Mozilla announced several changes designed to make Firefox more developer-friendly than it is. The changes include new extensions to its API which may make the browser compatible with Opera and Chrome.
The new extensions would allow programmers make only a few tweaks to add-ons’ code to make them run on all three browsers. To this day, developing plug-ins for Firefox was rather tricky due to the browser’s unique features.
But Mozilla now wants Firefox add-on creators to have the same experience web developers have – the same code should be compatible with various browsers. Add-on developers should also have clear instructions on the code and standards used by browsers’ makers just like web developers have.
The newly announced WebExtensions API would make XUL and XPCOM-based add-ons outdated within a year or two.
On the other hand, developers that run the latest version of Jetpack SDK to code their add-ons would not be affected by the changes unless they try to get an approach that extends beyond Jetpack’s reach.
Once Firefox 42 is enabled, developers will need to ask Mozilla to review and sign their add-ons before launching them. The company announced that reviews would be made considerably faster with the recent WebExtensions API.
Currently, those reviews require a lot of hard work since they are done manually and can take between weeks to months to complete. With the new approach, many reviews would be made by robots and they would be completed in maximum five days.
In the meantime, the tech company announced another major update to its browser. Developers working at the Electrolysis project are trying to separate tab processes from UI processes to prevent Firefox from crashing when a single tab freezes.
This change is already under review on various developer channels and is expected to be rolled out in Firefox 43. But since some extensions won’t support Electrolysis, the company urges add-on creators to make sure that their code is compatible with the new feature when Firefox 43 comes out.
Yet, the recent changes may take its toll on Firefox’s uniqueness. So, far, the browser has allowed developers to be more flexible and create more out-of-the-ordinary add-ons than on other browsers.
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