The next 12 months will change Firefox's add-on landscape fundamentally

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 23, 2015
Updated • Dec 23, 2015

A lot is going on at Mozilla, makers of the popular Firefox web browser. In the next 12 months, the organization plans to make fundamental changes to the Firefox web browser which affect core features of the browser including its add-on ecosystem.

As far as add-ons are concerned, there are two changes that will have a direct impact on add-ons, and another looming in the background which may even have a bigger impact than the first two combined.

The first two changes are add-on signing and Electrolysis (e10s), or multi-process Firefox, the change that is looming in the background is the launch of WebExtensions, and the deprecation of classic add-on development features such as XUL or XPCOM.


  • Firefox 43: Add-on signing enforcement in all Firefox versions.
  • Firefox 44: Add-on signing cannot be disabled anymore in Stable and Beta versions.
  • Firefox 46: The projected release version for Firefox Electrolysis (multi-process Firefox).
  • Firefox 48: The projected release version for a stable WebExtensions release. It is unclear when classic features are deprecated.

Add-on signing

Add-on signing is enforced as of Firefox 43. Warnings were displayed in previous versions of the web browser but no action was taken.

This changed with this month's release of Firefox 43 when the browser started to disable all unsigned add-ons automatically.

Unsigned add-ons are all browser extensions that have not been submitted for signing to Mozilla. This includes dead add-ons, add-ons created by third-parties that are distributed exclusively with their software programs, add-ons created for personal use or Enterprise use, and extensions that have been published only on third-party websites.

While it is possible to remove the add-on signing restriction in Firefox 43, Mozilla plans to remove that option in Firefox 44 for Stable and Beta versions of the web browser.


Extensions that are not signed cannot be installed in Firefox Stable or Beta anymore if Mozilla goes ahead with its plans to remove the switch in those versions of the browser to give users control over the feature.

It is unclear how many extensions cannot be used anymore in Firefox because of the move and how many users are affected by it.

Considering that it includes add-ons hosted on third-party sites, dead add-ons not hosted on Mozilla AMO, custom add-ons, and add-ons distributed with software, it is quite problematic for affected users and businesses.

Firefox Electrolysis (e10s)

The second big change comes in the form of multi-process Firefox. This too impacts add-ons of the browser as many need to be modified to remain compatible with multi-process Firefox.

Mozilla's own Are We e10s Yet website highlights that for instance as it lists compatible, shimmed, broken and untested add-ons. Considering that e10s is only months away -- first tests in Firefox Beta have just started -- it is fair to say that the move will be disruptive as well even if you consider that the list is probably not updated in real-time.

Shimmed in this context means add-ons that are made to work in multi-process Firefox using a compatibility layer. This is only a temporary solution though as it impacts performance.


Multi-process Firefox requires that incompatible add-ons are modified to make them work again. While that may not be a problem for active add-ons, it will have a severe affect on add-ons that are no longer maintained as they will remain incompatible due to that.

WebExtensions / Feature deprecation

Mozilla plans to release a stable version of WebExtensions in Firefox 48 which will be released in mid-2016.

It has not yet announced a Firefox version for the removal of classic add-on development options such as XUL or XPCOM, but mentioned in its original announcement in August 2015 that it will take between 12 to 18 months which could mean as early as Firefox 49 which will be released in August 2016.


The full impact of the deprecation is unknown, but it will impact any add-on for Firefox that makes use of features that Mozilla plans to remove from Firefox.

The organization plans to add at least some of them to WebExtensions, but it requires that add-on developers rewrite their add-ons.

Depending on the API that Mozilla creates, some add-ons may not even be possible under WebExtensions. In addition, dead add-ons and add-ons that are not modified by their respective authors will no longer work once the change goes life.


Are there any solutions that would limit the impact of these changes? There are, to a degree at least.

As far as add-on signing is concerned, solutions could include whitelisting popular trusted add-ons or enforcing the signing of add-ons by Mozilla so that these add-ons can continue to be used.

Mozilla could also pass on removing the preference flag in Firefox Stable and Beta that would allow users to install unsigned add-ons. Considering that Mozilla is all about choice and giving power to its users, it would be the right move in my decision.

As far as Electrolysis is concerned, there is no quick fix available. Mozilla could however integrate the community more in the process by adding a "report incompatibility" button to Firefox's add-on manager.

For WebExtensions, it seems necessary that Mozilla gets lots of user and author feedback to make sure that the API can be used to port popular and even not so popular Firefox extensions without limitations.

The next 12 months will change Firefox's add-on landscape fundamentally
Article Name
The next 12 months will change Firefox's add-on landscape fundamentally
Mozilla plans to launch major changes in its Firefox web browser in the next 12 months that will have a fundamental impact on add-ons.

