Announcing the Jetpack SDK: First Milestone Release

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We are proud to announce the first milestone release of the Jetpack SDK. While this release demonstrates the platform’s foundations and extensibility, it does not yet provide APIs for building rich add-ons. The next set of releases will add those APIs to the SDK. This release also marks the graduation of Jetpack from a Mozilla Labs prototype to a next-generation platform slated for production use with Firefox.

We learned a lot from creating the early Jetpack prototypes and the feedback we received from thousands of add-on developers and tens of thousands of testers. People created hundreds of add-ons and wrote dozens of articles and blog posts about their Jetpack experience. This feedback has been instrumental in the design of the new Jetpack SDK, and given us the confidence to plan out a roadmap that provides a rich, robust, extensible platform that will be fully supported for production use with Firefox.

With the Jetpack SDK, authors can take a small amount of high-level code, developed with clear API standards in mind, and turn it into a standard Firefox add-on — one that doesn’t require a restart to install or update. Minimal changes to Firefox are required to make this all work, and you can track those changes here.

The Jetpack SDK includes:

  • An extensible library of capabilities and APIs for writing Firefox add-ons, as well as stand-alone web-based applications
  • A set of command-line tools that package and security-harden your code into distributable packages
  • A modern IDE with built-in reference guide for instant productivity

The Jetpack SDK will replace the Jetpack 0.8 prototype over the coming months. For now we recommend that authors who wish to create simple extensions continue to use Jetpack 0.8. The popular and simple IDE available in 0.8 is being revamped with major enhancements for use with the SDK and will be available for developers in Q2 2010.

Full extensibility has been a keystone to the resounding success of Firefox add-ons and fosters the creativity that has fueled nearly 2 billion add-on downloads. In creating the Jetpack SDK, it was important to make add-ons more secure and easier to write, without restricting the generativity of the platform. That’s why the SDK is being built on a rock-solid base of standards, like CommonJS, HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, and includes an extensible library system. With the library system, developers can write and share a module that creates an API to enable easy access to any capability of the Firefox platform.

To see the SDK in action, watch Atul Varma, the Jetpack architect, give a tutorial. Or, read through the getting started guide.

If you were participating or following the early Jetpack prototypes, here’s an overview of what’s changed now that Jetpack SDK is slated for production use and will be fully supported by Firefox.

Get the Jetpack SDK

The Roadmap

Now that the underlying architecture has settled, we will work on the Jetpack SDK standard library of UI elements and capabilities to ensure that the most important APIs are covered. From this point to the 1.0 milestone we will be releasing updates every 4 to 6 weeks. The full roadmap is available here.

What Will Version 1.0 of the Jetpack SDK Look Like?

For Developers

The Jetpack SDK aims to provide the following features by the time we reach the 1.0 milestone and it is declared ready and fully supported by Firefox for production use. You can see the roadmap here.

  • An easy to use, well documented set of APIs that lets you write Firefox add-ons using standard Web technology (Javascript, HTML5, and CSS).
  • An integrated IDE that enables rapid add-on developement and code collaboration.
  • Faster development cycle using the save-refresh model of the Web.
  • A set of command-line tools that lets you package code written with the Jetpack SDK into XPIs that can run in Firefox, Thunderbird, and Firefox mobile, or as stand-alone applications.
  • An extensible library system that, in addition to the built-in APIs provided in the SDK, allows anyone to create a sharable module that implements new APIs to expose anything in the powerful Mozilla platform.
  • A brand new security model.

For Firefox Users

There’s not much to see yet for everyday Firefox users. Stay tuned for opportunities to try out new and exciting add-ons as developers begin to take advantage of the power and flexibility to deliver compelling new user experiences. Add-ons developed with the Jetpack SDK will feature:

  • No need to restart Firefox to install add-ons.
  • Add-ons are automatically compatible with all future versions of Firefox updates, so no need to wait for add-on compatability.
  • Stronger and more easily understood security and privacy controls.
  • Automatic add-on updates.

Participate

– Aza Raskin from the Jetpack Team