Mozilla’s self-destruct course continues: major add-on compatibility changes announced

Mozilla announced major upcoming changes to Firefox add-ons on the official Add-ons Blog today. These changes affect add-on developers and Firefox users alike, and will have a major effect on add-on compatibility and permissions.

The four major changes that Mozilla mentions explicitly in the announcement are add-on validation and signing, the multi-process architecture Electrolysis, the implementation of a new extension API WebExtensions, and the deprecation of XPCOM and XUL based add-ons.

WebExtensions

We would like add-on development to be more like Web development: the same code should run in multiple browsers according to behavior set by standards, with comprehensive documentation available from multiple vendors.

The new API will make it easier to port add-ons from one browser to another. In addition, it will improve reviews significantly and cut down on the time it takes to review add-ons before they are published on Mozilla AMO.

The API itself shares many similarities with Google's Blink API so that it should be easier for developers to port Chrome extensions to Firefox and Firefox add-ons to Chrome.

Add-ons that use WebExtensions are automatically compatible with Firefox Electrolysis and more robust when it comes to internal code changes in the browser.

A preview release of WebExtensions is available in Firefox 42.



Multi-process Firefox / Electrolysis (e10s)

The release of Electrolysis will have a huge impact on add-ons in the Firefox browser. Interested users can check out the Are we e10s website to find out if add-ons that they are using are compatible with e10s yet.

There they may also test add-ons and report their findings to support Mozilla and Firefox development.

Mozilla has yet to announce a final release date for the first phase of Electrolysis. The feature is activated by default in Developer and Nightly versions of the web browser.

The organization plans to offer Electrolysis as an opt-in when the Beta channel is updated to Firefox 42 on September 22.

Mozilla may enable Electrolysis by default when the beta channel hits version 43, and that is also the earliest version in which the stable channel of the browser may get it.

Add-ons that are not compatible with Electrolysis when it is enabled by default in Firefox Beta will be blocked at that point if they cause major performance or stability problems.

A special compatibility environment has been created for add-ons that are not compatible in which they may run. The environment is much slower though and will only be made available for a period of six to twelve months before it is shut down again.

Add-on Signing

unsigned addon

Nothing has change din regards to add-on signing. The idea behind the signing of add-ons is to improve the protection against malicious and harmful add-ons in the browser.

Read also:  Mozilla updating Firefox preferences

Firefox Stable and Beta versions -- starting with Firefox 42 -- will only accept signed add-ons during installation and block the installation of unsigned add-ons at this point.

Developer and Nightly versions of Firefox will block those as well by default, but they do support an override to install unsigned extensions.

To get an add-on signed, developers need to submit it to Mozilla's Add-on repository. There it is reviewed and signed when accepted.

Deprecation of XUL, XPCOM and the permissive add-on model

The deprecation will take place within 12 to 18 months, and Mozilla plans to continue to support SDK add-ons as long as they don't use require ('chrome') or low-level APIs that provide access to XUL elements.

The add-on model that XUL and XPCOM provide give add-ons full access to Firefox's internal implementation.

The tight interaction between browser and add-ons cause short and long term problems. Mozilla mentions the release of Electrolysis and the breaking of add-ons as an example.

The organization plans to extend the WebExtension API to support "as much of the functionality needed by the most popular Firefox extensions as possible".

Outlook and closing words

The changes have wide reaching consequences for Firefox's add-on landscape, users and add-on developers.

The permissive add-on model is what sets Firefox apart from other browsers. It led to impressive highly useful extensions such as NoScript, Greasemonkey, Down Them All, Tab Mix Plus, or Classic Theme Restorer, all of which don't exist on Chrome or any of the other browsers out there.

The deprecation will break lots of extensions and while some may be saved by the addition of new methods and options to the API, others that are not as popular will stop working altogether.

Nils Maier, developer of Down Them All puts it this way:

The flexibility of what XUL-based add-ons can do IS the major selling point of the Firefox add-ons ecosystem and therefore IS one of the last remaining selling points of Firefox itself that isn’t purely ideological. In comparison, the APIs that Chrome and competitors offer, that the Firefox Jetpack/ Add-on SDK offers, are just… toys.

Now You: Is Mozilla on self-destruct course? What's your take on this?

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Mozilla's self-destruct course continues: major add-on compatibility changes announced
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Mozilla just announced four major upcoming changes to Firefox add-ons, add-on development and compatibility.
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Responses to Mozilla’s self-destruct course continues: major add-on compatibility changes announced

  1. Pale Moon User August 21, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    I've used Pale Moon since Firefox 29 came out and I will never looked back.

    • tetraoctohedron August 22, 2015 at 4:04 am #

      You don't have to look back--your browser does it for you...

    • jymm August 24, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

      I moved to Palemoon too.

  2. animas August 21, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    Firefox RIP 2002-2017.

    • Pants August 22, 2015 at 9:53 am #

      All Hail FireChrome© 2017 /s

      • Anon6 August 23, 2015 at 12:25 am #

        BOTNET?
        Nope

      • Al McCann August 23, 2015 at 12:41 am #

        A better fitting name might be "Chrome Ox", highlighting the chrome-plated type of cattle it's become :-)

  3. IgHive August 21, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    Firefox isnt what it used to be. Firefox developers who actually care about firefox and the values it stood for should create a seperate new browser like the Vivaldi team ( former Opera ) is doing.

  4. Pale Moon August 21, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    You mean 2015.

    • animas August 21, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

      Kinda tongue in cheek b/c Firefox users have learned not to trust Mozilla's punctuality in regards to their proposals. Given the state of e10, I seriously doubt it will be released in 2015. 2017 is a little pessimistic I will admit.

      • Anonymous August 21, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

        From my point of view 2017 is optimistic!

  5. JohnP August 21, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

    If I wanted to use Chrome's add ons, I would use Chrome. XUL is an old tech, it gives a lot of flexibilities. If Mozilla provide no alternative to XUL, things like Firefox's UI customization will be deprecated as well. You won't be able to use Stylish to change Firefox interface any longer!

    ABP will no longer provide features like live resources monitoring and easy rule creation. This is the reason I still prefer ABP over uBlock.

    There are plenty more xul add-ons that make Firefox superior. If Mozilla indeed will follow Chrome, there's no longer a reason to use Firefox. I can see a major fork effort taking place if that's the case.

    Mozilla's other browser they are working on will use HTML for its interface, maybe that will be used to resolve XUL add-ons compatibility. But that's years away.

    • Claus Riis August 22, 2015 at 5:13 am #

      Regarding the UI, I really hope the Sidebar for Bookmarks / History will not be affected. What is your take on that?

    • mma173 August 22, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

      You are right. XUL is what makes Firefox.

  6. dan August 21, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

    The execs at Mozilla have lost their minds.

  7. James August 21, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    Vivaldi also uses Chrome engine, even with all the features the want to provide is also a Chrome clone.