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  1. syklist said on December 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Have you considered switching to SeaMonkey? It has been the main browser on my mac and Linux PCs for a couple of years now. Not all Firefox extensions are compatible but there is an online conversion tool available from the community. Check out the SeaMonkey forums at Mozillazine

    1. Appster said on December 28, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      Thank you for your counsel. I have considered SeaMonkey already and I will further look into it. For the time being I will switch to Firefox 45 ESR. The last update for this version (45.8) will roll out on February 7th, 2017 which is a year from now. During this time it will be seen whether Waterfox and/or SeaMonkey will keep XUL or if they follow suit. In case they do the things Mozilla has done Vivaldi will have reached its stable release by then and I may switch to a Chromium-based browser.
      That is, unless the Pale Moon guys get a stable(!!!) Mac version out.
      It is so sad, really. Even Apple has a more user-friendly approach since I can install everything I want on OS X when I uncheck a simple box in Settings. Mozilla is more radical than Apple, I dunno. They are digging their own grave, but they are welcome in it.
      As much as I hate Microsoft I’ll have to admit that they are all about compatibility. They have changed the interface of their Office many times over but the formats provided always remained the same. They also kept the Internet Explorer up to date and compatible, even if it meant a considerable blow to modern web standards. This is what most people care about: Keep this thing running!
      Mozilla is quite the opposite, they want revolution instead of evolution, but if revolution means fixing something that ain’t broken they will shoot themselves in the foot.

  2. Chryss said on December 27, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    For those of us not technically savvy, what will this mean for add-ons like AdBlock, NoScript, and RequestPolicy?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 27, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      It is very likely that add-ons that are currently maintained will remain compatible in the short run at the very least. Mozilla seems to take care of very popular add-ons by cooperating with developers to ensure that they remain compatible in future versions.

  3. Giorgos said on December 26, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I have absolutelly no problem at all, with Mozilla’s ignorance and arrogance! :-)
    I really don’t care, because Mozilla don’t listen the Firefox users at all and let them down altogether.
    I’ve just moved away, from Firefox. :-)

    I’m using Palemoon nowadays (as my main browser), both at Mint and at Windows.
    Of course, there are other open source browsers as well.

  4. Don Gateley said on December 25, 2015 at 12:34 am

    This is all about them biting the bullet in their failing consumer market and working toward some kind of certification for federal and foreign nation contracts they are currently locked out of due to security issues. There’s gold in them thar hills and far fewer people to convince in order to tap it.

    Dev 44.0a2 is the end of the road for me because 45.0a2 breaks Session Manager which is my most crucial add-on. That’s not all bad, though because 44.0a2 is a great browser with some tweaking of about:config and a few useful add-ons for backward UI compatibility. I think it would form the perfect basis for a fork a la Palemoon but much more recent. Let Mozilla continue to bark at the moon while the community births an independent consumer version with solid commitment to backward compatibility.

    1. Lestat said on December 25, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      The problem is, that such a fork would run again into problems, the same like Pale Moon. If you can not update the engine regularly it will be the same way as hard to implement future web feature drafts.

      You have to review and backport things like ES6/ES7 drafts, HTML5 specifications, CSS3 specifications. That is hell of a work!

      This only works out if you have dozens of developers, but that is no job a single man/woman team is capable of doing. At least not seen on a longer time scale and not without growing website incompatibilities. Btw. Even Vivaldi team is not forking Chromium even if they have many more developers available as for example Pale Moon. Because that guys know that it only leads to trouble and problems, even if it still would be the only way to prevent things from going lost when fully forking off the origin project.

      It does not help, Mozilla based browsers will be almost non customizable and featureless in the future. And at the same time Chromium based browsers get more and more feature rich and customizable (Slimjet, Centbrowser, Vivaldi, soon Otter-Browser and Qupzillla once they make the switch to a working QTWebengine version)

  5. Roman Podolyan said on December 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Well, I expected to find a few words about using Firefox LTS in this article, but didn’t find anything. If they keep LTS, as you already wrote that in other post, Martin, that might be one more delaying and / or more acceptable solution for some users.

    Actually I’d even recommend, as a lot of new developments often means a lot of new bugs. I switched to LTS my workplace Firefox, and I plan to switch to LTS my home system too. Also I “brush up” Pale Moon from time to time. While there are some compatibility issues at present with extensions like GreaseMonkey, they may be overcamed in future.

    Actually I belive that Mozilla gets it rather wrong. I remeber the time when I switched from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3 — and get everything I had before, but working way faster. Yes, it was in 2008, but my tastes are the same: I want functionality I already use, but working waster. I don’t see how this has anything to do with multi-process and web-extensions, I expect that it may make things worse, not better (as I don’t see that multi-process and web-extensions work better for me with Chrome).

  6. juju said on December 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Think who will inherit all firefox extensions (their biggest asset by their own admission). It’s PaleMoon. At the same time think of Lavasoft affair. That Sweden is something more than scandinavian country if looking from geopolitical context.

    I’m not saying it’s intelligence community money laundering. It’s more than that.

