uBlock Origin WebExtension lands on Firefox AMO
The WebExtension version of the popular content blocker uBlock Origin has landed on Mozilla's official Add-ons website for the Firefox web browser.
A big upcoming shift from legacy add-ons to WebExtensions forces add-on developers to port their legacy add-ons to ensure compatibility with Firefox 57 and newer versions of the browser.
Mozilla plans to cut off legacy support in Firefox 57 Stable which means essentially that add-ons that are not WebExtensions by the time won't work anymore in the web browser.
Legacy add-on developers face three major issues: first that Mozilla is still working on WebExtension APIs, second that WebExtensions will be limited in what developers can do with them when compared to legacy add-ons, and third that it is just a couple of months before the switch happens.
uBlock Origin WebExtension on Firefox AMO
Work on a WebExtension version of uBlock Origin began back in October 2016. The extension was released on GitHub back then which meant that it was not signed at that point in time. Users who were interested in the new version were only able to install it as a temporary add-on. Good for testing, but not really practicable for every day use.
The move to being distributed through Mozilla's official add-on repository takes care of the issue. The WebExtension version of uBlock Origin is available on the development channel on AMO currently.
Firefox users who want to install the extension can do so in the following way:
- Load the official uBlock Origin page on the Mozilla website.
- Scroll down on the page until you find the Development Channel section on it.
- Click on Development Channel to expand it.
- Either click directly on the "add to Firefox" link to install the latest build -- which is the WebExtension version of uBlock Origin", or click on "see complete development channel history" to list previous versions as well.
Note: Existing uBlock Origin users will notice a delay during the process. This is caused by the importing of data from legacy storage to WebExtension storage. The process may take up to five minutes. The legacy storage won't be touched during the process so that it is possible to return to the legacy extension at a later point in time. The WebExtension storage will be deleted however when you uninstall the uBlock Origin WebExtension.
Other things worth noting are:
- The new version is a hybrid extension right now. It will show up as legacy in about:addons.
- script:contains filter do not work.
- cosmetic filters are limited as the browser's user styles cannot be used for that anymore.
- Users who are on the "legacy" dev channel will notice that the "dev channel will cease to work". These users need to install the new version manually it appears.
The publication of the WebExtension version of uBlock Origin on Mozilla AMO marks the next step in the development of the new version of the popular add-on for Firefox. There is work to be done for sure, but Gorhill still has several months before the change hits Firefox.
The first version is less powerful right now than the current legacy add-on version for Firefox. Most Firefox users may want to stick with the legacy add-on version for now because of that.
dont use it untill you really have to which will be when firefox 57 nightly comes out
i already use it (webextension) from the first release on github (https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/releases/tag/1.10.0)
never haved a single problem
But how can you test on Nightly if you’re not willing to make the jump? I want to see what a post 57 world will be like on Firefox as much as possible.
Good to see continued development of uBlock Origin. Essential extension for me. Although it should be noted that the WebExtension version of uBlock Origin has no way to block Google Analytics in about:addons. This is a non-issue for me, since Waterfox has blocked it by default since ver. 54.0.1.
It also underlines just how wrong the Pale Moon team was when they decided NOT to support WebExtensions.
Could you please explain why PM teams decision regarding webextensions is a bad one? I understand that WE are somehow limited compared to current extensions but this actually seems to be in contra with your statement. Thanks in advance
@emdzej: WebExtensions are fine for simple tasks like video downloading, adblocking, HTTPS Everywhere etc. These extensions surely will get get ported, leaving their respective legacy version behind. I doubt that any of the developers concerned would be willing to still maintain a fundamentally different version for Pale Moon and its very small user base! That being said I’m truly one of the most vocal critics of WebExtensions, since they are going to prevent add-ons like Classic Theme Restorer or Tab Mix Plus from developing any further. Still, keep in mind that they are fine for most basic tasks, as mentioned before. The Waterfox developer will maintain an ESR ver. 56 for some while, which is a lot smarter than what the Pale Moon team does. Excluding oneself from a common standard (the WebExtension basic framework will exist in Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Edge…), especially with such a small user base, is not going to work out well for them.
The problem is that uBlockO will carry its development as a WebExtension and no longer as a legacy add-on, and that because Pale Moon does not support WebExtensions… Pale Moon users will be left with the last version of uBlockO legacy. From there on all uBlockO enhancements won’t be available for Pale Moon.
Firefox won’t handle legacy add-ons starting ver. 57
Pale Moon does not support WebExtensions (and I have no information it ever will)
= problematic equation.