    • LimboSlam August 22, 2015 at 1:47 am #

      @James:

      Yes, but they are listening to their users, not ignoring them and shoving unnecessary features down their throat. That's the difference here. Another example would be Pale Moon, "an Open Source web browser forked off from the Firefox/Mozilla code, with carefully selected features and optimizations to maximize the browser's speed*, stability and user experience."

      • George August 22, 2015 at 3:28 am #

        How much does Pale Moon pay you to spread their Pale Propaganda?

      • LimboSlam August 22, 2015 at 4:33 am #

        @Goerge

        Excuse me!! I don't have to be bribed on using their browser because I trust them and I've seen first hand on what's being implemented. Hell, even users on the Mozilla blog suggested as a good alternative, here's what one of them said, "Yes it is, so f***ing sad and terrible!!! I think I will go ahead with using Pale Moon now as some here have suggested, seeing as Firefox has deprecated and Pale Moon does support the XUL, XPCOM and XBL source code for any add-on devs that are using it. Maybe I’ll start developing for them?" Also, I have the right to tell people what we are doing here at the Pale Moon Project/forums and to express how feel, to have my own opinion. Just like it's your choice to tell your buds about Firefox and what the latest news on is on it.

        So Goerge, please don't accuse me of spreading what you call "Pale Propaganda" just because your dissatisfy on what Mozilla is doing to Firefox, or how people are switching to Pale Moon because what we say is true and we keep it.

        LINK: https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2015/08/21/the-future-of-developing-firefox-add-ons/

  8. Sören Hentzschel August 21, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    "Mozilla’s self-destruct course continues"? Really? Is that Ghacks or BILD? It's known that Mozilla is working on e10s and I think e10s is really important for Firefox. Add-on signing is also a known topic, nothing new. More reviewers and better validation tools can't be a bad thing. New APIs for developers (WebExtensions) are also great. Cross browser compatible add-ons: great. Regarding XUL: Nothing will change in the next two months, it's a early announcement and developers has enough time to discuss needed APIs with Mozilla, make suggestions and so on. And yes, it's also known that XUL has no future and that Servo does not support XUL, Firefox + Servo + XUL won't be possible so in my opinions it's also a great thing that Mozilla has a plan for the next years to make a Servo based Firefox possible. Again: Nothing will change in the short term, Mozilla announced long term plans and everyone can make suggestions and propose things to make a great Firefox - together.

    • nik August 21, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

      Would your extensions work without XUL?

    • Nebulus August 21, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

      Soren, I'm curious: does Mozilla have a direction for the future? I mean, do they know how they want the browser to look in 3-5 years? Because it seems to me that they are trying different (new) things, but not without a global vision... Granted, some of the features might prove to be very useful and very good, but it doesn't look like a coordinated plan. Of course, I'm an outsider and I might be wrong.
      As for what you said in your post: extension signing is a bad idea IMO because it forces everyone to go through Mozilla (and while it looks like a good idea security-wise, it might impact the user choice if - God forbid - Mozilla goes on a different path). Multi-process Firefox might turn up OK, but I think a lot of Chrome fans requested it - and I don't think that it brings a definitive advantage. I can't talk about deprecation of XUL, because frankly I don't know what impact it would have.

      PS: I'm a Firefox user and I would not consider moving to Chrome (in case anyone wonders). I'd rather tweak Firefox instead :)

    • animas August 21, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

      Mozilla only plays lip service to feedback in regards to design. If you look at how they implemented Australis, the initial design documents, bugzilla reports, email list, discussions on feedback in their meeting notes, they just basically ignored it all and the Australis team did whatever they wanted even when some of the criticism came from other departments at Mozilla.

      Also earliest being December is not a long way off. Especially when they didn't finalize the specs of the new API yet. How long will addon developers have? A few months with a final draft of the api? Addons take months/years to make and maintain. Giving only a couple months will seriously alienate developers...those who are willing to rewrite their extensions to meet the arbitrary deadline of 6-12 weeks after e10 drops. I bet a lot will just abandon their addons.

      • wyz August 25, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

        What you say may come to be true. I too see developers, who are forced to quickly rewrite their extensions for the new API, abandoning ship. I have a very bad feeling that many favorite add-ons I have long used will pass into history when Mozilla brings these planned changes to fruition. Not good! As someone who currently has over 55 extensions on my Firefox I know I will be negatively impacted when it happens. Without question this browser will morph into something totally new. Sadly, it won't be for the better.

    • Martin Brinkmann August 22, 2015 at 7:40 am #

      Sören, yes the title is melodramatic. I understand that Mozilla is moving forward, that's great but there are consequences to these actions and they may not be pretty.

      While WebExtensions may be great for developers who develop cross-platform, it puts lots of burden on active Firefox developers who have their hands full getting their add-ons to work under e10s. I think it was the Greasemonkey developer who mentioned that he spend most of the past nine months to get his extension working under e10s.

      Add-on signing without override is a bad idea. Firefox was always about choice and this is everything but.

      Deprecation has two core issues as far as I'm concerned. First, it will break add-ons. I don't doubt it that Mozilla will work together with developers to implement many needed methods and functions in WebExtensions (like it does with NoScript) but the end result will still be that some add-ons won't work anymore (due to them being abandoned, developer not wanting to put up with it, time constraints, or simply because Mozilla decides not to implement the needed functions).

      Second, and this is related, the requirement to rewrite add-ons to remain compatible. So, even if API functions exist to port an add-on, developers have to invest time to rewrite the code. Some won't or can't, and abandoned add-ons that still work will remain incompatible.

      • Testuser August 22, 2015 at 10:36 am #

        Martin is absolutely right with the title. If Mozilla wants to take even the SAME route here like Chrome, seriously... then Firefox is absolutely dead for me. Add-ons which can practically change everything in favor of the user and user-customization are still some major points why people stick to Firefox. And if this really changes and is removed or impossible by this new API, then it looks like that Pale Moon seems to be the last browser which is like Firefox, but with a future and no plans to destroy what people loved originally about Firefox. This change would impact more direct forks like Cyberfox and Waterfox a lot more, so the last one standing seems to be really Pale Moon. Or is there something missing in my post?

        Edit: Right, what will happen with SeaMonkey and add-ons?

      • Rollo August 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

        Giorgio Maone about NoScript and WebExtensions:
        https://hackademix.net/2015/08/22/webextensions-api-noscript/

      • Gern Blaanston August 24, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

        "I understand that Mozilla is moving forward, that's great but there are consequences to these actions and they may not be pretty."

        No, Mozilla is not moving forward. They are moving backward. Ever since Firefox 4.0, they have been slowly ripping out all of the features that made Firefox popular in the first place. The arrogant, brain-dead Firefox developers keep making Firefox worse, not better.

        Thank goodness for Palemoon.

      • Onan the Barbarian August 25, 2015 at 9:33 am #

        Abandoned extensions must die. I know that's bad for people who're relying on them, but unmaintained code is trouble waiting to happen. What if a security bug shows up and nobody fixes it?
        If there's enough interest about a particular piece of code, someone will show up to maintain it when the original developer disappears. If nobody shows up, that means it hasn't enough users to be worth keeping it alive. There's no free lunch even with free software. If you aren't willing to do the work you aren't entitled to complain if nobody else does.

