Firefox 26: broken download extensions left and right

firefox download window

Firefox 26 has been out for some days now, a rather unspectacular update for many users as it does not really ship with that many new or improved features.

One of the changes in Firefox 26 that I did not mention in the review is the removal of the old download manager API.

Mozilla did introduce a new download manager API in Firefox 20 to resolve performance issues of the old, but did not remove the old API immediately.While the new download panel was the default way that downloads were handled in Firefox 20 and newer, there was still a way for users to use the old download manager interface instead.

The old download manager opened in a window instead of in a panel inside the browser window. Firefox users had to switch the preference browser.download.useToolkitUI in about:config to true to use the old API instead of the new one.

The option to do so was removed in Firefox 26, leaving some users puzzled in the process.

Removal of the old API

Several download manager extensions did make use of the old download manager API as well, and when Firefox 26 came along, users noted that extensions were broken and did not work properly or at all anymore.

So, users who made use of the preference switch in Firefox to use the old interface noticed that this was not possible anymore, and users who ran download manager extensions may have also noticed that theirs stopped working.

A popular extension that stopped working is Download Statusbar. The page of the extension on Mozilla Add-ons displays that it is used by more than 1.6 million Firefox users.

It was originally designed for Firefox 4, as Mozilla did remove the status bar in the browser to replace it with the add-ons bar instead.

It is not the only extension though. Basically, if an extension has not been updated for some time now then it is very likely that it won't support the new API. In the case of Download Statusbar, it has been last updated in 2011.

Anyway, since it relies on the old API, it is currently not working anymore and the only hope for Firefox users to resolve the issue is to either wait for the developer to release an update for it, or to switch to another extension that makes available the same functionality.

Alternatives

Download Status Bar is that extension in the case of Download Statusbar. It is a work in progress as noted by the developer on the AMO website.

You can install an extension such as Downloads Window if you prefer that a download window is displayed to you instead of the panel that is displayed by default now. (via Sören)

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Responses to Firefox 26: broken download extensions left and right

  1. nonqu December 14, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    I doubt we'll ever see any updates to Download Statusbar. If you visit the author's homepage you'll notice that now it's a dead spamsite. What is more, on the AMO page it says "Download Statusbar 2 is in development and will be made available soon. Exciting stuff coming!" - that's something that never came to be despite being announced almost 3 years ago.

    With the new download API being pretty useful Mozilla didn't really risk much by removing the old one and this looks like a wake-up call for every dev on AMO to update their extensions and make sure they're compatible with the latest changes done to the browser and with the coming australis version.

    I've been using download statusbar for some years but after Firefox 26 broke it I found the buid-in download manger (accesed from a menu bar icon bubble) pretty useful (though not useful enough). With Windows 7 task-bar features the download progress is still visible and the adress-bar icon shows time left. Yet the download speed is only shown after a long mouseover, there's not way to check the download progress of individual files at a glance and there's no "delete file" command in the context menu which for me disqualifies the build-in API as a permanent solution.

  2. Mike December 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Thank you, Martin - appreciate very much this info with regard to Download Statusbar.
    Seasons Greetings to you!

  3. Richie The Rich December 14, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Thank you. With every new version of Firefox, i spend more and more time fixing things that went wrong (trying to get them as they were).

    Also, as far as i can tell, browser.download.manager.retention;0 is also not working anymore since it doesn't remove list of downloaded items from download window.

    • Martin Brinkmann December 16, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

      You are right, this does not work if you use the new panel. The Download Panel list on the frontend gets deleted on exit automatically (but not the downloads recorded by the download manager itself).

  4. OrionsEnd December 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    I was wondering why my downloads no longer make the downloadstatusbar "ding dong" when they finished. The silence was driving me crazy. Thanks for clearing it up Martin.

  5. Maou December 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    Great, now I can´t use my "Md5 reborned hasher" anymore.
    I´m going back to Palemoon.

  6. Sfer December 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    at Maou's comment:
    >> "Great, now I can´t use my "Md5 reborned hasher" anymore.

