The add-on system of the Firefox web browser is without doubt one of the browser's strongest features. It is superior to what other browsers have to offer as it lets developers do more which in turn resulted in add-ons such as Tree Style Tab, NoScript or Private Tab only being available for the browser and not for others simply because of that.
Firefox's add-on system is going to take several hits in the near future that will affect extensions in several ways.
Firefox's new multi-process system e10s will deliver the first hit as it will render add-ons incompatible. The Are We e10s Yet website shows the status of hundreds of popular add-ons for the web browser of which 124 are listed as compatible, 78 as "shimmed", 109 as broken, and 562 as untested.
The overall Firefox add-on count is larger than that which means that the site does not even list all add-ons.
While Mozilla and many add-on developers are working on resolving bugs and issues, it seems like a dead giveaway that a number of add-ons won't be compatible when multi-process is enabled in the browser.
For instance, add-ons that a developer abandoned won't receive updates to make them e10s compatible.
But multi-process Firefox is not the only change the add-on ecosystem has to overcome in the future. Mozilla announced back in August 2015 that it plans to make dramatic changes to Firefox add-ons.
The organization plans to deprecate XPCOM and XUL based add-ons, and introduce a new extension API WebExtensions as well.
Both won't affect the browser this year or the first half of 2016 as Mozilla stated vaguely that it would take at least a year but probably longer than that before the changes would be implemented in Firefox.
The WebExtensions API won't be as powerful as Firefox's current system. Mozilla wants it to be more powerful than Chrome's implementation though by working closely with developers to implement needed functions to the API so that popular extensions remain compatible with Firefox versions that rely on WebExtensions.
The deprecation will break add-ons, there is no doubt about that and it is also likely that it will hinder innovation in add-on development as well as developers will only have access to the API and not the "whole" browser anymore.
Let me start
We have a list of Best Firefox add-ons here on Ghacks which I'd all like to see make the cut. My personal must have add-ons are NoScript, Classic Theme Restorer and Dictionary Switcher.
Given all that, it is time to create a list of essential Firefox add-ons that should survive multi-process Firefox and the move to WebExtensions.
Feel free to post your favorite Firefox add-ons in the comment section below. I'll analyze the comments and create a list of them all sorted by popularity and post a new article about it. If this gets enough traction, we could even consider delivering the list to Mozilla.
Note: Please don't mention or post links to YouTube downloaders as this is not permitted by Google (the ad provider here on Ghacks).
Update: The results are in.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.