  7. John said on December 24, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Mozilla gets paid to kill their browser?
    The add-on signing is a killer for beta testing ones add-ons on newer versions of the browser, not to speak of the huge delays before they get signed so the makers can test their add-on.

    And the change to “web-extensions” will kill a bunch of add- ons I use probably. I see no reason to stay with Firefox anymore.

    They should give assurances the “web-extensions” can have the same capabilities of totally changing the browser UI to one’s likening. But seeing how they “default” killed the customizability of their browser, and that I need 3 different plugins to get it working as I want, I don’t think this will be anything usable.

  8. MDomino said on December 23, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Wtf is going on?
    I am an end user and I have no idea about all this technical mumbo jumbo, I just realize that Tree Style Tabs, that I *really* depend on does not work anymore. So what should I as a non-tech user think of this?

    Clearly for me there are just two options: Either stay with FF 42 forever (with Mozilla themselves constantly reminding me, how insecure this is) or start looking for alternatives to Firefox. Is this what Mozilla wants? If they do not want to loose more market share they should really make sure that the average user like me does not get confused and frustrated by stuff like this.

  9. jwhat said on December 23, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Will multi-process be required for the browser to function or can it be disabled with a config setting? I sometimes open a thousand tabs at a time and i’m not interested in launching a thousand processes in order to do so.

  10. wonton said on December 23, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    if all addon developers boycott webextensions by not creating any or updating there addons to it a message would be sent to mozilla that no one wants it so they would have to revert it or loose the only thing keeping most of there users.

    people forget if everyone stood together united we have the power not them they would have to fold to our demands or fade to black.

    1. Strazdas said on January 20, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      People also forget that noone wants to be the only one standing and that selling out is more profitable. United protests work, but they are almost impossible to organize.

  11. james williams said on December 23, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I am so done with firefox. I’m sick to death of them making wholesale changes without permission. I open fire-ahole today and all my addons are gone and you know why I have them? I have epilepsy. The addons allow me to customize and cleanup/freeze all the horsebleep scripts and so on, that distract and affect me.
    Don’t anyone tell me that the new asssfox changes are anything but a nod to advertisers and others to create wide-open holes that can be exploited.
    If I’m gonna get exploited, I might as well just use chrome. At least I know up-front what I’m in for, instead of sanctimonious lies from mozzilaholes.
    I’m sick of having to learn new browsers. I’m sick of having to reload addons. I’m sick of having to recustomize. I’m sick of what processor pig it has become. I’m sick to death of firefox.

  12. swamper said on December 23, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    The biggest mistake Mozilla made that I can see is bringing Chrome into any discussion about anything happening with Firefox. BIG MISTAKE.

    That’s not the only one. Among others they put out a bunch of info on what is bleeding edge code that Firefox will move to that 95% of the people using Firefox or developing extensions now for it don’t know the first thing about.

    Javascript and javascript frameworks are getting ready to all but completely run the web over the next few years. That ball will not stop rolling and will roll over and leave anybody that gets in it’s way. The shear power that javascript wields in what can be done with it and how easily it can be done will lead this issue. XUL pales in comparison.

    Being that javascript is going to be running all the apps it’s a lot simpler for it to run the browser window too. To make the browser itself into an javascript app.

    Javascript to most folks is some abstract entity they don’t understand that resides on web pages they visit. They don’t interact with it and treat it as something to be avoided. That from a user standpoint will not change in the future. But the extension Devs are not going to get to live in that blissful state.

    IMHO this link here is the root of where everything javascript related is going and will go. When you hear folks talk of javascript “polyfills” this is it. What’s driving where browsers are going today is this. One day this will be native to any browser running.

    A lot of what you will see in this bleeding edge of code is backed by Google. It however is not just a Google thing. It is not just Google driving it. Google is just putting the money into a lot of it.

    Before I get berated about Google fanboy anything. I am not. I am developing a very large amount of heartburn with all things Google. I can’t change how much money they can throw at projects and neither can the Devs that work on them.

    WebExtensions is Firefox’s way of allowing extension dev’s to interact with it’s interface. Is it sparse at the moment? Yes. Will it grow? If Firefox want’s to survive it will. Will it be painful? More than likely will at the start. Change is very very hard.

    All of this is IMHO. It’s what I see related to what I have been subjected to over the last several years in my own meanderings.

    1. Strazdas said on January 20, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      While i agree with you that Javascript train cannot be stopped, i can only weep for internauts because of it as javascript is horrible, unsafe mess i would never want to touch if i could.

  13. Moonchild said on December 23, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    “Considering that Mozilla is all about choice and giving power to its users,”

    I’m afraid that hasn’t been the case for quite some time now. When was the last time any of your user feedback that critiqued a top-down decision was actually listened to? How is making the extension distribution a walled garden giving power to the users?

