Mozilla to remove WebRT from Firefox

Mozilla plans to remote WebRT (WebRuntime) from Firefox for the desktop and for Android. The feature, which most Firefox probably never heard of or came in contact with, is the latest in a series that is getting removed from the web browser.

WebRT was implemented in 2012 in Firefox for the desktop and found its way into the Android version of Firefox in 2013.

So where do users come into contact with WebRT in Firefox, and what it is being good for?

Mozilla's Wiki describes WebRT in the following way:

The Web Runtime project builds application runtimes that enable users to install and run Open Web Apps on Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

It enables users of the browser to install apps using Firefox that behave like native programs of the operating system. This includes entries in the start menu or other locations, and being listed as an installed program.

On Windows, WebRT apps show up in the Windows Start Menu and in the Control Panel applet listing all installed software.

WebRT in Firefox

Several links point to applications in current versions of Firefox. A tap on the Alt-key and the selection of Tools displays an Apps entry there for instance, and there are also links on about:home, and as an icon under customize that Firefox users can drag and drop to a visible part of the interface.

The links lead to the Firefox Marketplace from where WebRT applications can be installed in the browser.

webrt apps remove firefox

Mozilla plans to remove WebRT support from Firefox, and the reason provided is found on the official Firefox Dev discussion group:

Both runtimes were deprioritized by MoCo around the times they initially
shipped, and they've seen little activity since. Bugs have gone unfixed,
enhancements have gone unimplemented, and unit tests have broken and
been disabled. Although their core functionality continues to work,
their developer and user experiences are poor, and their technical debt
is substantial and growing.

The Runtime Engineering team has also been disbanded, and its engineers
have been reassigned to other projects. MoCo no longer invests in the
runtimes, and it hasn't for years.

Basically, there is little interest in the feature both from a user and Mozilla's side.

Mozilla plans to remove links pointing to apps in Firefox 46. Users who run the browser will have the Apps Tool menu link, the Apps toolbar button, and the apps link on about:home removed from it.

It is unclear right now when WebRT will be removed as a whole from Firefox, but it is certain that this is going to happen rather sooner than later. The two bugs you may want to monitor for that are 1238079 and 1235869. (via Sören Hentzschel)

Summary
Article Name
Mozilla to remove WebRT from Firefox
Description
Mozilla plans to remove WebRT (WebRuntime) from Firefox for the desktop and for Android.
Author
Publisher
Ghacks Technology News
Logo
Please share this article

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail



Responses to Mozilla to remove WebRT from Firefox

  1. Jason January 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm #

    So let's summarize what Mozilla has announced in recent months:
    -Introducing "WebExtensions", "Electrolysis", & "Servo" into the browser
    -Spinning off "Thunderbird" to a third party
    -Slowing development on "Firefox OS"
    -Creating "System Addons"
    -Adopting Digital Rights Management
    -Changing its corporate revenue agreements
    -And now, removing WebRT (a minor move, I guess)

    We're talking about no less than a complete overhaul of Mozilla's business/development model. I'm not sure if this is just desperation or a well-organized plan, but I do wish them the best of luck. Mozilla has served me so well, for so many years, that I would hate to see them fail.

    • Sören Hentzschel January 9, 2016 at 9:40 pm #

      I would like to write some of your points a bit different. ;) There was no *announcement* of spinning of Thunderbird to a third party. It's not clear at the moment what Thunderbird's home will be in the future. But the important change was already a few years ago. Thunderbird had some trouble in the first months as community project but now there is finally some movement to make Thunderbird as product and as community strong again. And this *can* include another legal and financial home as Mozilla. But we have to wait to know that. At the moment it's not clear.

      Also Electrolysis and Servo are no new topics and so no really new announcements. Recent announcements were about progress with these projects.

