WebExtensions Taking Root

Stencil and its 700,000+ royalty-free images are now available for Firefox users, thanks to WebExtensions.

Stencil and its 700,000+ royalty-free images are now available for Firefox users, thanks to WebExtensions.

From enhanced security for users to cross-browser interoperability and long-term compatibility with Firefox—including compatibility with multiprocess Firefox—there are many reasons why WebExtensions are becoming the future of add-on development.

So it’s awesome to see so many developers already embracing WebExtensions. To date, there are more than 700 listed on AMO. In celebration of their efforts to modernize their add-ons, I wanted to share a few interesting ones I recently stumbled upon…

musicfm has an impressively vast and free music library, plus an intuitive layout for simple browsing. However, I’m more of a SoundCloud music consumer myself, so I was intrigued to find SCDL SoundCloud Downloader, which is built for downloading not just music files, but related artwork and other meta information.

The popular Chrome add-on Stencil is now available for Firefox, thanks to WebExtensions. It’s a diverse creativity tool that allows you to combine text and imagery in all sorts of imaginative ways.

musicfm offers unlimited free music and the ability to create your playlists and online stations.

musicfm offers unlimited free music and the ability to create your own playlists and online stations.

I’m enjoying Dark Purple YouTube Theme. I think video resolution reads better against a dark background.

Keepa is one of the finest Amazon price trackers out there that also supports various international versions of the online bazaar (UK, Germany, Japan, plus many others).

Googley Eyes elegantly informs you which sites you visit send information about you to Google.

Search Engine Ad Remover is a perfectly titled extension. But arguably even better than removing ads is replacing them with cat pics.

Thanks for your continued support as we push ahead with a new model of extension development. If you need help porting your add-on to WebExtensions, check out the resources we’ve compiled. If you’re interested in writing your first add-on with WebExtensions, here’s how to get started.

14 comments on “WebExtensions Taking Root”

  1. john wrote on

    absolutly NO WHERE to download one single web extention plz correct me if im wrong

    1. Scott DeVaney wrote on

      Hey there, john. WebExtensions are an entirely behind-the-scenes technology. There are no user-facing signals that would indicate if an add-on was built via WebExtensions or not. I hope this helps clear up any confusion!

  2. happysurf wrote on

    Great news from new web extension world.

  3. Aris wrote on

    What is the purpose of advertising WebExtensions like this?
    “700” wow, what about thousands of “non-WebExtensions”?

    None of those WebExtensions can do anything current “non-WebExtensions” couldn’t do (if they would exist).

    None of them can add any value to browsers user interface (->customization), only to web content, more specific those add-ons mostly modify web pages, nothing more.

    Mozilla should focus on creating ways to customize browsers interface with WebExtensions instead of focusing on how devs can modify websites!

    1. Dan Callahan wrote on

      None of those WebExtensions can do anything current “non-WebExtensions” couldn’t do (if they would exist).

      WebExtensions all work in Multiprocess Firefox without slowing your browser down, and they have a much more robust and safe permission model.

      Those add-ons mostly modify web pages, nothing more.

      While many of the most popular add-ons do modify page content, add-ons like uBlock Origin, HTTPS Everywhere, Tamper Monkey, or the Evernote Web Clipper do more than that.

      Mozilla should focus on creating ways to customize browsers interface with WebExtensions instead of focusing on how devs can modify websites!

      We are working on this, though it is currently a lower priority compared to fundamental things like Proxy Configuration APIs to support add-ons like Tunnelbear and DevTools APIs to support add-ons like the React, Ember, and Angular inspectors. In what specific ways do you want to customize your Firefox’s interface?

      1. Aris wrote on

        “Mozilla” devs made their priorities clear a long time ago on where Firefox is going, what it should and should not do and how it has to look.

