Firefox will only support WebExtensions by the end of 2017

Mozilla announced a far reaching change coming to the organization's Firefox web browser in late 2017.

The organization plans to cut support of all extension technologies but the rather new WebExtensions when Firefox 57 Stable is released.

Support for WebExtensions was introduced in Firefox 48 Stable, and new capabilities were added in newer releases.

According to the announcement, Firefox 57 will block the loading of any non-WebExtensions add-on automatically.

By the end of 2017, and with the release of Firefox 57, we’ll move to WebExtensions exclusively, and will stop loading any other extension types on desktop.

This means that any add-on not converted to WebExtensions by that time will no longer be available regardless of whether it is already installed in Firefox or discovered on Mozilla's add-ons repository.

Firefox will only support WebExtensions by the end of 2017

firefox webextensions

Firefox 57 will only load the following add-on types:

  • Signed WebExtensions.
  • Signed bootstrapped system add-ons.
  • Language packs.
  • Dictionaries.
  • OpenSearch plugins.
  • Lightweight themes.

You may notice that complete themes are not listed, as are not any legacy add-ons that make the bulk of Firefox's extension offering. Mozilla appears to be working on a theming API however that provides more options to customize Firefox than lightweight themes. It is still too early to tell what it will be capable of, and how it compares to the existing full theme functionality in Firefox that will be deprecated in Firefox 57.

Mozilla plans to stop accepting new extensions that are not WebExtensions in Firefox 53. AMO (Add-ons Mozilla Org) won't sign new SDK, XUL or XPCOM extensions for Firefox desktop with the release of Firefox 53. This has no affect on existing add-ons at this point in time, and won't affect Firefox on Android, Thunderbird, or SeaMonkey extensions.

Firefox 53 is scheduled for release on April 18, 2017, and Firefox 57 for a release on November 28, 2017.

New APIs and capabilities will be introduced throughout the year according to Mozilla to add missing capabilities to the WebExtensions system of Firefox.

Throughout the year we’ll expand the set of APIs available, add capabilities to Firefox that don’t yet exist in other browsers, and put more WebExtensions in front of users.


Firefox users who have legacy add-ons installed in the browser won't be able to use them anymore when Firefox 57 is released. Firefox ESR will run legacy add-ons as the change won't affect the extended support release version right away (the version is at 52.5 at the time of the release of Firefox 57. The earliest option for ESR is when Firefox ESR 59 is released in 2018).

Part of the add-ons that are currently available for Firefox will be ported to WebExtensions by their developers. Another part won't. This does not only include add-ons that are no longer in active development, but also add-ons that cannot be ported because of missing functionality.

Many Chrome extensions will work directly in Firefox however or can be ported relatively easily by their developers.

The core advantage of WebExtensions is that the technology does not depend on the browser. This means that any new change to Firefox's core functionality won't affect WebExtensions add-ons.

Closing Words

The decision marks a major cut that makes the Australis redesign or decisions such as putting Pocket or Hello in Firefox look like minor issues.

This move affects the add-ons that made Firefox. Sure, there are other parts of the browser that appeal to users, but for many, it was Firefox's add-on system that won them over.

While many popular add-ons will be ported to remain available, this cannot be said for all of them let alone the bulk of add-ons that are not popular enough.

Some Firefox users who rely on certain add-ons may migrate away from Firefox to Pale Moon or another third-party browser that shares code with Firefox.

Others might switch to Chrome directly, considering that the one major feature that distinguishes Firefox from Chrome and other browsers is no longer there for the most part.

It is too early to ring the Doomsday bell but if this move tanks, it could very well have disastrous consequences for Mozilla.

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Firefox will only support WebExtensions by the end of 2017
Mozilla plans to cut support of all extension technologies but the rather new WebExtensions when Firefox 57 Stable is released.
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Responses to Firefox will only support WebExtensions by the end of 2017

  1. Fx0 November 24, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    > Others might switch to Chrome directly, considering that the one major feature that distinguishes Firefox from Chrome and other browsers is no longer there for the most part.

    Why should someone switch to Chrome? WebExtension does not mean Chrome extension and Firefox is not limitied to Chrome APIs, even with WebExtensions. So there is no reason to assume that Firefox will not offer more customization options than Chrome. So if customization is important for an user, the user don't have to like the change but then Chrome will not really be an option.

    • Tom Hawack November 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      I totally agree but let us tell that to those who wouldn't. Many users may stop thinking beyond level 1 which is "(some of) my add-ons don't work any longer".

      I believe that switching to another (default) browser requires as always comparing what is lost to what is gained. As far as I'm concerned it is definitely not the coming WebExtensions add-on format (10 months from now) that will decide me to abandon Firefox. Also, we adapt, it's in our nature, we adapt if at least we give ourselves the time, the effort, the will to adapt. We don't divorce because your spouse changed her haircut, do we?!

      • Fixit Man January 27, 2017 at 8:01 am #

        Yes. You're not from America, are you?

      • Thrawn February 1, 2017 at 5:31 am #

        > We don't divorce because your spouse changed her haircut

        Interesting choice of analogy. In the brave new world that Mozilla is designing, "changed her haircut" seems to be about the limit of what extensions are meant to do.

        But since using a browser involves no promises, no contract, no obligations on the part of the end user, it's not really like divorce. It's more like breaking up with a casual girlfriend/boyfriend because s/he changed from being respectful, friendly, and kind, to instead being rude, obsessed with appearances, and standoffish.

    • fdbryant3 November 25, 2016 at 5:12 am #

      Depends on why an extension is keeping people from Chrome. Sure if customization is the selling point maybe Firefox is still the winner. On the other hand if people are like friend and only sticking with Firefox for one extension only (in his case TabMixPlus) if that is no longer an option - well might well make the jump.

      • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

        I don't know that for a fact but I doubt Tab Mix Plus will not be WebExtensions-ready in a year. I'd be surprised if any of the popular add-ons was not ported over.

      • A November 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

        @Parker Lewis
        Tab Mix Plus is a xul extension and can not be ported to WebExtensions.

        WebExtensions still do not offer any APIs to even modify anything on browser ui level (only websites).
        You can not change even tab colors and we are nowhere near talking about changing tab toolbars or tabs appearance.

        So yes, TMP will not be WebExtensions-ready, because it is technically not possible (yet?).

        Anybody still wondering what "\W/eb\E/xtensions" stands for? It is all about \e/xtensions for \w/eb (sites and content), not user interface.

        Mozilla developers had plans to create APIs that allow different/squared tab shapes, vertical tab toolbar appearance, but nothing concrete so far. Browser ui has no priority at all.

        If anybody has hopes for Classic Theme Restorer or similar, well forget it. CTR will not be possible on WebExtension level either.
        It is not about rewriting add-ons or porting add-ons, it is about recreating them on a non-available API-base, that does not allow any ui customization, what is impossible.

    • Marc Klink November 27, 2016 at 2:55 am #

      Or, those people could move to Waterfox, where the author has already made certain some things the users wanted, which Mozilla has removed, are still there.

      I really don't like the word, but it really applies here ----> The idiots who currently run Mozilla must either have a bad case of rectal cranial immersion, or they are secretly working for Google.

      If add-ons are fully removed, with no replacements using Web Extensions, I see a mass exodus, and Mozilla may as well close down.

      • Parker Lewis November 27, 2016 at 9:54 am #

        Rectal cranial immersion ? Sounds like a feat!

      • Old Woman December 20, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

        Mark Klink: I totally agree. I'm already trying to learn the Chrome browser "workings." I spent more than 16 hours with it between yesterday morning and late last night. I like Firefox and Pale Moon even more, but neither browser is "acting right" for the past few weeks, so this is why I spent so much time at Chrome, even before I read this article regarding Firefox's decision on its extensions. I never like Chrome so it was simply something I decided to do because of how Firefox has been acting, and Pale Moon as well, from time to time. I prefer Pale Moon but started with Firefox first. These are the two browsers that I am most familiar with and the two browsers I use almost all the time, after trying so many others. At my age (senior citizen—VERY senior citizen), I am tired of trying to wrestle with learning and re-learning these various software programs, browsers, and etc. I enjoy the internet and I spend a great deal of time on the web but don't want to use the rest of my little time here on Earth constantly re-learning how to use browsers and the other benefits of being able to enjoy my times here.

        I am so very sorry that Firefox has decided to take this sad and seemingly semi-fatal path. I don't think I could ever like another set of Browsers as I do Pale Moon (first) and Firefox (second), but after reading articles posted here, I'm glad of the time I used in trying to set up and learn that difficult Chrome browser (difficult for me, compared to the ease of use of the Pale Moon and Firefox browsers).