      Digital Rights Management was always possible with Silverlight. The HTML5 DRM support is technical new but for users and content providers its just another technology for the same services. And the NPAPI support for Silverlight ends in 2016 so HTML5 needs Encrypted Media Exentensions (the HTML5 DRM standard), otherwise services like Netflix or Amazon Prime would no longer be possible. It's a web standard like any other web standard and web standards were always and will always be the heart of every browser, so no change of Mozilla's development model / ideas / whatever. Yeah, DRM is controversial and Mozilla didn't want to support DRM in HTML5 in the first instance, but I don't really unterstand the debate because it was always* part of the web. (* not exactly "always" but I hope you know what I mean)

      I don't know what do you mean with >Slowing development on "Firefox OS"< - there is no slowing, just a new focus. Mozilla had to recognise that they cannot be really successful on the smartphone market so smartphones are no longer a priority. Sure, they could still invest (burn?) a lot of money and resources in smartphones, but there are other markets such TVs, connected devices, or IoT and I think that Mozilla thinks that they can have much more influence in these markets. Google and Apple are to strong on the smartphone market. I don't like to say that, but I think that's the reality.

      tl;dr: I think most of the topics are not that recent and that there is not that much change of Mozilla. But there is a constant change of the web and of the users and Mozilla has to follow (for example: a lot of users *want* to watch Netflix and that *is* a reason for these users to switch to another browser if Firefox does not support Netflix). And, of cource, Mozilla don't know anything, they had to gain experiences, for example with Firefox OS, they had no experiences with a own smartphone OS. They didn't have the biggest success with the smartphones but anyway, I think it was worth to try it and I think it made the web as platform better. There were really big improvements in the last years.

      • Maelish January 10, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

        Very nice post Sören. It clears up a few things, particularly my concern about Thunderbird's abandonment.

      • Jason January 11, 2016 at 5:04 am #

        Thank you for the clarifications, Soren. I think I was a bit sloppy in how I phrase things. But it still does seem like a lot is changing in Mozilla these days. (I don't think this is the pace of change we saw, let's say, a year ago.)

    • Moses Lawrence January 11, 2016 at 4:07 am #

      Jason, I wouldn't call it "desperation" at all. In fact, if you been a tech savvy user since the mid to late 1990's ...we have seen some of the best internet tech brands evolve a great deal and if you want to survive in this day and age when it comes to internet technology, you gotta do this from time to time to keep up with the competition and userbase. I believe "evolution" needs to be a crucial part of any wwweb technology for the simple fact that internet technology is always advancing at a very fluid rate and companies need to prioritize and make changes to the grand scheme of things in order to evolve with the surrounds of internet technology. I see this move to be more aggressive, which in my opinion, is needed for Mozilla. Look at Google, they are very aggressive at making decisions on-the-fly because internet technology is damn fluid, heck, internet users in general are very fluid in whats hot, whats not. I think the these days of multi tasking need aggressive evolving changes to keep the pace with ever growing technologies may it be hardware or software or both. Edge has a very nice feel to it, it feels next generation and Firefox's e10 ‎Electrolysis can match it and even better it once it's ironed out. The current feel of it in Firefox Nightly gives off that same next generation feel that is badly needed for this browser.

      I see these changes a nice welcome imho, and i cannot wait for Mozilla to release their multiprocess/‎Electrolysis e10 technology in the regular builds of Firefox because the ultra smooth browsing alone is a step that is badly needed in my opinion in the current age of efficiency and elegance. I feel putting priority into the most important things is first and foremost, everything else can be looked back into later in the future but i feel Mozilla has bigger and better things to concentrate on first, ‎Electrolysis being at the top of the list in my opinion.

  2. not_black January 9, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

    Doesn't Hello use WebRT? I might be wrong tho.

    • Martin Brinkmann January 9, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

      WebRT is not WebRTC, those are two different technologies.

  3. juju January 9, 2016 at 9:25 pm #

    Probably just some sort of artificial ballooned bloatware crap that is NSA encrypted that enables CIA pedophiles to communicate with each other undetected. Why do you think firefox is over 40MB in size now and has even less features and customizations than it was 3MB in size?

    • Gary D January 10, 2016 at 12:13 am #

      Hello juju,

      This site is for SERIOUS discussion about developments in both hardware and software.
      You appeared in the comments about a week ago.
      Your comments are not constructive. They are simply RANTS about the CIA and treatment of LGBT people, etc, etc, ad nauseum.
      If you are trying to inflame and FLAME other commentators then find another site to play on.
      Basically, F**K OFF unless you are prepared to make constructive comments about the articles. You appear to be a paranoid idiot with a very large chip on your shoulder. The contributors to these comments DO NOT need your input !!!
      NB Please do not try to flame me. I'm fire proof.

