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Mozilla’s “faster” add-on review process

Mozilla’s add-on reviewing process never ceases to amaze me. It’s so remarkable that almost five years ago their slowness was the main topic of one of the first posts on this “blog” (which reminds me, it’s fifth anniversary was on May 1st indeed, yay!). Not so long ago, they reworked their review process to “help make sure extensions are reviewed faster”: there’s the “preliminary” review and the “full” review. Hint: translate as “quick’n dirty review” vs “normal review”. I’m not really sure how all this works: as far as I remember the full review is supposed to be faster than the preliminary review for some weird reason (the way they prioritize the queues I guess).

Anyway, lately they just set some new record-breaking standards for slowness: the review process took so long that by the time I received the result I had actually forgotten I had an add-on pending review! Seriously, I can’t find the words to describe my amazement. I submitted the add-on on April 1st, it got approved on May 24. Well, that was the same year, at least!

While I’m at it, let’s do a proper, full rant. Because this actually gets better.
Let’s not mention the fact that the review process is in the end twice slower than 5 years ago, even in a period where no major release is on the block (major releases can fill the queue pretty badly because Mozilla loves breaking the extension API so we extension developers have to submit a patched version, which will then undergo full review again because you know, we’re bad people who can only thing of putting viruses and trojans and keyloggers within our XUL/Javascript extensions), and even for such a simple “extension” (NB: this one was actually just a search engine integration into the search box… that’s like 10 lines of XML, it takes 30 seconds to read and 10 seconds to test).
But let’s mention the fact that the extension was denied full review because it was too similar to another extension of mine. That variation was requested by a user, and is indeed a non-minor variation (changing the search result language from worldwide to English)… unless of course you test it by searching for English words, eh… Still, let’s say I can understand that they don’t want extensions which are so close (the results are actually not much different, because the search engine itself doesn’t completely comply with the language choice order). I have even better: a few months earlier, they accepted an extension which was the exact copycat of my original one… how is that not too much similar? Perhaps if I had said nothing in the description about it being a variation of my first one it would have gone through? Oh, well, it’s just the users’ loss, after all…

Want more? Treat yourself, I’m feeling generous 🙂 Because of the change in my extension’s validation, it vanished from the site for a while. So I checked into my developer account to see if it was still there (and it was – that site is really bugged), and I noticed another thing: another extension of mine, Yes popups, had a red warning sign saying “compatibility”. When checking out the error message, it turned out that the site was telling me this extension is “incompatible with Firefox 3.6.13, the latest release of Firefox”. Nothing shocking you’d say? Sure, but read this: 1. the current latest release of Firefox is 4.0.1 and 2. Yes popups is totally compatible with Firefox 3.6.x (but not with Fx 4, okay for that). And last but not least, look at what I received 3 days ago:

Good news! Our automated tests did not detect any compatibility issues with your add-on Yes popups and Firefox 5. We’ve updated your add-on’s compatibility to work with Firefox 5.* so that our beta users can begin using your add-on. Firefox 5 beta was released earlier today.

One word: fail. But really, this time they made my day. And provided me with a neat topic, I like ranting on people who badly deserve it and provide no way to contact them (if you thought the reviewer who blocked my extension let me his e-mail, think again).

I’m using Pale Moon at the moment and am regularly considering to make the switch to Opera. All I’d need from the latest would be a broader choice of extensions, which seems to actually grow decently fast. I try to keep maintaining my Firefox extensions and fulfill trivial requests because I don’t want to let down the faithful users who understand, appreciate and need the functions they provide. I feel a bit sorry for them because of all the trouble I get from Mozilla to be able to provide proper support: no e-mail notification of reviews, ages to approve minor extension changes, extension falling apart because of the API changes, etc. Note however that a new browser war is happening, but this one is good for users as it’s brought us 5 big and decent browsers, plus their forks, all supporting web standards in a satisfactory way. To put it simply: you can switch between browsers. I’m getting so off-topic right now…

Posted in Firefox.