        By the way, Is that rectal cranial immersion disease a transmittable disease? Also, is it hopefully, curable? I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.

    • Ugh December 14, 2016 at 6:39 am #

      Why wouldn't people switch to Chrome? Without add-ons, Firefox has no benefits over Chrome whatsoever. It's slower, buggier, and less useful. The XUL add-ons are the only reason people continue to use Firefox. Mozilla is killing Firefox.

  2. ShintoPlasm November 24, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    One thing I don't understand is why Mozilla is forcing the switch to e10s on add-on developers separately from the WebExtension switch. Why should devs be made to rewrite their add-ons once (for e10s) and then, a few months later, rewrite everything again from scratch for WebExtensions. Makes no sense to me why devs should be made to run through two hoops rather than one...

    • Tom Hawack November 24, 2016 at 12:08 pm #

      It's a crucial moment in time I guess, like the elections, where many outcomes combine simultaneously. After we'll be in a quieter Firefox context. I guess the idea is "it has to be done (both e10 and WebExtensions) so sooner it'll be better it"ll be". Of course for the developers this is work and effort in perspective. But most developers accept challenges as they love coding and no doubt IMO serious add-ons will make their way within these new considerations. For those of the developers who will surrender they'll nevertheless be applauded for the (great) work they've achieved. And life will go on. Let's not dramatize.

      • Thrawn January 4, 2017 at 12:04 am #

        > IMO serious add-ons will make their way within these new considerations

        Even if we ignore the fact that many hobbyist devs will simply be left in the dust, the remaining problem is that Mozilla is flatly refusing to give the kind of access that many serious extensions require. They will be impossible by design.

    • Old Woman December 20, 2016 at 8:45 pm #


      I use these two browsers, Firefox and Pale Moon for the exact same reasons you commented on, so when Firefox does its dirty deeds of no longer supporting them in 2017, I will no longer even LOOK at Firefox. I need things to be as easy for me as possible and this is the only reason I'll now be even more serious about learning how to use Chrome's browser. Sadly, I'm not looking forward to starting over with this new browser. I began trying to learn how to use it just to have a stand-by browser during the times Pale Moon and Firefox are acting up. I never intended it to become my go-to browser as my main browser source. I hope Pale Moon doesn't follow suit.

      • Sigh December 21, 2016 at 2:03 am #

        Waterfox will supposedly continue to support XUL after Mozilla kills Firefox. It also supports Jetpack, which Pale Moon no longer supports, so Waterfox is currently the most versatile browser that exists.

  3. Xibula November 24, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    does anyone know waths gonna happen to firefox android?
    it would be able to support extensions with webextensions only?

  4. Dave November 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    I'm not too concerned because some forks of Firefox will still carry the torch for real extensions. Which fork I switch to remains to be seen. It'll probably be WaterFox. I think it might be a relief to get away from Mozilla Corp.

    • anon November 24, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

      WebExtensions are real extensions. You may not like change but this is necessary in this case. If Mozilla didn't do this, they would lose more users and be left behind.

      • Lestat November 24, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

        It is not necessary. This is just necessary in their kind of narrow minded way of thinking to bring a big part of Chrome users over to Firefox. But that will not happen. People loved Firefox because it was able to customize it like no other browser (except Opera perhaps).

        But what Mozilla loves today: simplicity and minimalism (and killing-off powerful customization methods and replacing it against something very much limited), will not save them.

        So far none of Mozilla's actions to bring Firefox closer to how Chrome looks and works has brought them the amount of users to be at least a small more serious-to-take contender to Google Chrome. Deciding against features and choice has limited their user base. This is just more of the same.

        Mozilla was a serious contender as long as they valued native features and choice, but discarding both is doing no one a favor.. except Google with Chrome, they are laughing already that Mozilla still is unable to understand that different programs have different kind of users with different needs.

      • anon November 25, 2016 at 12:55 am #

        The goal is not to attract Chrome users but to move to a platform where browser extensions use the same underlying codebase and are thus intercompatible. That is precisely what's already happening: you can create an extension using common Web languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that works in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge without having to rewrite it for each browser (except when you need to implement a feature that's specific to a certain browser, in which case you use the additional mechanisms in that browser's extensions framework to do that).

      • neal November 25, 2016 at 1:04 am #

        I kinda agree with your sentiment, but it is still painful. I have some extensions that probably be left behind with this change, but many in the past stopped working even before. Every Firefox version change is a like game of Russian roulette, wondering which extension will stop working.

        In contrast I have old Chrome extensions that have worked perfectly despite not being updated for years. I haven't had a Chrome extension not stop working despite version changes.

        Mozilla also stated this in their announcement of web extensions a while back. At the same time this might be the death of Firefox. Many power users will leave b/c many addon developers probably won't even bother even with webextensions and abandon Firefox b/c it offer no real technical benefit to Chrome extensions.

        Probably a too little, too late type of situation. They needed to this years ago when Firefox a lot more influential.

      • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

        You don't appear to have the full picture. The move to WebExtensions isn't about Chrome. If anything, compatibility with Chrome extensions is a nice side benefit. The real reasons have been discussed at leeeeeength with article and comments here:

      • Lestat November 25, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

        It is about Chrome users. This is all Mozilla cares today for. This started with rapid release and the previous major point was Australis.

        Also, Mozilla could have made their extension tech safer on their own while being able to keep complexity which is enabling that deep going customization options, a Firefox 22 was able to do so out of the box.

        Security is always used as an excuse to limit power, to make all more simple, more minimalist. The thing is Google with Chrome made minimalism and simplicity popular, they showed that one can gain tons of users with that concept and Mozilla got too greedy. During the Firefox 20's time, the market share was rather nice they had. But it was not enough for them.

        Since that moment where they decided to restrict function possibility they have been falling and falling and falling.

        Minimalism and simplicity is nice, if you offer the same time a deep going function set for advanced users. Mozilla did offer that during Firefox 20-22.

        And suddenly that should no longer be possible? If Mozilla would not have wasted tons of money to compete with Google with an own OS, own smartphones and more, they could have enough money for still being able to serve both the advanced and not so advanced users.

        It is about money, greed, bad marketing decisions. You can always support 2 user groups, if you only want and have enough motivation to ensure that security is also a big part of the concept. You always can. You only must be motivated to do it.

        Also, sometimes you have to accept that you can't become number one. Number one is and stays Google with Chrome. They have the user numbers, they have the power to lead the way web technology is advancing in the future. Mozilla could have still a large portion of the cake if they would have shown a bit of intelligence instead of allowing it that reason is replaced with a money purse.

        Anyway, no hard feelings, i do not want to see them going down. I wish them best luck, perhaps if they throw everything advanced out, the simple users are coming. Who knows. It could happen. Or perhaps not. One thing for sure, i never will install Firefox again. I never did since Australis and i never will if i have to see how customization, features and choice is treated by them today.

      • Anon-a-moose November 25, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

        For 8-9 years now from roughly just before the time they switched to Google's moronic versioning scheme, Mozilla has made a seemingly unbroken chain of bad decision after bad decision. It started way back when they decided to merge bookmarks with the entire sqlite profile file, rendering bookmark synching across users and operating systems a huge pain in the ass. Now for running on 5-6 years, literally every time I update Firefox something good about the interface or an add-on is fundamentally broken and I have to spend hours searching obscure forums to restore functionality. Over the past years, Nightly Tester Tools's ability to force add-on compatibility has gone from a nice novelty to an absolute necessity. I now have to use an add-on to re-add the customization that drew me to Firefox in the first place ("Classic Theme Restorer"). Will you kill this add-on next, Mozilla?

        Firefox's wealth of useful add-ons have gone from just another great tool in a power user's suite to now its only saving grace. These are the very last things keeping users like myself tied to this browser. Kill enough add-ons and I'll finally have the right reason to switch to a fork and never come back. None of your middle fingers to power users have done anything so far to regain the user share you've lost from Google. This really is the last straw, proceed at your own peril.

  5. vosie November 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    "Some Firefox users who rely on certain add-ons may migrate away from Firefox to Pale Moon or another third-party browser that shares code with Firefox."

    You missed the best option: stay with the latest Firefox 52 ESR forever, and disable updates.

    I can't find the words to stress enough how idiot are the Firefox developers. WebExtensions is good ONLY IF they keep the support for SDK, XUL or XPCOM extensions too. Otherwise it's the destruction of Firefox.

    But I'm sure, Firefox 57 will still support old addons, because the mandatory WebExtensions will be delayed multiple times (just remember the delays of mandatory addon signing and E10S).

    E10S is the only one good thing that Mozilla has done to Firefox in the past 8 years. Rest of their decisions are horrible.

    • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

      Actually I'm rather amazed by Mozilla engineers and the developer community. They really manage to pick the best of the best of routes in situations where (like anything in life) there is no perfect path. I wish native.js was the winning proposal though, because it was this close to being perfect. I hope some people are pushing for it and poking Giorgio Maone because currently it's another proposal that is being implemented because of Andy McKay, which is less good in terms of having your cake and eating it.

  6. Lestat November 24, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    If i would want to use Chrome inspired extension technology, then i would use Chrome.

    Nothing more to be added. Happy that i have been going away from Firefox years earlier, as it was clearly visible that Mozilla has no ideas on their own anymore and just following Google's lead.

    But yeah, i can understand it is more simple to abandon own creations and just jump on the bandwagon someone else created.

    Anyway, the more Mozilla is relying on Google technology base instead of their own creations, the more people will get the opinion that Mozilla has just become another Google look-a-like or work-a-like with just a different engine.

    From time to time i install the old Firefox 22 and remember the great times when Mozilla honored and supported customization, being different, being about options and user choice. They valued multi-culturalism technology wise (alternatives to Chrome based technology)

    Today Mozilla values mono-culturalism technology wise (Chrome based technology), minimalism, simplicity, one-design-fits-everyone. Mozilla is is all about being like Chrome so that Chrome users are switching towards Firefox. Still, Chrome is not the answer. But that is something Mozilla is unable to understand.

    • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

      You got it wrong. What strikes me is how clearly it shows that you are missing a number of key information points that should change your conclusion completely, would you be aware of them.

      Just re-read yourself: All your statement is based on a unidimensional reading that was produced by one single key information point. So of course you go on and conclude what you do.

      See my earlier comment to you that point to an article with comments that have more insight. You can also check project Quantum, which hasn't been addressed in the linked article. (Only indirectly whenever Servo is mentioned)

      Firefox is definitely not Chrome, nor is it going towards Chrome. That conclusion is a mistake not due to stupidity but lack of information.

      • Lestat November 25, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

        1) Australis - Chrome similar UI which has only a limited customization set on board

        2) Webextensions - Chrome similar extension set

        Granted, it is not only Firefox. Opera did the same, Microsoft did the same. In the hope to lure over Chrome users. Also, it did not work out well for both. The thing is you can offer both.... a more feature rich function set for advanced users integrated which you can turn off by default and the standard, simple minimalist concept at start-up. But Mozilla decided against that 2 modes at once and implemented with Australis only the wanted standard of simple users.

        There is nothing wrong to understand. Both are designed to appeal to Chrome users. Most Firefox users want a more customizable UI and more customizable add-ons.

        Whatever the technical aspect may be, it still stays relevant... to get Chrome users over to Firefox.

        And even if that is perhaps not the real final primary goal - Mozilla should ask themselves why it is necessary to cripple the feature set what advanced users demand out of the box, and which was around for a very long time. Users who are angered by that in the past and present have either left or will leave and most likely not coming back.

      • Lestat November 25, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

        What i forgot... The compatibility between browsers... If you have a feature set other browsers do not have, you have an advantage over other products which you can use to keep a certain position and reference on the market.

        But that was called once by some Mozilla guy as anti competitive. So, better to be like the rest, lose all what makes you unique and give people less of a good reason to use your product and only define yourself over performance - speed is nice, but there is something much more which is also of value.

      • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

        I don't consider Australis to be related to WebExtensions. It's not the same reasoning behind those projects, and so we shouldn't correlate them or group them under some kind of unique "ChromeFox" interpretation. It's incorrect IMHO and I developed why extensively in "State of Mozilla Firefox" and in this current article with comments all over the place. (Essentially, Australis is about user experience while WebExtensions is about advancing technology and future proofing the add-on ecosystem)

    • bwsHomeU November 26, 2016 at 6:50 am #

      Lestat, what browser do you use?

      As far as what you say...

      "1) Australis - Chrome similar UI which has only a limited customization set on board"

      The hamburger menu at your far right and the rounded tabs on top? Good grief, that's about where the similarity ends. That being said I installed the Classic Theme Restorer and NO MORE Australis. Been using it for the past two years now under ESR with no complaints. Should support for it ever stop, then I could go back to Australis if I had to. It's not an unbearable GUI to use and there are still plenty of themes and customizations for it.

      "2) WebExtensions - Chrome similar extension set"

      That's not the same as the Chrome Store. Firefox will never just add itself into the Chrome Store. In fact, Firefox users will be able to use Chrome extensions while Chrome users WILL NOT be able to use WebExtensions. Not unless they use Firefox. Pretty much a one-way street.

      Basically you want Firefox to be stuck at Firefox 22 and have some ridiculous, romantic fantasy about that. That's just plain silly. I'm frankly tired of having half my extensions break everytime there's a browser update and I have to go in and see if any updated versions of the add-ons are available. This new system will end that and keep it from happening.

      Not all change is good but I think this one is a good move.

      • Lestat November 26, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

        Using Otter-Browser, Pale-Moon and i also help testing Qutebrowser and Qupzilla.

        Who talks about stuck. But Mozilla should instead of limiting the feature set to be more attractive to simple and Chrome users also try to recreate the same options also in their future vision of Firefox. Which means that the UI should fully be customizable, without limitations. Just for example like it can be done with Vivaldi. For this you are not in need for additional add-ons, this browser shows a browser is fast enough even if it is having a feature rich customization set on board. Granted, Blink is garbage, but the concept of the Vivaldi UI is nice. And the users are also not in need to write css code on their own to make stuff change. It is the same like similar in earlier versions of Firefox. In the most simple way, in the options. In case you do not understand it the correct way... i am speaking about treating both simple users and advanced users equally... with featuring both feature sets in one product without much extra work to make use of that for neither of the groups.

        But it is clearly visible that Mozilla is only interested in bringing some more advanced features back with additional API - and then it is also the job of add-on developers to bring back the perhaps possible customization. While the core program still only will have a more limited option and customization set out of the box.

        Which is a shame for a once real powerful power user browser. Opera developers did similar. I give Mozilla one credit... they will never go as far as Opera with betraying the users with just fully destroying their own work and inserting Blink and actually creating a real Chrome clone. But still, they are not that much different from Mozilla if you look at the long term goal and the target user group shift.

      • Parker Lewis November 26, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

        Talking about Vivaldi's HTML5 UI, Mozilla could implement browser.html in Firefox. At least it's one option, related to Servo, and is indeed an HTML5 UI.

        HTML5 isn't as powerful as XUL to make UI though, upsides and downsides are still being evaluated along with mitigations to downsides, like maybe they could extend HTML5 a bit or something, I don't know.

      • bwsHomeU November 27, 2016 at 1:49 am #

        " Which means that the UI should fully be customizable, without limitations."

        Without limitations? No browser out there is without limitations. There are no absolutes. You are asking for pie-in-the-sky.

        "Just for example like it can be done with Vivaldi."

        You are kidding yourself. As an example...

        Read it all the way down.

        "For this you are not in need for additional add-ons, this browser shows a browser is fast enough even if it is having a feature rich customization set on board."

        I've used Vivaldi and it as just as clunky as Firefox, with fewer options. You want customization as you said earlier, but now you are contradicting yourself with this statement right above. There's only so much you can do with what's built into that browser. Yes, it has more freedoms than Chrome, but not by much. And it heavily relies on the Chrome Store, a place fitting for all those Chrome clones that you despise.

        "And the users are also not in need to write css code on their own to make stuff change."

        Of course not. And neither is Chrome for that matter.

        On the other hand I like having the option to use things like Greasemonkey and Stylish to do what I want to do with it.

        " i am speaking about treating both simple users and advanced users equally... with featuring both feature sets in one product without much extra work to make use of that for neither of the groups."

        Again, you get that with Chrome.

        The rest is just your subjective opinion not even worth debating.

      • Thrawn January 4, 2017 at 12:08 am #

        > I installed the Classic Theme Restorer and NO MORE Australis

        But Mozilla doesn't want you to be able to do that. CTR will not become a WebExtension, because it won't be possible any more to rewrite the browser UI.

  7. The Flash November 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    If you want to continue using your "legacy" extensions, switch to Pale Moon. If you're a developer of a XUL/XPCOM-based extension, then just switch to supporting Pale Moon instead. XUL/XPCOM is far superior to this WebExtensions BS.

    • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

      I kind of worry for Palemoon. What will happen to them when all main browsers are on the performance level of Firefox post-Quantum ? Ten years from now, the web should have adapted to these extremely fast and concurrent browsers, so Palemoon and similar browsers should have trouble running many sites smoothly. They will have to either switch their engine or (doubtful) implement their own version of "Quantum". Which in the case of Palemoon, will break all deep-hooking add-ons. WebExtensions won't break.