      • juju January 10, 2016 at 8:32 am #

        if something rubs you wrong way it doesn't mean you're being rubbed. most likely it means that you're just out of touch with reality. problem is that people like that instead of trying to face reality construct shields and build walls... some even package, label and sell it as security product. black budget lives matter? you seem to be getting ahead of yourself.

    • Don Gateley January 12, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

      Go away, juju. Your kind is not welcome here.

  4. Dave January 9, 2016 at 9:41 pm #

    Good. This was on my list of things that needed to go :-)

    - Hello
    - Pocket
    - Tab Groups
    - Apps
    - Sync

    • Gary D January 10, 2016 at 12:42 am #

      @Dave

      Seconded !! :-)

    • Nick January 10, 2016 at 1:17 am #

      I can see a strong argument for all of those, but I think that since Tab Groups and Sync support core functions of a browser in a some way, I'm happy with them staying. With Hello and Pocket, I feel like those have done well as extensions and are less directly related to core browser functions, and was surprised when they became core features.

    • Harushi January 10, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

      Removing Sync? Wow. You surely want Firefox stop supporting addons too, right?

      • Appster January 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

        Ironically enough, Firefox will cripple most Add-Ons in the future. WebExtensions, anyone?

    • supergirl May 12, 2016 at 7:54 am #

      YES! I use NONE of these & wish they were demoted to add-ons , also.

  5. Bryan Kuro January 10, 2016 at 2:35 am #

    Great! Now let's get rid of Pocket integration, Hello chat thing, and any other wacky add-ons that don't need to be in the base installation.

    By the way, has anyone done a performance/memory test of Vivaldi compared to Firefox?

  6. Ken Saunders January 10, 2016 at 3:10 am #

    I'm disappointed. I actually use the feature and have been in one way or another since Prism (https://mozillalabs.com/prism) first came about.
    I have some games installed from the Marketplace and some aren't just links to webpages, they work offline, I use it for some local webpages and content, and I use the Standalone add-on.
    "Click the rocket icon on the add-on bar to turn the current tab into a desktop app"
    https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/standalone

    "The feature, which most Firefox (users) probably never heard of or came in contact with"

    That's because it was never marketed or even explained sufficiently like other features have been, plus, it was half baked from the start and it ended up being like, eh, lets forget it and leave it as is.
    The Apps entry in the Tools menu doesn't even show you your installed apps (you have to use Firefox Accounts for that), it's just a link to the Marketplace. Uninstalling isn't thorough and can't be done from within Firefox and the whole thing was never implemented all that well. But, it was/is, still a cool feature.

    If more people had known more about Desktop apps, I guarantee it would have been more popular and appreciated than the heavily promoted Pocket and Reader.
    Especially if the feature had worked like the add-on but with better ways to manage the apps.
    The very few who've tried and use the Standalone add-on have left positive reviews for it.

    It's ironic that there have been great efforts made over the years to simplify the UI and give attention to web content, but this feature is being removed and there is no longer any chromeless type project going.

    Is what it is, I just think that it blows.

    • Sören Hentzschel January 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

      I am not sure about this. Of cource, with enough promotion every feature would have more users. But I don't think it could have a lot of users. First of all, you need Firefox to install these apps. That's not great. Without a collaboration of all browser vendors it's just a " Firefox thing" and not really a "web app". And they don't feel really "native" on the desktop. I agree, the idea is nice, but Mozilla would need to invest a lot in this feature to make it a great feature, it's not that great in the current state. I don't think it's worth the investments because Progressive Web Apps are the future.

    • Myk Melez January 11, 2016 at 5:42 am #

      (Note: I was the lead developer on the desktop and Android runtime projects, and I'm the person who recently decided to disable them.)

      > I have some games installed from the Marketplace and some aren't just links to webpages, they work offline, I use it for some local webpages and content, and I use the Standalone add-on.

      Note that AppCache and Service Workers enable web apps to work offline, although those apps run in your existing browser window/process rather than in a separate one.

      AppCache has struggled to gain traction, partly because its API is hard to use, as Jake Archibald details in http://alistapart.com/article/application-cache-is-a-douchebag . But Service Workers are gaining traction now that multiple browsers have implemented support for them.

      This may be little consolation to someone who wants web apps to look and feel native. But the collection of emerging web technologies described as "progressive," for example in https://infrequently.org/2015/06/progressive-apps-escaping-tabs-without-losing-our-soul/ , will make web apps work better on both desktop and mobile platforms, addressing a variety of weaknesses vis-à-vis native apps.

