Mozilla introduced Collections to its Firefox Add-ons website (AMO) back in 2009 to provide users of the web browser with options to keep track of add-ons, and to showcase add-ons, for instance by creating themed collections.
It allowed anyone with an account to create and maintain collections by adding add-ons (which included themes) to them.
Creators could add and remove add-ons from collections, and others could follow them to receive notifications about changes made to these collections.
Firefox users benefit from Collections in two ways: collections may help users of the browser discover new add-ons, and they make it easier to install a bunch of add-ons especially if they used an add-on like Massive Extender which allows them to install multiple add-ons of a collection in one operation.
Add-on Collections Today
Collections are highlighted in the main menu on the Add-ons starting page on the Mozilla website. A click on the link opens the collections hub and there four collections managed by Mozilla that have been featured there for ages.
You can change the listing to “most followers” which appears to be the best option to explore Collections for the first time as “newest” or “recently updated” seem to list collections that can be best described as theme collections.
A quick of the 10 newest and recently updated collections revealed that nine out of then listed themes exclusively.
Collections work for the most part as you would expect as a Firefox user. You can install add-ons individually from the collections page or click on any add-on listed to open its main page on Mozilla AMO to find out more about it first before you do so.
Collections are still open, but the recent redesign of the add-ons website has made it a lot harder for creators to add add-ons to their collections.
All that needed to be done previously to add an add-on to a collection was to click on the “add to collection” button on an add-ons page on the Mozilla website.
Mozilla hides the button (and the favorite button) now which means that Collection curators need to edit the collection to add add-ons there.
So, instead of clicking on “add to favorites” or “add to collection”, it is now necessary to open the collection or favorites first, click on the edit button, type the add-on name to run a search for it, browse the results to find it, click on add, and then on save.
Mozilla’s reasons for removing the option are to streamline the add-on pages (not to confuse users who may be overwhelmed by the options presented on the page), and that the feature was not used all that much.
We did remove the “add to” buttons from the add-ons details page to focus this page on it’s core function of informing the user about the add-on it shows.
This is intentional to focus the details page more and simplify.
For collections users still can add add-ons in the collections section of AMO.
I am not sure if those feature are used enough to justify the prominent placement.
If you check the source code on an add-on’s profile page on the Mozilla website you may notice that the two “add options” that were removed are just hidden, and that the functionality is still there.
Firefox users who maintain collections can install the AMO EZ on the Eyes userstyle which makes the buttons visible again on Mozilla AMO.
Not dead yet
Collections don’t appear to be high on Mozilla’s priority list. In fact, things have not changed all that much ever since they were introduced. They are linked from the main add-ons website but I would not be surprised if that link would be removed from the site in the future as well.
The removal of the add buttons make it harder for active maintainers of collections to add new add-ons to their collections or favorites, and it seems likely that some will stop updating their collections because of this.
Now You: What’s your take on the collections feature?