      I guess we'll see.

    • bwsHomeU November 26, 2016 at 6:53 am #

      "XUL/XPCOM is far superior to this WebExtensions BS."

      Do you have any proof of this? Please cite.


      Also check out this list and growing...

      • Lestat November 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

        Ask the people of Mozillazine. There are lots of capable guys on board. I wonder when the third guy from Mozilla's PR team is arriving. No offense to both of you, you do a great job, and every company can feel lucky to have such dedicated people on board because it is clearly visible you believe in what you write and you love what you create.

        Still, the vision of your company and your own if we compare it with the user's vision is something completely different.

        I would say the comments say it more than clear.

      • Parker Lewis November 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

        Such a level of misunderstanding between us two! Someone's gotta give us an award or something.

      • Parker Lewis November 26, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

        I'll let Ben Bucksch from the comments in Mozilla's announcement sum up my "vision":
        " I see the need for Rust, Servo and it all. I see the need to transition extension technologies. But, and I’ve told you before again and again, FIRST make sure that your replacement is BETTER than the old tech before you kill the old one. "

        I can tell from experience that you rarely find good global insight in comments to such a shocking announcement. You find insight focused on the very shocking thing at hand. A full picture view is harder to come by - I try to help with that by providing *missing* bits. Missing is the keyword here. That doesn't mean I don't agree that there is a shocking announcement. A clarification I developed further in this comment:

      • bwsHomeU November 27, 2016 at 2:00 am #

        "Ask the people of Mozillazine. There are lots of capable guys on board."

        Actually I was asking The Flash that since he made the statement.

        "I wonder when the third guy from Mozilla's PR team is arriving"

        I don't work for Mozilla. I just think it's the best browser out there for what I need to do. And there's too much FUD being spread about this change that I feel needs to be addressed. That's the only reason I'm here since your mind is already made up.

  8. Max November 24, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    Aleady switched to PaleMoon last year in anticipation of the change.

  9. Etelka November 24, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

    That is sad news :(

    Chrome has caught up with Firefox in terms of security and web standards. It has overtaken Firefox in terms of stability and speed. Firefox has taken several steps backwards in terms of user privacy thanks to some God awful decisions by Mozilla.

    So why would anyone want to use Firefox when it's only remaining advantage is taken away .. ?

    • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

      Trying to counter all your points quickly. I mean quickly for me to write, because it should come out as quite the wall of text :P

      - Chrome has always beaten Firefox in terms of security, unless you use NoScript. (In which case Firefox has always beaten Chrome, at the cost of usability. Default Firefox is still very good though.)

      - Chrome has also always been slightly ahead from all other browsers on web standards, most likely because Google has gigantic amounts of resources. The difference is small though so it shouldn't be an argument to pick one browser over the other. (Chrome is ahead on web standards overall, but it's like an average of sorts)

      - I think Firefox is more stable than Chrome, but I haven't seen Chrome's crash/hang statistics so I can't say for sure. I do know Firefox's though and they're pretty low. Ultimately, which browser is more stable depends on your specific computer setup and I don't think it's easy to generalize, and therefore assess which is better for everyone period.

      - JavaScript performance of Firefox 32-bit on Windows 32/64 bit is mostly better. Firefox 64-bit mostly below. But 64-bit is still a beta of sorts that only 2% of users have, so a fair comparison should be between Chrome 64 and Firefox 32.
      Games and demanding web apps work better on Firefox because of asm.js.
      When it comes to responsiveness and smoothness, Chrome was supposed to be a clear win until e10s came out because of multi-process. This should be re-evaluated with an e10s-enabled Firefox.
      As for connection speed and time to first-draw, I'm not sure, I think connection is similar and first-draw is too, with e10s.
      So overall, Firefox and Chrome should have similar performance levels. Which one works better depends on our specific computers and what we do on the web. (I'd say that only a few people would experience either one performing clearly better than the other.)

      - Firefox is best for privacy by far. It has even started implementing Tor Browser's privacy enhancements, which for the record is based on Firefox ESR and the indisputable leader in terms of privacy. As I keep saying over and over like a broken record Mozilla provides a complete guide to disable all automatic connections it makes by default here:
      Even when you keep defaults, Mozilla uses way more trustworthy practises than Google or Apple or Microsoft when it comes to data collection. In fact, if privacy is a major selling point to you you have no other choice but to use Firefox and tweak it with the guide, then as usual add an adblocker and if you feel brave, NoScript. That would make for a good start. (Tor Browser would of course be better but you can't use Tor all the time)

      - Then you have the Firefox of years 2016-2019, which I would definitely stick around to because as it ramps up it will beat the crap out of all competitors in all domains listed here except a status quo on web standards. Other browsers should catch up at some point, but it's going to be hard for Edge because it's brand new and they would have to restructure it thoroughly. It's going to be hard for Chrome too but a restructuring is overdue, so it may happen. Depends on what their future plans currently are.

      • Thrawn January 4, 2017 at 12:22 am #

        > Chrome has always beaten Firefox in terms of security, unless you use NoScript

        But the proposal made by NoScript's author, in order to allow NoScript to do what it needs to do (ie native.js), was rejected on the grounds of being incompatible with Mozilla's future direction:

        > Google has gigantic amounts of resources

        Well, I'm not sure whether Mozilla considers their extension community to be a development resource, but if so, then they're basically firing most of it. Anyone willing to invest a lot of unpaid time *might* be OK, but all prior tinkering and hobby projects will simply die. Sure, it might be possible to start afresh with such things, but I know I for one would hesitate - "What if this becomes obsolete in six months?" And don't make me laugh by claiming that that will never happen with WebExtensions, when it's already happened recently with Jetpack, and when the whole point of WebExtensions is to do that to XUL. Not much credibility there.

        > I think Firefox is more stable than Chrome

        That would surprise me, when Chrome implements full process-per-tab. And you've admitted that you actually don't know anything about the relative numbers,'re just guessing?

        > Games and demanding web apps work better on Firefox because of asm.js.

        Citation needed. And not just the *ability* to write something that works better, but actual real-world impact.

        > Firefox is best for privacy by far

        A whole lot of people simply don't care about privacy, thus Facebook exists. Those that do care, will use an adblocker. Those, at least, are available for Chrome.

        > the Firefox of years 2016-2019, which I would definitely stick around to

        You haven't listed any concrete reason why upcoming Firefox will outperform competitors in any of these categories. Sure, development is ongoing, but you've already admitted that Google has bigger development resources than Mozilla.

        The one killer feature that Firefox has offered, that Chrome doesn't offer and doesn't want to, is customisability. If you don't like something about the browser, or you want something that not everyone wants, then you can write an extension for it. Except that every extension that has ever been written is now being written off. WebExtensions are a blank slate, that only brave or highly dedicated souls will dare to write on.

        And after this kind of slap in the face - throwing away the XUL platform that they've invested time in - why shouldn't they go elsewhere?

        If an existing extension is tiny and relatively easy to port, then it probably has correspondingly less developer interest. Even if it would be easy, the author may never bother to come back to it.

        If an existing extension is big and complex and represents extensive commitment, then maybe the ability to port it exists, but the slap to the face in throwing away all their past work is huge.

        If you care about extension development, then discarding the tens of thousands of XUL extensions is a mistake. If you don't, then Firefox has no competitive advantage and will assuredly dwindle and die.

  10. Clairvaux November 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    I haven't read any assessment about the proportion of add-ons that will be converted (or that are converted already), nor about the proportion of the better-quality, most popular add-ons that will be ported.

    That's what will make the difference. If the n-th Amazon add-on used by 50 people is not ported, who cares ?

    Also, is there an easy way to know whether a given add-on is a WebExtension or otherwise compatible extension ?

  11. ChromeFox November 24, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    Goodbye Browser Customization/Key Function Control...

    ChromeFox is Real!!!!

  12. MeStupid November 24, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    HELP !!! What are legacy add ons ? Yup, I stupid. But still would like to understand this article. Thank you and have a pleasant Thanksgiving.

    • Martin Brinkmann November 24, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

      Legacy add-ons are all add-ons with the exception of WebExtensions add-ons.

  13. mike November 24, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

    I've often wished Mozilla could update the security of the browser without interfering with the look, or my addons. So it might be a step closer to that ideal by moving to webextensions, but how will they handle the move?

    Most users have extensions and most have several. I'm reluctant to leave behind some old favourites. I keep many xpi files separate from the browser, collected from other configurations. Now they're about to be history, what incentive do I have to upgrade on the pc?