      > That's because it was never marketed or even explained sufficiently like other features have been, plus, it was half baked from the start and it ended up being like, eh, lets forget it and leave it as is.

      I understand how it might appear to be "half baked from the start," but we intentionally shipped a minimal viable product (which is by definition "incomplete" in terms of its ideal feature set) with plans to then enhance it incrementally. Unfortunately, the project was deprioritized after shipping its MVP, so it never gained those incremental improvements.

      Mozilla did, however, market it, both on Firefox Marketplace and via other channels (like Firefox start page snippets). We also added discoverable affordances to the Firefox UI, like the Tools > Apps menu item. (Whether such marketing and affordances were sufficient to enable the project to live up to its potential is a different question, and one that I don't have the expertise to address.)

  7. gh January 10, 2016 at 3:55 am #

    When I read "...plans to remove" I was left wondering whether that just means a Release Channel Firefox mozconfig directive --disable-webapp-runtime. By following the link(s), I found in the googlegroup discussion:

    "Myk Melez -- I'll complete the work to disable them and remove their code from the mozilla-central repository"

    Although I welcome this change/removal, I regard it as insubstantial. I'm convinced that mozilla isn't prepared to again provide a "desktop web browser only" software. The codebase is WAAAY too bloated; pondering a fork, I've been working my way through ff38 code. From 117,000+ files, I (a sole hacker) was able to relatively quickly pare the tree to 85K files. Working toward a firefox-only tree, a firefox-desktop-only tree, I've discovered a lot of "really despicable, privacy unfriendly" components/services entangled throughout the code. Can't entirely rip out "telemetry" b/c the garbage collection mechanism depends on it... and the friggin "searchService" and "newtab" components/services are SO laden with tripe that, IMO, they're not worth 'fixing' -- fuggit, I'll just rip 'em out. Newtab == about:blank. Wanna search? Open a new tab and type g o o g l...

  8. Kalama January 10, 2016 at 4:14 am #

    On Android, is this the "Add site to home screen" option? I use that from time to time. Makes sense on Android, but not so much on desktop.

  9. Appster January 10, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Things I want to see removed from Firefox:

    - Pocket
    - Hello
    - Social Media Services

    Things I am not sure about:

    - DRM, could be useful for some users, even if it is totally against the mission of Mozilla
    - Add-On-Signing... you should be able to run unsigned extensions in the future, though a warning message for inexperienced users is OK

    Things they should add or keep:

    - Tab Groups
    - Electrolysis

    Things they shouldn't push further:

    - WebExtensions --> extremely bad idea, as it will possibly destroy most Add-Ons

    This was my personal list, hope it makes sense.

    @Sören Hentzschel: Not worth the comment... However, I don't want to debate with you all over again, this will be my only comment under this article.

    • Sören Hentzschel January 10, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

      > Not worth the comment...

      You are so disrespectful in all of your comments and this without any reason…

      But back to the topic: How could WebExtensions destroy add-ons? It's a set of new APIs / a new extension type. It does not affect existing add-ons.

      • Appster January 10, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

        WebExtensions do not provide Low-Level-APIs that are currently in use. Mozilla aims to limit of access current Add-Ons have to the Firefox core.
        If this actually helps to combat Malware is doubtful, though it will decrease the amount of changes e.g. Classic Theme Restorer can do to the UI... FOR A CERTAIN!
        WebExtensions will replace the current Add-On model completely. That is what Mozilla has announced.
        A SHAME!
        The objective of WebExtensions is to faciliate development cross-browser. That is ok, but I don't like the limits Mozilla tries introduce alongside with it.
        Of course you are going to tell me that Mozilla works closely with some important Add-On developers (NoScript) to ensure those keep working. The results of this collaboration are yet to be seen. However, thousands of smaller yet complex Add-Ons will DIE when Mozilla drops the old Add-On model and XUL.
        WebExtensions are NO ADDITION BUT A REPLACEMENT. You know that, Sören.

      • Sören Hentzschel January 10, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

        > WebExtensions are NO ADDITION BUT A REPLACEMENT. You know that, Sören.