Q4-2017 : the time of choices.
About uBlock Origin, in its transition hybrid status : many, many, many thanks to Gorhill, its developer (and I presume his summer holidays will be impacted). I’ll stick on the legacy and as many others I guess will jump to the WebExrension format once left with no choice, hoping and believing hybrid to full WebExtension transition will have then been accomplished.
Appster, Tom Hawack – thanks for explanation.
Indeed. I think that Pale Moon will be a dead project the way it’s going. Who will continue to maintain support for legacy extensions? Developers like Gorhill and others will probally just migrate to WebExtensions and that’s it.
You can delay the “death” of legacy extensions for some time, but the end of support is inevitable. Well, unless you want to use an outdated legacy extension forever. I don’t.
I, for one, like the direction Mozilla is going. From a technical point of view, it’s understandable. At the beginning it will be rough, lots of extension will have no support. But who said that’s the end of it? They intend to add more features to the WebExtensions API in the future, so we’ll have good performance/security and (probally) better extensions than Chrome.
As several other addons important for me announced that they have no time to support WebExtensions, I chose not to support WebExtensions too and switched back from Firefox to Pale Moon 4 days ago.
I don’t care that much about the new features, but I want what I already have to continue to work. I may look later if those WEx have enough power to satisfy me. For now it does not look like that.
I understand what you mean, moreover because i’m far from being a WebExtension fan.
But power (understood as an extension’s action perimeter) is not the only thing to consider when reliability is another, maybe even more important. In other words an extension would be more worthy when doing less but better. Let’s consider uBlockOrigin : what happens if I use Pale Moon which supports uBlockO as it still is, that is as a legacy add-on, once the add-on will be available oly as a Webextension? Either i’ll have to accept uBlockO in its latest legacy version (which means I won’t have the future enhancements) either I’ll have to switch (back) to Firefox. That’s the deal.
Morality : a browser in heaven would be one that handles and legacy add-ons and Webextensions… but heaven ain’t on Earth, right? :)
Worrying about using the uBO WebExtension because of google analytics shows how much less capable a WebExtension is compared to a Legacy Add-On. And just for clarification, Pale Moon has NOT used Google Analytics in about:addons for years, a long time before the release of v54.0.1 so another non-issue for Pale Moon users.
I don’t see the lack of webextensions as being a mistake on Pale Moons part. In five years who cares? We’ll be using quantum computing with embedded AI chips in our bodies by then! ;) Well, maybe not. Anyway… I’m willing to bet money that the last uBO Legacy version will work for years in Pale Moon and do a much, much better job than it does in FF and Chrome. When will Waterfox/FF need something similar to the uBO Extra extension that Chrome uses? A lack of further enhancements? LOL. How many of those future enhancements will be used to bring uBO back on par with where it currently is now? Problem is, the webextension will always come up short. Right now uBO is so mind-boggling capable that a lot of users probably only use a small fraction of it’s capability. Missing future enhancements? pfft
For the foreseeable future I will continue to use PM and all of the outdated legacy add-ons. I will continue to deal with the hassle of a fully customizable user interface and suffer with one of the fastest browser startup times, 2.2 seconds on my hardware. The fastest browser startup on my system is Chrome Beta x64 at 1.95 sec. I also have Vivaldi, FF and Nightly installed. All the browsers are 64 bit except for PM. PM has 17 extensions enabled, all the others have much less. Point is, I do have something to compare to. PM has always sucked in benchmarks but page load times are excellent. And, Pale Moon annoyingly has by far the lowest memory use of any browser that has uBO, Greasemonkey and Stylish or something similar installed. One tab memory use is around 160MB. Two dozen tabs open, 500-600MB. And, with the newest release, HTML5 video works very well, at least for me. Don’t have a clue if it will be around in 5 years much less in 10 but for the next couple years I’m not worried. I’ll be getting security updates and I will still be using Tab Mix Plus, YesScript, Bookmarks menu, Quick Context Search and many other add-ons that will just be a vague memory for most. Would I recommend PM to a FF newbie? Probably not. Only the few are chosen! ;)
Richard Allen wrote,
“I’m willing to bet money that the last uBO Legacy version will work for years in Pale Moon and do a much, much better job than it does in FF and Chrome.”
Well, that’s quite a bet. uBO regularly improves, adding this to that. If I understand you correctly the legacy uBO, even not enhanced by latest protection by its developer, will always be preferable to uBO made WebExtension? I admire your certitude.
