Mozilla wants to make Chrome Extension ports to Firefox easier

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 25, 2015

Add-ons are one of the cornerstones of the Firefox web browser. I know several Firefox users who stick with the browser because of extensions that they don't want to browse the web without with.

Some developers moved from Firefox to Chrome when Google started to introduce extension support in the web browser while others started to develop for Chrome right away.

Most extension developers produced add-ons for Firefox in the beginning but extension support in Chrome split the development community in the process.

Some extensions get ported to Firefox as well by developers while others are only available for Chrome and not Mozilla's browser.

That's something that Mozilla plans to change by improving how Chrome extensions get ported to the Firefox browser.

The main goal of the project is to allow Chrome developers to port their extensions to Firefox with minimal effort.

The meta bug links to others that add functionality to Firefox to improve the porting of Chrome extensions. Most bugs add functionality to Firefox that Chrome supports but Firefox does not, for instance a webRequest-like or webNavigation API.

Adding support for Chrome-specific APIs and features makes it easier for Chrome developers to port their extensions to Firefox as they don't have to write workarounds anymore for code that makes use of Chrome-specific features.

Mozilla released a tool on Github, Chrome Tailor, which turns Chrome extensions into Firefox add-ons. The command line tool works only in Firefox 38 or later currently and is limited to a set of Google Chrome APIs that Mozilla has already implemented in Firefox.

The full list is provided on the Chrome Tailor project website. This means that while you may be able to port some extensions to Firefox using the program, you will run into issues with others. Basically, if an extension uses an API that Chrome supports but Firefox does not it won't work.

While designed for extension developers, it is theoretically possible for anyone to port Chrome extensions to Firefox this way provided they meet the requirements outlined above.

Closing Words

Neither Mozilla nor Google have released extension statistics which means that it is unclear how many get released and used on either system.

It is clear that Firefox lost add-on developers to Chrome however and Mozilla's plan to increase the number of ports from Chrome makes sense as it will certainly improve the popularity of the browser provided that developers make use of the new option. (via Sören Hentzschel)

Now You: Which Chrome extension would you like to see ported to Firefox?

Mozilla wants to make Chrome Extension ports to Firefox easier
Article Name
Mozilla wants to make Chrome Extension ports to Firefox easier
Mozilla is working on additions to Firefox's add-on support to make it easier for Chrome users to port their browser extensions to the Firefox web browser.

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  1. A41202813GMAIL said on June 28, 2015 at 8:20 am

    It Is Precisely The Other Way Around.

    I Would Love That The Developer Of **FEBE**, For FF, Would Create An Identical Extension But For CHROME.


  2. Neal said on June 28, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Firefox is second tier in this point. Just look at the add-on store. It is full of abandoned addons. A lot migrated to chrone

  3. Symphus said on June 27, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    The Great Suspender would save my life on Firefox. I’d give a lot of money for this one.

    1. Caspy7 said on June 28, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      There are at least two Firefox addons that do this already:

      Well, I found a third
      but its warnings and some reviews rather turn me off of it.

      I use UnloadTab to great success.

      1. Nelson said on August 8, 2015 at 8:47 am

        Auto Unload Tab is just great; you can unload tabs on demand or set up an automatic period of inactivity to unload them.

        All Tabs Helper also does the trick, among many others to manage your tabs.

        I use both.

  4. Pd said on June 26, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Fascinating to see what Mozilla comes up with in what seems to be a very bandaged scramble to try and arrest the continued decline in Firefox’s market share having devoted the truckload of resources to mobile, assuming like all the lemmings that the only market where Firefox actually matters, good old x86 *tops, was left to flounder whilst parity work like e10s was seemingly given comparatively little priority and resources.

    Such decisions were made 1 to 3 years ago on the assumption that mobile growth would cannibalize x86 *tops. Hindsight is a great friend but now that it appears as though mobile devices are more companions than cannibals, has Mozilla thrown the proverbial handbrake on, ships anchor out, and realized they’ll be irrelevant if all they have is an ARM OS for mobile and single digit share on x86 *tops?

  5. Dave said on June 26, 2015 at 11:48 am

    If Mozilla wants to make Chrome Extension ports to Firefox easier, then they shouldn’t have blocked the Chrome Extension Manager Addon for Firefox.

  6. Sukhen said on June 25, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I need ‘Save Images’ add-on of FF in Chrome but never found it or another extension with similar functionality. Any suggestions, please?

  7. Doc said on June 25, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    “…browse the web without with.” LOL I think the final word is unnecessary, Martin.

    1. Raven said on June 27, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      “without with” — in German, “ohne mit”, without having — ‘… because of extensions that they don’t want to browse the web without having.’

      It’s a difference in German and English colloquial expressions vs. computer translations, and not the first time I’ve seen this usage in English (recently!) from a native German speaker. Take it as the flip side of all the gaffes that English-speakers inevitably make in German, okay?

  8. juju said on June 25, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    i think chrome is just firefox only a bit tweaked and dressed up with with different dress, less make-up and maybe fake boobs or something.

    1. Doc said on June 25, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      No, Chrome’s WebKit/Blink rendering engine is completely different than Gecko, its JavaScript engine is also different, and – critically – Chrome completely lacks Firefox’s XUL engine for designing “browser chrome” – the part of the browser that includes toolbars, menus, etc., which gives Firefox a huge edge in customization.

    2. Inderjeet said on June 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm


  9. Sven said on June 25, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I have tried Chromium and browsers based thereon a couple of times including trying to add extensions. I never, *never ever* found an extension (or functionality) that I really wanted and that could not get on Fire.. uhm.. Pale Moon while I have a lot of extensions in Pale Moon (maybe 30 or 40 of a total of 60+) that I do not get in Cr-based browsers. So, a Firefox to Chrome converter would make more sense but Mozilla is hopefully not stupid enough to develop that.

  10. silat said on June 25, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    For me it is the other way around. I love my FF addons. Chrome addons are ok but the choice is limited.

  11. mariustm said on June 25, 2015 at 11:51 am

    That’s kind of pointless,like Chrome extensions don’t even compare to the maturity and versataility of Firefox addons!

    1. 10basetom said on November 3, 2015 at 6:31 am

      It’s a double-edged sword, as what makes Firefox add-ons powerful is also what makes it a pain in the arse to get audited (one reason I left for Chrome extensions development is the long submission review times with Mozilla). This is the reason why two of the old pillars of add-on technologies will be deprecated in the future. I quote from Mozilla’s blog:

      “Deprecation of XUL, XPCOM, and the permissive add-on model — XPCOM and XUL are two of the most fundamental technologies to Firefox. The ability to write much of the browser in JavaScript has been a huge advantage for Mozilla. It also makes Firefox far more customizable than other browsers. However, the add-on model that arose naturally from these technologies is extremely permissive. Add-ons have complete access to Firefox’s internal implementation. This lack of modularity leads to many problems.”


    2. Caspy7 said on June 25, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      There’s no question that Firefox’s addon system is more powerful, but it’s a matter of prolificity. Chrome has a broader set of extensions and this will marry many users to their favorite extensions that aren’t available on Firefox.

  12. Ademas said on June 25, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Martin, what is the addon name on the screenshot?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 25, 2015 at 11:38 am

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