        I know the facts. WebExtensions are a new extension type. The XUL deprecation is a different topic. The XUL deprecation would also happen without WebExtensions. There are still SDK based add-ons. Do you know of deprecation plans for SDK based add-ons? I don't. So it's not true that Mozilla would replace "the old add-on model with WebExtensions", there is already more than one add-on model in Firefox. And you don't know what will be possible in the non-XUL-world and what not. Sure, non maintained add-ons will die, but not because of the WebExtensions but because of the fact that they are not maintained. There will always be breaking changes. Current example: The removal of the support of the array comprehension legacy syntax in Firefox 46. It affects NoScript (update already available), CTR (update already available), Stylish (update soon) and more add-ons. It's no problem because these add-ons are maintained but affected and abandoned add-ons will die because of the lack of further updates not because of a specific change.

        By the way: "this will be my only comment under this article.", your words.

    • Lestat January 10, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

      Appster i give you a good advice, stop arguing with persons like that. The only result is that you are getting angry and waste energy with someone with who you do not want to spend any time of your life at all.

      While it is fun to discuss with simple and minimalist loving users, it is a total waste of time talking with people who are in whatever for a way weaved within Mozilla. This is a waste of electricity, money and hours where you could listen instead to great music or watc a nice movie (Star Wars - Go and watch it... and join the dark side of the force :P)

      • Sören Hentzschel January 10, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

        Oh Lestat, do you really want to offend me again? Maybe in the comments of every future article on Ghacks? The difference to Appster is that Appster said something about a related topic. Your comment is just trolling, nothing about the topic. And by the way, I am not "weaved within Mozilla".

        PS: If you want to talk about waste of something - watching Star Wars is waste of time. Just my opinion. ;)

      • Lestat April 4, 2016 at 12:05 am #

        To offend you?

        I see no reason why i would want to offend you. I do not care for you, i do not know you, i do not want to know you and i do not want to meet you. I was just suggesting to Appster to stop wasting time to argue with you as this is just a waste of writing energy, both for you and for him.

        But for that way talking about Star Wars i really feel tempted to offend you.... but as i already wrote: don't care, don't want to know or meet

  10. Appster January 10, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    > I know the facts. WebExtensions are a new extension type. The XUL deprecation is a different topic. The XUL deprecation would also happen without WebExtensions.

    WebExtensions will be fully introduced in Firefox 48 when XUL is still in full force, so the deprecation of XUL is another topic obviously. That doesn't mean there is no connection between the two. As I see it:
    - Mozilla tries to drop XUL in favor of web technologies they aim to use for the UI in the future
    - with WebExtensions they try to limit what Add-Ons can do to Firefox
    XUL and the current Add-Ons are highly complex. As it seems Mozilla tries to faciliate development, leaving power users in the dust.

    > There are still SDK based add-ons. Do you know of deprecation plans for SDK based add-ons? I don't. So it's not true that Mozilla would replace "the old add-on model with WebExtensions", there is already more than one add-on model in Firefox.

    The powerful Add-Ons weren't coded with that anyway. Doesn't have connection to anything I've mentioned. Despite that, the Jetpack SDK has never been finished/brought to a high potential.

    > And you don't know what will be possible in the non-XUL-world and what not.

    While I don't know anything for certain, Mozilla clearly aims to limit what Add-Ons can do to the Firefox core. It is very safe to say that e.g. Classic Theme Restorer with its current features won't be possible anymore.

    > Sure, non maintained add-ons will die, but not because of the WebExtensions but because of the fact that they are not maintained. There will always be breaking changes.

    BREAKING CHANGES is what I am talking about, really. I agree that an Add-On must be actively maintained, that goes without question. However, WebExtensions will require Add-On developers to write their Add-Ons from scratch again (complete rewrite). This is nothing minor, Sören. We are not talking about revolution instead of evolution. Many developers won't rewrite their Add-Ons anyway (DownThemAll). Add-Ons that will die:
    - obviously: non-maintained Add-Ons
    - Add-Ons using some Low Level APIs(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), e.g. Classic Theme Restorer
    - many currently maintained Add-Ons being just hobby projects
    Your assumption that only non-maintained Add-Ons will die is a false claim. You know it.

    > Current example: The removal of the support of the array comprehension legacy syntax in Firefox 46. It affects NoScript (update already available), CTR (update already available), Stylish (update soon) and more add-ons. It's no problem because these add-ons are maintained but affected and abandoned add-ons will die because of the lack of further updates not because of a specific change.