    As far as add-ons goes, it’s also important to note that what is so unceremoniously called “dead” add-ons isn’t exactly dead. Many, many users use extensions that have not had a need to be changed because they offer a simple extension of functionality to the web browser that “just works” and doesn’t require extensive maintenance. They may be unmaintained by the original developer, but that doesn’t make them any less functional or desirable.

    WebExtensions are even more of a “pre-approved only” thing. Most current extensions will lose their ability to interact at a low level with the browser and interface (let alone other extensions). The few that are given special treatment by Mozilla will have tailored APIs created just for them to be able to still do what they set out to do, “by the grace of Mozilla”. How is that supporting the development of powerful extensions or a healthy add-on ecosystem? It’s not. It’s performing “whitelisting” on the grandest scale for select partners. How is that empowering users?

    1. Danny said on December 26, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      I am using your browser in Linux and was wondering if there is a way to stop youtube autoplaying html5 video? I don’t think v26 beta 3 is available in Linux. Thanks!

      1. Strazdas said on January 20, 2016 at 5:51 pm

        Does this addon work in linux?

        If so, this does all you want and more.

      2. LimboSlam said on December 28, 2015 at 10:27 pm

        @Danny: I’m a Windows user and so I don’t if all the prefs in about:config would apply, but in Pale Moon v25.0.0+ you need to toggle with media.autoplay.enabled to stop most autoplay attempts (this includes all v26b’s). Now for v26.0.0b4, it’s also media.autoplay.allowscripted to fully stop HTML5 autoplay.

        Though I don’t know if trava90 released a newer beta yet for the Linux build. You might want to contact him or visit our forums for more info:

        Hope this helps. :)

    2. RodsMine said on December 25, 2015 at 2:52 am

      _The few that are given special treatment by Mozilla will have tailored APIs created just for them to be able to still do what they set out to do, “by the grace of Mozilla”._

      “by the grace of Mozilla” or in return for payment – maybe they have a new revenue plan in the works…

    3. Appster said on December 23, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      @Moonchild: You have my inmost gratitude for your great work with Pale Moon. This is Firefox as it should have been! I was a little bit sceptical when Firefox 24 was given EOL status as I thought Pale Moon would not be able to stand a chance as a completely separate fork. Luckily you have proven me wrong.

      I want to ask you a question, though: Are there any plans to develop or release an OS X port of your Software? I maintain some Windows PCs with Pale Moon already, but I would be glad to use it on my personal Mac, too.

      1. LimboSlam said on December 23, 2015 at 10:24 pm

        @Appster: I don’t know the exact answer to your question, but theres thread here if you wanna chime:

  14. Harushi said on December 23, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t understand why many people get angry with Firefox and Mozilla. Mozilla have right to choose what UI for Firefox, and they choosed Australis. Everone say removing XUL is a terrible move, but what I see that is a move to make browser safer. And Mozilla seems still listening to communication to make WebExtensions. I don’t have any problem with Firefox, and I see Firefox is different from Chrome

    1. Strazdas said on January 20, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      I have been using Firefox for 9 years. now i can no longer use it, because the abandoned addons that i keep alive myself are unsigned and therefore forced offline. choosing another browser remains my ONLY choice thanks to firefox decisions. surely you can understand how after 9 years of supporting firefox this feels very dissapointing.

    2. Ben said on December 23, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      > Everone say removing XUL is a terrible move, but what I see that is a move to make browser safer.
      And what little safety do you gain by that, that outweights the giant drawbacks?
      Addons will still be able to read what you enter on a website and send it somewhere.

  15. Ben said on December 23, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Firefox †2016
    You will be missed.

  16. Dante said on December 23, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Oh well. Time to just use Chrome exclusively.

  17. Cygnif said on December 23, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Looks like I’m going to need a new browser then. Firefox gets worse and worse every new version. If Classic Theme Restorer doesn’t work anymore why would I use Firefox, it’s because of this extension i’m still using it. I want to see what search engine is default and seperate from the address bar, also the search engine icon is useful. And I dont want my tabs ontop. Leave these options to your users!!

  18. YUKI "Piro" Hiroshi said on December 23, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Hello, I’m the author of the listed addon Tree Style Tab.

    You mean that we can rebuild Tree Style Tab with the sidebar API. However, I think that you don’t find out what is the essence of TST.

    I believe that TST’s unique value is a natural compatibility for other tab-related addons, and sidebar API based TST loses the value.

    If I rebuild TST using such a sidebar API, it can probably provide tree-like GUI in a sandboxed frame, working instead of Firefox’s native tabs. But, probably other addons can’t cooperate with it, because most addons’ authors think about only their addons and Firefox’s native tabs. Even if new TST became available based on the sidebar API which can’t cooperate with other addons, it’s useless. Moreover, then I’ll receive more and more requests for the sidebared TST, like: Please add the feature provided by another something major tab-related addon, like “copy tab title”!

