What’s next for the Add-ons Manager?

Firefox 4 is just around the corner and it’s great to look back over just how far the Add-ons Manager has come since Firefox 3.6. In fact if you want to see the full history look at my earlier post that shows its evolution since Phoenix 0.2. We set out with some pretty lofty goals for Firefox 4 and I’m pretty excited at just how many of them we achieved. I hope everyone appreciates the hard work that Blair, Boriss, Justin, Henrik, Ben, myself and all the others put in to get us to where we are today.

Of course, we aren’t finished. There were a lot of things that we wanted to get done and didn’t get time for and I’m sure we’ll be getting lots of feedback from users of the final release to work on. Since the pressure has been off I’ve been skimming back over bug reports and notes to try to come up with an idea of what we want to work on over the next few releases of Firefox. As you may know the plan is to move to quarterly releases and not really block a release on any particular projects but we will still be getting an idea of what product drivers will prioritise work on and guess at what other things we can fit in.

UI refinements

In the closing stages of Firefox 4 there were a lot of small polish issues identified. We knocked down a lot of them but there are still plenty of tweaks that we’re going to be bringing to the UI to make sure it is as usable as we can make it. It isn’t really worth applying a fixed schedule to these as they are small one-off fixes that can just come as and when ready. We already have some that are basically ready to land.

Incremental API fixes

There are lots of things that I’d like to see done for the platform and APIs that developers use. Again there is no fixed schedule for these but the main things on my mind are changes that make developing restartless add-ons or extending the add-ons manager easier. I’ve already started work on a couple of these and expect to get them landed after the tree reopens.

Larger projects

There are of course also larger projects that will require more resources. I’ve started writing up short project pages for each of these. Each project should start with the people working on it coming to agreement on what the actual goals should be and an implementation plan so until the projects are actually picked up the project pages are mostly made up. I’ve put down a rough idea of when a project might make it into a Firefox release. These are just guesses, if the project turns out to be larger than expected they’ll come later, if people volunteer to work on projects or if the product drivers decide they are a priority then they could come sooner.

You can see that assuming a quarterly release schedule we have enough projects here to last till the end of 2011 at least, quite likely longer. Over that sort of time I guess it’s almost guaranteed that priorities and plans will change in the meantime but hopefully this gives an idea of what our thinking is at the moment. Expect to see progress on some of the things at the top of the list very soon!

5 thoughts on “What’s next for the Add-ons Manager?”

  1. You are missing “making the addon manager sanely extensible”. Though Scriptish and Stylish do it, they both have problems doing it correctly because there’s no useful interface to do it with – I believe they currently break addon installs. Also, it’s nowhere on MDC (and there are no IDL files to use as a substitute).

    There’s also no “make addon manager usable from non-JS consumers”. Probably Firefox 99 at this point.

    Please, make extensions work for you, not against you. But you know that already 😉

  2. The Add-On Manager was really revolutionized for FF4; thanks for all the hard work that must have been involved. I was going to wait until after the FF4 release to post this bug, but your blog post seems like a good opportunity:

    It would be great if you could make the GUI fit better into a Windows environment, at least for FF users on Windows platforms. When I load it, I feel like I’m transported to Mac OS X, both in appearance and functionality. A few examples:
    * Appearance: The back and forward buttons, drop-down menu button at the top, and even the side panel layout are straight out of OS X. They don’t match the rest of my Windows environment.
    * The back/forward navigation: Not something I see in the prefs of other Windows apps or elsewhere in FF 4. Even after a few months, every time I click ‘More …’ for an add-on, I have to stop and think about how to return to the list. (Also, it’s hard to find the buttons, far away in the corner).
    * The menu drop-down widget: I’m an experienced IT pro, but I wasn’t sure what it did until I clicked it; when I saw the menu I recognized the OS X button. That button and icon are not in a Windows end-user’s vocabulary.
    * The overall side-to-side navigation. Again, familiar on OS X (and iOS), but not Windows.

    Just getting something this new working reliably between FF releases is an achievement, so congratulations and thanks again.


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