    This change is so minor when compared to WebExtensions that no serious comparison can be made. This is EVOLUTION, WebExtensions is REVOLUTION. Again, I am not talking about non-maintained Add-Ons. WebExtensions will kill off every Add-On currently out there because it is to REPLACE the current Add-On model with something ENTIRELY NEW. Mozilla punches every power user needing more than a simple browser in the face.

    To summarize my view: Nothing will be left from old Firefox...
    Gecko? Replaced by the entirely new Servo.
    XUL? Replaced by Web Technologies.
    Old Add-On model? Replaced by WebExtensions.
    Why do they still call this ENTIRELY NEW BROWSER Firefox?

    > By the way: "this will be my only comment under this article.", your words.

    "How could WebExtensions destroy add-ons?" You have asked this very question and I answered, nothing wrong with that despite what I wrote. However, you can't set the limits on what I write here anyway.

    • Sören Hentzschel January 10, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

      > WebExtensions will be fully introduced in Firefox 48

      The "first version" of WebExtensions will be fully introduced in Firefox 48

      > so the deprecation of XUL is another topic obviously. That doesn't mean there is no connection between the two.

      Sure, there is a connection. The same connection as with the SDK based add-ons and SDK based add-ons already existis.

      > with WebExtensions they try to limit what Add-Ons can do to Firefox

      No, that is not the stated goal. Yes, it will have impact but that is not the reason why WebExtensions will be introduced.

      > The powerful Add-Ons weren't coded with that anyway. Doesn't have connection to anything I've mentioned. Despite that, the Jetpack SDK has never been finished/brought to a high potential.

      Software is never finished. The WebExensions will also not be "finised" with the release of the Firefox 48. And yes, the SDK has not been brought to a high potential. WebExtensions are what the SDK should have been.

      > While I don't know anything for certain, Mozilla clearly aims to limit what Add-Ons can do to the Firefox core. It is very safe to say that e.g. Classic Theme Restorer with its current features won't be possible anymore.

      It does not make sense to speculate about possibilities in one year or later. We have to wait and see. We can talk about facts but not about what do you think could be possible in the long term. Nobody knows what CTR can do in the post xul world.

      > BREAKING CHANGES is what I am talking about, really.

      You didn't talked about breaking changes, you talked about WebExtensions. It's a totally different statement. That's the complete point of my last comment.

      > WebExtensions will require Add-On developers to write their Add-Ons from scratch again

      Some add-ons yes, but not all add-ons. That's an important point.

      > This is nothing minor, Sören.

      I know that, I developed more than one SDK based AND XUL based add-on. I am an add-on developer!

      > Add-Ons using some Low Level APIs(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), e.g. Classic Theme Restorer

      Please stop to say that CTR will die, you can't see the future! Aris is the only one who can talk about the future of his add-on!

      > Your assumption that only non-maintained Add-Ons will die is a false claim. You know it.

      No, that is not my assumption and not what I said. But it does not make sense to speculate or to say that add-ons will die because of WebExtensions. Maybe some add-ons will no longer be possible in the future, other add-ons will be, there is not one aswer for all add-ons.

      > This change is so minor when compared to WebExtensions that no serious comparison can be made.

      You're wrong. This change has a big impact for some add-ons. Yes, it's a small change but my point was that non-maintained add-ons will already die because of this if they are affected.

      > WebExtensions will kill off every Add-On currently out there because it is to REPLACE the current Add-On model with something ENTIRELY NEW.

      No, totally wrong. And I don't know why you ignore again the fact that not every add-on is an XUL based add-on. And again, the second: WebExtensions kill no add-ons. The XUL deprecation can kill add-ons but not the WebExtensions.

      > Gecko? Replaced by the entirely new Servo.

      That's a) not sure and b) if Servo will *replace* Gecko than in a few years (!) not months.

      > XUL? Replaced by Web Technologies.

      \o/ :)

      > Old Add-On model? Replaced by WebExtensions.

      No. 1) One old model. Again: there are more add-on models. 2) SDK based could replace XUL based add-on in a similar way than WebExtensions. WebExtension can't make the situation worse.

      • Appster January 10, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

        > The "first version" of WebExtensions will be fully introduced in Firefox 48.

