As with the recent User Agent Switcher release I will also be creating a localized version containing multiple languages. I had localizations for the previous version, but there were too many changes in this new release to still use these so if you have new or updated translations simply contact me and I will add them to the localized version.
Just before I left for Hawaii a month ago, I was contacted by Om Malik who wanted to talk to me about Firefox. Om was writing an article for Business 2.0 magazine and was introduced to me through Blake Ross.
We talked about the Web Developer extension as well as Firefox in general. It was a good conversation, but I did not think I had said anything interesting enough to warrant inclusion in the article. However, the article came out last week and I was pleasantly surprised to find I made an appearance:
…Firefox will only grow more powerful. Just ask San Francisco-based Web developer Chris Pederick, who’s created a free tool kit that makes building Web applications in Firefox easy. “There is a lot more at stake here than Microsoft admits,” Pederick says.
It is definitely worth reading the full article and you can find my words of wisdom in the very last paragraph on the second page.
With the Firefox 1.0 release due soon the extension version has been increased to 1.0 recently. This weekend I updated both the User Agent Switcher and Web Developer extensions to support this and asked for the change to be made on Mozilla Update.
I am also planning on releasing new versions of both extensions soon after Firefox 1.0 is released. For the User Agent Switcher this is just a minor update with a few enhancements, but the Web Developer release will be a major upgrade. You can check out what is already coded for this next release on the to-do page.
With the last release of the User Agent Switcher extension I increased the maximum supported version for Firefox to 0.10+ so that it works on Firefox preview release builds.
I am currently working on the next release of the Web Developer extension, but it is not yet ready for release. Therefore I have just updated version 0.8 with the same maximum supported version for Firefox as that of the User Agent Switcher extension. The updated Web Developer extension is available from the download page and should be on Mozilla Update soon.
I have also updated the Web Developer to-do page to list what I have already coded for the next release so that you can see the progress that I am making.
Admittedly these were released a little ahead of schedule—particularly Web Developer—as I wanted to have them available before Firefox 0.9. I did a fair amount of testing over the weekend, but inevitably some bugs will—and have—slipped through. The following issues have already been discovered:
The announcement of a new default theme for Mozilla Firefox also came a little too late for me to include it, but I will look into supporting this for the next release.
With Firefox 0.9 due to be released either on Saturday, June 12th or Monday, June 14th, I have been working on getting both the User Agent Switcher and Web Developer extensions compatible with the new extension manager. Both extensions are now ready to go and I am just doing some final testing before releasing them.
User Agent Switcher 0.4 will not be a major update, but as well as Firefox 0.9 compatibility there is now localized language support and the number of user agents is now configurable and unlimited.
Web Developer 0.8, on the other hand, is a major update and includes many new features, improvements and bug fixes along with Firefox 0.9 compatibility. The full list of changes is pretty big, but the highlights are:
I have also tidied the menus a little and added a new top-level menu ‘CSS’ which will require any Web Developer themes to be updated. I will update the theming instructions and post in the MozillaZine Themes forum with instructions on what needs to be changed.
Look for both extensions to be released sometime this weekend.
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.
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.
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.
Looking at the Web Developer history the average period of time between major releases has been about six weeks. With six weeks having passed since the 0.7 release I thought I would give a status report and explain why the 0.8 release is not yet ready to go.
The biggest amount of time on 0.8 has undoubtedly been spent on adding localization support. I had not even thought about localization support when originally creating the extension and so I have had to retrofit it into the code. This is a pretty dull task which takes a fair amount of time and has not exactly inspired me to work on the extension. However, it is now almost complete with only the options dialog to work on so this has allowed me to move on to coding new features.
As well as creating a Pinstripe theme—now that I have my Mac—I have added the following features:
With these features complete the plan is to finish adding localization support and then move on to some of the other things on the to-do list, particularly the ‘Edit CSS’ improvements. If you have ideas for new features or enhancements that you would like to see added then please contact me.
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.
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.
Following hotly on the heels of the 0.6 release, a new version of the Web Developer extension has just been released. This release was a response to user comments about changes in the previous version. The major new features are an option to hide the Web Developer context menu and the ability to configure whether the view source feature loads in a window or a tab.
A new version of the Web Developer extension has just been released. This release contains many new features including keyboard shortcuts, nested frame support and the option to choose whether generated pages are opened in tabs or windows. It is also great to see the Web Developer extension being mentioned as a possible extension to be included with the Mozilla Firebird installer.