    The question about Android is relevant too as it's no longer just a question of a lone pc here.

  14. Thorky November 24, 2016 at 5:46 pm #

    Mozilla is going to commit suicide. :(

    • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

      Only if people spread incomplete information. When you look at the whole picture, Firefox's future is very bright :)

      People are worrywarts is all. They like their add-ons or complete themes and fear that they will lose them and not be able to find a browsing experience as good as they currently have. They'll get used to it. I know I will. Compared to the gains this is objectively peanuts. What's indeed not peanuts is that people are worrywarts and perception makes reality; so let's spread complete information then, so people can actually be enthusiast and only a little sad that they may have to change a couple things. e.g. I may lose Rikaichan/Rikaisama, which are absolute must add-ons for me. But it's not certain, and even if it does happen, I will find a way to have my cake and eat it. Because Firefox 2016-2019 is a freaking tasty slice of cake, yes it is good sir.

      • Lestat November 25, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

        So, you are happy with only speed and no complex feature set anymore? This is your opinion but not the only one of value.

        If you do not want or like customization and features, fine. But many users want and demand them. It is wrong only to bow down to simple users needs. You are not the only user group which has a saying in how development direction should turn. This is the most arrogant behavior i have read in quite a long time.

      • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

        I do want and like customization and features. I worrywarted when they announced they would remove Tab Groups, and now look, it's an add-on under active development.

        I'm worrywarting about Rikaichan/sama because it is invaluable when browsing Japanese websites. We'll figure something out.

        It's not about you or me. It's actually not even about prioritizing speed or security over customizability. See the post I made below, the one with 3 points and stuff. I hope it could clear out our misunderstanding.

      • Lestat November 26, 2016 at 1:51 am #

        Again, from my point of view there is no misunderstanding.

        Either you are from the Mozilla developer team, or you are like some others some kind of Mozilla ambassador or from the public relations team.

        I realize when someone comes up to me with obvious obfuscation, had that, been there.

        And this was my last comment to that topic, as i am first no Firefox user anymore and i am getting tired to discuss with people who actually seem to believe that a weaker feature set and a more restricted feature set is the only way to ensure the browsers survival.

        User numbers show a different picture, no matter what you or your team want to tell to people.

        Anyway, enjoy life, i am out.

      • Parker Lewis November 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

        The wording I've been using was probably lacking in elegance and nuance. It's just words though, and there is something behind which I dare to think is worth considering. I brought it up since it was absent from your analysis of the situation, i.e. to share, even if the tone came out wrong.

        I'm not obfuscating anything, I'm trying to do the exact opposite.
        I'm not related to Mozilla.
        I'm not among the "people who seem to believe" what you said.
        I don't know what user numbers show regarding features.
        So yes, there is a misunderstanding, and yes we can leave it at that because life is short.

  15. RossN November 24, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

    I'll be keeping the last upcoming version (April?) of Firefox (or Palemoon if it is better) to support the TiddlyWiki I keep on my local file system.

    Not sure what I'll use as my main browser yet. Brave or Vivaldi could be options.

  16. Rocky November 24, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

    It seems to me that the real question is do you trust Mozilla "the organisation" rather than Mozilla Firefox ? If yes then refusing to embrace change will ultimately only lead to isolation and using more and more niche browsers. Nothing stays the same forever particularly in the field of technology.

    If no to trusting Mozilla then what does or doesn't happen to Firefox is not really the issue

  17. Earl November 24, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    Australis was always a minor issue. Just as with any other default theme you could modify it a little or a lot to make Fx look any way you want it to--all with little or no effort. Where Mozilla is heading now... well, I can't really call it Firefox anymore--not once they're through tossing out everything that made Firefox... Firefox.

    • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

      Australis was indeed a minor issue. People who didn't like it had Classic Theme Restorer. Yet have you seen all the fuss there was about it ? There was bitching and moaning all over the place as if blood was raining from the sky.

      It's arguably the same here.

      • Lestat November 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

        Australis was a major issue. It took away customization features which had their right to stay in the core product and Mozilla decided to support simple users mainly with that move.

      • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

        Are there pre-Australis customization features that are not covered by add-ons ?

      • bwsHomeU November 26, 2016 at 7:10 am #

        "Australis was a major issue. It took away customization features which had their right to stay in the core product and Mozilla decided to support simple users mainly with that move."

        Nonsense, you never bothered to look at Classic Theme Restorer, a theme that brought back all the old functions missing when the switch to Australis was made. I too prefer the classic theme and have been using it for the last two years now. FF 45.0 feels just like FF 22

        But your mind seems to already be made up so why are you here?

      • Elafym November 26, 2016 at 7:44 am #

        Sure there are add-ons...
        The problem is precisely this "deal with it and get add-ons" policy Mozilla have had since the release of Firefox 4. It's getting old, and Australis was seen by many -like myself- as its pinacle. It was somehow the last straw that broke the camel's back after years of removal of built-in features and options.
        Plus add Mozilla's arrogant corporate communication back then, claiming it was "the most configurable Firefox ever" while dismissing whoever disagreed by labelling them as part of a "vocal minority".
        You then have the reason why the release of Australis became a major issue, even it wasn't that big a deal to begin with indeed.

      • bwsHomeU November 26, 2016 at 9:29 am #

        "The problem is precisely this "deal with it and get add-ons" policy Mozilla have had since the release of Firefox 4"

        Yeah, I had that problem too. I particularly hated losing the "hide tab bar with one tab" option and thought having just one tab open while the rest of the tab bar was blank, was a stupid waste of space. Especially on small tablets and notebooks where screen space was a a premium. But Classic Theme Restorer brought it back and I've been happy with it, even though I think it's a built in option that should have never have been removed. I had to adjust and accept the fact that if I wanted that functionality to come back, an add-on was what I had to do.

        "It's getting old, and Australis was seen by many -like myself- as its pinacle. It was somehow the last straw that broke the camel's back after years of removal of built-in features and options."

        That was over two years ago. I've gotten over it. Why don't you? What's your alternative? Pale Moon?

        So far Pale Moon has been able to piggy back with the current XUL/XPCOM system, but what happens when Mozilla switches over to WebExtensions and those old extension pages are retired? What will they do then? Expect hundreds of extension developers to suddenly move over to Pale Moon and develop for them? A browser with a minuscule market share that doesn't even show up on the map?

        You could go with one of the Firefox forks but I believe they too will adapt to the WebExtensions model in order to survive. So what are your choices?

      • Lestat November 26, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

        Customization should still be a part of the core program. Firefox was always about power users and Mozilla was rather ignorant and blind to exclude power user features from the browser just to make it fully simple users friendly.

        Why making a huge issue out of something which was no issue at all before? Power users have the right that their features are a part of the core program... Why must advanced users always be happy about cheap solutions while simple users get everything they want?

        Australis... Webextensions... XUL removement... Full themes deprecation... Ths is all done for both... security and because simple users do neither want that on board or need it at all.

        Funny, now we have already 2 from the Mozilla PR fraction here. And still, no matter how hard you try, the facts are still the same.

        Chrome users, simple users, security.... All leads to the goal that advanced users will lose even more tools and toys they had. Without repairing and enhancing your own code you just decided it is more simple to restrict your browser's feature set to one user group only.

        Also, Pale Moon is not the only solution. Otter-Browser, Qutebrowser, Qupzilla and many others are working nice. Perhaps no Gecko based browsers, but that developers show that features and functions and choice is still relevant.

        Also, add-ons are not working that nice as features on board which are handled by the core developers themselves. Also, Parker... bwsHomeU - if you do not realize it, you and your team even manage it to anger developers like Aris because you just have to constantly interfere and sabotage their own creations.

      • Parker Lewis November 26, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

        I agree with your description of the Australis event. I also agree with bwsHomeU's first paragraph from his reply to you. (Where he agreed with you in a way)

        Don't lump people in random categories. I can understand what pissed you off in the tone of my posts, that's my mistake in trying to express what I knew was going to be long to express in as little time as possible. Style was dumped in the process.
        Either way, I was actually not disrespecting you or your understanding of things even though it seemed like it. My goals were to 1/ Provide pieces of information that were missing in the article and comments that could potentially change people's overall outlook and 2/ Show fairness towards Firefox, which truly has an opportunity to push web browsers towards the next generation like it did when it first came out, and like Chrome did when it first came out. i.e. It happened only twice in the history of browsers so far.

