Changes in Firefox 68

Firefox

Firefox 68 is coming out today, and we wanted to highlight a few of the changes coming to add-ons. We’ve updated addons.mozilla.org (AMO) and the Add-ons Manager (about:addons) in Firefox to help people find high-quality, secure extensions more easily. We’re also making it easier to manage installed add-ons and report potentially harmful extensions and themes directly from the Add-ons Manager.

Recommended Extensions

In April, we previewed the Recommended Extensions program as one of the ways we plan to make add-ons safer. This program will make it easier for users to discover extensions that have been reviewed for security, functionality, and user experience.

In Firefox 68, you may begin to notice the first small batch of these recommendations in the Add-ons Manager. Recommendations will include star ratings and the number of users that currently have the extension installed. All extensions recommended in the Add-ons Manager are vetted through the Recommended Extensions program.

As the first iteration of a new design, you can expect some clean-up in upcoming releases as we refine it and incorporate feedback.

recommended extensions card in about:addons

On AMO starting July 11, Recommended extensions will receive special badging to indicate its inclusion in the program. Additionally, the AMO homepage will be updated to only display Recommended content, and AMO search results will place more emphasis on Recommended extensions.

AMO recommended extension badge

As the Recommended Extensions program continues to evolve, more extensions will be added to the curated list.

Add-ons management and abuse reporting

In alignment with design changes in Firefox, we’ve refreshed the Add-ons Manager to deliver a cleaner user experience. As a result, an ellipsis (3-dot) icon has been introduced to keep options organized and easy to find. You can find all the available controls, including the option to report an extension or theme to Mozilla—in one place.

new about:addons look

The new reporting feature allows users to provide us with a better understanding of the issue they’re experiencing. This new process can be used to report any installed extension, whether they were installed from AMO or somewhere else.

report option in about:addonsselect issue type when reporting extension

Users can also report an extension or theme when they uninstall an add-on. More information about the new abuse reporting process is available here.

Permissions

It’s easy to forget about the permissions that were previously granted to an extension. While most extensions are created by trustworthy third-party developers, we recommend periodically checking what you have installed, what permissions you’ve granted, and making sure you only keep the ones you really want.

Starting in Firefox 68, you can view the permissions of installed extensions directly in the Add-ons Manager, making it easier to perform these periodic checks. Here’s a summary of all extension permissions, so you can review them for yourself when deciding which extensions to keep installed.

permissions panel in about:addons

In upcoming releases, we will be adjusting and refining changes to the Add-ons Manager to continue aligning the design with the rest of Firefox and incorporating feedback we receive. We’re also developing a Recommended Extensions Community Board for contributors to assist with extension recommendations—we’ll have more information soon.

The post Changes in Firefox 68 appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

The future of themes is here!

Firefox

Themes have always been an integral part of the add-ons ecosystem and addons.mozilla.org (AMO). The current generation of themes – also known as lightweight themes and previously known as Personas (long story) – were introduced to AMO in 2009. There are now over 400 thousand of them available on AMO. Today we’re announcing the AMO launch of the next major step in the evolution of Firefox themes.

If you follow this blog, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. We’ve talked about theme updates a few times before. We actually turned on the new theme submission flow for testing a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t remove the old one. We’ve now flipped the switch and AMO will only accept the new themes.

What’s new about themes

Lightweight themes allowed designers to set a background image for the main browser toolbox, as well as the text color and background color. With this update, themes let you do much more:

  • Change other aspects of the browser, like the color of the toolbar icons, the color of the text in the location bar, and the color of the active tab.
  • Set multiple background images, with different alignment, and tiling. You no longer need a massive background image, or make guesses about the width and height of the browser toolbox.
  • Use color transparency to make interesting color blends.

Here’s an example of one of the recently-submitted themes using some of these new properties:

Orange theme

A detailed list of the supported theme properties can be found in this MDN article. If you scroll down to the compatibility table, you’ll find many properties that only very recent versions of Firefox support. That’s because Firefox engineers are still adding new theme capabilities, making them more powerful with every release.

How to submit themes now

If you’re a theme designer, the submission flow for themes has changed a bit.

  • In the Developer Hub, the Submit a New Theme button will take you to the new submission flow, which is the same used for extensions.
  • You’ll be able to choose if you want to host your theme on AMO or distribute it yourself. This feature has been available for extensions for years, and it allows you to create files you can host on your website or keep for personal use. More on Distribution.
  • On the next step, you can choose to either upload an XPI file or Create a Theme. The outcome of either path is the same.
  • These instructions explain how to build a theme XPI. If you prefer using a wizard like the one we had for lightweight themes, click on the Create a Theme button.

Themes Creation Wizard

  • The new wizard supports the theme features of its predecessor, as well as some of the new ones. To take advantage of all new properties, however, you’ll need to upload an XPI.
  • The browser preview image at the bottom of the screenshot is what becomes the main image for the theme on your theme page. It better reflects how Firefox will look after you install the theme, instead of just showing the background image.

If you run into any problems with these new tools, please report it here.

