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Firefox Extension Changes

Having just laid out my plan for the next release of the Web Developer extension, now comes the news from Ben Goodger about the changes to extensions for Firefox 0.9.

These changes are very welcome as they should help to eliminate some of the issues surrounding extensions: incompatibilities with certain browser versions, lack of uninstall support, keeping track of extension updates to name just a few. However, these changes also have the potential to make the Firefox 0.9 release pretty messy. Basically, any extension written prior to 0.9 will not install under 0.9 and will need to be completely repackaged in order to work correctly going forward.

Changes = Work

This is going to result in many users becoming disgruntled when they find that some extensions have yet to be converted for Firefox 0.9. Of course, changes like this are to be expected from any pre–1.0 product, but I just hope that the resulting fallout is appropriately handled. Firstly, the code changes need to be rigorously tested so that all major bugs are resolved before the release or extension authors will be overwhelmed with support issues and trying to work out whether the problem is due to Firefox or the extension itself. Secondly, the extension authors need to be given adequate time to prepare their extensions both in terms of repackaging and setting them up on whatever server is going to handle tracking updates—currently suggested as being update.mozilla.org.

As I say, I am really looking forward to these changes as I think they greatly enhance the extension mechanism in Firefox, but I just hope that Ben is aware of how massive a change this is and works with the extension development community to mitigate the risks. There is a MozillaZine forums topic tracking the changes if you wish to read the latest news.

My Extensions

Now of course how this affects the User Agent Switcher and Web Developer extensions is hard to say until a release date for Firefox 0.9 is known. I have not been working on the User Agent Switcher extension recently, so I will just try to release a 0.9-compatible version when the browser release occurs. The Web Developer extension is trickier as I am currently working on the next version. However, my current plan is to keep working on it until Firefox 0.9 is released and then release whatever I have ready to go. This may mean that I don’t get to include everything I had hoped to in the Web Developer 0.8 release, but it will allow me to immediately release a 0.9-compatibile version.

Hopefully things will become clearer as the Firefox 0.9 release comes closer.

Web Developer 0.7 and User Agent Switcher 0.3.1

A new version of the Web Developer extension has just been released. This release contains many new features including adding a user style sheet, status icons that indicate whether the page is in standards compliance mode and if there were JavaScript errors and configurable keyboard shortcuts. Perhaps the biggest addition is the ‘Edit CSS’ feature. It is just the first iteration of this feature and I have some plans for enhancements on my to-do list.

I also released a minor update to the User Agent Switcher extension. The main update in this release is the addition of an option to automatically reset the user agent when the browser closes.

Firefox 0.8

Between the release of Firefox 0.8 and the Web Developer extension getting a mention on kottke.org this site has seen quite a bit of traffic. I have also had many emails asking if the User Agent Switcher and Web Developer extensions are compatible with Firefox 0.8—which they both are. Lastly, the Uninstaller extension has been re-released so that people can test if the previous problems have been fixed by the Firefox release.

User Agent Switcher 0.3

I just released version 0.3 of the User Agent Switcher extension for Mozilla Firebird and now Mozilla. The only significant change is the addition of Mozilla support, but there are also some minor codes fixes.

Web Developer 0.1 and User Agent Switcher 0.2.2

I just released version 0.1 of the Web Developer extension for Mozilla Firebird. This extension adds a menu and a toolbar to the browser with various web developer tools. I also released version 0.2.2 of the User Agent Switcher extension. This release contains some minor code fixes.