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How to write a successful Firefox extension

Due to the massive lack of developer documentation, developing a Firefox extension is a pure pain in the ***. That’s why I eventually stopped supporting mine. Anyway, for those of you who are brave enough to still be willing to program an extension for that browser, here is a brief (2 steps only, wow!) guide on how to make it a blockbuster.

First, unfortunately, there is a pretty high requirement: you need to be somewhat involved in the development of Firefox itself. Well, you don’t definitely have to, but in both the proofs of concept I’ve seen (see below), the author met that requirement, it makes the first step much easier. Ok, the guide now:

  • The first step is to get a useful feature removed from Firefox.
    Example number 1: Mike Beltzner [:beltzner] got Dave Townsend [:Mossop] remove the extensions.checkCompatibility setting (see bug 521905 – and the post about it on Nice move. Screwed basically all nightly testers and more generically pretty much every beta enthusiasts.
    Example number 2: Dão Gottwald [:dao] removed the browser.tabs.tabMinWidth setting (see bug 574654). Now all your tabs must be at least 140 pixels wide. Thank you Captain ScrewUps.
  • If you’ve been following properly, I bet you already guessed the second step: simply, create an extension that performs exactly the feature that you removed!
    Oh, I know what you’re thinking: “Wait a minute… this is too big, I’d never get away with this! This post is a joke, this can’t work.” Well, trust me it can (although this post is indeed a joke). But I guess bringing on proofs can do no harm, there you go:
    Example 1: Dave Townsend aka Mossop published the Nightly Tester Tools, the primary feature of which used to be to remove compatibility checking (NB: as of today it seems that that feature got move into the Add-on Compatibility Reporter extension).
    Example 2: Dao Gottwald aka dao published the Custom Tab Width, the only feature of which is to add back an easy way to configure minimum and maximum tab width.

So, have you been able to apply this guide? Congratulations, you’ve published a successful Firefox add-on! Maybe you also pushed a few hundreds of thousands of users a bit more towards Chrome (I wish I could say Opera), but who cares anyway?
As a token of appreciation for your brilliant work at making Firefox a better worse browser, I’ll reveal to you the third and last bonus step to this guide:

Muhahaha. All Ur about:config R belong to Us

Posted in Firefox, Totally pointless.

One Response

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  1. David Dernoncourt says

    Well it looks like they are doing it again ! Apparently this time they are killing Panorama (the feature to create and manage tab groups). Let’s wait and see who will benefit from this crime.

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