Switching to JSON for update manifests

We plan on switching completely to JSON update manifests on Firefox and AMO. If you self-distribute your add-on please read ahead for details.

AMO handles automatic updates for all add-ons listed on the site. For self-hosted add-ons, developers need to set an update URL and manage the update manifest file it returns. Today, AMO returns an RDF file, a common legacy add-on feature. A JSON equivalent of this file is now supported in Firefox. JSON files are smaller and easier to read. This also brings us closer to removing complex RDF parsing from Firefox code.

Firefox 62, set to release September 5, 2018, will stop supporting the RDF variant of the update manifest. Firefox ESR users can continue using RDF manifests until the release of Firefox 68 in 2019. Nevertheless, all developers relying on RDF for their updates should read the documentation and switch soon. Firefox 45 introduced this feature, so all current versions of Firefox support it.

Developers of add-ons hosted on AMO don’t need to take any action. AMO will switch to JSON updates in the coming weeks. You don’t need to make any changes for add-ons hosted on AMO to update normally. Users on versions of Firefox older than 45 will no longer receive automatic updates. However, that should be a very small number of users. It’s also a very small number of active add-ons, since Firefox 45 predates the move to WebExtensions.

If you have any questions about this, please post a comment on the Discourse thread.

Firefox Quantum Extensions Challenge Winners

The results are in for the Firefox Quantum Extensions Challenge! We were thrilled to see so many creative, helpful, and delightful submission entries.

 

After our judging panel selected finalists from more than 100 submitted entries, the add-ons community voted for each category winner. The winners were announced for the first time  during the livestream broadcast of the Firefox Quantum Extensions Challenge Awards. A recording of the event is available on Air Mozilla.

These extensions bring great functionality and delight to Firefox, so please check them out. Congratulations to the winners!

Best Tab Manager / Tab Organizer

Winner – Session Sync

by Gabriel Ivanica

This extension can edit, save, change, and restore sessions. Sessions can be saved as bookmarks and synced using Firefox Sync.

Well done. Manages sessions in an intuitive way. UX is polished and works extremely well.”

Runner Up – Tip Tab

by William Wng

Navigate the browser tabs with window screenshots.

Best Dynamic Theme

Winner – Envify

by Yoann Lecuyer

Have you ever wanted a quick way to tell if you are in a staging or production environment? This extension will change your Firefox theme every time you switch environments.

Simple but practical idea, particularly for webmasters.”

Runner up – Native Dark

by spikespaz

Replace Firefox’s default themes with adaptive colorization of the title bar, tabs, and URL bar based on the accent color of your current window.

Best Extension for Games & Entertainment

Winner – Worldwide Radio

by Oleksandr

Listen to live radio stations from around the world and create custom playlists.

“This is a really cool radio add-on with radio stations from all over the world. You can favorite stations, search by country and adjust sound. Listening to Indian radio might become my new favorite hobby.”

Runner up – Web Invaders

By Yalini

Space invaders have come to the web and it’s up to you to fight them off!

May’s Featured Extensions

Firefox Logo on blue background

Pick of the Month: Forget Me Not

by Lusito
Make Firefox forget website data like cookies, local storage, and more—while retaining data for only the websites you place on your whitelist.

“This extension is absolutely excellent, it works seamlessly and intuitively.”

Featured: Image Search Options

by Xamayon
Utilize a suite of customizable reverse image search options in a convenient context menu.

“Somebody listens! The ability to fine tune a context add-on. This one lets you open in a new tab OR window, choose which search engines or another program to search in, as well as save your preferences. Good Show!”

Featured: Kimetrak

by David L.
See at a glance what third party domains are tracking you. Or take a deeper look through a detailed statistics and analysis dashboard.

“Awesome extension to track those who are tracking you.”

Featured: Translate Now

by Geoffrey De Belie
Select text on any web page and right-click to open a new tab to display your translated word or phrase.

“Best translation (extension), as it’s the only one that works with DeepL — the only translator that’s worth it.”

