Support for dropping XPI files into the extension install locations might be going away

For some time now Firefox has supported a way of installing extensions that involves simply copying the extension’s XPI file into one of the extension install locations. The next time Firefox runs it would pop up the install dialog for the extension and allow the user to choose whether to install it or not.

I don’t know how many people use this feature and while the code to do it (at least for the profile folder) isn’t terribly complex, it is additional code that may not be necessary. Right now the new add-ons manager doesn’t support it and I’ve heard only a couple of people comment on its absence but nightly testers are by no means representational so I’m asking a little more widely whether people have a real need for keeping this working in Firefox 4?

To be clear we aren’t talking about the method of installing where you extract your extension into a directory in the install locations, nor are we talking about the method where you create a text file in the install location containing the path to your extension.

9 thoughts on “Support for dropping XPI files into the extension install locations might be going away”

  1. Possibly tools like Selenium? I believe that as part of creating profiles to run tests with, it installs an extension called DocumentReadyState – it might be affected, depending on how that extension is installed…

    1. I’m pretty sure that that does it by extracting the extension into place. It would certainly be easier on the user if it did.

    1. I’m not entirely sure how well symbolic links work at this point, I’ve heard of problems with them in the past. Why would you use them rather than copying the directory into the install location?

      1. Because I like put all of my projects in the same folder.
        The profile/extensions folder isn’t accessible easily 🙂 .

    1. Yes, we do use this method for our Firefox PAD files. For some reason, the PAD standard (as far as I can tell) does not recognize the XPI (which I think is a big oversight). As a consequence, a lot of download sites don’t either. They all recognize EXE so in our PAD file we use an EXE that works as explained above.

      Losing this feature wouldn’t be a big deal, but there might be others that are affected by this. If there’s another, better way of doing this, we’d be happy to hear about it.

  2. We have been using this method with TomTom HOME back when its own add-on manager UI didn’t allow installation of local files. But that was clearly a hack and not a reason to keep this feature around. So I don’t really see a reason to have it.

  3. I find this method very convenient because I have several profile with many common add-ons. Being able to shoot a copy into another profile’s extensions folder is a nice convenience/time saver. Also, it can be a nice convenience when making a new or replace profile. Just place copies of all my add-ons in the folder and on the next start the browser installs them.

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