        Yeah... A software may get new features even after its release. I don't think it makes sense to mention things that are self-explanatory. However, the main problem with WebExtensions is that they are limiting the access of Add-Ons to Firefox as a whole. This is an obvious part of Mozilla's shiny new walled garden (no XUL, Add-On Signing, now WebExtensions)... Mozilla wants to be in control of what one can do with Firefox. They have abandoned their original ideas.

        > Sure, there is a connection. The same connection as with the SDK based add-ons and SDK based add-ons already existis.

        Am I expected to understand what you meant by that, Sören?

        > No, that is not the stated goal. Yes, it will have impact but that is not the reason why WebExtensions will be introduced.

        Obviously the main goal is to faciliate cross-browser development. However, development procedures have nothing to do with what normal users typically care about. Normal users expect their Add-Ons to continue working as they have always been. If Add-Ons break the users will be annoyed and nobody will give a shit about the "stated goal".

        > Software is never finished. The WebExensions will also not be "finised" with the release of the Firefox 48. And yes, the SDK has not been brought to a high potential. WebExtensions are what the SDK should have been.

        Of course software can never be finished in the sense of "bug-free". However, Software can be feature-complete which is what I meant to say. The Jetpack SDK was never feature-complete and WebExtensions are a joke as of now. None of them can compare to the XUL-related, complex Add-On model.

        > It does not make sense to speculate about possibilities in one year or later. We have to wait and see. We can talk about facts but not about what do you think could be possible in the long term. Nobody knows what CTR can do in the post xul world.

        WebExtensions will diminish the access Add-Ons have to the Firefox core, at least to some degree. Mozilla itself stated so. This is fact and has nothing to do with speculation. Aris said in his very own support forum that CTR will most likely cease to exist or continue as a severely crippled WebExtension. Doesn't sound that great, Sören.

        > You didn't talked about breaking changes, you talked about WebExtensions. It's a totally different statement. That's the complete point of my last comment.

        So WebExtensions is no breaking change? Are you serious? It is the biggest change made to Firefox in its entire history, by the way.

        > Some add-ons yes, but not all add-ons. That's an important point.

        OK, the more primitive SDK-based Add-Ons will continue to run while the far more advanced XUL-related Add-Ons will be killed off... Is that the point you wanted to make? If yes, then you didn't get the message of my post at all. I don't care about primitive SDK-based Add-Ons (still a small minority of all Add-Ons btw).

        > I know that, I developed more than one SDK based AND XUL based add-on. I am an add-on developer!

        Congratulations, now go and write your XUL-based Add-Ons from scratch again (if you can using WebExtensions). I am looking forward to see the results.

        > No, that is not my assumption and not what I said. But it does not make sense to speculate or to say that add-ons will die because of WebExtensions. Maybe some add-ons will no longer be possible in the future, other add-ons will be, there is not one aswer for all add-ons.

        This is no speculation. Mozilla doesn't plan to support low-level APIs with WebExtensions, so the death of some more advanced Add-Ons is inevitable. I am sure DownThemAll is highly complex or at least more complex than everything you coded in your entire life, yet its developer announced that WebExtensions will most likely kill off DownThemAll. Even a fanboy like you has to admit some actively-maintained Add-Ons will die. Again, I don't care if primitive SDK-based Add-Ons will continue to run.

        > You're wrong. This change has a big impact for some add-ons. Yes, it's a small change but my point was that non-maintained add-ons will already die because of this if they are affected.

        Non-maintained Add-Ons dying is logical and out of question. However, WebExtensions will kill off some actively developed Add-Ons, too - for its lack of low-level APIs. Simple as that.

        > No, totally wrong. And I don't know why you ignore again the fact that not every add-on is an XUL based add-on. And again, the second: WebExtensions kill no add-ons. The XUL deprecation can kill add-ons but not the WebExtensions.

        More advanced Add-Ons are usually XUL-based because the Jetpack SDK is very primitive and incomplete. It is annoying to mention it repeatedly, but primitive SDK Add-Ons are of no concern to most of the users.
        Anyway, the deprecation of XUL and WebExtensions are measures to faciliate Firefox development, thereby ripping of its unique sides. Both changes follow the current Mozilla plans to simplify everything for the worse.

        > That's a) not sure and b) if Servo will *replace* Gecko than in a few years (!) not months.

        It WILL be introduced, Mozilla has already spent to much ressources for it.