Nominate your favorite add-ons

Featured extensions are selected by a community board made up of developers, users, and fans. Board members change every six months. Here’s further information on AMO’s featured content policies.

If you’d like to nominate an add-on for featuring, please send it to amo-featured [at] mozilla [dot] org for the board’s consideration. We welcome you to submit your own add-on!

Vote for the Winners of the Firefox Quantum Extensions Challenge

Thank you to everyone who submitted extensions to the Firefox Quantum Extensions Challenge!

Our judges reviewed more than 100 submissions and have selected the finalists for each prize category. Now, it’s time for the add-on community to vote for the winners. Use Firefox Beta or Firefox Developer Edition and take these extensions for a test drive (many of the APIs used are not yet available on Firefox 59, the current release), then vote for your favorites here. (And hey, if you really love an extension, maybe consider writing a review?)

Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. PDT on April 29, 2018. Winners will be announced on May 8, 2018.

Your finalists are…

Best Tab Manager/Tab Organizer

Best Dynamic Theme

Best Extension for Games & Entertainment

« Vote Now »

Friend of Add-ons: Viswaprasath Ks

Please meet our newest Friend of Add-ons, Viswaprasanth Ks! Viswa began contributing to Mozilla in January 2013, when he met regional community members while participating in a Firefox OS hackathon in Bangalore, India. Since then, he has been a member of the Firefox Student Ambassador Board, a Sr. Firefox OS app reviewer, and a Mozilla Rep and Tech Speaker.

In early 2017, Viswa began developing extensions for Firefox using the WebExtensions API. From the start, Viswa wanted to invite his community to learn this framework and create extensions with him. At community events, he would speak about extension development and help participants build their first extensions. These presentations served as a starting point for creating the Activate campaign “Build Your Own Extension.” Viswa quickly became a leader in developing the campaign and testing iterations with a variety of different audiences. In late 2017, he collaborated with community members Santosh Viswanatham and Trishul Goel to re-launch the campaign with a new event flow and more learning resources for new developers.

Viswa continues to give talks about extension development and help new developers become confident working with WebExtensions APIs. He is currently creating a series of videos about the WebExtensions API to be released this summer. When he isn’t speaking about extensions, he mentors students in the Tamilnadu region in Rust and Quality Assurance.

These experiences have translated into skills Viswa uses in everyday life. “I learned about code review when I became a Sr. Firefox OS app reviewer,” he says. “This skill helps me a lot at my office. I am able to easily point out errors in the product I am working on. The second important thing I learned by contributing to Mozilla is how to build and work with a diverse team. The Mozilla community has a lot of amazing people all around the world, and there are unique things to learn from each and every one.”

In his free time, Viswa watches tech-related talks on YouTube, plays chess online, and explores new Mozilla-related projects like Lockbox.

He’s also quick to add, “I feel each and every one who cares about the internet should become Mozilla contributors so the journey will be awesome in future.”

If that describes you and you would like get more involved with the add-ons community, please take a look at our wiki for some opportunities to contribute to the project.

Thank you so much for all of your contributions, Viswa! We’re proud to name you Friend of Add-ons.

 

Apply to Join the Featured Extensions Advisory Board

Are you an extensions enthusiast? Do you want to help people find excellent ways to improve their browsing experience? If so, please consider applying to join our Featured Extensions Community Board!

Every six months, we assemble a small group of dedicated community members to help nominate and select new featured extensions for addons.mozilla.org (AMO) each month. Their picks help millions of Firefox users discover top-quality extensions.

The current board is currently wrapping up their six-month term, and we are now assembling a new board of talented contributors for the months July – December.

All active members of the add-ons community — including fans, developers, and advocates —  are invited to apply to join the board. Priority will be given to applicants who have not served on the board before, followed by those with previous experience, and finally from the outgoing board. You can learn more about the duties of the Featured Add-on Advisory Board on MDN web docs.

To apply, please send us an email at amo-featured [at] mozilla [dot] org with your name, a few sentences about how you’re involved with AMO, and why you are interested in joining the board. The deadline is Monday, April 30, 2018 at 23:59 PDT. The new board will be announced shortly thereafter.