    • Appster August 23, 2015 at 6:32 am #

      Mozilla Representative Sören Hentzschel at his best. It is completely understandable that you have to defend Mozilla, but please avoid using this forum in disguise. It is just extremely ridicolous, nothing more. Look at the market share of Firefox and shut up! If the Mozillian plans had worked so great during the last few years the market share would be higher than it is now. Mozilla ist slowly destroying Firefox and therewith itself, starting with Australis (aka Chromification of the interface), Pocket, Hello, Add-On-Signing and new (non-compatible) APIs - summa summarum things nobody wanted or has asked for. However, based on prior experiences with you it is safe to say that you are completely ignorant towards reality which makes it pointless to start a formal debate with you. That posting is only published in order to expose you as a Mozilla Representative whose opinion can't be neutral no matter what.

    • marc klink August 23, 2015 at 8:57 am #

      It is pretty much the opinion of anyone who sees that Mozilla staff have taken full leave of their senses. Too bad really, the sad thing is now EVERY browser will be a Chrome or WebKit derivative, leaving no freedom to innovate, other than what Google approves.

      Mozilla's slide into the abyss began with the Aurora abomination. They are REALLY STUPID, as any company with any brainpower would have seen the expressed hatred of Aurora, and known it was a time for a change AWAY from Chrome, in every way.

      • Hasso Zitronius Schlips December 20, 2015 at 6:50 am #

        Whilst I'm totally sharing your opinion I want to point to a mix-up: I guess You don't mean Aurora but "Australis abomination" which is in fact an abomination of an initiated Firefox's/Mozilla's suicide !!
        The Last Man Standing is Pale Moon

    • Ben August 23, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

      Well it's simple: FF has (mainly) only one advantage over Chrome: Addons.
      If they limit addons the way Chrome does it's over.
      And they will, let's be serious. The tactic with "oh it's still beta, lets wait for release to critisize" is bullshit, because then it's too late and FF is dead. And personally I would hate to use Chrome.

    • Nick August 25, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      Thank you for clarifying things! I wondered why this change is needed for Firefox. Now it makes sense. I would really love to see a Servo based Firefox someday, soon hopefully (fingers crossed).
      By the way, better validation is really a good feature for ordinary users' benefit. I know some people hate the "lack of freedom" but majority of people just want stuff to work and if validation helps that, I think that its really good.
      The only change that bugs me is the addition of Pocket, luckily it can be disabled. :)

  9. El Goopo August 21, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

    Personally I can't wait for the current crop of whiners to just stop using Firefox and move on to some other browser they can bitch and moan about. It's gotten really tiresome to hear them complain that Firefox doesn't have feature X from browser Y, then when Firefox has to break to adopt those features they turn into "Y cloners" and are branded "self-destructive". Then they break out all sorts of empy threats about switching to Y, or use an even more broken fork and pretend it'll survive without Mozilla's help. With users like that, who needs enemies?

    • jeb August 22, 2015 at 6:36 am #

      mozilla fanboi out in full force

    • fokka August 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

      to some extent i agree, el goopo, i've been defending mozilla and giving them the benefit of doubt for quite some time, but breaking addons _again_ with the chance of some very powerful ones being left behind... i don't know what i should make of that.

      i'm all for mozilla going forward and firefox becoming a more modern, performant and secure browser, but the relationship between mozilla and firefox users is strained as it is and delivering another potential bombshell could simply be too much for many users.

      that said, i don't see the changes affecting myself all too much. i'm not using noscript, down them all or classic theme restorer, so as long as ulblock and a handful of other addons stay compatible i should be fine. greasemonkey could be a problem, but we'll have to see when the time comes.

    • DaveyK August 22, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

      A lot of them have already moved on. Why else do you think Firefox's market share is tanking so badly?

      The simple fact is that Mozilla seem hell bent on making Firefox an irrelevant clone of Chrome. And as someone who has used and championed Firefox for many years, I find it very, very sad to see a once-great browser being flushed down the toilet thanks to the deluded and clueless leadership at Mozilla.

      RIP Firefox.

    • Nick August 25, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

      Well said mate! :D

  10. Lestat August 21, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    And there have been people who constantly told us screamers that Mozilla wants to create a 1:1 Chrome experience was an illusion of us!

    Here we are now in 2015, halftime of the year is over, and our illusions became reality.

    What a sad day!

  11. Ficho August 21, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    Without add-ons like DownThemAll! and Greasemonkey, Firefox is useless to me.

  12. DebSec August 21, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

    Look at this from a security point of view. Right now the add-ons are a major problem. They need to be sandboxed and ran in there own processes. Look for and read about Abusing, Exploiting and Pwning with Firefox Add-ons by Ajin Abraham.

    Proof of Concept (PoC)
    To demonstrate the potential security risk caused by malicious Firefox add-ons, I had implemented
    some proof of concept add-ons.
    • Xenotix KeylogX
    • Xenotix Remote Keylogger
    • Xenotix Session Stealer
    • Xenotix Linux Password Stealer
    • Xenotix Reverse Connect
    • Xenotix DDoSer
    All of these add-ons are fresh and fully undetectable against Anti-virus solutions.

    He has even went further and has a new website and code to show proof of concept on the major browsers and there vulnerabilities so to speak.

    I understand the signing is bogus but it is time for the coding to be compliant and adhere to web standards used throughout the web. All webpages for the most part should be WC3 compliant. This is not hard to do. It is just extra steps to learn how to do all of this. Everything renders faster and just works better also.

    • gh August 22, 2015 at 5:19 am #

      "WC3 compliant" as in, gleefully embrace happyshit standards like "a href rel=ping" ?!? Howabout "beacon"?
      We're up against corporitization of the internet, and WC3 is just one of their faces.

    • Testuser August 22, 2015 at 10:43 am #

      Not really a big fan of losing freedom just because other people need and love their golden cage. I can understand his points very well, but there is already a golden cage for people who don't have a clue what they are installing (and installing everything possible and saying yes to everything): Chrome

    • marc klink August 23, 2015 at 9:00 am #

      Not certain I should pay a whit of attention to anyone who is unable to properly conjugate verbs. It makes the intelligence of the poster a bit suspect.

  13. RossN August 21, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

    I'll have to test the Firefox Alpha (whatever it's called), to see if it allows me (with add-on) to run a TiddlyWiki that has write access to my local file system.

    • fokka August 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

      firefox alpha is called nightly and developer edition. i don't know about your addon, but it should install fine if it's signed, if not you can go to about:config and set xpinstall.signatures.required to false.

  14. mic August 21, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    To me as a user Firefox is about add-ons. Break those and you break the whole browser. There is nothing special about the plain browser these days IMHO.

