Firefox add-on Adblock Plus released as a WebExtension

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 6, 2017
Updated • Nov 6, 2017
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Adblock Plus, the -- by far -- most popular browser extension for the Mozilla Firefox web browser, has been released as a WebExtension.

Firefox 57 will be released in eight days to the stable channel. The new version of the Firefox web browser breaks the traditional add-on system by supporting WebExtensions exclusively.

Any add-on that is not a WebExtension by then won't install in the browser anymore by then, or deactivated if a legacy add-on is installed already.

Mozilla will move legacy add-ons to a new section on about:addons. You find all disabled legacy add-ons listed there, and an option to find a replacement for each add-on. The search redirects to Mozilla's main AMO website and is a hit and miss kind of experience. One reason for that is that there are legacy add-ons for which no comparable WebExtension extension exists.

Adblock Plus WebExtension

adblock plus 3 webextensions firefox

Adblock Plus is the most popular Firefox add-on. It has more than 14 million users according to Mozilla; the second placed add-on, uBlock Origin, has 4.1 million users.

It would be disastrous for Mozilla but also for the company behind Adblock Plus if a WebExtension version would not be available before the release of Firefox 57.

Mozilla would be painted in a bad light if the most popular extension for Firefox would not function anymore in Firefox 57; and the developer of Adblock Plus would likely lose a huge part of the user base, as users would migrate to other content blocking solutions for the Firefox web browser.

The release of Adblock Plus 3.0 for the Firefox web browser ensures that none of this will happen. The browser extension is based on WebExtensions which means that it is fully compatible with Firefox 57 and newer versions of the web browser.

Adblock Plus 3.0 introduces new functionality, and some regressions and issues as well. As far as positive things are concerned:

  • Performance issues in Adblock Plus 2.9 will no longer be an issue when Firefox 57 is released.
  • The element hiding emulation syntax is supported by the Firefox extension.
  • Firefox users may block WebRTC connections.

The following issues and changes are introduced:

  • The icon displays the number of blocked ads. The tooltip is replaced by this. Users may disable this in the options.
  • The toolbar icon opens a popup, and no longer a native menu.
  • The options page is a web page and not a native dialog anymore; it lacks functionality which the development team plans to add in future versions.
  • Issue reporter will collect fewer data points and won't flag common issues locally anymore.
  • Block element offers less assistance, and may not work under certain circumstances.

Closing words

The release of the WebExtensions version of Adblock Plus adds another popular -- the most popular in this case -- add-on to the list of compatible browser extensions. That's good news for the 14 million users of the browser extensions, and also for Mozilla and the company.

Now You: What's your take on Adblock Plus?

Firefox add-on Adblock Plus released as a WebExtension
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Firefox add-on Adblock Plus released as a WebExtension
Adblock Plus, the -- by far -- most popular browser extension for the Mozilla Firefox web browser, has been released as a WebExtension.
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  1. Anonymous said on November 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    I didn’t see it mentioned, but they removed the Unblock Page option and I don’t see a way to add it back.

  2. Anonymous said on November 8, 2017 at 1:01 am

    Does uBO now automatically add the necessary moz-extension:// exceptions (persistent-storage, indexedDB and WebExtensions-unlimitedStorage) to the permissions.sqlite file?

    Last article,, mentioned uBO did not and it had to be done manually but other webextensions like ABP and NoScript just add those exceptions to permissions.sqlite automatically.

  3. Anonymous said on November 8, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Any chance someone can create an idiot proof guide of migrating from ABP to uBlock Origin?

    ideally I would like to be able to uninstall ABP, install uBlock Origin, import my filter lists (Fanboy Ultimate, Fanboy Anti-thirdparty Fonts, Malware Domains) my custom filter list and have uBlock Origin function at least as well as what ABP would with those and the acceptable ads option unchecked.

    I don’t know why but without some simple how to in order to accomplish that, uBlock Origin just intimidates me. I am sure it is better but I just see myself messing something up trying to get the above set up.

    Does uBlock Origin offer something like ABP Blockable Items log in order to make sure filters are blocking everything, troubleshoot any problematic ones and to easily create new ones? I see a mention of something called Logger. Does that work like ABP Blockable Items log? Can it be left open on Youtube in a separete window so it doesn’t block Youtube fullscreen?

    Can you edit the filter lists with uBlock Origin to unselect individual filters like unwanted whitelisted or blocked items?

  4. jern said on November 7, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I just visited the ABP forum. I think it’s fair to say there are lots of PO’ed users (the term “dumbed down” is being thrown around). ABP used to be EASY to use. Now, just to see the blockable items on a page you have to press F12, click on the ABP tab and click F5 to reload the page. It works but it’s a pita. If you use a Mac you have to take an extra step by going to OS preferences and resetting the keyboard to use the function keys like function keys (instead of using them for setting sound levels, screen brightness, etc.) I hope this doesn’t kill ABP – knowledgeable computer users can be quick to say goodbye and slow to forgive.

  5. akg said on November 7, 2017 at 4:44 am

    i prefer ublock over abp,just waiting for no script webext release as it is my favorite add on.

    1. Jody Thornton said on November 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Oh I have to admit, uBlock Origin works worlds around AdBlock Plus

  6. boris said on November 7, 2017 at 1:30 am

    Does not work with latest Cyberfox. Had to go back to 2.9 version.

  7. Clairvaux said on November 7, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Just 8 days before the deadline… that sure was a close call.

  8. Anonymous said on November 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Of course Adblock Plus is released as a WebExtension, who could have doubted? Wherever someone can make cash immorally you’ll always find someone don’t worry.