        In trying to provide only missing view points to the discussion instead of my full view, I also failed to clearly list the remaining wiggle points concerning the WebExtensions project:
        - Can Native.js be revived ? If not, can Experiments be improved enough that it becomes closer to what Native.js can bring to WE ? Otherwise, WE will indeed limit the ability to innovate or provide niche add-ons in the future. I won't like that, especially when there was a better proposal lying around.
        - What will WE themes be able to do ? I'm guessing Mozilla has browser.html in mind as a possibility, and what they will do could depend on what browser.html allows.
        - End of support for "legacy" add-ons. I can hardly believe it will be Firefox 57. I understand the urgency but it seems like the task has been underestimated a year ago when WE were announced. Most of the unique-to-Firefox API should be laid out by now, if not implemented it should be laid out for developers to rely on. What's the status on this ? How can Mozilla be so confident that this move isn't reckless ?

        All three points can turn bad. The former two can also turn good, the latter is really odd. The add-on ecosystem is as important as Servo and Quantum, it should be treated with the same reverence.

        I cannot be 100% supportive of WebExtensions unless at least the first two points are settled correctly. But the fact remains that we need to future proof the add-on ecosystem so Firefox is able to include all this great technology lying around almost ready.

      • bwsHomeU November 27, 2016 at 2:17 am #

        "Otter-Browser, Qutebrowser, Qupzilla and many others are working nice. Perhaps no Gecko based browsers, but that developers show that features and functions and choice is still relevant."

        These browsers not being tied to a major corporation are a big plus. And that's great but those browsers also rely heavily on beta testing by developers. And again, will they do what Mozilla and Chrome will do as far as add-ons are concerned? What kind of ecosystem do they have? If I want to block ads, can they do it? If I want to block WebRTC, can they do it? If I want something like TabsMixPlus, can they do it? If I want to change the skin, can I do it? Those are just SOME of the examples I can come up with it.

        If I want a limited browser, I guess I can always go back to IE11 if I wanted to.

        The rest of your post I responded to is just repeating what you said elsewhere.

  18. mindwarp November 25, 2016 at 3:57 am #

    Thanks for letting me know what release I'll need to migrate away from Developer Version (only using because of too many extensions that won't work in Beta or Release because of the signing requirement - I use portable version at work, which doesn't come in unbranded flavors for Beta or Release). I hadn't looked at Pale Moon since the game breaking change there that busted too many of my extensions (but was needed on their end because of the difference in the fork, and I agreed with their logic), will need to see how it is now, as well as the current state of other forks and Seamonkey. The locking and dumbing down of Firefox that started in version 4 will finally be complete soon. It's sad - I used to promote Firefox to everyone I know, but since 4 and especially since Australis hit, I now only end up telling people the best workarounds to regain what they lost, none of which fully restore anything and end up adding extra baggage to the browser (since having to install extensions to restore basic features and selling points of Firefox like a working status bar, separate downloads window, and the ability to somewhat customize the browser (full customization hasn't been possible since Australis, sorry, CTR does what it can though) does add extra overhead), and also how to turn off unwanted new features. When at times I would rather use IE instead, that says something (hey, at least it prints correctly, Firefox STILL has problems with that!). We need someone to go back to the original Firefox mentality of having a browser be only a browser, nothing more, with massive flexibility for users to add on anything else they want a browser to do.

    • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

      Firefox is very much a browser. Mozilla's one focus is web standards and how best to architect Firefox so they can be implemented and perform smoothly. The fact that some web standards are "unwanted new features we need to turn off" is not something we can blame Mozilla for, take that to the W3C/IETF (Where Google stands powerful, by the way).

      As for add-ons, they are such a major focus of Mozilla's that they push all big internal changes two years back just so add-on breakage is minimal -- yet they still get bad PR because of it. That's the whole point of WebExtensions, and as a developer you should know it, you can't modify a software's architecture when thousands of third-party apps are hooking deep into it.
      Yet would you deny the benefit of deploying e10s or better yet, Quantum ? WebExtensions is the only way this and more can happen without destroying add-ons over and over and over year after year and getting hated for it.

      The future web will require way better performing browsers, Firefox will lead the way with Servo and protect its add-on ecosystem with WebExtensions coupled with a system such as native.js or Experiments. (I wish it was native.js, but Experiments is getting ahead right now)

      That aside, you're also edging on personal opinion, for which I have nothing to say, you are of course legitimate in not appreciating the new UX principles that came with Australis.

  19. KC1127 November 25, 2016 at 4:02 am #

    I may stop using Firefox by the end of 2017..

  20. buck November 25, 2016 at 5:47 am #

    Pale Moon is out for me, as per the article on the latest version

    > Removed support for add-on SDK extensions (JetPack extensions). JetPack add-ons downloaded from Mozilla's addon site are not compatible anymore with Pale Moon.

    Either stick with 52 ESR, or migrate to a fork that will still support legacy addons

    Given Google's privacy track record, and the fact their entire business model is built on violating your privacy, more chance of me cutting of my own old fella than using Chrome.

  21. John Miller November 25, 2016 at 6:20 am #

    I find it both hilarious that Mozilla believe this change is somehow going to help them. The primary reason people use Firefox is because of the capabilities these addons provide. Once this becomes forced a whole range of addons will become incompatible. Firefox will initially lose so many users.

    While I do believe it's smart to adopt some aspects of the chrome browser, like multi-process functionality and such, Mozilla is attempting to almost clone Googles browser for "compatibility reasons". This means there is no point in using Firefox.

    I'll be switching to the Brave Browser by the end of 2017.

    • bwsHomeU November 26, 2016 at 7:22 am #

      "I'll be switching to the Brave Browser by the end of 2017"

      Why would I want to switch to a browser that allows built-in selected ads to come through? (That's the equivalent of Adblock Plus and their selective ad intrusion.) Or you pay money to keep certain ads out?

      And what makes you think Brave Browser will stick to the old XUL/XPCOM add-on model that you favor?

      At some point, ALL Firefox forks will have to switch over or be left behind in development as web standards change.

  22. pd November 25, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    How To Kill Your Product for Dummies?

    Does an API support table exist that compares the myriad of add-on API flavours Mozilla has toyed with this decade?

    XUL, XPCOM, Jetpack, Personas (light themes), e10s compat, WebExtensions. Who would be an add-on dev?

    The only way this makes sense is in Mozilla's deluded eyes. They want e10s everywhere. They want to continue killing XUL/XPCOM which they've been trying to do most of this decade. At the same time they get to look like good guys amongst their browser vendor colleagues ... everyone wants peer recognition but at what cost? They get to eradicate their failure to replace XUL/XPCOM with Jetpack. They get to try yet again to attract Chrome add-on devs into supporting Firefox as well.

    Last but not least, they get to look like hey're taking the market share trends seriously by adopting the hardnut approach they did with "Great or dead" (Grateful Dead?).

    But really, is it anything more than harrasment of add-on devs which in turn may easily kill the Firefox experience for end users?

    Ssurely the only mesage Mozilla should be sending ATM is Servo, Rust, Servo, Rust ... Why not focus on building a genuinely compelling, and exclusive, Rust/Servo-based add-on engine? If the safe, powerful parallelism of Rust can be harnessed to Firefox's exclusive benefit, there's a competitive advantage there. Are they too focused on WebAssembly instead?

    Scary times.

    next thing you know, they'll finally kill off Firebug for that mediocre-as-buggery 'native' Browser ToolSs. The day that happens, I might as well grate my fingernails on the blackboard trying to make sense of the awful Chrome devtools and thus quit Firefox.

    • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

      " Why not focus on building a genuinely compelling, and exclusive, Rust/Servo-based add-on engine? [...] Are they too focused on WebAssembly instead? "

      They are doing WebAssembly and they are also doing Servo and Rust. But it's not possible to bring in Servo without destroying add-ons compatibility multiple times over. If anything, have you not learned that with e10s ? That's the point of WebExtensions, it's the actual point. Getting Chrome add-ons and a more accessible development environment is a side benefit. The question was, what do we do to free Firefox internals from the shackles of thousands of add-ons, without throwing those precious add-ons away and limiting their ability to innovate in the future ?

      The answer was three parts:

      1/ To free Firefox internals, we shield them with an API. Jetpack had this goal too. It failed at it because it provided a directive that allowed devs to deep-reach within Firefox internals, and everyone unfortunately started relying on it.
      If we want to let Firefox lead the next generation of browsers -- a train we will have to ride no matter what, so might as well lead it -- we have to put up an API that will protect the add-on ecosystem from all those upcoming changes.
      And it just happens that we have one standing there, it has been time tested, it's easy to use, supports a lot of add-ons, and almost all browsers seem to implement it. Should we still build our own thing, or should we rather adopt it ?
      Adopt it, clearly. We won't need as much engineering and we can still add our own bits of API where we see fit and according to our own add-on developers requests. What's the drawback over building our own thing ? Did Tesla re-engineer the wheel ?

