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Mozilla Transforms Firefox Development Platform To Make Way For Cross-Browser Add-Ons

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Previous hints on a grand makeover to Mozilla’s Firefox has been furthered as the company announced major changes to Firefox add-ons.

Making the announcement, Kev Needham wrote on the company’s blog,

[Mozilla] would like add-on development to be more like Web development: the same code should run in multiple browsers according to behavior set by standards, with comprehensive documentation available from multiple vendors.

This news comes as Firefox faces fall in user and developer preferences, thanks to its use of XPCOM and XUL languages to design user interfaces. However, developers who are currently using the Jetpack SDK to write their extensions wont be affected by this move, the company has stated.

The add-ons have been improved over the Firefox’s latest technologies that includes Electrolysis and Servo, which provide defence against spyware and adware.

The improvements have been accomplished by developing a new API extension called WebExtensions. Mozilla’s API extension will is compatible with on-demand web browers such as Chrome and Opera that run on Blink.

The new extension will aid developers to program new cross-platfrom extensions irrespective of the web browers. Mozilla is also in the process of developing a newer version of Firefox, which it claims to be much faster and safer than its previous versions.

The newer version will be packaged with Electrolysis to make sure that safety is not compromised while installing third-party extensions. It has also announced the launch date of its next release the Mozilla Firefox 41on September 22 of this year.

The developers will also have to get their extensions reviewed and signed by Mozilla before they are released on Firefox 41. The company has also confirmed that add-ons that run on XPCOM and XUL languages will be  slowly disapproved in the near future, and has been contemplating the exact plan of action to smoothen the process.

With these new changes, Mozilla has acknowledged the difficulty faced by its developers to design cross-platform add-ons. The new version takes out this hassle but it also means redevelopment of already existing Firefox add-ons. Mozilla stated that it has taken up this challenge and has already “made big investments by expanding the team of engineers, add-on reviewers, and evangelists who work on add-ons and support the community that develops them.”

The new ‘team’ will work closely with the developers to better improve the WebExtensions API and mould it into a definite shape. It has made sure that it wont leave behind the developers programming “unsupported add-ons” and will lend its full cooperation to aid their “transition to newer APIs”.

Firefox’s Nightly channels and the Developer Edition already support the new API extension, which will mark a major distinction on how Firefox categorizes add-ons.

Mozilla’s new announcement may disappoint many if its fans, but the move will hugely benefit the long term survival of the Firefox brand amidst the rise of Chrome and the critically acclaimed Microsoft Edge.


 

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