        > No. 1) One old model. Again: there are more add-on models.

        I don't understand how you can seriously consider the Jetpack SDK a second Add-On model. It lacks quite a lot of features and was never powerful. Advanced Add-Ons don't make use of it.

        > 2) SDK based could replace XUL based add-on in a similar way than WebExtensions. WebExtension can't make the situation worse.

        If XUL-based Add-Ons are left for dead it will change for the worse, believe me. We can talk again when Firefox' market share is below 5%.

      • Pants January 10, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

        quote Appster: "We can talk again when Firefox' market share is below 5%."
        Aww sheesh guys .. don't do this all over again next month :) Popcorn anyone?

        Soren, put a sock in it. Everything Appster has said is pretty much right on the money. You're being pedantically anal and picky (ewww, I said anal and picky in the same sentence .. look what you made me do, Soren)

      • Sören Hentzschel January 10, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

        I am out of this discussion. You don't know enough about the SDK and add-on development to have this conversation with me. The SDK is not thad bad. Also your statement about Servo ("It WILL be introduced, Mozilla has already spent to much ressources for it.") is simply wrong. You have really no idea about the development of Servo. Or about Mozilla. Do you really think the previous investments in Servo are a reason why Gecko needs to be replaced with Servo? Yes, it seems to be a reasonable goal that Servo can replace Gecko one day, but it's not clear that Servo will replace Gecko. All your arguments are speculation you don't have any facts to prove your arguments.

  11. farmers January 10, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

    Apps isn't present in my Tools Menu anyway. Maybe it only appears if there are some already installed ?

    • Sören Hentzschel January 10, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

      Which version of Firefox do you use? It's removed since Firefox 44 Beta.

      • Gary D January 10, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

        Hello Soren,

        Reference your comments to Appster and Lestat. You need insulting. You are one of those people who are ALWAYS right and everyone else is wrong. Such arrogance. Do not reply. Anything I see written by you I will ignore.

      • farmers January 10, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

        Ah - Beta 44.7.

  12. gh January 10, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    When commenting on ghacks articles, we (myself included) consistently drag in points of argument which are much wider than the scope of the topic at hand. Appster, you are passionate and I appreciate that. Sören, your posts are informative and factually correct and I thank you for that.

    A point was mentioned "...in version 48, when XUL will still be in full force". I doubt that will be true. Bits and pieces of the old framework(s) are quetly, duplicitously, being nixed. Later, or even right now, when someone rails "I'm left high and dry b/c webExtensions can't do suchandsuch", the devs will attempt to deflect by claiming "you can't _YET_ do that with webExtensions" and / or "but you can't do that with the existing frameforks either". Yeah, can't do, ever since 2 versions back, when methodXYZ was oh-so-conveniently deprecated.

    WebRT, aka webapprt, who will miss it and why so? Isn't it analagous to the similarly underutilized xulrunner? I can only recall ever finding a single appealing xulrunner-based app (named "pencil"). In any event, IMO the presence of components specific to either of these (webapprt, xulrunner) is unwelcome within the "web browser" application.

  13. Vrai January 11, 2016 at 12:06 am #

    Wow! Who would have thought WebRT could provoke so much passion and 'flame'?!?

    Mozilla will probably decide to keep it in after reading this thread! :)

  14. Omega January 13, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    Its not a question of "IF" Servo will replace Gecko. But "When". Its still early days.

  15. Jee January 21, 2016 at 5:10 am #

    How about they remove WebRTC

  16. Kuromi February 2, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    Oh well, i had a look at that stuff both on android and desktop.
    Firsts, it was never really interest for Mozilla to support this on Desktop - for a long time you needed to use several hackt to actually access App marketplace from desktop.
    Second, that apps mostly was mobile oriented and absolutely most of them targeted FirefoxOS, there was a little of stuff you can install on Desktop, on Android situation was slightly better but still bad.
    Then again, number of apps was rather small and most them was very "cheap and simple", like Tic-tac-toe games. There was several useful things, several blog clients, Wikipedia app and other stuff, but at most it was BORING place.
    There was bugs of course, clunky GUI and so on.
    I'm not surprised they getting rid of this stuff - once they decided to kill mobile oriented line of FirefoxOS (now they targets SmartTVs) all that apps became zombies. Platform was mostly dead for desktop and android and no more FirefoxOS phones.

Leave a Reply