Crowdfunding for Firefox EPUBReader add-on

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 7, 2017
Updated • Jun 25, 2017
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

The author of EPUBReader launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign recently to finance the migration of the add-on to WebExtensions.

Mozilla plans to discontinue Firefox's add-on system in 2017 to replace it with the up and coming WebExtensions standard.

The organization wants to accomplish a series of goals with the move including making add-ons less dependent on Firefox code (less breaking caused by changes), easier review processes, easier porting from and to other browsers, and full multi-process compatibility.

The downside is that all legacy add-ons will stop working once Mozilla cuts of support for these add-ons in a future Firefox version.

Add-on developers have only two options to move forward at this point in time: spend a considerable amount of time porting their add-ons so that it is provided as a WebExtension, or abandon the add-on.

Some add-on authors, like Quicksilver, have stated already that they will quit add-on development for Firefox. Others have noted that Mozilla's timing is off, and that the fact WebExtensions is pretty much a technology that is still in development, does not help either.

Crowdfunding for Firefox EPUBReader add-on

The author of the EPUBReader add-on for Firefox hopes to keep the add-on alive through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.

EPUBReader is a popular ePub document viewer for Firefox that has roughly 400,000 users at this point in time. The add-on is rated highly, and according to the author in the top 30 of most popular Firefox add-ons.

The add-on needs almost a complete rewrite according to the developer who works as a freelance software developer. The requested sum, €25,000, allows him to work on porting EPUBReader so that it will remain available for Firefox users once Mozilla turns off the legacy add-on system in the web browser.

Firefox announced massive changes to the Firefox Add-on interface. The result will be, that EPUBReader won't work any longer in a few months. To avoid this, it's necessary to rewrite EPUBReader almost completely. As EPUBReader is a very complex Add-on, the effort to do this is high.

I'm working as a freelance software developer. So the fundraiser is run to allow me the full-time work on the needed development.

The crowdfunding campaign is at €15,295 at the time of writing of the goal of €25,000 with 26 more days to go.

Most features that EPUBReader supports right now will also be supported by the WebExtension version. There are some differences though. On the good side, the 250 Megabyte limit for ebooks is lifted, and ebooks are opened in memory which should make them open faster.

The downside is that the new version won't support private libraries. The reason given is that the WebExtensions API does not support the functions needed for that.

The developer hopes to have a release version ready by mid 2017 if the Kickstarter campaign is successful.

Now You: Do you think crowdfunding could become an option for porting Firefox add-ons that would not be ported otherwise?

Crowdfunding for Firefox EPUBReader add-on
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Crowdfunding for Firefox EPUBReader add-on
The author of EPUBReader launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign recently to finance the migration of the add-on to WebExtensions.
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  1. Dave Johnson said on June 26, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    A MUCH better use for the crowdfunded fees would be to fund a campaign to stop programmers from wasting time (and everyone elses CPU cycles) writing ‘virtual machines’ to wrap up sloppy patchwork code. If code was written properly it wouldn’t wreck people’s systems when abused and wouldn’t NEED a ‘simulated computer’ to run inside.

    The side effect would be that the moron-zilla leaders wouldn’t feel pushed into demoting Firefox to Chrome-Lite and would maintain their lovely internal accessibility APIs to allow Firefox to continue to be a world leader in flexibility.

    Spending £xy,000 on GIVING IN to this stupidity is exactly 180 degrees out of alignment with intelligent progress. Better to invest it in coder-time polishing up PaleMoon, or at least in taking the last workable ESR (52 in my view), and documenting its structure in such a way that future exploits (of the slap-happy cotton-wool-world-written code) are easier to patch.

    ESR52 will be the version I’ll keep, until a SW-firewall/worm-spotter combo won’t make up for outdated coverage of new protocols.

    Dave J.

    PS: I LOVE the hardcoded ‘last chance to edit’ delay in this interface – neat intersection of clever coding and accurate assesment of human nature!

  2. Tony said on February 8, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Hi Martin, it’s Quicksaver, not Quicksilver.

  3. Yuliya said on February 7, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    People actually paid for this? Holy f..
    15 352 € | 669 backers
    So on average a user paid 22 EUR? Now I realise many paid 10 and some 25 or 50, but any of these amounts seem quite a lot for a browser addon of which functionality can be achieved with a free program. And there are many free progams to choose from.

    1. Samuel said on February 8, 2017 at 11:36 am

      €10 is not that much considering the extension is something you use for years. You have to account for the value of the item in the eyes of people interested.

      Paying €10 for ensuring that NoScript or uBlock Origin are ported would be worth it even at minimum wage, where I live. (Fortunately NoScript’s port is financed by Mozilla and uBlock is done by Gorhill on his free time)

      I mean, it’s 3 to 4 glasses of wine in a bar.