    On the other hand, current TST changes just the appearance of Firefox’s native tabs, so other tab related addons also work with it seamlessly even if they don’t know TST. If an addon provide a new menuitem “copy tab title” in the context menu on tabs, it is also available even if TST is installed, because TST’s “tree item” is truly Firefox’s native tab. I mean that this is TST’s natural compatibility for other addons. I think this value is never available with isolated addons based on sandboxed sidebar. Like the UNIX strategy, one addon should not include too much features, because one author only can do a few work. Instead, one addon should cooperate with others casually. I think this is why Firefox is loved by many power users.

    The reason, why TST seems unstable and fragile, is that there are too less entry points for addons which work on Firefox’s low level layer. Because we never can insert our custom operations to Firefox’s features (like dragging of tabs, bookmarking of webpages, etc.), we have to replace it entirely or rewrite internal functions. If more stable entry points become available, TST will be more safe, stable, and compatible with other addons.

    Anyway, my conclusion is: I believe that low-level extensibility for addons should be kept, even if new extension APIs become landed. Extensibility based only on isolated APIs will kill addons’ casual cooperation.

    If addons based on new APIs can cooperate with others casually around Firefox’s native features like current TST, I passively agree to the decision of killing low level extensibility for legacy addons. Basically Firefox should be more safe and stable for non-power users – I think so. If new APIs truly can build addons which cooperate with others seamlessly with enough rich entry points, then I’ll have no reason to negate migration from legacy way to the new way – except that it is a hard work.

  19. Bhaijaan said on December 23, 2015 at 11:30 am

    I suspect that no, MoCo providing APIs isn’t going to be enough – there’s just not the focus on the ecosystem. Particularly since this direction doesn’t seem to play well with the idea that browser functionality should be written as extensions (which would help align incentives).

    One option is some form of more-invasive extensions which can be dependencies of standard extensions, and would expose APIs to standard extensions. These more invasive extensions would have higher-bar review processes, but allow communities to share this intrusive code – reducing review requirements for everyone, speeding things up, and limiting the number of authors who’d need to be contacted when compatibility problems arise. For this to work well, the addons system would have to support the dependencies natively – ie not require everyone shipping an extension to ship a copy of the dependency.

    I applaud Mozilla for trying to improve their browser speed (I personally feel
    as though they don’t get enough credit for the improvements already made). But
    trying to make addons work “cross browser” is possibly the dumbest idea I could
    ever imagine. By definition it means that firefox addons can’t access features
    that aren’t available in other browsers addons, which (also be definition) means they
    can’t be better than their counterparts from other browsers. Do you have any
    idea how many of your current consumers are only with you because the addons
    are better. Many of us have desperately hoped that another addon from another
    browser would provide similar functionality so that we could leave firefox, but
    kept coming back to firefox because of the addons. You’re trying to compete with
    chrome by making a chrome copy??? Your current consumers will leave in disgust
    and why on earth would anyone leave chrome to adopt an exact replica. If our
    choices are chrome and chrome-copy then it’s a sad day for all of us.

    For your own survival, please make sure that before you complete this move. The
    web extensions API is done in such a way that vimperator/pentadactyl and similar
    addons remain (in look and feel not in code) completely as they are now (100%).
    You will never bring back chrome users by being chrome and you will lose your
    current user base.

    Firefox is switching to chrome’s model?
    Is performance now more important for Mozilla than user-control, security and privacy?!

    What about Chrome’s bottle neck? The main chrome process can easily be overloaded causing everything to stop. Funnily enough the main process is single core only. It can’t expand to other cores, multi-threaded. It is limited to the speed of a single core. (My observation, reproducible every time)..

    Is Mozilla going to adopt chrome’s issue tracker behavior too?
    Wait 4 years before responding to bugs. Have the audacity to ask to update the sample code.

    What about the infamous memory issue chrome have?
    Firefox already got leaks, now multiply that with a lot of Firefox processes. Not good.
    Should I even mention how big and nasty the plugin-container gets including the infamous gluttonous flash process?

    Why didn’t you mention Adblock Plus? It’s a very important extension too for security and privacy.

    Other important extensions:
    Disable Plugin & Mimetype Enumeration
    Disable Visited Links
    Disable WebRTC
    NoRedirect <- especially this one to block redirect tags (They can't be blocked in chrome)

    Maybe a bit off topic but these are important too for many users including novice users:
    Tab Mix Plus
    Hide BookmarksBar

    Please don't treat users as children and patronize us. Other companies already do like Google, Apple, Microsoft and it is infuriating to say the least.

    Hope that was useful.

    1. Pants said on December 23, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Disable Plugin & Mimetype Enumeration is deprecated – the pref the addon was based on no longer exists
      // user_pref(“plugins.enumerable_names”, “”);

      Disable WebRTC – the IP leak in WebRTC was fixed, but requires a pref
      // 2001a: FF42+ new pref which improves the WebRTC IP Leak issue (as opposed to completely disabling WebRTC)
      // see
      user_pref(“”, true);

      Disable Visited Links – can be done in about:config
      user_pref(“layout.css.visited_links_enabled”, false);

      PS: NoRedirect kicks ass. The rulelist order matters. I use block “.*” source as the last rule, and allow a handful of others (usually from rss feeds) to redirect as allowed above that.

