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Mozilla is on the verge of releasing Firefox 3.1 Beta 2, and it’s quite possible that in the next month or two the final version will be pushed out the door. A major new release like this means that some of your favorite extensions might not be working, and Mozilla doesn’t want that to happen. With over 1 billion extension downloads they are now reaching out to developers asking them to update their extensions for the upcoming release.

Being an extension developer myself I’ve tried to keep CyberSearch up-to-date and functional with all nightly releases of Firefox 3.1. In fact we just updated the extension over the weekend (version 1.0.7) to fix yet another change Mozilla made in the nightly builds rendering our extension inoperable.

Mozilla has assembled a compatibility chart that looks at all of their extensions, and determines how many of them are not yet compatible with Firefox 3.1. I’m not, however, quite sure about the accuracy of the chart. If you view the detailed report you can see a list of all the extensions and what version of Firefox they currently work with. CyberSearch isn’t even on that list.

This is a two-way street though. Developers need to start prepping for Firefox 3.1, and at the same time Mozilla needs to get better about approving new releases. CyberSearch 1.0.7 was just approved this week after about 2 months of submitting different updates, and so it looks like Mozilla has some catching up to do. Just make sure you check the homepage of your favorite extensions, because they may already have a Firefox 3.1-compatible release.

There Are 22 Comments

  1. I’m not sure Mozilla should expect extension developers to ensure compatibility with beta versions. With all the changes this can create quite a bit of extra work for them I imagine. Once a release candidate is out, I’m sure the number of compatible extensions will increase more rapidly.

  2. Back when I used Fx, I found that w/ the update to Fx2, many of my extensions wouldn’t install because of “compatibility,” however, after tweaking about:config to force them to install, most worked perfectly. I wonder if there’s a similiar situation here?

  3. The question should be why do extensions keep breaking after .x increments? Shouldn’t the extensions part of FF be compartmentilised so that there’s no breaking of them between minor versions. Seems pretty dumbo on Mozilla’s part to me.

  4. Michael Dobrofsky, there’s no way to “compartmentalize” extensions. Firefox extensions can change anything at all about Firefox. It’s not like the simple plug-in API where they’re only allowed a small set of access points. Extensions can literally replace or augment everything or anything in Firefox. To ensure that no extension ever broke, Firefox couldn’t ever be changed — at all.

    As for the frequency of bustage, we don’t change things that would break extensions with our security and stability updates, and only knowingly introduce breaking changes with major update. Firefox 3.1 is a major update, like Firefox 3, Firefox 2, Firefox 1.5, etc.

    - A

  5. Asa Dotzler wrote:
    Michael Dobrofsky, there’s no way to “compartmentalize” extensions. Firefox extensions can change anything at all about Firefox. It’s not like the simple plug-in API where they’re only allowed a small set of access points. Extensions can literally replace or augment everything or anything in Firefox. To ensure that no extension ever broke, Firefox couldn’t ever be changed — at all.

    As for the frequency of bustage, we don’t change things that would break extensions with our security and stability updates, and only knowingly introduce breaking changes with major update. Firefox 3.1 is a major update, like Firefox 3, Firefox 2, Firefox 1.5, etc.

    - A

    Well, yes, you make a good point about extensions changing everything and anything. I concede there. Any reason why a major update is only a .1 version number?

  6. Michael Dobrofsky wrote:
    Well, yes, you make a good point about extensions changing everything and anything. I concede there. Any reason why a major update is only a .1 version number?

    X.Y is a major update. X.Y.Z is a minor update.

  7. If you are an add-on developer, I strongly encourage you to read the last article about migrating extension in the Addons Mozilla blog :

    [blog.mozilla.com]

  8. i prefer to use the mozilla version 2 …

  9. netster007x wrote:
    Back when I used Fx, I found that w/ the update to Fx2, many of my extensions wouldn’t install because of “compatibility,” however, after tweaking about:config to force them to install, most worked perfectly. I wonder if there’s a similiar situation here?

    Yes, that is still the situation more often than not, but the extension developers need to verify that everything is working according to plan.

    Asa Dotzler wrote:
    Extensions can literally replace or augment everything or anything in Firefox. To ensure that no extension ever broke, Firefox couldn’t ever be changed — at all.