4 Responses

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  1. anon says

    aren’t you know that Firefox is the last free as in freedom open-source browser on the web,
    gosh, you ever seen Opera’s agreement and privacy terms?
    you are almost IT guru, you can see the difference of free and freedom, i believe
    you are ready to gone with proprietary systems just because Mozilla tries to make your extensions more secure?
    you looked like intelligent person — watching Doctor Who, making Scroogle extension,
    but if you won’t say stop to Microsoft Windows and companies like Opera now, in 5 years all your info would be in someones cloud as well as your thoughts and future, that’s my, anon’s opinion.

  2. David Dernoncourt says

    > you know that Firefox is the last free as in freedom open-source browser on the web
    Technically speaking, there’s Chromium too, although I agree it can’t really count the way it is right now…

    > you ever seen Opera’s agreement and privacy terms?
    I didn’t until now, indeed. Their privacy statement looks clean to me. Their EULA is pretty much like any standard proprietary software.

    > you are ready to go with proprietary systems just because Mozilla tries to make
    > your extensions more secure?
    Even though I pretty much prefer “free as in freedom” to close-source software, in the end I’m a very heavy user of all this (very heavy like 12/7) and I can’t exactly afford to stick with an inefficient, time-wasting solution. So even if being free as in FLOSS does count quite a lot, it can’t make up for all possible screw-ups. And addons.mozilla.org seems to be collecting them: slowest website I’ve ever seen (except maybe for the WayBackMachine, but as an archive of the whole Internet I guess they have a valid excuse), connection cookies getting regularly lost, user review system as broken as possible, slow reviews of add-ons, incompetent reviewers (not all of them, sure, but a comfortable percentage, still), etc. They’re not just making the extensions more secure, they’re making them more outdated and a pain in the *** to develop and maintain. Firefox itself isn’t bad either, with its huge Safari-class launch time, its Chrome-copycat GUI, the slaying of the status bar, the removal of the extensions.checkCompatibility setting, the massive add-on API changes as often as possible, etc. Really, if Firefox wasn’t free software, I’d be long gone to Iron, Opera or maybe even Crazy Browser. Instead of that I’m still using it but ranting about it, hoping that maybe when Chrome takes their second place in market shares they’ll finally improve what needs to be improved.
    Same goes for Ubuntu 11.04 and Unity: this Unity thing made it unusable for me and sadly I’m back to 99% Windows because I don’t have the time to try 10 different distributions every 6 months…
    It’s very good to have alternatives ready to use in case the productive but proprietary solutions go wild, but if those alternatives are too bad they’ll remain back-up choices, not primary tools for daily use. For instance my dream OS would be ReactOS, but for some reason most open source fanboys just don’t like it because they think the Linux style is better than Windows’s. It’s sad that we can get thousands of skilled developers to work on hundreds of Linux distros (most of which used by users less numerous than the developers who produce the distro), while apparently ReactOS can’t get enough developers to work on a single Windows clone. My personal opinion about Windows (XP) is that the only thing bad about it is that it’s proprietary, and I believe I’m far from being the only user who thinks so.

    > if you won’t say stop to Microsoft Windows and companies like Opera now, in
    > 5 years all your info would be in someones cloud as well as your thoughts and future
    IMO small companies like Opera aren’t exactly a worry, at the moment at least: they have a correct privacy policy, they don’t try to lock you into their environment, they’re not everywhere, they don’t have a monopoly (and are so far from it that placing Opera and monopoly within the same sentence looks like comedy sci-fi :D). My biggest worries about “all my info in some cloud” would be Google (I believe I don’t need to tell you why ^^ but for other readers I’d just say: Chrome OS, Analytics, Adsense, ReCAPTCHA) and Facebook, and to a lesser degrees Microsoft, Apple and alikes.

  3. tooth says

    my mozilla really sucks i updated beta..it get crash every 20 mins ..i am looking for good solution

  4. David Dernoncourt says

    Go back to stable? 😉
    If you’re on Windows, you may want to give a try at Pale Moon. I couldn’t refrain myself from always trying the latest betas and nightlies, and of course experienced the issues that go with them. Then Pale Moon gave me a good reason to stick with the stable: speed, because Pale Moon is like an optimized stable. Don’t expect miracles though, it’s just slightly faster, not magic. The testimonial page is totally biased, they only publish ridiculously non-neutral feedback. From my experience, expect 2% to 10% improvement in browser benchmarks (which is fairly good already!), and maybe a slightly faster start-up.



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