  20. Marvin said on December 23, 2015 at 11:27 am

    – Change every preference, if the user wants to
    – Toggle plugins active/inactive
    – Run small “macro like” Javascript snippets *in chrome context*
    – Execute external applications like other browsers, media players, editors, … just as the user wants/needs to
    – All this placed, in form of buttons, to toolbars, menus, organized in submenus, …

    … and many more.

    I understand that you’ll need a new “framework” as the future “Servo based” Firefox will no longer have XUL and maybe even no XPCOM. But I think I would rather rewrite my Addon as soon as first testing versions of the “new Servo based” browser are available than to write something for some Walled-Garden API. Just allow me to use whatever you will use to run your HTML GUI. I guess there will be some Javascript based API just like XPCOM. Give Addons access to this. This is what makes Firefox different. Users already have a choice if they need a browser with feature-reduced API.

    How about maintaining a a separate developer branch or ‘prototype’ annexe to AMO specifically to allow add-on developers to build proof-of-concept add-ons and thus inform Mozilla’s API development. A sort of community Mozilla Labs, with significant flags and protections (e.g. withhold signing or requiring an add-on or explicit about:config setting to enable installation of and privileged access to XUL and XPCOM) to forewarn end-users that such add-ons are not for general use by the uninitiated.

  21. Dan said on December 23, 2015 at 11:02 am

    They have gone full ape-shit crazy. Burning everything down just so they can be compatible with Chrome, all in a quest to lower their programming overhead and keep more of the 300 million dollars that their ‘nonprofit’ earns per year. It is a damn shame that their primary product gets to suffer this indignity, while their idiotic side projects (FirefoxOS) burned through their slush funds with nothing to show for it.

    Will these changes affect their other projects like TBird and SeaMonkey? I am currently trying out SeaMonkey and while there is a lot of tweaking to make it look and feel like Firefox, it feels like a solid alternative to Fx. Plus, the UI reminds me of Netscape prior to version 6. But why did they have to put the new tab button there? >_<;

    1. Dan said on December 25, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      Finally got Seamonkey to look and act like Firefox, somewhat. It seems to be worth the effort. The great thing about Seamonkey is that it is much more conservative than Firefox. It looks very dated, like something from the 90s, but underneath the chrome is Firefox 42, which is just one version below the current stable release.

      This is what attracted me to try and tune Seamonkey. No offense to Moonchild, I loved using Palemoon, but I am wary of the obsolete codebase under the hood. I thought of installing Firefox ESR based on v38 but it is not straightforward to use ESR over Firefox Stable on Linux Mint.

      The big issue with Seamonkey is the added useless baggage. Since it is a full internet suite, it comes bundled with a mail client (integrated Thunderbird) and an IRC chat client (ChatZilla). This slows launching of the browser a little bit, but I have gotten used to the 1-2 second delay. Also, I notice that it is not as snappy as Firefox. Pages load just a tad slower. And some essential addons for Firefox do not work on Seamonkey, like passifox which I need to integrate with Keepass.

      Despite all these, I am satisfied with Seamonkey and have made it my default browser.

    2. Joker said on December 23, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Both TB and SM aren’t really Mozilla-products anymore.

      1. Dan said on December 23, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        They haven’t spun off TBird yet, same with SeaMonkey. But I get ya. It is only a matter of time till Firefox finds somebody (Apache Foundation?) to offload these products.

        I remember the browser wars ten years ago, when Firefox was triumphantly marching forward to take on IE, even releasing gimmicky TV ads and engaging Firefox users to make home made videos to show their love for it. I even remember that gasbag Asa Dotlzer bashing Opera while their own browser is pretty much stealing many of Opera’s features. Now Firefox/Mozilla is retreating from the fight, struggling to stay relevant in a world where Chrome reigns supreme.

        It is funny and sad really. For the longest time I eschewed Firefox as I’ve used Opera for ten years starting with version 5. Then I adopted Chrome. It is only in the last 2-3 years that I have seriously used Firefox (and derivatives) as my main browser (I used to use Netscape Navigator back in the 90s, and even played around with Mozilla Phoenix 0.5). The golden age of Firefox is behind them by then. I hope they could do something, anything to stay in the fight.

  22. dosentgolf said on December 23, 2015 at 10:59 am

    For those that are nervous about this, Mozilla is listening. On the WebExtensions wiki, they note in the Additional APIs section that they’d like to support Vimperator-type functionality. On the WebExtensions Future wiki they note a bunch of popular addons and APIs that they’d like to add support for (or that WebExtensions does already support), including Tree Style Tabs, NoScript, Vimperator, Tab Mix Plus, and others. They also link to a uservoice page for developer requests.

