Good News, Pocket to become a Firefox add-on once again (sort of)

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 8, 2015

After delivering bad news in form of two Firefox feature deprecations -- Tab Groups and Full Theme support will be removed from Firefox -- Mozilla is also working on removing Pocket's native code from Firefox to make it a system add-on instead.

Mozilla made quite a few controversial moves in past years, and if you ask Firefox users, you probably find the native integration of Pocket up there at the top next to launching the Australis interface or the end of NPAPI plugin support.

Critics of Pocket's native integration in Firefox had two major issues with the implementation. First, that Pocket was a proprietary solution, and second, that it felt unjustified to bring it to all users of the browser in form of native code instead of an add-on as most users would not be making use of it.

A Bugzilla listing confirms that Mozilla plans to move Pocket to a built-in add-on. While that is not the same as an add-on that Firefox users can install from Mozilla's AMO website, it is a step in the right direction.

Featured or built-in add-ons are distributed with the browser. Mozilla announced that it would utilize Firefox's add-on system to test and deploy new features in the browser instead of making them part of the browser right away, and that it would also use it to turn built-in features into add-ons as well.

These add-ons differ from regular add-ons in several ways. The two core differences are that they cannot be uninstalled from within the browser, and that they are placed in the Firefox system directory and not the user profile directory.

They can be disabled on the other hand. It is unclear right now if it is possible to delete them in the Firefox system directory to remove them completely. This needs to be tested once the first system add-on is released by Mozilla.

It seems likely however that Firefox users will be able to remove system add-ons from the browser by removing them from the system directory as they likely use the same method that system-wide installed add-ons used in the past.

We will take a close look at the implementation once the first built-in add-on rolls out with Firefox and let you know what your options are in this regard.

Some critics would obviously want Pocket to become a standalone add-on instead for the Firefox browser which would mean that users interested in it could install it why all others would not be bothered by it at all.

Now You
: What's your take on the change?

Good News, Pocket to become a Firefox add-on once again (sort of)
Article Name
Good News, Pocket to become a Firefox add-on once again (sort of)
Pocket, a third-party service integrated natively in the Firefox web browser, will be turned into a built-in add-on in the near future.

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  1. Thub said on November 9, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I used Pocket when it was called Read It Later because it would simply use a folder in your bookmarks and Firefox Sync (Mozilla Weave at the time) would take care of, well, syncing. They changed the back end storage and their name, so I found a different add-in. I’m using Save-to-Read right now. It’s a little less feature rich, but I didn’t use most of the features Read It Later provided anyway.

    Frankly, I’m surprised Mozilla didn’t roll their own feature that would leverage Sync — it wouldn’t have to use the bookmarks, that was simply a convenient mechanism at the time, I’m pretty sure Sync can handle whatever arbitrary data might be needed. It certainly was an unusual move considering they don’t typically encourage users to use any services that the user can’t host on their own hardware.

    In general though, I’m frustrated with how arbitrary their decisions are about what to include and what to remove. This Pocket controversy is a good example of that.

  2. insanelyapple said on November 9, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    I am darn sure they were talking about rolling features as controllable extensions years ago but somehow, they went for path “let’s include these in code”.

  3. David said on November 9, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Yay :)

  4. Ben said on November 8, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    While I do actually use Pocket myself, I really don’t like the way Mozilla rolled it out and advertised to users about it. Most people won’t use Pocket, so it just adds another button to clutter up the UI. Even more annoying is the “View Pocket List” button I can’t delete from the bookmarks menu. It’s no use to me because I have Pocket opened in a pinned tab.

    This news is a step in a better direction. Although if Mozilla wants to compete with Chrome. They should really put effort into making the browser faster and more stable, instead of recent features like Hello, Apps, and the Social API. (I know that Pocket was a sponsored addition)

    1. Sören Hentzschel said on November 9, 2015 at 8:21 am

      You only need to remove the pocket button from the toolbar, then there is no pocket button in the toolbar *and* no pocket entry in the bookmarks menu. Or do you want the button but not the entry in the bookmarks menu?

      1. Ben said on November 9, 2015 at 6:05 pm

        I wasn’t aware that the bookmarks menu entry can be disabled by hiding the Pocket button, but I want to keep the button. Too bad the old Pocket add-on is no longer available. I think I’m just going to search for an alternative instead.

  5. anon said on November 8, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    The decision to allow management of and to separate bundled add-ons from user-installed ones is welcome :)

  6. Tom Hawack said on November 8, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    There is Pocket and Reader Mode and Reading List at this time :

    Pocket :
    browser.pocket.enabled (true or false)
    browser.pocket.api (default or “” for privacy if browser.pocket.enabled set to false) (default or “” for privacy if browser.pocket.enabled set to false)

    Reader Mode :
    reader.parse-on-load.enabled (true or false)

    Reading List :
    browser.readinglist.enabled (true or false)
    readinglist.scheduler.enabled (true or false)

    Are all three strictly related?
    No Reading List without Reader Mode (Reader Mode without Reading List is possible of course), but are these bound to Pocket?
    Will the removal of Pocket mean the removal of Reader Mode?