  4. Kulm said on February 7, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for the reply.

  5. Anonymous Extension Developer said on February 7, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    I’ve made two, which are both 5-star rated. Each took about week and I don’t accept donations. In fact, they’re published anonymously because when I joined the internet the culture was to give without asking for credit – and I’m stubborn. They don’t require much maintenance because they were well written to start with (with Mozilla screw-ups in mind). I’ve also consumed a lot of the the free work of others. Now that I’ve given back, I feel things are pretty even. If I asked for money for my Firefox extensions, I think that would make me a dick.

    It seems to me that this author is asking for a very high hourly rate – presumably enough to quit his job and go into full time extension development while working quite leisurely and applying for other jobs. Is there anything wrong with that? No, the donations are voluntary, and if someone can have something they want for $10 it’s entirely their choice if they chose to make that transaction. I think we need more of this, not less. I just don’t approve of this model being brought to an idea like Firefox. I think that’s a negative step.

    1. Samuel said on February 8, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Crowdfunding is a great solution to get add-ons ported IMO.

      This guy is alone and aiming to finish in 4 to 6 months of full time work. Let’s say 6, and let’s say the sum is cut in half due to various fees and taxes. That’s €2000 a month worst case scenario. The worth of €2000 depends on your country. He seems to be German ? In that case, €2000 after taxes should be around average salary.

      Does anyone know how much of the money will actually reach him, assuming he is German ? (Taxes and stuff) It seems you need to earn €2500 to get an equivalent of €1500 tax free. (that’s some impressive tax, but each country has its own system and the German aren’t exactly poor so it should work out)

      1. Jan said on February 9, 2017 at 11:35 am

        When Germans are talking about tax, we often include also the insurences like rent, health, work and nursing. And if you are a freelancer you have to pay the company part of the insurances too!

        So from the crowdfunding at least of the money goes away for taxes and insurances! But this is just a rough summary.

        There are different statistics but the average income in germany is 35000 euros /per year. But I am not sure about it. For freelancers you have to add the company part for the insurances to that!

  6. Kulm said on February 7, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Would someone that has written or maintains a Firefox extension
    please comment on whether or not the amount sought
    is reasonable? I have no idea.

  7. earthling said on February 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Holy shit! 15k already? Are you kidding me?!
    I’m always astonished when I see how more than willing so many people are to throw their hard earned money at someone online. And for totally stupid things too! An epubreader in the browser? There are countless free epubreader tools already.

    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe!”

    The chutzpah this guy has, man! gorhill developed and maintains two of the absolute best addons without asking for a single penny!

    1. islandtimeonly said on February 18, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Thank You, Earthling!
      I was afraid to get a string of angry responses to said opinion! Furthermore, this “free stuff” they do, up till now, gave them access to free assistance with their projects, and access to countless future job connections via Firefox, either directly, indirectly via ref’s, written and verbal, or simply as ADVERTISEMENT! It’s better than any LICENSED contractor could hope for!

      It’s always “Donations” that are asked for, not “Fees”, which I’ve always found amusing, and which has actually kept me from bothering! Well, that and I’m broke! :p

    2. Samuel said on February 8, 2017 at 11:45 am

      So, do you never spend some time in a bar ? How much have you spent on drinks that you didn’t even particularly want or enjoy ? Compared to an extension that you know you do enjoy and have used and want to keep using for years.

      How many unwanted drinks do you need to have wasted your money on over the years, before you can consider crowdfunding your favorite extension as not infinitely stupid ?

      “The chutzpah this guy has, man! gorhill developed and maintains two of the absolute best addons without asking for a single penny!”

      How much are you paid ? You have quite some chutzpah too, I could get the same work done for half the price in India or Bulgaria. I should align all your salaries and prices to that of Indians or Bulgarians, greedy fuckers.

  8. b said on February 7, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I’ d be happy to support porting add ons for pale moon instead or for developers to create new ones. I really miss privacy badger for instance. they have no intention to develop to palemoon p.t

  9. Anonymous said on February 7, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Why would anyone want to read epubs in the browser?

  10. Dave said on February 7, 2017 at 10:20 am

    To fund this is to support Web Extensions and the demise of the better legacy system. I won’t be supporting this effort. I’m supporting the mutiny.

    1. Harushi said on February 8, 2017 at 2:52 am

      Lead to the death of a nice addon

      1. Dave said on February 8, 2017 at 9:21 pm

        Perhaps, but if no extensions were converted to Web Extensions the whole Web Extensions project would have to be abandoned. All the power is with the developers, they just don’t know it.

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