    SOLUTION: (from "Md5 reborned hasher" 's Author)
    For now, to get it to work in the latest version of Firefox,
    you need to change the value of "browser.download.useToolkitUI"
    in about:config to: true.

    Hope this helps!
    SFer

    • Sfer December 14, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      oops!
      from the comments
      in the "Md5 reborned hasher" Firefox addons page,
      the trick I posted above,
      does NOT seems to work anymore with FF 26.
      Grrr....

      Does anybody know...
      what the latest "SAFE" version of Firefox is? 23? 24? 25?
      ie:
      the version that does not break all the installed addons?

      • R.C. December 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

        I wouldn't recommend using an older unpatched version. However you can try the current ESR version (see my post below for the link) which is 24.2.0. The current ESR version contains all the security updates of the following versions (i.e., ESR 24.2.0 has all the security updates included in versions 25 and 26 while still "being" version 24). If an extension worked in the regular release of version 24 it should also work in the ESR version of 24; key word being "should."

        But as Martin pointed out, it is only a temporary solution that will go away once Mozilla changes the ESR to a newer version.

      • Maou December 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

        That´s ok I´ll go back to Palemoon meanwhile.
        Thanks.

  7. Julia December 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Gee. Whenever I download something now, I'm - aaahh - distracted, disturbed by this - hoo hooo what was that - flashy download-ghost on the left sight. Yuick. Like Richie The Rich said earlier: being forced into wasting time to get back to ones personal preferences is purely disgusting.

  8. R.C. December 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    One option for users who's download extensions stopped working in FF 26 is to switch to the ESR version of Firefox, currently 24.2.0, found here:

    http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/all.html

    • Martin Brinkmann December 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

      It is a temporary solution though. While it will work for some time, it stops once Mozilla moves to the next major ESR release.

      • R.C. December 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

        True, but at least it buys some time. : )

    • sad December 18, 2013 at 4:55 am #

      thanks for the link, I'm really sad after upgrading to 26, I considered to downgrade to 25 until you gave me the link :)

  9. smaragdus December 14, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    The terror from Mozilla continues. I am still using version 21.0 and won't update it until I can use it. After that I will switch to another browser. Mozilla does its best to discourage add-ons developers and users. I do not want a dumbed-down browser. I do not want Australis. I do not want a Chrome clone.

  10. Xmetalfanx December 15, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    Hello, As always thank you for all the good information. I have just gotten high speed at home and I have been "fresh installing" (with formats of partitions) upgrades to many Linux distros and honestly, I noticed that download statusbar's "function" (turns out I do have Firefox 26) wasn't working, though I figured it was something I did and didn't think of it again.

    I did a quick search and found this https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/download-status-bar/?src=ss and I did try it out though (never though thought I have the problem of downloads being completed too quickly) and it seems to work though as the (seems to be a different developer) developer says ... its a work in progress. I remember when (oh i cant remember ... 23 i think it was) broke "Cache Viewer" and now there is a version that works ... so give programmers (of addons in this case) time and they will fix it (Download Statusbar in this case).

    -Xmetalfanx

  11. Ichijoe December 15, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    Just wanted to say thanks for the heads up on the "Downloads Window".
    I maybe well in the minority here but, I FECKIN HATE THE NEW DOWNLOAD MANAGER WITH A BURNING PASSION!! Thought I could squeak by a few more Months on the 24ESR Build. FAT FECKIN CHANCE! MicroSoft KB2670838 will make sure that, that Bubble gets popped too!

    So now I have the choice to live with broken and corrupted Text Fonts in Firefox, or to revert from IE11 back down to an unsupported IE9? :cries:
    I'm really getting sick of Mozilla's BS now. As they soposedly fixed this in v26, and have no intrest in fixing the 17 or 24 ESRs.

    Can someone recommend a decent FF Replacement?
    thx,...

    • R.C. December 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

      Palemoon; it's more than a decent replacement for FF, IMO it's better.

    • Igor Levicki December 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      I have 24.2.0 ESR here and platform update and everything works fine.

  12. BEb December 15, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    The developer of "Download Statusbar" has no contact information other than the addon's support email... Also unfortunately, the developer of "Download Status Bar" forgot to add screenshots for that addon.