What about Personas Plus?

The Personas Plus extension has been a handy companion for theme designers for years. It makes it easy to create themes, preview them, and use them locally. Its successor in the new world of themes is Firefox Color.

Firefox Color is exclusively a development tool for themes, so it doesn’t match all features in Personas Plus. However, it should cover what is needed for easy theme creation.

Migrating Lightweight Themes

What about the 400K+ themes already hosted on AMO? We’re keeping them, of course, but we will transform them to the new format later this year. So, if you’re a theme designer and want your theme to be updated, don’t worry, we got you covered. And please don’t submit duplicate themes!

After the migration is done, we’ll notify you about it. The main difference you’ll notice is the new preview image in the theme page. You’ll then be able to submit new versions of your theme that take advantage of the new theme properties.

You’ll also notice that all new and migrated themes have different editing tools to change their descriptions. They are very similar to the tools we use for extensions. They may take a bit of getting used to, but they provide great benefits over the lightweight theme tools. You’ll be able to set a Contributions URL, so your users can compensate you for your work. Also, you get a detailed stats dashboard so you can learn about your users.

uBlock Statistics Dashboard

This level of success not guaranteed

This may seem like a small step, but it’s actually been a large undertaking. It’s taken years and over a dozen people on the Firefox and AMO teams to finally get this out the door. I won’t even try to list everyone because I’m sure I’ll forget some (but thank you all anyway!). We’re very excited with about these new themes, and hope they will lead to even more and better Firefox customization.

The post The future of themes is here! appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Share files easily with extensions

Firefox

WeTransfer offers a simple, extensions-based file transferring solution.

When we want to share digital files, most people think of popular file hosting services like Box or Dropbox, or other common methods such as email and messaging apps. But did you know there are easier—and more privacy-focused—ways to do it with extensions? WeTransfer and Fire File Sender are two intriguing extension options.

WeTransfer allows you to send files up to 2GB in size with a link that expires seven days from upload. It’s really simple to use—just click the toolbar icon and a small pop-up appears inviting you to upload files and copy links for sharing. WeTransfer uses the highest security standards and is compliant with EU privacy laws. Better still, recipients downloading files sent through WeTransfer won’t get bombarded with advertisements; rather, they’ll see beautiful wallpapers picked by the WeTransfer editorial team. If you’re interested in additional eye-pleasing backgrounds, check out WeTransfer Moment.

Fire File Sender allows you to send files up to 4GB each. Once the file is successfully uploaded, a link and a six-digit code is generated for you to share. The link and code will expire 10 minutes after upload or after one download—whichever occurs first. Also, within the 10-minute time frame, you have the ability to stop sharing the file. Fire File Sender uses the browser sidebar for the uploading and downloading of files through Send Anywhere APIs.

Best of all, neither WeTransfer, nor Fire File Sender require an account to use their service. The enhanced anonymity of the file exchange, plus the automatic deletion of files (Dropbox and Google require manual deletion), make these extensions strong choices for privacy-minded folks.

I should also mention Firefox Send, though it’s a web service and not an extension. Firefox Send is Mozilla’s home-grown solution to file sharing. Created by the Mozilla Test Pilot team, Firefox Send allows you to securely share files up to 1GB in size directly from your browser. Any links generated will either expire after one download or 24 hours, whichever comes first. Taking privacy matters even further, files distributed through Firefox Send are encrypted directly in the browser and then uploaded to Mozilla. Mozilla does not have the ability to access the content of the encrypted file.  (The Test Pilot team constantly strives to improve on their project; its development progress can be viewed on GitHub.)

 

The post Share files easily with extensions appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

The New Thunderbird Add-ons Site is Now Live

Firefox

As we announced last week,  SeaMonkey and Thunderbird add-ons will now reside on https://addons.thunderbird.net. Add-ons for Firefox and Firefox for Android will remain on https://addons.mozilla.org (AMO). We wanted to let you know that the split is now done and the new site is live.

If you run into any issues on the new site, you can file them here. For AMO, use this link instead. We’ve also set up an FAQ on the Mozilla Wiki explaining the reasons behind this move and providing some guidance for people looking for help on it.

The post The New Thunderbird Add-ons Site is Now Live appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Upcoming changes for themes

Firefox

Theming capabilities on addons.mozilla.org (AMO) will undergo significant changes in the coming weeks. We will be switching to a new theme technology that will give designers more flexibility to create their themes. It includes support for multiple background images, and styling of toolbars and tabs. We will migrate all existing themes to this new format, and their users should not notice any changes.

As part of this upgrade, we need to remove the theme preview feature on AMO. This feature allowed you to hover over the theme image and see it applied on your browser toolbar. It doesn’t work very reliably because image sizes and network speed can make it slow and unpredictable.

Given that the new themes are potentially more complex, the user experience is likely to worsen. Thus, we decided to drop this in favor of a simpler install and uninstall experience (which is also coming soon). The preview feature will be disabled starting today.

It’s only a matter of weeks before we release the new theme format on AMO. Keep following this blog for that announcement.

