You have three options when it comes to install extensions or add-ons in the Firefox web browser. You can head over to the official Mozilla website and search for add-ons there, use the built-in Add-ons Manager in Firefox to do the very same thing, or rely on third party sources to do so.
The two official ways of finding and installing add-ons in Firefox provided users with the same functionality up until now. A search in the Add-ons Manager or on the website returned the same set of add-ons for the browser that users could install in it afterwards.
Mozilla announced a change to this practice yesterday on the official Mozilla Add-ons Blog.
The Add-ons Manager from now on will only return fully reviewed add-ons in the browser, while the Mozilla Add-ons website continues to display both preliminary and fully reviewed extensions.
The difference between preliminary and fully reviewed Firefox Add-ons
The core reason for this according to the blog post is that the Add-ons Manager never made the distinction between partially and fully reviewed extensions.
Unfortunately, we never implemented this distinction in the Firefox Add-ons Manager. This meant that users were able to find and install preliminarily reviewed add-ons without any indication of their review level. Since we believe this can be detrimental for the majority of our users, we decided to limit Add-ons Manager search results to fully reviewed add-ons.
It is not clear why Mozilla did not make the decision to highlight preliminary reviewed extensions in the same way they are highlighted on the Add-ons website. If you visit the website, you will notice that fully reviewed add-ons are highlighted with a green download button, while preliminary reviewed add-ons with a striped yellow button instead and a notification underneath that the "add-on has been preliminary reviewed by Mozilla".
Mozilla defines the two review types in the following ways:
- Full Review — a thorough functional and code review of the add-on, appropriate for add-ons ready for distribution to the masses. All site features are available to these add-ons.
- Preliminary Review — a faster review intended for experimental add-ons. Preliminary reviews do not check for functionality or full policy compliance, but the reviewed add-ons have install button cautions and some feature limitations.
The change that was announced yesterday is server-side, which means that it affects all versions of the Firefox browser.
In case you are wondering, you open the Add-ons Manager in the following way:
- Either type about:addons in the browser's address bar and hit enter, use the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-A, or tap on the Alt-key and select Tools > Add-ons this way.
- A click on Get Add-ons here opens the manager. You can use the search up top to find matching extensions.
Users who want all Firefox add-ons to be included in searches need to use the Add-ons website from now on and avoid the built-in Add-ons Manager, as it won't include preliminary or experimental add-ons anymore.