    Still also "Download Manager Tweak" is affected by Firefox 26 as per the user reviews posted in the addon's page in AMO.

    • nonqu December 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      The contact info is provided after you install the add-on and choose "show more" in add-on manager. Then you get a website address but the website is now dead - that's why I've assumed the Dev is no longer developing for Firefox.

      AiOS Dev also stopped using Firefox (he moved to Chrome) and will only update the extension if it breaks completely.

      Seeing how Firefox doesn't even mention gamebreaking changes in the "complete list of changes in this release" (browser.download.useToolkitUI in this case) I don't think devs will continue to bother with this treatment.

      • Clas December 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

        I think its too bad that FF has steered down the wrong path. I have refused all the updates and am using FF16, sandboxed, and have absolutely no problems. everything works smoothly and quickly. I surf, download, play, read and watch smoothly for many hours a day. all my "stuff" works perfectly and i have no bitches. sometimes "old" is not worse at all. I once again tried Chrome yesterday...and after a couple hours i uninstalled it again...nuf said.
        thanks for keeping us updated, martin.

  13. PJGU December 16, 2013 at 4:57 am #

    Hey all! For several years now, when FF updated and broke my favorite extensions, I simply edited the RDF file of the extension and changed the highest version number of FF supported. I have not had to do this in a while, but when I did, I used PeaZip to open the extension's downloaded XPI file as an archive....extracted the RDF file from inside....edited it using Notepad++ or something similar (change the highest version number of FF supported to something several version numbers away so you don't have to keep editing it with every FF update)....saved and closed the now edited RDF file....then used PeaZip to add it back into the main extension XPI file. Once that is done, I drag the XPI file onto an open FF window to install my extension...and voila! I get my extension back!

    • Doc December 18, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Unfortunately, that won't work in this case, as the underlying code that Download Manager Tweak and Download Statusbar used is now removed; you can *install* the extension, but *it still won't work.*

      • PJGU December 20, 2013 at 5:12 am #

        Amend my last....I think you ARE correct. Bummer! I have now dumped FF. :(

  14. Tom December 16, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    I can wholeheartedly recommend the lightweight 'Downloads Window' add-on but if you want more features or have been used add-ons for tweaking the FF download manager more, you may give https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/download-panel-tweaks/ a try.
    Having been used the now defunctioned 'Download Manager Tweak' and 'Download Panel' add-ons for years, now I am using this one with FF26 and while it does not as sophisticated as its predecessors was, it brings back the most important features of the former ones.

  15. michaelpaul December 17, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    After using Firefox for 7 years had enough ..with every update they take a step backwards.downloaded chrome found extensions that i need ,no looking back now ,loads faster
    works great .
    Thanks Firefox for the ride was great browser once upon a time.

  16. Dwight Stegall December 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Downthemall has worked steadily through this transformation and Ant Video Downloader and Player now has a beta that works great. I'm using Nightly version 29 64 bit and it works great with it too.

  17. Don December 20, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    When Firefox introduced the new download manager, I tried it and liked it well enough to stop using Download Statusbar.

  18. Sanders December 27, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    And Mozilla stupidification continues :-(

    Eventually they will succeed and convince me to use Chrome.

  19. trenzalore lorerape December 30, 2013 at 3:20 am #

    will this bit of AutoIt interest the circumvented minded?

    https://github.com/bard/mozrepl
    https://github.com/bard/mozrepl/wiki
    modified xpcom interface

    xpcom
    @mozilla.org/download-manager

    https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Firefox_addons_developer_guide/Using_XPCOM%E2%80%94Implementing_advanced_processes

  20. Gronar January 9, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    S3.Download Statusbar
    This is a new life in Firefox 26+ for old well-known addon Download Statusbar

    https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/s3download-statusbar/

    Completely rewritten code to be compatible with the latest versions of firefox, but visual interface unchanged for use as a familiar old Download Statusbar

  21. peci1 January 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    Or you can use an alternative download statusbar plugin: https://addons.mozilla.org/cs/firefox/addon/download-status-bar

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