      2/ Coding against an API is in itself limiting. We must first ensure that we support use cases for as many of the current extensions as possible. Some add-ons can be ported in a day, some others need an almost complete rewrite. It's tough, so we are going to give them time. Two years. That's how much our add-on ecosystem is worth. We've already pushed major changes years away in the past so it did not cause mayhem within the ecosystem. It's really bad for both parties that we have to do that, especially if we get bad PR on top. With the API, we are also shielding the ecosystem from Firefox's internal changes.

      3/ But how can we get the tremendous advantages of untying Firefox's hands and future-proofing our add-on ecosystem, without undermining an extension's ability to build features we would have never thought of ? There are two proposals, Native.js and Experiments. The former essentially gives full power to add-ons, the limitation is organisational rather than a matter of capability. The other is as I said elsewhere not as good in terms of having your cake and eating it, but is still a middle-ground that aims to enable unexpected add-ons to be born. (Still, if people can pressure Mozilla into implementing native.js instead of Experiments, it would be better, but Experiments is currently winning since the end of September 2016)

      That is most of the decision process going on in a nutshell. If you think it's bad or you could do better I'm all ears. I think it's pretty damn great with native.js, as in almost-no-drawback great. And even though Experiments is less interesting, it's still a middleground and it's not fully defined yet so there's room to improve it. (Or I guess, or hope, that there is room to shift back to native.js, but it's less likely to occur as time passes without people pushing for it in ways that stand out from ambient noise, i.e. people complaining loudly about things they misunderstand, making their judgement inadequate and therefore their voice, ignorable.)

      • Master-Tealc November 25, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

        And we have found the Mozilla employee :)

        Damage control good and nice, but still, an already smelling piece of meat is still smelling, no matter how much you wrap it into Xmas paper.

        No one wants more Chrome similarity. That is not what Firefox should be turning into. You disguise it as security, but you hunger as organization for influence, money and user share.

        Mozilla is really a lost cause.

      • Thrawn January 9, 2017 at 12:14 am #

        > it's not possible to bring in Servo without destroying add-ons compatibility multiple times over. If anything, have you not learned that with e10s ?

        Well, clearly Mozilla hasn't learned anything from the e10s experience, since they're pressing forward with even more "let's do what we want while breaking extensions" strategies. How's that working out for them? Well, it sure isn't winning converts...Firefox is down to something like 10-15% market share.

        > We must first ensure that we support use cases for as many of the current extensions as possible.

        Except that Mozilla doesn't actually want to do that. Anything that involves substantially altering the browser UI is rejected by design.

        > There are two proposals, Native.js and Experiments

        Native.js has been rejected by Mozilla, so when we're discussing the merits of WebExtensions, it's no longer a factor. Indeed, their response is more concerning than anything; the whole concept of giving addons that much power is incompatible with their vision.

    • Lestat November 26, 2016 at 1:46 am #

      Parker, are you in some way related to Mozilla?

      This smells so much like the typical campaign to rescue what is to rescue when you already see your house is burning and in danger of crashing.

      So many power users left because of your decisions and even more will leave because of your decisions. People want Firefox to stay Firefox.

      It is about time that you guys stop living in your ivory tower and listen to users which are still willing to use Firefox. Of course that excludes me, but that does not mean that i would not still care a little bit for the browser.

      • bwsHomeU November 26, 2016 at 7:29 am #

        Lestat, I'm not in any way connected with Mozilla. Just a loyal user for the past 10 years. I too screamed when Australis came out but I found a convenient workaround for that. Parker has given you logical responses that you don't seem to want to hear because your mind is already made up. The real question is why are you here? Do you hope to change Mozilla's process in any way?

        I'm just asking sincere questions, that's all.

      • Parker Lewis November 26, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

        Man... If you read past articles you should at least see that I'm a honest guy, so I would tell if I was related to Mozilla. I know how they work is all. Most of what they do is accessible publicly.

        There are IMO strong global reasons for anyone regardless of browser preferences to wish Mozilla to stand strong. Do we agree on this ? So when I think it is treated unfairly, it is for me public duty to stand up (because I can, not doing so would be dishonourable) and rectify it. Not by lying or misleading with the goal to have Mozilla treated unfairly to its advantage, just have it treated fair and square on its own merits and failings. In this particular event I provided the MISSING points, which you have to ADD to the news to get a more complete picture.
        Someone must have hit the comment piñata, there are comments scattered all over the place. One of mine that you can find by searching for "100% supportive" details this further. There's another one from November 26 up above. >_<

        I wish you would behave as honourably as the real Teal'c. Dismissing thorough argumentation by calling names at someone is like burning the messenger instead of acknowledging the content of his letter :P

  23. Maou November 25, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

    No matter what happens I'll never switch to Chrome or any other closed source browser (even Chromium still spy the user), they won't have my data easily ;)
    Anyway, it's still early to get pitchforks and torches, it's best to wait and see what will happens.

    • Maou November 25, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

      Still, that's sad news,"Down then all" and other awesome extensions that rely on XUL will die...

      • Parker Lewis November 25, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

        Yeah, the remaining thing to discuss is the timescale. WebExtensions have been announced a year ago, so that's two years, except the API still misses many functions which means add-ons don't really have two years to make the move. Some of them will have less than one year which seems downright reckless.

        Still, how long can Mozilla afford to hold back in such a fast evolving landscape ? We lack information. It does seem reckless considering the API is not even ready to sustain a number of use cases such as DownThemAll!'s.

        DownThemAll! author is pretty unhappy about it, he's probably among those who have to do an almost complete rewrite with API functions that do not yet exist so he needs to propose them for implementation in Firefox or implement them himself. Giorgio Maone did just that with NoScript but it took a lot of time -- and he managed to get paid by Mozilla, so that helps.

        Still, I would be surprised that DownThemAll! isn't ported at some point, even if not for Firefox 57. It's too much of a popular add-on. Yet the author is so pissed right now that he could just give up out of spite... I guess it will depend on the income he gets from it.

  24. Anonymous November 25, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

    I have 3 Portableapps folders: 1) Portableapps - essential, 2) Portableapps - occasional, 3) Portableapps - museum. At the end of 2017 I will transfer Firefox from the second to the third.

  25. Dan82 November 25, 2016 at 11:45 pm #

    Unlike so many other people here, I don't necessarily see the disabling of legacy extension support as the one single push that will make me leave the Mozilla camp entirely and switch out the still-default-browser Firefox on my system for another webkit/blink-based alternative. But it is an important consideration nonetheless, because there is a great danger in this step and I fear the people deciding on the roadmaps are either ignorant of it or don't care.

    Over the years, Mozilla has been annoying its independent extension developers so often, that many of them have stopped trying to maintain their code and a growing number have turned their back on the browser entirely. I don't dare count myself among this group of developers, but I did write some pieces of functional and helpful code for personal use or a limited semi-public usage. I speak from years of experience when I say that Mozilla's extension support has been the most draining thing I have ever lived through. The vast majority of extensions that are not maintained by a commercial entity will not earn their creators any income at all unless they are willing to exchange their users' privacy in trade for some profit, but they're still expected to keep coming back to work on feature-complete software again and again.

    But despite all that criticism, Mozilla has to be lauded for having created the greatest extension infrastructure I've ever seen in any piece of software and some of those results can still be used in the browser today. I say greatest, but what I really mean is the huge impact it had on users who have an almost unlimited choice of software that can modify and adjust their browser with in whichever way they like. Chrome came half a decade later and they did it in their customary minimalistic way.

    To a large degree, that's what many people misunderstand. WebExtensions aren't so limited because they're WebExtensions, but because the Chrome/Chromium developers aren't interested in providing additional APIs. Opera was, to my knowledge anyway, the first fork that started working on providing an extended API for their own custom design pieces, such as the Speed Dial or the sidebar, but this new Opera has none of the old spirit so the less said about that browser's feature richness the better.

    Firefox is of course doing the same thing and while I'm very sure that they're going to get farther than any other browser developer out there, I am sadly convinced of the fact that it will not be nearly enough. Instead of working on extra WebExtension APIs and only phasing out the existing extension system once the important job has largely been done, they're starting it from the other end. It boggles the mind. Take away my extension support without even having fully planned (or letting all your independent developers know for that matter) which parts of its functionality you're going to allow under the new extension model? That has the huge potential to piss many people off, while others will no doubt start to think that with so little difference between those various browsers, there's little to keep them loyal to Firefox over any alternative.