  15. theMike August 22, 2015 at 12:36 am #

    Firefox has got to the point that AOL won't even buy it to kill it off

  16. LimboSlam August 22, 2015 at 12:53 am #

    @Firefox Users and Add-on Devs:

    please feel free to switch over to Pale Moon (an Open Source web browser forked off from Firefox/Mozilla code) if you've had enough of Firefox becoming very unstable because of all the unnecessary features they have been implemented (Hello, Pocket, Reader+, Share, Telegram, WebRTC related code and the newly privacy features being tested) to compete with Chrome; to become the new Chrome it's self. And Yes we will continue support for XUL, XPCOM and XBL source code for any add-on devs that use it.

    • Pale Moon is a Pale Imitation August 22, 2015 at 2:46 am #

      "switch over to Pale Moon"--that's really funny...

      What a bunch of crap: "Firefox becoming very unstable because of...Hello, Pocket, Reader..." blah blah blah blah blah

      I have NEVER seen or even heard of Firefox "becoming very unstable" because of those things--that is nothing but a BLATANT LIE.

      In fact, having used Firefox since 2005, I have never seen it MORE stable than in the last year.

      But the "Pale Moon Chorus Boys/Firefox Haters" are so predictable...

      Glad you're happy with your outdated, insecure POS browser that can't run any addons!

      "Pale Moon: a pale imitation of what a browser should be"

      • Pants August 22, 2015 at 10:21 am #

        ^ +10

        LimboSlam - take your spam elsewhere. Look, I have FF, PM, Chrome, Iron, Opera Next, Opera Presto and TOR (all portable) not to mention IE. Soon to add Vivaldi (just waiting for some more dev). The days of all this bitching about one being better and one browser and blah blah blah

        Stick to the topic man. Stop talking shit (unstable FF my arse indeed as mentioned above). Focus on what your product has to offer - if its good it will stand on its own two feet. But for the love of Russell's Teapot, take your advertising elsewhere.

      • Lestat August 22, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

        Glad to see people are still happy with their second rate Chrome clone wanna-be like Firefox.

        In the meantime people switch to Vivaldi, Qupzilla, Slimjet, Otter-Browser or Pale Moon which developers listen to their users and are not creating a 1:1 Chrome experience because they share not Mozilla's believe that it is what the user wants.

        And that makes the difference of a good product and a bad product.

        Mozilla Firefox goes more and more the bad way, no matter how you guys argue against it.

      • Jan August 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

        Tor Browser latest version is very unstable.
        Hence FF38 is unstable.

      • Pants August 22, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

        @Jan .. you do realize that TOR modify the ESR release, right? And they add quite a bit of their own stuff. Some quite significant changes recently regards timing. Your comment is completely ridiculous: correlation vs causation. Here's a llink for you : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation ... I could also show you graphs that prove that increased consumption of ice cream is a cause of increased murders. Here's one that shows the decline of rock music affects oil production - http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/500-us-oil-production1.jpg.

        Also ... "stable" ... I do not think that word means what you think it means.

        Personally, I find the least stable browser for me is chrome and iron. FF/PM crash on me perhaps once a year. Chrome/Iron like to hang every 3rd day (and unable to kill the process), and for that reason when I'm not using them I close them. Firefox/PM, on the other hand, I can leave up for days on end. That doesn't mean chrome is unstable - it performs beautifully for hundreds of millions of users - same goes for FF.

      • Jan August 22, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

        Correlation does not imply causation, but in the present case it is either a specific tor change which makes it unstable in the latest version, or something happening between FF31 & FF38. I think the latter is probably in cause.

        And by unstable, I mean TBB crashes five time a day - btw not good for privacy - when it used to never crash.

      • Pants August 22, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

        @Jan .. fair enough. I haven't updated TOR yet, and they have done a tonne of changes, and the jump from the previous ESR is also there. Give them some time to iron it out. But don't equate their build with the official FF release is what I'm saying :)

        Sheesh louise .. this is comments section is becoming a bitch of a fan-boy bitchin' session - chill out guys. You have at least a year IMO to formulate a plan, probably longer

      • LimboSlam August 22, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

        @Firefox Users:

        I'm sorry if I offended any of you by post here, that was just my personnel experience and opinion I have endured lately, so if it sounded like I was being "moonie" and "Pale Moon Chorus Boys", as you guys call us, I was not. I was merely offering up an alternative (Pale Moon) and just stating the obvious, which is that Firefox (Mozilla) has gone completely off rails here by restricting you guys of the XPCOM, XUL and XBL code to build your wonderful add-ons we have all come to rely on (I know I didn't say that exactly, but that was the general idea). They have no right!! Well because you guys are the ones that make Firefox and Pale Moon flexible/customizable, that makes it an adventure!! And to be honest, we as a fork to still need them as we build off them, meaning what ever bug/security patches they find, we in return see if it apply's to us and then patch it up if it does. So in the long run, Pale Moon as well could be at stake, though I also don't see that happening as we have been pretty independent and well running so far. But as so many of you have said, "if its any good and stands on its own two feet, then we'll believe it," that is what we are trying to perfect, so please don't give us a hard time about it and if you want, join in and help make Pale Moon your browser.

        As a matter of fact, some of the Firefox users have already switch over to us and are being actively helped at our forums. Yeah check it our if you don't believe me. But please keep the peace if you don't get the answer your wanted of fast enough response, remember we are only a hand full of people.

        FYI: this will be my last post on this subject as I have nothing to prove because our users and product shows it all.

  17. Doc August 22, 2015 at 12:53 am #

    "...any of the other browser's out there."
    Martin, don't use an apostrophe in a simple plural. :)

    http://www.apostrophe.me

    Firefox's addons are unequaled. DownThemAll, NoScript, FoxClocks...Chrome has "leaky" extensions and no way (last I knew) of supporting anything but a simple button; it took TWO extensions to do a simple digital clock, unless you stacked the numbers! I quickly dumped Chrom(ium) and never looked back.

  18. not_black August 22, 2015 at 1:00 am #

    Mozilla is kill.

  19. Lestat August 22, 2015 at 1:16 am #

    Just saying... come over to http://vivaldi.com - the browser for power users, all what Firefox once was and more!

    The forum: https://vivaldi.net/en-US/forum

    Vivaldi developers offer a lot what Firefox had of customization features and will add even more Opera olskool and Firefox oldskool features. As even Seamonkey can now no longer be considered a safe place, Vivaldi is your way to go if you can survive Closed Source ;)

    Otherwise.. for all the Open Source advocates out there.. check out Otter-Browser or Pale Moon!

  20. Mr Robot August 22, 2015 at 3:11 am #

    I think its time for change, I vote to replace the entire Mozilla development team or at least sack who ever thought this was a good idea.

    There are somethings you just don't do like commit application suicide this change will kill Firefox if this change lands i will no longer develop addons for Firefox, I have bitten the bullet with forced signed but can't swallow such disregard for users of Firefox and addon developers.

    I think every Firefox user needs to stand up together united and say NO If the millions of Firefox users uninstalled and stopped using anything Mozilla for 1-2 weeks it would send an undeniable shock wave to the Mozilla corporation.