    1. Anonymous said on November 7, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Having read some of your previous comments on Ghacks, I really really think that you are absolutely not well placed to know what is immoral or not Mister Clairvaux.

      1. Anonymous said on November 7, 2017 at 1:06 pm

        Clairvaux was born
        5 – Millions of people will read his book.

      2. Clairvaux said on November 7, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        Is that so, Mister Anonymous ?

        So, in the first place you disparage people just trying to make a living, such as, by implication, the author of this blog, who relies heavily on advertising in order to be able to host your morally posturing comments (because, obviously, you don’t need money to buy your food : I suppose you steal it ?) ;

        Then, you libel me by alluding to some unspecified comments I made about unspecified subjects in other, unspecified threads of this blog, which supposedly were not up to par with your exacting moral standards (which include forcing people to work for you for free — that’s called slavery, in my book) ;

        And finally, you propel all that drivel under an anonymous handle — you don’t even have the guts to adopt an assumed name in order to slander people ;

        And you pretend to be a judge of morality ?

    2. Jody Thornton said on November 6, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      Why is making a WebExtension immoral?

      1. gorhill said on November 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm

        > It also definitely does not list all scripts and third party network access in the logger

        It definitely does list everything which goes through it webRequest listeners. If you have a case, please provide repro steps. uBO has been even the only one since its inception to even reports network requests made outside page contexts. No network request which is within uBO’s view are left unreported.

      2. Anonymous said on November 7, 2017 at 10:06 am

        And with this WebExtension (crapware?) it is highly recommended in content to tick “Do not disturb me” with your own Web Push advertising, thanks.

      3. Clairvaux said on November 7, 2017 at 9:18 am

        There’s nothing immoral in trying to find a middle ground which might allow sites such as this one to earn money, while preventing ads from getting invasive and obnoxious. (Hint : earning money is a good thing, not something immoral.)

        What’s immoral is to have a “gimme, gimme” mentality, in which one feels entitled to have anything for free, berates other people who try to make money for a living, while of course benefitting from an inflow of cash oneself through various means (mummy’s handouts, a state allowance, whatever), since of course you need to generate some revenue in order to simply survive.

        That’s immoral.

      4. Anonymous said on November 7, 2017 at 9:05 am

        This is what I call “immoral”, but many call that “racket” also:

        1 – First you fork an opensource abandonware under free licence.
        2 – Secondly you make few improvements and you ask to your friends to put it featured (probably the same friends who constantly remove bad comments on AMO).
        3 – Then after the expected success you ask to advertisers to pay to be in your white list.

        uBlock Origin was born
        4 – Millions of people are laughing (like me).

      5. boris said on November 7, 2017 at 7:12 am

        Are they whitelisting with acceptable ads option or they are putting paid whitelisting in easylist?

      6. Anonymous said on November 7, 2017 at 3:50 am

        See what your immoral so-called “adblocker” is doing:

      7. Mola Ram, CEO Microsoft said on November 7, 2017 at 3:11 am

        He means as long as there is money to be made from whitelisting ads some deceptive adblocker will take the place of Adblock if it was not updated. uBlock seems to be trustworthy, hopefully it won’t go the way of Adblock. The only complaint about uBlock I have is the documentation is near incomprehensible for the more advanced functions like inline script blocking of redirects, mouse-over’s, etc. It also definitely does not list all scripts and third party network access in the logger, have to use web dev tools to track down things launched by scripts, or even find the hidden script that was launching the third party scripts! The ad spammers are getting sophisticated.

    3. Ron said on November 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      I switched away from ABP when they came out with the concept of “acceptable ads.” uBlock Origin is way better.

  9. john said on November 6, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Adblock Plus in 2017 LUL

  10. Bigeyes said on November 6, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    I am sure there will an outcry after people find out what happened. Not everybody stays informed about what’s going on in the Mozilla world. In my opinion Mozilla should have left the decision to the user what to use or not. But of course this can’t be because corporations in general try to tell us what to do and what is good for us (them).

  11. AC said on November 6, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Switched to uBlock Origin sometime back and noticed some really remarkable performance improvements but really miss some of the robust features of Adblock Plus. Anyone notice any change in memory usage in this new version worth switching back to from uBlock?

    1. Ted said on November 7, 2017 at 10:10 am

      What robust features does Adblock Plus have in comparison to uBlock Origin?

  12. Waka said on November 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I using Firefox Beta as main browser on PC and phone, and lately i wondering could be here possibility to migrate all settings to stable release? Or I have to transfer settings of browser and extensions manually?

    1. Richard Allen said on November 6, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      Personally, I would wait one week, actually a week from tomorrow (2017-11-14) which is when v57 will be released (subject to change of course), to move to the stable release from Beta. I would Not downgrade to the ‘current’ stable release, there are too many differences from v57 to v56. Supposedly, Beta will update to v58 on 2017-11-13, so… I would not update the Beta after next Sunday unless there is a release candidate for v57 released afterwards and even then I wouldn’t worry about updating to the newest rc build if what you are using seems stable. I will sometimes update my current stable version to a release candidate and then to the new stable release and seldom experience any problems but ‘stuff’ happens. ;)

      I would do the same thing on mobile but the mobile releases do seem to take a little longer to get released. Whatever you decide to do save a copy of your profile folder. Mobile profile folder location is: /data/data/org.mozilla.firefox/files/mozilla/********.default
      Sync can help if you use it but it won’t replace any userChrome or about:config changes.

    2. TianlanSha said on November 6, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      I think for PC they may find a way to do the transfers, but for phone I don’t think so. I would say use Sync to get them on the same level, migrate on PC, sync again back to the phone and it may actually work out.

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