    I can concur with that first-hand. My extension modifies some areas of the browser that have been getting changed in Firefox 3.1, and hence my extension has failed to work about 3 times throughout the nightly releases. I finally got smart and figured out a way around using some native Firefox functionality so that my extension won’t keep breaking when something is changed in a nightly build. :) It also ensures backwards compatibility with Firefox 3.0 that way.

  10. Back in June when we first started hearing about Firefox 3.1, it was made to sound as if it were going to a simple update from Firefox 3. A chance to get those features that were wanted in Firefox 3, but not quite ready at release time. It wasn’t suppose to be anything major that would cause so many issues with add-ons not working.

  11. Storytellerofsci-fi

    I don’t understand why Mozilla doesn’t have a compatibility browser check Utility that runs first and then asks if you want to Upgrade after it first shows you what Add-ons won’t function. They should let the User decide first before installing and then telling them it’s kinda back-wards somebody at Mozilla should be running a demo install of the new browser with all the Add-ons that can be install and then they should compile a list that’s search-able so you can be forewarned not surprised afterward.

  12. El Guru wrote:
    Back in June when we first started hearing about Firefox 3.1, it was made to sound as if it were going to a simple update from Firefox 3. A chance to get those features that were wanted in Firefox 3, but not quite ready at release time. It wasn’t suppose to be anything major that would cause so many issues with add-ons not working.

    I wish that were the case, but they are definitely trying to clean things up in their code as well. It’s their “cleanup” process that killed my extension a few times.

    Storytellerofsci-fi wrote:
    I don’t understand why Mozilla doesn’t have a compatibility browser check Utility that runs first and then asks if you want to Upgrade after it first shows you what Add-ons won’t function.

    I actually thought they did have that if you’re upgrading through the built-in upgrader. If you’re just downloading the installer, however, I don’t think it checks that. So it’s really just the testers that don’t get this convenience.

  13. I’m not sure how useful a compatibility check would be as you would need to upgrade sooner or later anyway. Perhaps it would help right after a new version has been released, but is it worth the effort then? You’d effectively prevent people from upgrading to a better version (better experience, security, speed etc.) as there will always be extensions which won’t get updated.

  14. One feature they need to fix and/or remove is the tab tearing. It is way too sensitive and a feature I really don’t have a use for. Worse yet I have poured over MozillaZine only to be disappointed to learn there is no way to turn this feature off. :(

  15. El Guru wrote:
    One feature they need to fix and/or remove is the tab tearing. It is way too sensitive and a feature I really don’t have a use for. Worse yet I have poured over MozillaZine only to be disappointed to learn there is no way to turn this feature off. :(

    That feature has actually been pissing me off lately. I used to be able to drag tabs into my bookmarks, but with the tab tearing I can’t don’t that anymore. It definitely needs some work.

  16. @Ryan: Try dragging the site favicon to to ur bookmarks :)

  17. netster007x wrote:
    @Ryan: Try dragging the site favicon to to ur bookmarks :)

    That is the way I’ve always been doing it. But I’ve noticed a lot of people try to drag the tab.

  18. netster007x wrote:
    @Ryan: Try dragging the site favicon to to ur bookmarks :)

    Huh, never really thought about that. It just doesn’t seem as intuitive to me though. I wish there was a way to disable the detaching feature, but I’m not sure Mozilla is going to offer that anytime soon. Thanks for the tip though… I’ll be using that.

  19. Ryan wrote:
    netster007x wrote:
    @Ryan: Try dragging the site favicon to to ur bookmarks :)

    Huh, never really thought about that. It just doesn’t seem as intuitive to me though. I wish there was a way to disable the detaching feature, but I’m not sure Mozilla is going to offer that anytime soon. Thanks for the tip though… I’ll be using that.

    Sadly after looking high and low, I have found no way of turning off the tab tearing other than reverting back to Beta 1.

  20. You think Fx3′s method is unintuitive? In Chrome you do it by dragging the “add bookmark” star button to the bookmarks bar. Doesn’t bother me, though, as I just click the star since it’s just a single click and I never sort (just search).

  21. netster007x wrote:
    You think Fx3’s method is unintuitive? In Chrome you do it by dragging the “add bookmark” star button to the bookmarks bar. Doesn’t bother me, though, as I just click the star since it’s just a single click and I never sort (just search).

    Huh, I haven’t used Chrome enough to have realized that. I do know that Chrome’s tab tearing isn’t nearly as sensitive as Firefox’s.

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