        It makes me (and I believe other developers and mostly users) very angry Mozilla still has not made it their highest priority to offer fully working alternatives for everything Firefox loses once fully moved away from xul/xpcom. It means not just adding APIs handling web content and server connections, but that definitively means adding matchable support of browser customization users know from current and older Firefox versions. That would be big news for this blog and not again a “change colors/images of Youtube or Facebook now via WebExtensions” advertisement.

        Don’t get me wrong, but being the best and more customable alternative (-> extensions, themes) to Internet Explorer back then, is what made Firefox big. Now it gets closer to all the mainstream browsers (Chrome, Edge, Opera) with every update and at the end there won’t be any point to chose it over the other browsers. Telling things like “making it highly customizable has no priority” is like telling Firefox users “go use any other browser, there is no difference between them and Firefox anyway”.

        I know there are “plans” on adding theming-support to WebExtesions “one day”, but that all is just talking and gathering information.
        It is about a year now after officially announcing the drop of xul/xpcom and one would think now a year later there should be working alternatives for some parts of it at least, but there is still nothing.
        There are WebExtension demos on how to add a website related infobar (who rellay needs that?) or working WebExtension that modify the appearance of a website (one could do with css since forever), but nothing on theming the ui, changing toolbar contents, creating toolbars, moving items within the ui, adding new items to the ui, changing tab appearance etc.

        If you really need to be that close to Google Chrome, just fork it (Chromium) and put “Firefox” label on it, done!
        No need to waste browser and add-ons developers time with creating an own browser, that at the end only tries to be a Chrome clone with a different engine, but as stiff and non-customizable as the original. At least look at Vivaldi browser to see what can be done to the ui.

        1. Dan Callahan wrote on

          Telling things like “making it highly customizable has no priority”

          That’s not what I said.

          UI customization is currently being worked on. I’ve been collecting screenshots of customized Firefoxes so we can be sure to make the common things easy. We have also looked at Vivaldi. We have a preliminary plan and draft milestones for UI customization APIs. It will take time, but we will get there.

          Specifically, we do have preliminary plans for changing tab appearance, adding sidebars, hiding standard UI elements, controlling themes, and more. Toolbar APIs are in our backlog for consideration.

          You can help us get there faster by contributing patches or testcases for unassigned WebExtension bugs.

          Your sarcastic remarks make it harder to understand what we need to do to make WebExtensions better for you. Please focus on what we can fix, not on insults.

  4. Manoj wrote on

    Thanks for these links. I went to the page for Keepa, but once downloaded, I was asked to restart my browser. This was unexpected. If extensions built using WebExtensions truly support e10s, why am I being asked to restart Firefox?


    1. someguy wrote on

      You probably need to update to Firefox 48 to get the WebExtension version.

  5. john wrote on

    ok with multi process enabled can i go to the chrome store and download there extentions?? after all firefox is saying cross browser platform ???thank you by the way you seem to be the ONLY person at firefox that actually replies

    1. Dan Callahan wrote on

      The “Chrome Store Foxified” add-on will let you do exactly that. However, not all Chrome APIs are supported (or will be supported) by Firefox, so using the above add-on is very experimental, and will probably leave you with more broken add-ons than working ones.

    2. Scott DeVaney wrote on

      Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that, though it may some day. What WebExtensions allows for developers is a much simpler path to adapt their add-ons across various browsers. Write it once for Chrome, and then with typically minor tweaks that add-on can be accommodated for Firefox as well.

  6. Goku21 wrote on

    Hey guys , im on the webextension bandwagon now XD , i was first pissed off but its shaping up nicely …

    one thing i need to port one of my addons though is the access to fullscreen !

    my addon now disables fullscreen script protection in the prefs then plays the next video goes automatically to fullscreen and then switches the fullscreen pref off again for security reasons(ads and virus)

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on

      We don’t expose preferences to WebExtensions, but we’re open to creating new APIs that we think are useful to make great add-ons. You can send a proposal for a full screen API to dev-addons AT mozilla.org.