“also I still need to take the time to create/demonstrate a real test case of what I see as a theoretical flaw in the API regarding style injection through tabs.insertCSS: the call is asynchronous, thus there is no guarantee the page/frame which is meant to be injected is still present in the target tab — another page/frame may have been loaded meanwhile;”
“uBO/webext has limited access to behind-the-scene network requests, unlike the legacy version which had full access to all behind-the-scene network requests. For example, you won’t be able to see (and block) network requests made by other extensions.”
“As of writing, there is no plan to cease development of the legacy version. Hypothetically, this may change in some future if ever it becomes really non-trivial to keep a working legacy version.”
@Richard Allen, interesting comment of the developer of uBO, indeed.
He (Gorhill) does writes “I still need to take the time to create/demonstrate a real test case” : this doesn’t presume of tomorrows, does it?
More of a scoop as far as I’m concerned is when he writes,
“As of writing, there is no plan to cease development of the legacy version. Hypothetically, this may change in some future if ever it becomes really non-trivial to keep a working legacy version.”
That would mean that gorhill would maintain simultaneously two works of uBO, the one we know, the legacy add-on, AND its Webextension format? In which case should one Firefox add-on and one only make the difference between sticking on Firefox and moving to ‘Pale Moon’ that the argument would be obsolete.
All this information is quietly gathered, participating to the required choice to take place concerning my default browser between now and FFESR52 EOL (Q1/2018). Of course I can install ‘Pale Moon’ right away given it doesn’t share the user’s profile with that of Firefox, contrarily to Waterfox (and Cyberfox as well if I remember correctly). I’m bound to give latest ‘Pale Moon’ a new try after having it been my default browser for some time, and some time ago. One thing is sure : no demagogy, no stubbornness is good advice. i hesitate rather because i’ve tweaked Firefox so deeply that I hesitate to give it less importance, maybe in the way you get attached to an animal you’ve taken care of for years, a sentimental approach in a way! This is darn stupid, I know! But essentially : bringing Pale Moon as closest as possible to my tweaked Firefox means a damn whole lot of work, and I am lazy.
I for one would be perfectly willing to use the current uBO Legacy v1.13.8 for as long as Pale Moon is around even though I had always assumed that there would be a few more versions released until/after FF v57 was out. But it sounds like ‘gorhill’ will continue with the Legacy version for awhile.
I started using FF when v3 was released and then when Pale Moon was released one of the two have always been my primary. Some of the about:config entries have been flipped in PM so it can be a pain to quickly compare the two using the pref.js files. I actually decided, after backing up my profile, to update from FF ESR to v54 because of the performance I’ve been seeing in Nightly. I’m thinking with v57, even with the disappointing loss of so many add-ons, that the performance will make up for some of it. We’ll see.
For those of us that can’t leave things alone, moving to another browser, especially a FF fork, can be a lot of work. I would be seriously bummed if I, for some bizarre reason, had to start with a clean install of Pale Moon or FF. The Horror! :(
I would be willing to share a cleaned up version of my PM profile folder if you can get Martin to give you my email, I’m fine with that. I use most of the security/privacy settings but performance is a huge priority for me. I do use dns prefetch, 100MB cache, and spdy/http2. Those are probably the big ones I don’t disable. I’m willing to give up some privacy if the performance is worth it and not using http2 is kind of a big deal now that so many websites are moving to https. Just my opinion. I’m so spoiled that with a more than one second page load time I’m already making faces and asking WTH? Seriously. Easy to see what the impact is with spdy/http2 enabled or not. https://www.httpvshttps.com/
@Richard Allen, it’s not that installing Pale Moon would present an obstacle for me in my capacity to tweak it and bring it close to what I’ve made out of Firefox, it’s only that it’ll represent time and work, by the way maybe less than I imagine because adjusting tweaks never takes as long as imagining them in the first place (in the same way as returning from B to A always seems shorter than discovering A to B).
I appreciate your offer to share fundamentals of your Pale Moon profile. I do appreciate sharing but rather once I’ve initiated the work by myself, from scratch. I’m one of those guys who wants to do things all by himself, not only for ego or paranoia reasons but mainly because if I don’t do the task by myself I know I’m bound to have settings of which I ignore the what and why.
I’ve ran Pale Moon in the past. I’m aware of its differences with Firefox, of the impact on the user.js file, hence on the necessity to filter a tool such as Pants’ Ghacks user.js file since it is aimed at Firefox and that Pale Moon has several of those settings removed (mainly privacy ones!) and has added several of its own. I know there is even a dedicated Pale Moon settings’ add-on (forgot the name) which, I recall, was a haven of Pale Moon tailored under-the-hood preferences.