    Mozilla used to stand for something i used to be proud to use and promote Mozilla products, Mozilla we matter don't you forget you would be nothing if it was not for us users, We have a voice, We are many and we will be heard!

    Everyone needs to in the coming weeks and months stand up and say NO!

    • gh August 22, 2015 at 7:45 am #

      Replacing the development team isn't achievable. I believe the only achievable "change" will be from creation & "vote with your feet" adoption of a fork. To date, TorBrowser is a dud. PaleMoon is a dud. (my opinion. YMMV)

      Visiting mozillazine.org forums tonight, I saw a recent post where someone was begging for a copy of a "recent, working" mozconfig. Yeah, ff is "open source" but the docs are (oh-so-conveniently) outdated, and ever incomplete.

      For the record (mentioning this to temper the fanboi-ish comments of moonie missionaires here), moonbaby has refused requests to post/share his PaleMoon mozconfig.

  21. arttoglass August 22, 2015 at 4:14 am #

    Last Firefox browser used (version 40) was blocking Google Homepage, Google Mail & Voice and replacing same with a Firefox equivalent or substitute webpage. It was literally impossible to access Google Search, Google Mail or Google Voice. Now use Google Chrome and Firefox can play these games with someone else; if end up getting the same kind of substandard treatment and experiences with Google Chrome, I'll drop them too.

    For the record, mostly used Firefox as a web browser for almost ten years - and for reasons much like using IE 7.0 and IE 8.0 today, Firefox is presently broken or unusable (for me) to surf the web, read e-mail or provide web access to certain websites I interact with on daily basis. Believe this was be design and individuals who regularly use Google Apps (like myself) are being shown the door.

    • Claus Riis August 22, 2015 at 9:27 am #

      I've set Gmail as a pinned tab and though my default search engine is DuckDuckGo I still use Google Search a lot. Other Google services I use include YouTube, Google Maps, Google Apps, Google Play Music, Google Calendar. They all work with the Firefox version 40.0.2 on Windows 8.1 that I'm using so what's your point?

  22. Robert August 22, 2015 at 5:14 am #

    Thanks for letting me know. I am heading to Mozzilla"s site to download a backup copy before they self destruct. And then I will disable the updates and make a backup. Then maybe try PaleMoon while flipping the bird at the Firefox developers.

  23. Robert August 22, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    Firefox used to be open sourced and freely developed. But now Firefox is an open sourced business where people are making an income. This means that they are willing to blot out extensions so that third party businesses can data mine the crap out of us for a price. PaleMoon is where we need to go if we value our privacy.

    • Samm August 22, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      > PaleMoon is where we need to go if we value our privacy.

      I hope you're not serious there… Pale Moon's default start page is chock-a-block full of privacy-invading advertisements!

      • Jan August 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

        PM e.g. has removed all the various telemetry of FF.

      • George August 22, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

        @Jan:

        I'll just have to believe you on that one, since I'll never allow "Pale Imitation browser" on my machine again.

        Cyberfox does not, and has never for as long as I've been using it, have the FF telemetry. There are not even any options in it for telemetry. In fact, in Cyberfox about:config there are not even any datareporting prefs in there at all.

        And unlike the Pale Imitation Moon browser, you can actually use add-ons in Cyberfox, because they WORK in Cyberfox. You can have in Cyberfox the very latest in modern, up-to-date browser security because PFS, STS, etc. are all supported in Cyberfox.

        But I'm not trying to convince you to abandon Pale Imitation browser and use a superior one. If you are happy with what you are using, that's good, and I am happy for you. I am posting just so that other readers will know that there are superior alternatives to what you recommend--namely, Cyberfox!

      • Lestat August 22, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

        Cyberfox is just a rebrand which is bundled with Classic Theme restorer.

        This is neither unique nor groundbreaking. And if these guys do not switch like Pale Moon to a totally separate code base, they end also as restricted as Firefox will be.

        The only way to keep customization, using modern technology is doing it the Vivaldi style. Like using a non native interface built of Javascript and CSS. With that combination you can create countless of features and you can recreate largely the old feature aspects of Opera 12 or Firefox until version 20. And the bonus is you can do things really damn fast with it, Vivaldi proves that it works out.

        But killing old customization API and switching to a Chrome add-on system which is more limited compared with Firefox standards will gain you nothing. So, if Mozilla would care for customization, they would quit that garbage and implement something what Vivaldi devs have done.

        All the rest will only result in big losses and frustration from the side of users and developers!

      • bawldiggle August 23, 2015 at 9:44 am #

        The Pale Moon default search page is ... customizable !
        - mine is DuckDuckGo and nothing else ... and if I want... completely blank
        - my new-tab setting is "blank"

  24. Robert August 22, 2015 at 6:56 am #

    As a user, I need ALL my addons. Losing some is not an option! I think I'll have to stick to Firefox v37 (the last good version) forever.
    By the way, I'm using Firefox because it has better and UNIQUE addons, the moment Chrome has them too nothing will stop me from switching.

  25. Joker August 22, 2015 at 7:22 am #

    Is anybody surprised? Is anybody SERIOUSLY surprised?

    At least there's an upside: With all browsers supporting the same addons, migrating away from Firefox will be very very easy and unproblematic.

    With most of its unique addons being deprecated, there's no proper reason to stay with Firefox.

  26. Pants August 22, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    The article at Ars is good. I understand the need/want to move to e10s and that this presents problems.

    - I can live with almost anything mozilla throws at me - australis, crap like pocket/hello
    - I've handled add-ons that have broken over the years with alternatives - in fact I don't think I've had a broken add-on for about 10 versions and almost all of my add-ons are being actively maintained (I can see that changing - in fact I see devs abandoning right now .. there goes another one)
    - I'm pretty sure I can live with add-on signing (i only have one add-on I modified myself - Dump List)
    - I'm also pretty I can live with e10s

    But when this happens ( http://www.downthemall.net/the-likely-end-of-downthemall/ ), and I don't mean the end of down them all, but what the author is saying, then .. well F*****k ... I guess I have about a year+ to prepare. I love FF, without which the internet world would have been poorer. *sob*

  27. Rocky August 22, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    You may be interested in Mike Kaplys opinion

    https://mike.kaply.com/2015/08/21/my-take-on-webextensions/

  28. mma173 August 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    It's a conspiracy. They are killing the fox on purpose...
    I have been using it since ver. 1 and still prefer to other browsers but I won't when they depreciate XUL. What would be left of the fox? Gecko? Going at this pace it won't stay. I expect them to announce moving to Webkits.

