In a recent announcement, Mozilla revealed that it will deprecate support for its current add-ons and go the Chrome route. The four major changes in the pipeline that will affect developers and users alike are:
- Implementing a new extension API called WebExtensions
- The multi-process architecture “Electrolysis”
- Add-on validation and signing
- The deprecation of XPCOM- and XUL-based add-ons.
While this move will see a uniformity of add-on compatibility across a number of popular browsers, it’s been met with understandable hostility by some Firefox add-on developers. One such developer, Nils Maier, has already responded that this will likely mean the end of his popular DownThemAll add-on, saying that the new APIs will severely limit functionality and allow for only simple add-ons “that don’t do anything fancy“. Nils concludes:
It is safe to say, that Firefox will not be Firefox anymore as far as extensions go, but instead will become yet another Chrome-clone. I am just sad. Right now, it feels like I just learned my dear old friend Firefox is going to die. <source>
As Firefox add-on consultant Mike Kaply commented:
Now developers are being told in the next one to two years they will have to completely rewrite ALL of their add-ons. What are the odds that these hobby add-on developers are going to do that? Let’s be honest. Availability of APIs isn’t the difficult part of the discussion. Availability of time and energy to even attempt to rewrite all of our add-ons is the problem.
I will say this, though. It’s a great day to be a Chrome developer. <source>
Is this yet another self-destructive move by Mozilla – what do you think?