  26. jonboy November 26, 2016 at 12:09 am #

    Firefox privacy addons, gone. Don't like certain aspects of the UI, too bad. So tell me again why I should continue using Firefox. These 2 things are ALL it has.

    Lets be real, web-extensions are glorified bookmarks. Go check them out, I had to. Need a canvas fingerprinting blocker: not happening. There are some half-baked setups but they don't work. Half of everything else sends "anonymous" usage statistics. There is even a "blocker" that just records your fingerprint for "research" purposes... its years old and google hasn't removed it.

    Ublock and Umatrix exist, somehow. But good luck finding a user agent switcher that works in iframes or overrides your platform/vendor etc. But web extensions are so easy to write they say... maybe just do it yourself? REALLY?!!

    Mozilla has been floating in the crack pool for way too long. Instead of messing with the API could they fix HW acceleration of video please? On windows if there are any bugs your GPU gets sent to the blacklist. On linux, good luck with any kind of acceleration. Software decoding should be enough for anyone, right? If it actually works, don't worry, we'll be sure to deprecate you in the next version; our flying widgets and UX elements are more important.

    How about a way to completely disable sync? I can do it for hello and pocket but the best I can do here is remove the menus with a script. Are you guys really signing into your browsers like its AOL?

    Anyways, enough ranting. FF is full of issues as it is and instead of working on them, Mozilla is choosing to create more. When this comes down the pipe I think most people will leave and FF will continue on just like Gnome3/unity, etc.

  27. Lestat November 26, 2016 at 2:21 am #

    And... we have our first real prominent victim. Aris with Classic Theme Restorer

    "Now its real, CTR as we know it (and all my other Firefox add-ons), will be discontinued by the end of 2017. We still have no way to change Firefox ui using WebExtensions and all my add-ons are about ui modifications.
    Seems like its almost time to get used to another browser."

    So much that Firefox customization with add-ons will not be in danger!

    • Parker Lewis November 26, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

      Let the dust settle. There *will* be ways to edit the UI, the unknown is whether or not it will be enough. Affected developers can rightfully panic a little with such an odd deadline.

      Firefox customization with add-ons was an argument related to Australis years ago, not the same topic. Firefox customization post-WE may or may not be as good, it depends on how the wiggle points I referred to earlier are settled... My guess is that it won't be as good, but still reasonable. e.g. Do you consider Vivaldi's UI tweak-ability reasonable ?

  28. Zsolt November 26, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    So long Mozilla, it was nice knowing you...

    • bwsHomeU November 27, 2016 at 2:23 am #

      Don't let the door slam you in the ass on the way out...

      • Zsolt November 27, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

        I'm not the one leaving, it's Mozilla. Going down the drain to be more specific...

  29. Nostromov December 2, 2016 at 3:02 am #

    Yes, I can understand the REDUCTION of work - trying to *approve* all Add-ons (probably there's, like, a while floor of people currently working on this @Mozilla), however - ugh, "WebExtensions" is -supposedly- the answer to this?!

    Sure, probably 100s of thousands of people have had their systems hacked, cracked, or WORSE, by installing some crazy-weird Add-on at some point or another, but WTH are WebExtensions supposed to be; we are, now, to put even more TRUST in Mozilla (servers!)?

    ^^ What happens when one of them gets compromised, right!? :-0

    Sorz, has this been talked about already?! (I did NOT check all the comments, first. :))

  30. warren-bank December 4, 2016 at 6:35 am #

    My comments are coming from the perspective of somebody who has written several Firefox (XUL / XPCOM) addons, has watched the roadmap of breaking changes in their addon policies and APIs, has watched the WebExtension API documentation starting when it was first proposed and the FF site listed a collection of links that directly referenced Chrome's API docs, and has lost all loyalty to Mozilla in spite of a sharing a fundamental agreement with FOSS philosophy and values.

    Things that really bother me:

    * that Firefox removed the preference option to allow installing unsigned addons (exceptions: Developer Edition, unbranded releases) and, consequently, all addons (even "unlisted" ones) must be submit to Mozilla for signing. If a company wants to develop a private addon for in-house usage that contains some proprietary algorithms.. Mozilla wants a copy of the source code. Ridiculous!

    * that the WebExtensions API is severely limited. For example, the "old" APIs had classes that were roughly equivalent to the Node.js modules: "fs" (for file system access to read and write files, check file existence and stats, etc), "child_process" (to spawn external programs), ... the list goes on and on. Though I, personally, never bothered with modifying UI chrome.. XUL overlays were simple and powerful; as previous comments discuss, there's currently no proposed way to do the same with the WebExtensions API.

    The vast majority of Firefox addons (including mine) will simply stop working when Firefox 57 is released. Even if the WebExtensions API were expanded to include more functionality, it would still require a complete rewrite for each and every addon. As mentioned in an earlier comment, addons are mostly written and maintained by good-willed individuals who don't receive a dime for their work. When 'e10s' was announced, addon developers read "if your code touches the DOM, you need to make some major changes". Likewise, migrating from XPCOM to WebExtension is a complete rewrite, and an addon developer might think "if I wanted to write my addon using Chrome APIs, I would've written it for Chrome in the first place".

    When the Firefox browser loses the one thing that distinguishes itself from other options.. when it has no addon ecosystem and has to start over from nothing, or even if it could leech Chrome extensions.. what would make a user choose FF over Chrome? Google has been leading the way with new web standards.. doing an excellent job turning the web browser into a platform for running truly powerful applications (SPDY, WebRTC, ...etc). Firefox has made a remarkable effort to keep up, but that's hardly the same thing.

    There's certainly value in having multiple competing open source browsers. On the upside, they coax each other to change and improve. On the downside, when one browser adds a great new feature.. it takes time and effort for this feature to be re-implemented across all other browsers.. and web developers can't really use this feature until it becomes ubiquitous.. and even then there would need to be feature detection to support older browsers. If the situation is a battle between Firefox and Chromium, we're still a lot better off than we were a decade ago when it was a war between Firefox and Internet Explorer. (Not sure what share IE currently has. It's probably still pretty high. But at least MS isn't dragging its feet the way it was.. slowing progress as a whole.. as illustrated by how long HTML4 and ES5 were standard and didn't improve. Now it's an entirely different world.). I just personally don't see any real reason to choose FF over Chromium any more. As both a user and a developer, I find that very disappointing.

  31. warren-bank December 14, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

    follow-up comment..

    I'll sing praise for Firefox (yet again) if they were to make the bold and future-forward decision to add native built-in support for IPFS (the inter-planetary file system).. with URIs that understand the "ipfs://" protocol.

  32. DD-Indeed December 18, 2016 at 8:11 am #

    It's sad to see how Mozilla as a company has sunk from being the dominating web browser to the minority because their bad business decisions and bad work. Yes, I know, nowadays Firefox is nowhere near as good as Chrome or even Edge in terms of performance and bugs. But I still use it, because I've used to it over the years (been using it for 10 years now), there's just something on it that pleases you and the legacy that product has is still there, it feels familiar and easy for people, with enough options of course. But it can be seen, the Firefox is not getting so much love anymore since there's some places that doesn't support it properly anymore.

  33. Xircal December 29, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    Lots of peeps talking about Google Chrome as the only viable alternative to Firefox, but nobody's mentioned Opera. At first glance, it looks to have a similar store of extensions to Firefox and includes a built-in ad blocker together with a free VPN.

    Has anyone tried it?

    • Fixit Man January 27, 2017 at 8:37 am #

      The new Opera IS CHROME past version 12. Uses the same exact engine, etc. Used to be innovative (first browser with tabs, first browser with those silly little boxes with your recently opened sites, etc.) but.. not anymore.
      Classic Opera, sure, but it's not considered a "modern" browser any more.
      The only way you're going to get a viable option to Firefox is to downgrade versions then hold at that version... say 3.6 from a few years ago, or version 24 ESR OR use one that uses old mozilla code that they haven't broken everything, such as SeaMonkey Suite (an older version, preferably) or Waterfox or one of the other forks, that use the same Mozilla engine & code (and again, not the "latest" as Mozilla wants to break those other forks... so the other forks use older, more reliable code for the most part.

  34. forkedFox January 1, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

    This isn't the end of the world, friends! Keep in mind Firefox is open-source and there are plenty of forks! I use pcxFirefox myself and Mozilla hasn't killed off my plugins yet.

  35. fixthefox January 28, 2017 at 11:57 am #

    "Firefox ESR will run legacy add-ons as the change won't affect the extended support release version right away (the version is at 52.5 at the time of the release of Firefox 57. The earliest option for ESR is when Firefox ESR 59 is released in 2018)."
    There will be still a release of ESR 52.x even when ESR 59.1 is out as the old ESR keep geting updates:

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