    RIP Firefox :(

  29. Tom Hawack August 22, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    What do you do when you have the conviction that you foresee valuable improvements -- of those improvements which just cannot be neglected -- and that you have the means, the code, to bring them to a browser, but that by doing so you know this is going to harm much of what made the success of that browser?
    I really don't have the answer.
    I love Firefox's add-ons, I have plenty. I'm feeling rather bad with what is planned for Firefox -> for my add-ons, not for structural, ideological reasons. I'm feeling bad for ideological reasons when it comes to Windows 10, not with Mozilla. But, I'm gonna be in problems with several add-ons, and that ain't no good for me, that don't make me smile, mam.
    But, am I entitled to crucify a company, a company's vision, on the ground that in its short-term implications my, some of my beloved add-ons will be buried? Not sure. Just not sure.

  30. wybo August 22, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    As a much less techie user of FF it seems to me that on the one hand FF will have less choice of add-ons. On the other hand it seems that the browser will be safer. It also seems that FF wants to be too much like Chrome. Losing its uniqueness.
    Still FF needs to cater to the masses. Techie users are for certain a small minority. Mozilla needs to strike a balance though and not forget its heritage.

    I noticed that EFF's HTTPS Everywhere is signed but not Privacy Badger. Also RequestPolice Continued and the Mega extensions are not signed.

    • Lestat August 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

      Still i would say the majority of the users do not wish that Firefox becomes a 1:1 Chrome experience no matter if techies or non techies.

      Because if they would, they already would use Chrome, as there is no reason to use a 1:1 copy if there is the original available too.

      People love being unique, being stylish - That is the reason why this latest Mozilla announcement creates so much bad press! And in Mozilla's best interest they should become unique again.

      Because the masses as you write, they are using Google Chrome, what keeps Firefox going is the amount of dedicated users which do not value a Chrome experience on Firefox.

      In fact the only one who seems really to value a Chrome like look and function is Mozilla itself, for not really logical reasons.

      Identity crisis anyone?

  31. Roman Podolyan August 22, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    If this is going to break NoScript, Greasemonkey, Tab Mix Plus and Classic Theme Restorer then I'm going to switch my main browser again. Actually I value in Firefox and forks just the very ability to do some serioius browser remodelling, like Tab Mix Plus, Classic Theme Restorer etc, also functions like 1-click Restart button (which likes of Chrome do not and can not have). My PC is my _personal_ computer, not "their secure computer". If they don't want to do me what I personally want, then why should I use their browser?

    I hope Pale Moon reject this "innovations", so I may switch back to it.

    As for "multi-process", I watched this with Chrome and that's one of things because of which I don't want to use Chrome, as I see it as memory and resource hog, bringing no value to me.

    • DonGateley August 22, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

      Tab Mix Plus has stopped working for me with development version 42.0a2 so my update days are over. Everything I've chosen to use still works fine in 41.0a2 so there I sit for eternity.

      • Roman Podolyan August 23, 2015 at 11:45 am #

        I googled "Tab mix plus" and 42, and here is what I found:
        ____
        by onemen (Developer) on August 15, 2015 · permalink · translate
        When using Firefox Beta, Aurora or Nightly we are recommending using the latest Tabmix.
        https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/tab-mix-plus/versions/
        ____

        Did you tried that? (I didn't try it myself, but it's developer's advice)

      • DonGateley August 23, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

        Thanks, Roman. On your advice I just tried Version 0.4.1.9pre.150819a1 and it fixes the problem. So, onward with 42.0a2 until any other problem is found.

  32. Sven August 22, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    Thanks, Martin, for this article and for expressing your view on things. I guess you are basically expressing the feeling of many people that have been using Firefox or other Mozilla products for a long while.

    It was the extensibility that made Firefox, Thunderbird and Seamonkey great. The base product is just another browser or email client. Extensions gave people the opportunity to make it *theirs*. And they are at a point where Chrome and others still have to get. But it already is more difficult with extensions than it was before. 3/4th of the extension I have used (~50) when I switched to another browser about a year ago do no longer work or conflict with other extension that are needed now to make the Firefox feel like Firefox again. With this I see it getting worse.

    I can understand the point that people like Nils and Mike are making. Mozilla has done a lot in the past to make the life of extension developers hard. And with this and the more recent changes, they continue that course and make it even harder. People spend a lot of time (usually unpayed spare time) to build and maintain something within the system that was used to a long time that is of benefit for other users. Now people come and say: "Sorry, we gonna change this, you have to start anew." And even if this is gonna happen in a year or two, it's just a shitty feeling and not really encouraging.

  33. anohana August 22, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    So a new Chrome clone. I'm sad. I use Firefox because it's not a shitty Chrome or Chrome clone. It looks like I'll be in the future a Palemoon user or something else what not a Chrome clone.

  34. Full Moon Grandpa August 22, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    Well, it's a great idea. Remove more and more features and depend on addon makers to restore the features. And then make it harder and harder for addon makers. What could plausibly go wrong?
    It makes me wonder about the whole Pocket thing. Unless it's a sponsor deal and the Pocket people are paying Mozilla then why did they in that case go the opposite way and take an addon into Firefox itself? Everything else seems to get taken out of Firefox. Oh well. I'm sure I'm just generally resistant to change and therefore my opinion not relevant.

  35. Mystique August 22, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    Okay so what we are doing here is replacing a completely flexible bit of code with a gimped piece of code... BRILLIANT!!

    Anything coming from the chrome camp seems like crayons and finger paints really but in all honesty desktop computing is gradually going to the shit heap, one only has to look towards windows 10 to realise that reality but I digress.

    Either Pale Moon picks up its game and actually starts working forward rather than sideways or Cyberfox devs need to pickup the slack and become a completely independent fork utilizing the old ways and bringing them into a new direction without fudging it up thus holding onto the true aspects of what made this browser great. Maybe we will see another browser arrive based off Mozilla but what would have to happen is that it would have to establish itself as a brand and create its own repository on top of every other painful part of it all. There is a lot of work ahead for any new new browsers to enter the market and there may not be enough willing and able developers available either as it is a huge undertaking. It could become another situation matching Opera and Otter-browser. /:

    Whilst it may be true that some developers may see strong support from mozilla the majority simply will not and at the end of the day it is a huge undertaking and I'd liken it to reinventing the wheel.

    It seems like Mozilla is attempting to rebuild Firefox from the ground up by slowly setting fire to it first. Even as a simple end users perspective it seems there is no stable road map here in which one can get their bearings its just one random idea after the other and every time I read an article I am filled with dread as I feel this project slipping away. There seems to be far too much uncertainty surrounding firefox lately.

    Whats clear is that there are plenty of passionate developers and supporters in which will be caught up in the aftermath and it may actually NO it will be easier for them to port their addons to Pale moon than continue on with Mozilla. /:

  36. otis August 22, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

    Vivaldi is just another chrome clone... until they offer gecko/goanna instead of webkit

    • Lestat August 23, 2015 at 12:05 am #

      That is true. But this Chrome clone offers a lot of customization which Firefox and Opera had.

      In fact you can rewrite the whole UI to your own liking, as it is only made of CSS/Javascript. And the developers adds tons of customization while we speak here and that every update.