    I appreciate Reader Mode, but have disabled Reading List as well as Pocket itself. i’m confused on the outcome.

    Mama mia, there I go again, confused with those darn settings …

    Otherwise, the new add-on “testing” scheme seems interesting and will perhaps deny this impression of erratic innovations I’ve felt with Firefox ever since Australis.

  7. Bryan Kuro said on November 8, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I’m really glad Ghacks covers this kind of stuff because I’m a web browser junkie.

    After hearing that the theme support is going away, at least there is a silver lining somewhere. I’m glad to hear that the pocket integration will go away and instead became an add-on. Next I hope that random chat service Mozilla was trying to promote gets converted into an extension so I don’t have to remove it from the toolbar after new installations.

    1. Sören Hentzschel said on November 9, 2015 at 12:34 am

      > Next I hope that random chat service Mozilla was trying to promote gets converted into an extension

      Yes, it’s planned to make Firefox Hello a system add-on, too.

      1. LimboSlam said on November 11, 2015 at 4:38 am

        @Thub: They are a little strict on new features, but I guess they seen the horrors of Firefox and so are traumatized by it. Maybe once they get their new beta (a new layout/rendering engine called Goanna which has been forked off Gecko) out and stable they’ll be more in the position to add new features. Also note that they wont just do this willy-nilly when ever a user ask for it just because it will benefit him and only him. No, they will have a vote for it through that thread which the user has started and it needs to follow these guidelines:

        1.) Is the suggested feature specific to your workflow?
        If so, you have to think about how it would affect people who do things differently, and how many people are likely to use the same workflow you do. Evaluate your own browsing behavior before suggesting this kind of feature.
        2.) Is the suggested feature culturally neutral?
        Keep in mind that Pale Moon users come from all walks of life everywhere in the world. Core features should apply to everyone and not be regionally or culturally bound where possible.
        3.) How “advanced use” is the suggested feature?
        While I wholly welcome power users and gurus to use Pale Moon, any added feature should still be easy to understand for most anyone.
        4.) Are there multiple existing solutions to what the suggestion addresses?
        You can call this “technical neutrality”. If there are clear choices a user can make from e.g. existing add-ons to get the feature implemented in different ways, with different levels of granularity or catering to different situations, then the feature is likely less suitable for inclusion in the browser core. User choice is an important driver for Pale Moon.
        5.) Does the suggestion improve overall quality of the browser?
        A suggestion for a core feature should improve overall quality or convenience for the user in the broadest sense of the word and applicable to a majority of the Pale Moon users.
        6.) Does the suggestion hinder the download and display of any content?
        Pale Moon should enable and promote the download of web content, not prevent it. This applies to any content, including commercial content that might be considered “superfluous” or “undesired”. As such, the Pale Moon browser core will not be a good place to put any “blocking” features (ad blockers, script blockers, etc.)

    2. Henk van Setten said on November 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Yes Bryan, of course it’s good this kind of stuff is being covered here. But personally, I feel that four (!) posts in a row about detail changes in Firefox is a little too much.
      And if this really must be, then maybe it would be nice to also remind people that they can easily solve literally all these Firefox issues in one very simple stroke: by switching to Pale Moon, while keeping almost everything in their user profile (about:config privacy settings, the bookmarks, in most cases all extensions too).
      Among the six different browsers on my system (yes I’m the same kind of junkie) Pale Moon has since over a year proven itself as a steady, dependable daily work horse. No trouble or irritations with Mozilla’s user-unfriendly zig-zag policy changes anymore!

      1. Bryan Kuro said on November 13, 2015 at 5:29 am

        Unfortunately, Pale Moon is not available for OS X, which means I can’t use it. :(

      2. Thub said on November 9, 2015 at 11:09 pm

        I wish there was more of a middle ground between Pale Moon and Firefox proper. While Mozilla sometimes seems to embrace an “all changes, all the time” release model, I think Pale Moon goes too far toward “no new features, ever”.

        At least for me, Pale Moon isn’t a panacea. It’s one thing to maintain a strict feature set and another to completely rule out new technologies. My pet peeve here is WebRTC, which is written off as merely a replacement for Skype. I support removing the Hello app from the Firefox code base, but the WebRTC stuff that underlies it could play an important part in replacing proprietary standards like Adobe Flash — not just Skype — even if we never use Hello.

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