    One of the goals here is to open up new possibilities for extensions. We want to create the sort of vibrant new community that has formed around Atom packages.

    I side with a lot of the concerns that many users list with deprecating XUL extensions, but Mozilla’s in a tough spot with losing users to Chrome, and trying to find ways to bring in cash. They’re making tough choices like cutting Thunderbird and Firefox OS, and moving to WebExtensions. But they’re doing lots of cool new development like Electrolysis and Servo/Rust. At the very least they have a runway for deprecating old functionality and are making an effort to help developers move to the new API, and take developer and community feedback. In the absolute worst case, projects can be forked (or users can move to a previous fork). That’s not too bad of a worst case if you ask me. Mozilla’s taking chances and making tough decisions, and they’re involving the community to an extent that other organizations simply don’t or can’t.

    Edit: See also: Mozilla employee feedback post on /r/firefox and follow-up, esp. this comment. And this blog post from Moz employee Bill McCloskey.

    1. Roman Podolyan said on December 24, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      Well, if anybody expected that Firefox OS will take off, it’s time to admit that they were wrong. This project shouldn’t be started at all. Any other “web OS” most probably won’t make it too.

    2. Ben said on December 23, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      > but Mozilla’s in a tough spot with losing users to Chrome
      Chrome rose to popularity when they bundled their browser like malware to lots and lots of installers for other programs.
      Firefox has one distinct feature that makes it a lot superior to Chrome: You can customize anything. Now they will remove this, angering every advanced user. The new API can never replace what you can do now, whatever they promise.
      And additionally they break lots and lots of addons, so even normal users are pissed and leave.
      Genius. Exactly the step it needs to gain more popularity…

      > and trying to find ways to bring in cash
      Mozilla is very very rich (for the moment).

      Well maybe in the future we will find out that some of the managers were paid by google to destroy Mozilla ;)

    3. Lestat said on December 23, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      But trying to get users back with trying to offer a similar feature set like Google Chrome is not the anwwer. Also, trying to gain simple users from Chrome with feature removals and an almost non customizable UI these days is not the answer.

      If i wanted to use a browser which i only can customize with add-ons, i would be using Google Chrome. But because i want my features delivered by the browser itself, i have chosen Vivaldi.

      Becoming Chrome similiar is not the answer for Mozilla and the user loss will be even bigger than ever when all is done.

  23. Appster said on December 23, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Electrolysis (e10s) is likely to kill some of the aging add-ons still around here. While I could possibly live with that, as all my add-ons in use are compatible with it, I will jump ship when they finally deprecate XUL. Classic Theme Restorer is a blessing when it comes to the undoing of the most stupid Mozilla changes. However, this add-on will no longer work when they kill off XUL.
    PS: Some fanatics like Mozilla representative Sören Hentzschel will then still use Chromefox even when it has only 3% market share left.

    1. Lestat said on December 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      You know, that is exactly the user base Mozilla wants. Users who do not want to think, tinker around and change the UI in the most possible ways. Customization is against Mozilla’s new vision, that their whole UI has one single widely known and recognized branding identity.

      Firefox should look, feel and function everywhere the same. Customization runs in the opposite end, so it is not desirable anymore for Mozilla, or at least only of minor importance. All for simple users and all for Mozilla’s unhealthy rivalry with Google Chrome.

      1. LimboSlam said on December 28, 2015 at 10:07 pm

        @Appster: Ok, was unsure if you knew of these WIP builds or not, and I completely understand. So please stick to whatever fits you best for your working environment. :)

      2. Appster said on December 28, 2015 at 8:07 pm

        @LimboSlam: I appreciate your willingness to help an Add-On fanatic like me, really. The issue with Pale Moon is that it is Windows and Linux only up until the present date. Putting aside some Betas they have not managed to create something stable for the Mac. I have never tried Nightlies, Aurora or Beta versions or the likes as I have to rely on a working Browser. That is to say if they release something stable I will switch *immediately*.
        As I have already told syklist I will soon “switch” to Firefox 45 ESR, coming from the standard release channel. Luckily the brilliant developers at Mozilla (one may feel the irony) won’t cause major damage until then if everything proceeds as planned. That version is given EOL status as of February 7th, 2017. So I have a little amount of time left during which I can plan further. Depending on the future status of XUL in the respective products Seamonkey or Waterfox might be possibilities, too.

      3. LimboSlam said on December 28, 2015 at 9:04 am

        @Appster: There are some Mac builds here:, though they are a little behind development, but at least theres one available. Also there’s another one currently being developed for Mac OS X, he hasn’t posted any download links yet.