      Mozilla ruins Gecko more and more and deconstructs it, and while Pale Moon is fine for simple sites their decision to stay with Gecko 24 because of Mozilla's horrid unwanted changes limits the ability to watch bleeding edge websites and it will not get easier for them in the future. Best thing would be for them to switch over to QTWebengine and reconstruct Pale Moon with this kit, which would kill both of their limits, add-on compatibility and grant them under the hood CSS3/HTML5 features which they are missing and such features they will miss in the near future!

      If we like it or not, Webkit/Blink is the future. And if you can enhance it with Firefox/Opera like customizations i and many more users could care less what the engine is, as it is the amount of features which counts!

      Vivaldi offers all from advanced toolbar customization (so far over CSS rewrite only) over side tabs, tab stacking, screen tiling, Web panels, UI less mode (without going fullscreen) and much more.

      You also can hide all aspects of the browser from buttons or the Vivaldi menu button with just a simple set of CSS lines. You also can change the color of the progress loading bar - Just some small examples what this "Chrome clone" can do :)

      And for all this you need no single add-on! This and all the rest of the brilliant features of Vivaldi is more than a potent mix!

      • otis August 23, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

        Have fun with your css tweaking.
        They are nowhere close.

    • Nebulus August 23, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

      True, but at least they strive to do things differently from Chrome; compared to that, Mozilla tries to do things exactly in the other way - to copy Chrome.

  37. Carl August 23, 2015 at 1:20 am #

    I am using "Comodo IceDragon" which is based on Firefox like PaleMoon. It allows Addons that Firefox banned. It is also faster than FF.or PM. And no, I am not being paid for this endorsement; I am just a enthusiastic IceDragon user.

  38. Brian August 23, 2015 at 2:23 am #

    Looks like I'll be using ether Maxthon or Avant browsers. If not a Firefox based browser but with no further reason to make compatible add ons they will die out quick.

  39. bawldiggle August 23, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Palemoon are changing to Goanna (beta the last time I looked) because of copywrite of Gekko
    - if I rememeber rightly 'Goanna" is owned by the founder of PaleMoon.

    • Sven August 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

      It's basically branding/trademark issues. Firefox and Gecko are brands of Mozilla, so if Pale Moon changes things on the engine, it cannot be called Gecko because it is no longer Gecko even though the source code is free and allows these changes and their usage.

      • Lestat August 23, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

        Yeah, that is understandable. Could lead into a conflict with Mozilla based on law and copyright terms.

        Off topic btw:

        That bit older comment here is an interesting read, also in relation towards Mozilla's plans:

        https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2013/12/12/australis-for-add-on-developers-1/comment-page-1/#comment-175191

        As it seems it is not only about simplification, Mozilla fears to be "anti competitive" if they keep features which make them more special than Chrome!
        ------------------------------------------------
        "Why would Mozilla want this when it is still the add-ons made specifically for Firefox that retains a large amount of users and sets it apart in many ways from other browsers."

        Jorge Villalobos:Are you suggesting we should be intentionally anti-competitive?"
        -----------------------------------------------

        Well, now 2 years later Mozilla has finally started to remove that "problem" What they do not understand is that an "equal playground" gives them no benefits.

        Chrome is faster and is more state of the art in future web technology, Edge and IE are integrated in Microsoft operating systems same like Apple Safari in MacOS.

        Wondering how Mozilla will have an advantage if they remove actually their only advantage they have - complexity!

        Very troublesome!

  40. Anon6 August 23, 2015 at 7:50 pm #

    "Mozilla just announced their intent to deprecate so called XUL-based add-ons in favor of what they call the WebExtensions API within the next year or two. The WebExtensions API is supposed to be mostly compatible to Chrome/Safari extension APIs.

    What does this mean for DownThemAll!? Well, for starters, DownThemAll! will be dead if XUL-based add-ons with XPCOM access are gone. Simple as that. The new APIs would only allow for a severely limited in functionality, severely stripped down DownThemAll! at best.

    Gone with DownThemAll! will be add-ons that e.g. let you change major bits about the Firefox user interface (e.g. tabs tree add-ons), add-ons that allow you to do more “advanced” stuff than just showing or slightly altering websites, such as e.g. restarting the browser upon click (unless mozilla kindly provides an API for that, which won’t be compatible with Chrome, of course). Add-ons like NoScript will be severely limited in their feature set as well. Say byebye to Greasemonkey and hello to Tampermonkey, with it’s limitations. Want that add-on that lets you change the new tab page for something else or enhances that page? Maybe it will be available, maybe not, depending on if and when mozilla kindly provides WebExtensions APIs for such things. And of course, depending on if there will be an author creating this entirely new add-on from scratch.

    What this also means: Almost all your existing add-ons will be broken, entirely, save for some Add-on SDK add-ons, namely those that don’t do anything fancy. Sure, even today, lots of add-ons break, and some add-ons will not get updated when they do and there are no suitable replacements. However, with this change, almost every add-on will be completely broken and in need of major updating by the extension authors. Good luck with that.

    It is safe to say, that Firefox will not be Firefox anymore as far as extensions go, but instead will become yet another Chrome-clone.

    To be clear: I was furious when the extension signing stuff was announced and then actually implemented, which effectively created yet another Walled Garden, but regarding this announcement I am just sad. Right now, it feels like I just learned my dear old friend Firefox is going to die."

  41. bawldiggle August 23, 2015 at 11:47 pm #

    For more info on Palemoon rendering engine ... Goanna to replace Gekko

    Goanna engine owner:- http://moonchildproductions.info/goanna.shtml
    - MoonChild is the founder and principal developer of Pale Moon ... an ex team leader at Mozilla - Firefox

    Introducing Goanna (alpha as at 22-Jun-2015):- http://forum.palemoon.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8607

    Pale Moon 26 (Goanna) beta1 published! (6-Aug-2015) https://forum.palemoon.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9061

    Announcements General:- https://forum.palemoon.org/viewforum.php?f=1 ... (from 2011 through to current)

    Pale Moon Home page:- http://www.palemoon.org/
    - lots of menus/links on the menu bar, including Addons

    For the critics of Pale Moon I would suggest you have a look around the forum Board and sub forums
    - dig around not everything is delivered on a platter
    - there is a portable version but it is not recommended because it is for testing purposes only
    We all drive different cars based on personal preferences ... as are operating systems, search engines and browsers.
    - luckily in the free world we do have choices

    • Sven August 24, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      Before people start whining about Pale Propaganda again, let me just say that the portable version is fully functional. It is just not recommended to use it as a substitute for the installed version (at least as long as you do not know the limitations). The portable is designed for portable use. (Kinda logical, right?) You can also use it for testing.

      • LimboSlam August 25, 2015 at 12:08 am #

        @Sven:

        Ha! You read that conversation, can you believe the nerve some people have! Hey, do you think I went over board mentioning Pale Moon as a good example of what Firefox should be doing with their users.

      • Sven August 25, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

        I think that both sides should relax a bit. There is no need to advertise Pale Moon but there is also no need for that "you got payed" nonsense. For some people Pale Moon can be a solution for others it wont, others simply won't be happy with it.