April’s Featured Extensions

Firefox Logo on blue background

Pick of the Month: Passbolt

by Passbolt
A password manager made for secure team collaboration. Great for safekeeping wifi and admin passwords, or login credentials for your company’s social media accounts.

“The interface is user-friendly, installation is explained step by step.”

Featured: FoxClocks

by Andy McDonald
Display times from locations all over the world in a tidy spot at the bottom of your browser.

“This is one of the best extensions for people who work with globally distributed teams.”

Featured: Video DownloadHelper

by mig
A simple but powerful tool for downloading video. Works well with the web’s most popular video sharing sites, like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and others.

“Without a doubt the best completely trouble-free add-on which does exactly what it claims to do without fuss, complicated settings, or preferences. It just works.”

Nominate your favorite add-ons

Featured extensions are selected by a community board made up of developers, users, and fans. Board members change every six months. Here’s further information on AMO’s featured content policies.

If you’d like to nominate an add-on for featuring, please send it to amo-featured [at] mozilla [dot] org for the board’s consideration. We welcome you to submit your own add-on!

Extensions in Firefox 60

Many people read this blog because they’ve written extensions for Firefox in the past. Others, though, know some HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and have been thinking about writing their first extension. Either way, now is the perfect time to jump into the WebExtensions ecosystem.

That’s because we’re having a contest! Develop an extension for Firefox and enter it into the Firefox Quantum Extensions Challenge by April 15, 2018. Your extension could win you a brand-new Apple iPad Pro or a $250 gift card to Amazon.

And if you want to make your extension even better, consider using some of the new WebExtensions API discussed below. These new and improved API are available in Firefox 60, recently released to the Beta Channel.

A Profusion of Theme Properties

Since “Best Dynamic Theme” is one of the award categories for the Firefox Quantum Extension Challenge, let’s start with improvements to Themes. Release 60 adds a pile of new items to the list of elements that can be themed, doubling the number of individual components.  These include:

  • tab_line – Line color of the selected tab.
  • tab_selected – Background color of the selected tab.
  • popup – The background color of popups (such as the arrow panels).
  • popup_border – The border color of popups.
  • popup_text – The text color of popups.
  • tab_loading – The color of the tab loading indicator and the tab loading burst.
  • icons – The color of toolbar icons.
  • icons_attention – The color of toolbar icons in attention state such as the starred bookmark icon or finished download icon.
  • frame_inactive – The same as “accentcolor”, but only applied to inactive windows, provided for Chrome compatibility.
  • button_background_active – The color of the background of pressed toolbar buttons.
  • button_background_hover – The color of the background of toolbar buttons on hover.
  • toolbar_field_separator – The color of separators inside the URL bar (also available in Firefox 59; note that in Firefox 58 it was implemented under toolbar_vertical_separator)
  • toolbar_vertical_separator – The color of the separator next to the application menu icon (also available in Firefox 59; note that in Firefox 58 it corresponds to the color of separators inside the URL bar).

Also new for Firefox 60, the headerURL property is no longer mandatory, removing a somewhat arbitrary condition that made themes a bit clunky in the past.

Remember, the contest awards a prize for the best Dynamic Theme, so use the theme API to control and change the various UI elements in creative ways. Want an awesome tutorial that talks about Dynamic Themes? Check out the video below.

More Tab Features

Consistent with each release since Quantum 57, tabs remain a focus of WebExtension growth and improvement. Several bigger features will land in release 61 (expert Bugzilla miners are likely aware of them already), but Firefox 60 still offers a number of important items:

Improving Debugging and Development

Several new additions landed that make the debugging and development of extensions easier, including:

Proxy Improvements

The proxy API is quickly maturing, and Firefox 60 adds more functionality by adding the asynchronous proxy.onRequest API.  This API is ideal for extensions looking to deal with proxy requests in a background script.  Details are still being documented on MDN at the time of this writing but should be available soon.