      4. Appster said on December 27, 2015 at 11:34 pm

        @Lestat: Sadly, I cannot switch to Pale Moon as I am a Mac user. I use a lot of Add-Ons, therefore staying on Firefox (ESR) as long as possible is my best option. When XUL is dropped I’ll have to bury most of them for sure, so I am quite mad at Mozilla for a good reason.
        However, at some point in the future I will run out of security updates. Consequently I am currently in search for an alternative.
        The developer of Waterfox has hinted that he would be trying to keep XUL and XPCOM:
        But seeing that Waterfox is just a 64 bit rebuild of Firefox containing some minor tweaks and fixes I am not entirely convinced that he would be able to do that. If he can indeed keep XUL, I will switch over to Waterfox. Some time ago I started to test this browser and its smoothness compared to Firefox is quite impressive. He has also managed to remove the Add-On Signing requirement, even though all of my Add-Ons are signed as of now.
        In case XUL will eventually be dropped in Firefox ESR and Waterfox I’ll have to switch to a Blink-based browser. That one has to be Vivaldi once its final is available. With a broken heart I will be forced to leave the Gecko camp once and for all thanks to Mozilla’s infamous stupidity.
        If I could write a letter to Mozilla it would be like this:

        Dear Mozilla developers,

        what the f*** are you doing? You are messing around with a product once great, hoping that you will be able to regain some market share? Do you believe becoming a Chrome clone will put you back on top? NO! It will destroy everything that made Firefox unique in its days of glory… If I wanted a browser that behaves like Chrome I would have installed Chrome right away!
        I swallowed that Australis abomination, Pocket, Hello and ads!!!! CTR developer Aris was my saviour, he is a thousand times more clever than all of you combined as he is the one who has fixed all of your bad decisions. Get it? CTR, uBlock Origin, Tab Mix Plus and Tree Style Tabs are ingenious Add-Ons and the only reason to use Firefox nowadays. Take those away and see what is left: Only Mozilla’s shit!
        Thanks for ruining something beautiful… I hope you end up like Opera (aka Chropera) when the day you destroy those Add-Ons has come! The death of XUL will be your undoing!

        Best regards

      5. Lestat said on December 24, 2015 at 3:08 pm

        Why not switching instantly over to Vivaldi or Pale Moon (For which you need a backup browser if you decide to use it)? Firefox gets worse, you know that, and you can see it with your own eyes. There is no reason why a power user or advanced user should be forced to stay with Firefox any longer. The longer you stay, the more angry and disappointed you will become, spare yourself the trouble.

        Because: The end result will be anyway the same, even if Mozilla will gimp Webextensions with some few special API which enables it to recreate some Mozilla-chosen high profile add-ons, the whole add-on landscape in future Chrome 2 will be still quite disappointing if compared to the add-on landscape today, where an add-on can change almost everything in the browser. And also, something like userchrome.css is in the worst case not existing anymore because it allows users almost the same amount of customization similar like xul add-ons – and as Mozilla sees customization today as security risk or a risk to make a bad impression to simple users, this ability will be on the kill list for sure too.

        Also, take a look to otter-browser, which – when they have finally QTWebengine – will become a good choice for features loving users too. And as QTWebengine is a a Blink fork (not really Chromium this time for the first time ever) it will be more compatible with bleeding edge features demanding webpages (Pale Moon has really troubles to support all those new CSS3, ES6 and ES7 drafts – no offense but it is sadly the trugh). If you want today a customizable browser with a future, you have to switch to Chromium based browsers, oh what for an irony.

      6. Appster said on December 23, 2015 at 2:41 pm

        @Lestat: You are, of course, right. The morons at Mozilla are heading down the road of destruction, caused by their desire to reocuppy already lost territory, that is Chrome users. Nevertheless, I don’t see why anyone would want to switch back to a crippled Firefox anyways. I, however, have decided not to follow them as long as I can. There are essentially 2 viable options:
        1) If you are a Windows or Linux user, switch to Pale Moon.
        2) Switch to Firefox 45 ESR when it becomes available, thus holding your breath until December 2016 when Firefox 45 ESR is given EOL status. Therewith you can also avoid to face e10s for a time if need be. By December 2016 Firefox 52 ESR will have gone live. I will then decide whether I would want to upgrade or not, which entirely depends on the status of XUL in the product. In case XUL is dead by then, Firefox 45 ESR will be the last Firefox version I use, if not I will be able to use Firefox until early 2018. As Mozilla will certainly have completed their devious plan of Firefox’ destruction by then spring 2018 will be the time when I’ll have to bury my good old Firefox. Sadly (1) is no option for me, as I am on Mac OS X.

        I don’t know what to do next, though switching to Vivaldi in the future is an option for sure. I am completely fed up with Mozilla. CTR enabled me to banish that Australis abomination from Firefox and I also disabled WebRTC and Pocket with it. Man, I was even okay with Add-On Signing and Electrolysis, but enough is enough!

  24. Xibula said on December 23, 2015 at 9:02 am

    i think it will be 2020 and we’ll still discussing webextensions and multiprocess in firefox

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