It won’t be a problem, it’s more getting myself decided, as I’m always short of time. But I’m curious as well, and re-discovering Pale Moon, now with a deeper gap to Firefox than way back then, will most likely trigger the spirit of adventure, best medicine for laziness :) — I appreciate your help.
–Although it should be noted that the WebExtension version of uBlock Origin has no way to block Google Analytics in about:addons
There’s no reason to think that won’t happen at a later date.
For the time being, there are now plugins in the Chrome store that effectively block WebRTC. If need be, people can use one of those.
What about ESR users? I recently switched to ESR52 FireFox, so I have/want to use the regular uB0 instead of web extension version. I wonder what will happen. Will I be switched to the WebExtension version or not. And will the regular version still be maintained?
FF52ESR here as well. Once uBlockO will have its WebExtension format considered as accomplished, finished, signed and available, I have no reason to believe that the legacy version would continue to be developed in parallel : yes, all users will have uBlockO updated, whatever the official update format is. Unless to systematically block the uBO update.
You know, WebExtensions are often criticized because of the limit they impose to an add-on’s power but once they work without alienating the add-on they work better and faster than their legacy counterpart. It’s all a problem of APIs, as a budget is in a company’s development. Problem is : some add-ons will have to be alienated or disapear, some add-ons just won’t make it, or at least are considered now, given the available APIs, to not be able to make it as their Webextension equivalent. The budget here is the API stock.
My concern is that FireFox 52 may not have proper WebExtensions support. Not mature enough at least. I know WE is targeted for v57, and currently still in early stages.
@Yuliya, here with Firefox ESR 52.2.1 I use already several WebExtensions with no problems. ESR supports WebExtensions BUT some WebExtensions available at AMO requires Firefox > 52 because they call an API which is not managed by the 52 branch.
Example : the HistoryBlock Firefox Webextension version 2.0 which requires Firefox 55 and later. I had emailed to the developer who answered this :
“[…]Specifically, two WebExtension API calls will be added in FF55 on which HistoryBlock relies,[…]
I guess that is related to your wondering and, indeed, one may wonder if, i.e. uBlockO once available as a WebExtension, will or will not require a FF > 52 (that concerns 52ESR). Good thing you brought this in, I better understand your concern. I have no answer at this time. But your question is a true topic.
So pretty much the extension is losing things like cosmetic filters and blocking GA in about: pages…
I think that both things should coexist in Mozilla’s browser (legacy+WebExtensions) for a long while instead of removing legacy in version 57.
I’m a user of ClassicThemeRestorer and it will be dead after this… Also, Stylish browser themes are also dead. So users will be forced to use the same UI like in Chrome.
And Pale Moon is not really wrong dropping WebExtensions since it’s far more limited than legacy. But the future is unknown, maybe WebExtensions gets more useful features.
–And Pale Moon is not really wrong dropping WebExtensions since it’s far more limited than legacy.
Pale Moon is already limited when it comes to addons. Just browse Mozilla’s addon websites using Pale Moon and see how many addons are greyed out and not compatible with Pale Moon already. You didn’t need WebExtensions to kill that goose.
You would also be very surprised what extensions do not work with firefox too.Have you tried installing a complete theme in firefox.?.A good 80% of them simply dont work and are greyed out so your critique of pale moon based purely on extension ability is rather unfounded.
Why all the fuss about Legacy and Web Extension addons ?
To quote you, Martin:
1. Mozilla is still working on WebExtension APIs.
2. WebExtensions will be limited in what developers can do with them when compared to legacy addons.
3. It is just a couple of months before the switch happens.
There is a very simple solution and that is to download and install FF 52.2.1 ESR. Why do this?
Legacy addons and FF52.2 ESR are stable and they work. Who can predict if WebEx addons and FF57 will ?
I have been on the developer version of the extension for years now so I am glad to hear that it won’t update to the WE version automatically because I prefer to wait for a couple of months to give the dev time so he can hopefully fix those known issues.
First with FF 54 I tried to install the v1.38 directly from Github, I have had an error parsing xml with NoScript, I was forced to download it. Now if I install it from the dev channel it works, but I have bugs with other extensions, Clean Uninstall or Flagfox. I will probably stay with the 1.38 until FF57 is out.