Network Extensions Get DNS

Extensions now have access to Firefox’s DNS service to resolve hostnames. The new browser.dns() API takes a hostname string (with optional parameters) and resolves it to a DNS record for that hostname. To use this new API, your extension must declare the “dns” permission.

Dynamic Keyboard Shortcuts

Two new API were added to the Commands namespace that allow extensions to change their keyboard shortcuts at runtime. The first, commands.update, allows an extension to change the shortcut key and/or description associated with a command, while the second, commands.reset, reverts a command back to the keyboard shortcut and description originally specified in the manifest file.

Keeping Users Informed

In keeping with our mission to ensure that users are always informed and in control of what extensions are doing, a few new messages have been added to the browser interface:

Enhancing All the Action

The browserAction, pageAction, and sidebarAction are three of the most commonly used WebExtension features, and all three get some improvement in Firefox 60:

Other Improvements

The items mentioned above highlight some of the bigger and/or more visible changes that appear in Firefox 60. As always, though, many other minor or less visible improvements to WebExtensions also landed, including:

Thank You

A total of 63 features or improvements were landed for WebExtensions as part of Firefox 60 Beta. Thank you to our many contributors for this release, especially our community volunteers including: Tim Nguyen, Oriol Brufau, Richard Marti, Prathiksha Guruprasad, Vinicius Costa e Silva, Vivek Dhingra, Zhengyi Lian, Connor Masini, DW-dev, Bogdan Podzerca, and Dylan Stokes. As always, we sincerely appreciate you helping ensure that individuals have the ability to shape the Internet and their own experiences on it. If you are interested in contributing to the WebExtensions ecosystem, please take a look at our wiki.

This post is going up a bit later than normal and there are already several additions and changes to the WebExtensions API in progress for Firefox 61, so continue watching this space for more information. In the meantime, please continue to send us your feedback.

Correction
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the theme properties popup_highlight and popup_highlight_text were available in Firefox 60, and that popup and popup_text could be used to style the URL and search bar autocomplete panels. All four of those things will actually appear in Firefox 61 (which is available in the Firefox Nightly channel right now).

Improving the Add-ons Linter

For the last five years, Mozilla has participated in the Outreachy program to provide three-month internships for people from groups traditionally underrepresented in tech. From December 2017 – March 2018, interns Ravneet Kaur and Natalia Milavanova worked under the guidance of Christopher Grebs and Luca Greco to improve the add-ons linter.

The add-ons linter is a tool that warns of potential problems within an extension’s code. Developers can use the web-ext command line tool to run the linter locally to check for potential issues during development, and addons.mozilla.org (AMO) uses it to validate an extension during the submission process.

Ravneet’s internship project was to land a localization feature to the add-ons linter. By offering the option to see errors and warnings in multiple languages, the linter can be more accessible to add-on developers who prefer to work with non-English languages. Ravneet successfully adapted Pontoon’s localization method for the add-ons linter and extracted about 19,000 lines of code in the process.

Outreachy internships are a great way to gain real-world experience working with distributed teams and grow software development skills. “This project was the first time I was introduced to the idea of bundling code using technologies like webpack,” Ravneet says. “After going through its documentation and reading blog posts about it, I was fascinated about the idea of bundling code together and building small, minimalistic projects in production, while having a wide variety of maintainable files and folders in the project’s source.”

Natalia tackled a different challenge: improve the linter’s validation by rewriting a large chunk of the code and test suite into async functions. For a long time, the linter’s code had been cumbersome to work with. After refactoring the code, Natalia removed approximately 3% of the code. Luca notes, “Thanks to Natalia’s hard work on this this project, our ability to debug and handle errors in the add-ons linter has been greatly improved. It’s now easier to read and understand the sources, and prepare for the changes that are coming next.”

Thank you for all of your contributions, Natalia and Ravneet! We look forward to seeing your future accomplishments.

If you’re interested in learning more about Outreachy, please visit their website. While you’re at it, check out our own Outreachy alum Shubheksha Jalan’s blog post about her experience applying to the program.