  42. Dave August 24, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    Martin, you forgot to mention that no binary elements are allowed now either.

  43. Slam Speech August 25, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

    This is very disappointing.

    First, I understand Mozilla's version of WebExtension API will have more functionality than Chrome's. However, innovative extensions like DownThemAll and Phenydactyl wouldn't have been possible with a rigid pre-defined API.

    I am also worried about all the extensions outside of the Top 10 Add-ons mentioned on the blog. Tile Tabs, for example is one of my personal favorites, it CANNOT be implemented on Chrome and it only fairly popular, but not one of the most popular. I am worried what will happen to this extension and others that aren't in the most popular.

    Second, this shouldn't be an all or nothing scenario. It should be a two-tier system.

    One tier would be universal extensions which fit in the WebExtension API and guaranteed to work in Chrome, FX, Opera and Edge. For Add-ons that CAN'T be implemented in Chrome, they could find reasonable alternatives for XPCOM and XUL. That will mitigate the issues mentioned in Mozilla's blog, but at the same time providing rich extensibility.

    There have been a lot of security, stability, and forward compatibility issues with XPCOM. However, there are replacements that have been in place for year--JSM's and js-ctypes. These allow lower level extensiblity without the issues that has XPCOM has. Until now, developers have not had a push to move over to these models. Now they do. However, Mozilla has made ZERO mention if these will continue be supported with the change over.

    Deprecating XUL is more problematic, because there is no finished direct replacement as of right now. Mozilla does have a project called, "browser.html". This is a dynamic HTML5 UI overlay that could replace XUL. It would also allow extensions to modify the UI on the fly. The concept doesn't exist in a vacuum. Vivaldi's UI is already fully written in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. It allow modifications without restart. Vivaldi will also be released in a few month's attesting to the practicality of this approach.

    The UI could be accessed in a more managed abstracted way. This would prevent Addons and Theme from breaking when the UI changes or looking horribly inconsistent.

    In conclusion, Mozilla should make an effort to move as many Add-ons as possible to the WebExtensions API. For the Add-ons that cannot be moved over, they need to work on getting those Add-ons off XPCOM first and XUL second.

    First, They should work on deprecating XPCOM first. Beefing up JSM/js-ctype libraries to emulate most of XPCOM's standard functions.

    Second, they need to make browser.html a top priority. Once that is finished, transition XUL overlay extensions over to this new overlay.

    Sadly, it seems WebExtensions API will be the ONLY way to write extensions in the future. Even though Mozilla will expand it beyond what Chrome has done, it still pales in comparison to what is currently avalible.

  44. Dan82 August 30, 2015 at 1:13 am #

    Well, a week has gone by. Some tempers have cooled off in the meantime, while others have made up their minds. Here's my take on it:

    Mozilla's XUL was the one big thing that made Firefox so successful in my view. Ten years ago, people could either choose the leading Internet Explorer or go for alternatives; there was the niche browser Opera which would never reach huge popularity or Netscape's brilliant step-child Firefox, which seemed to do everything right. That is looking at it through rose-colored glasses of course, because in hindsight I would say that Mozilla was handed their success on a silver platter. After the collapse of Netscape, Microsoft was the undeniable leader in the browser market, but they lacked the initiative which soon made their inferior to the newcomer Firefox. Whether you cared about performance, handling, customization or extensibility, Firefox had no alternative at that time.

    In today's world of browsers, which Google has been dominating with their Chrome browser and where Microsoft has finally tried to take the next step with Edge, performance and thus the light-weight feeling is an important part to satisfying the user-base. In that regard, Firefox feels a little bit like the Internet Explorer of the last decade, someone else has become the king of the hill.

    Now I couldn't say if Mozilla is right or wrong in their approach to modernize their browser. They've been taking several steps toward the future and every one of them was heavily criticized:

    Australis? Don't even let me start talking about it, the new UI even made me use Pale Moon exclusively for a while. Then I found out, that the biggest missteps could be fixed with an add-on called Classic Theme Restorer - but Firefox will never be whole again, because that wound will need constant reapplying of a bandage and that only works as long as someone else is willing to do that (ie, as long as the extension will be in active development).

    The next step is supposed to be electrolysis, making the browser a multi-process entity. It's about time for that feature to finally see the light of day, but sadly it's about five years too late. If you consider the fact, that work on a multi-process design began in 2009 and we're still waiting on a stable version in our desktop Firefox, that says it all. Even Microsoft managed to write a multi-process browser from scratch for their latest operating system in less time!

    The next (and possibly final) step in the modernization of their browser is a new extension system. Both as a user and as a hobby developer of extensions for my own private use, I have to say that the WebKit/Blink implementation of the extension APIs are a modern take which certainly has some advantages, but they cannot hold a candle to what Firefox has offered for a long time. You only need to look at what Opera has been doing to get an idea of what might be in store for us with Firefox. Opera was a blank slate in 2013 and it has taken them about two years to introduce a sidebar API and a usable bookmarks management, the latter of which is still lacking some important features. If Mozilla's development speed is similar - and if the repeated delays of Australis or Electrolysis are anything to go by, that might not be so unrealistic - then we will be left with yet another browser cutting itself down to Chrome's level.

    To make a long story short, I believe that a WebExtensions API similar to that of Chrome is quite the gamble. Mozilla has done that in the past with some controversial changes, yet nothing could stop the slow but steady decline in market share. Mozilla needs to stay relevant if it wants to keep being financed on the current level. How long can it bleed cash into new projects or features without an appreciable result? I sometimes wish that Mozilla had started a new browser from scratch five years ago, when Chrome's meteoric rise had just started. This lack of vision might end up doing a lot more than destroy a browser which was once the very best on the field.

    Well, what about me? I'm still using Firefox as my main client with two separate profiles, because the flexibility of the current extension system is unmatched in any other browser. Once that advantage is taken away - as I mentioned a few times in my admittedly long-winded reply, I suspect it is going to happen - the last reason for my very long loyalty will have vanished.

  45. Rocky August 30, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    @Dan82 Thank you for the considered and detailed reply

  46. S September 29, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    A lot of this makes sense when you consider that up to 85% of Mozilla's money came from Google from 2008-2014.

    Conflicts of interest between an oppressive and controlling company funding a supposedly "free & open" browsing platform have only one inevitable resolution.

  47. justme November 8, 2015 at 2:16 am #

    And then finally all browsers will be slowly turned into google chrome.

    RIP Firefox.

  48. Alex April 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

    so after that long time ... you guys can now all eat your own words ..

    xul will never depricate ... its build into the browser object , so if you wanna make a xul page just add its namespace at the yop or use createelementNS ...

    sdk addons can do EVERYTHING an overlay extension can do , i know becasue i make addons ....

    the jsm files of the new webextension api for firefox are no more no less import chrome librarys ... basically upgraded sdk modules with promise backends ...

    means import chrome will be usable from webextension .. or just import webextension modules in your sdk addon ...

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