passwords. Symantec Tech Support recommends switching to a more User Friendly browser, until they have time to fix what you broke. YOU NEED to better coordinate your changes with major software vendors, and stop believing you are the new center of the universe. Hello? The world is NOT FLAT.

      Just as a side note your browser is very unstable. It crashes 7 or 8 times per day. Usually trying to display some news story from Yahoo News. Do you just ignore all the crash reports?

      1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on :

        Norton is working on the update. Here’s their announcement about this. They were notified about these changes months in advance.

        As for the crashes, they are handled by another team so I can’t give you that much information. What I can tell you is that they are definitely looked at, but in order of importance. So, if your crash is rare, then it’s less likely to be looked at soon.

    2. Eric wrote on :

      I ran into the same problem while trying to get Mouse Gestures Redox signed. The submission page told me that the add-on needs manual validation and that I have to send the source code for the binary file used. Obviously, I don’t have the source code for it, since I didn’t write this add-on. I just want to use it. I also don’t want to wait 10 weeks just to run something on my computer that I’ve been using for well over ten years without a problem. This is silly.

      I’ve installed the Developer Edition, but this edition broke even more of my add-ons (including Mouse Gestures Redox) and websites for other reasons. So, besides using the unbranded builds (that are only available in English, with still no word about an Android version), the proposed alternatives are pretty useless to me.

      I feel agitated and sad by how ruthless you guys bulldoze over users with not strictly mainstream needs in the last few years, ignoring each and everyone bothering to provide feedback. Firefox used to stand for the exact opposite.

  3. João Carloto wrote on :

    Hi Jorge,

    I which I was contacting you for more positive reasons, but anyway, here I mine concerns.
    My FF extension (FireRobot) has been waiting for review for almost 6 months.
    I understand that the reason for this is that it requires administrative review, and apparently an administrative reviewer is not available. I understand that this service is free of charge and mostly relies on people’s good will, and again, I hate to come here to complain. However, I believe that this situation is a dead end for projects like mine.
    It’s not possible to keep any kind of momentum on a project with this wait time. You guys at Mozilla, with your Firefox releases at every six weeks, surely understand it better than anyone. Before applying for review I was delivering a new version almost every month, now it’s been completely stalled.
    If the plugin is rejected will I have to wait for another 6 months for it to be reevaluated?
    If I want to release a minor version, with some bug fixing, will I have to wait for 6 more months?
    I thought I could opt to distribute this extension independently and rely on people’s trust that it’s safe. But apparently this will also be impossible in the near future, since all extensions will have to be signed when we get to Firefox 44.
    I hope you can provide some clarification on this. At least so I can plan where to focus my future efforts.

    Thank You

    João Carloto

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on :

      At the moment, the situation is very complicated for developers of very complex add-ons that are listed on AMO. We are getting a couple of contractors on board who will help us with admin reviews (among other things), so review times should be back to acceptable levels this year. However, I can’t give you any guarantees about your review in particular.

      In general, I suggest that you don’t rely exclusively on us to distribute your add-on. You can distribute it on your own. Also, you can change it to Unlisted on AMO, which will give you a faster review, but with the caveat that distributing the add-on becomes your responsibility. Otherwise, all I can recommend is patience as we deal with the long backlog of admin reviews.

      1. João Carloto wrote on :

        Thanks for the reply.
        I presume that by “distributing on my own” you mean telling people to use the extension on Firefox Dev Edition, with the unsigned extension restriction turned off.
        Unfortunately, some of the extension’s features don’t work on the current version of FF DEV edition, namely the options on the context menu don’t show up (unable to debug it so far, can’t see no errors on the browser console)
        Other thing, is that this extension creates test automation scripts for the Selenium Web Driver, and these also don’t work on FF DEV edition. The browser opens, but it then just stalls, and no assertions are performed.
        I also read that XUL based extensions will be deprecated some time in the future, so I will be forced to rewrite the extension’s GUI.
        So, things are not looking good.

        1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on :

          No, by “distributing yourself” I meant that you can submit it to AMO as Unlisted, get it signed (more easy than for Listed) and then distribute the signed XPI on your website. This means you also need to handle your own updates, as documented here.