These two “script:contains filter do not work.” and “cosmetic filters are limited as the browser’s user styles cannot be used for that anymore.” are deal breakers for me. I know it is not Raymond Hill’s fault, but Mozilla’s and I appreciate Raymond’s hard work on uBlock Origin. Let’s see how things will evolve in the next few months, but given the current situation, I will delay updating Firefox as much as I can.
I have updated the “Release notes” to address some of the points in the comments here.
Thanks for the info!
I simply refuse to browse the internet with no adblocking and ublock is my favorite extensions and use it whenever I can, wherever I can’t I make-do with the best I can find.
It may sound retarded and messed up, but the first thing I do when I install a browser is to go to the webpage for extensions and install it so I don’t taint my disk with ads and facebook for that matter. xD
I guess, I hope you are referring to ‘uBlock Origin’, We’ve had recently a big debate on uBlock and ‘uBlock Origin’ here at [https://www.ghacks.net/2017/07/15/ublock-origin-official-repository-and-downloads/] :)
How not to agree with you, adblocking being indispensable and uBlock(Origin!) being the best available solution (besides maybe uMatrix crafted by the same developer of uBlockORIGIN!).
Yet, some users don’t care at all about ads and tracking. Concerning ads they happen to allow many sites to exist. That’s what I always say : given the distribution of pro and anti Web advertisement, given the planetary scale, why does the ad business spend so much energy to defeat adblocking when they could operate a seduction policy which would bring them much more in return than an open battle?
Warum, sag, warum?! (an old German song of the seventies, or sixties was it, meaning “Why, say, why!)
Well, but because of the many WebExt limitations the WebExt version of uBlock Origin hasn’t got the full feature set. If you rely on features like inline script blocking for example … well, I have bad news for you. ;-)
It must be some ninja smart move I don’t see for Mozilla to make the own browser obsolete and adopt the same limitations chrome has. Has google paid them to kill their own browser brand? :-D
Waterfox or Palemoon then … if they stop developing these browsers welcome to the world of edge/chrome/safari. Opera also seems to try hard to kill the last remnants of an userbase they have.
I personally am not going to give power to extension developers as to which browser i should use.I hear a lot of this “im ditching so and so browser if ubo does not work”..This right off the bat is giving developers a certain “god” complex and its users are being manipulated at will as if the user “needs” or “depends” on so-called extensions.The developers are fully aware of this dependency and its an age old business tactic.In the words of randolph hurst “give the people what they want.”.Once the demand is high enough and the dependancy level is high then the developers become gods and the user a mere tool.
I use both Pale Moon and uBo. I’m glad that Gorhill plans, at least for the time being, to continue supporting the legacy (so-called) version. If he ever does stop that, there’s always Adblock Latitude or ABPrime.
Perfect! Now all of my extensions (3) are Web-ext. I’m using 55 beta 10 currently and the only slight problem I see, when I open the browser to the blank page, the throbber keeps spinning as if Firefox’ is busy in the background; but it’s not. Strange. If I point to bookmarks bar and back, it disappears. As if at the beginning Firefox doesn’t refresh the spinning circle of the mouse.
What’s happening with the Firefox 52 ESR add-ons in November? Will the current Firefox 52 ESR add-ons still work on that date (when version 57 is released) or will they stop working?
I’m sure a few businesses like my own who are still on Firefox 52 ESR would like to know!
I’m also confused when Firefox 52 ESR will end. Is it September 2017, as stated on a Mozilla web page in December 2016 / January 2017, or 26 June 2018, as shown on their Rapid Release Calendar? They also said on their Bugzilla.Mozilla pages that it would be early 2018 after giving users a three month notice. I’m confused!!
To the people who want to update uBlock Origin to the latest version 1.14.4 you will go to this page https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/releases/
Click on the “uBlock0.firefox.xpi” in the downloads section, it will prompt you to download the extension. Now I thought it would install a new ubo in addons, so I disabled the extension prior to installing as a safety measure, however that proved not to be the case. It will overwrite your current version, so just install it through github! As a matter of fact, the PM extensions page points to that very page.
The developer has expressed interest to continue to support Pale Moon, however as it stands right now he doesn’t have the time to do so. There are just too much going on with the firefox and chrome and Chromium projects as it is, so if there is a dev out there or a team of devs who wants to support PM, go right ahead. You need to sort through Pale Moon specific issues and do the things expected from an extension developer. You need the time and patience for it. I hope someone does step up, and is up for the task.
There is a thread on the Pale Moon forums, just search for “ublock origin”, it’s called “Ublock origin going web ext”.