The post Upcoming changes for themes appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Larger image support on addons.mozilla.org

Firefox

Last week, we pushed an update that enables add-on developers to use larger image sizes on their add-on listings.

We hadn’t updated our size limits for many years, so the images on listing pages are fairly small. The image viewer on the new website design scales the screenshots to fit the viewport, which makes these limitations even more obvious.

For example, look at this old listing of mine.

Old listing image on new site

The image view on the new site. Everything in this screenshot is old.

The image below better reflects how the magnified screenshot looks like on my browser tab.

All of the pixels

Ugh

After this fix, developers can upload images as large as they prefer. The maximum image display size on the site is 1280×800 pixels, which is what we recommend they upload. For other image sizes we recommend using the 1.6:1 ratio. If you want to update your listings to take advantage of larger image sizes, you might want to consider using these tips to give your listing a makeover to attract more users.

We look forward to beautiful, crisper images on add-on listing pages.

The post Larger image support on addons.mozilla.org appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Updates to Add-on Review Policies

Firefox

The Firefox add-ons platform provides developers with a great level of freedom to create amazing features that help make users’ lives easier. We’ve made some significant changes to add-ons over the past year, and would like to make developers aware of some updates to the policies that guide add-ons that are distributed publicly. We regularly review and update our policies in reaction to changes in the add-on ecosystem, and to ensure both developers and users have a safe and enjoyable experience.

With the transition to the WebExtensions API, we have updated our policies to better reflect the characteristics of the new technology, and to better clarify the  practices that have been established over the years.

As existing add-ons may require changes to comply with the new policies, we would like to encourage add-on developers to preview the policies, and make any necessary preparations to adjust their add-ons.

Some notable changes and clarifications include:

  • With some minor exceptions for add-ons listed on addons.mozilla.org, all policies apply to any add-ons that are distributed to consumers in any manner.
  • Add-on listings should have an easy-to-read description about everything it does.
  • Add-ons that contain obfuscated, minified or otherwise machine-generated code, must provide the original, non-generated source code to Mozilla during submission as well as instructions on how to reproduce the build.
  • Add-ons that collect, store, use or share user data must clearly disclose the behavior in the privacy policy and summarize it in the description. Users must be provided with a way to control the data collection.
  • Collecting data not explicitly required for the add-on’s basic functionality is prohibited. Add-ons must only collect information about add-on performance and/or use.

If you have questions about the updated policies or would like to provide feedback, feel free to reply on the discourse thread.

The new policies will be effective April 1, 2018.

The post Updates to Add-on Review Policies appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Discontinuing support for beta versions

Firefox

addons.mozilla.org (AMO) has supported a way for developers to upload beta versions of their add-ons. This allowed power users to test upcoming features and fixes before they are published to all users. It has been a useful feature to have for some developers.

However, the feature suffers from a few problems:

  • Users can’t be easily moved to the release channel. This can strand users in an abandoned beta channel.
  • Because of this, the beta channel needs to be updated as frequently as the release channel.
  • It adds complexity to some of the most complex AMO code.

For these reasons, and because usage of this feature is low, we will be discontinuing support for this feature in the next month.

Using self-hosted versions for testing

AMO supports signing self-hosted (unlisted) versions, which we believe is a good replacement. With self-hosted versions, developers can create multiple development update channels if needed. They can easily move users between channels. The main caveat is that the files and update mechanisms need to be hosted by the developer. This documentation on add-on distribution explains this a little further.

We communicated this change to developers who use beta versions a few weeks ago. If you have a beta version installed, you may be notified soon with instructions on how to move forward. We also recommend that you visit the add-on’s listing page for any updates from the developer.

This change will ease AMO development moving forward. Moreover, it helps us work on new features that more users will enjoy. If you have questions or comments about this, we invite you to join this discussion thread.

 

The post Discontinuing support for beta versions appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Test the new look of addons.mozilla.org!

AMO (addons.mozilla.org) is getting a fresh new look this November, along with the upcoming Firefox Quantum. Here’s a preview:

Listing page on new front-end

The current look on the development site, not quite final.

And this is not just a new coat of paint. Curated content — particularly in the homepage — is undergoing an overhaul to recommend the best add-ons to users. Additionally, the technology stack powering AMO has undergone important changes, making it faster to load and easier to work with in the future.

Fully responsive design

AMO responsive design

We released the new design for the mobile version of AMO months ago. Now we’re expanding it for larger resolutions. The site is fully responsive, adapting smoothly to different screen sizes and orientations.

Behind the scenes: React and front-end separation

The new AMO is built on the popular Redux + React combo. (Some recent news pointed at concerns with the licensing of the React code, which have been addressed now.)

Rewriting the front-end code was a great opportunity to improve on other areas:

  • The front-end and back-end are now separated and communicate via an API that other clients can hook into. It’s documented here.
  • The new front-end has very high unit test coverage, and the aim is to reach 100%. This makes it much easier to detect during development if a code change broke a feature.
  • Server-side rendering will significantly improve page load times.

Try out the new look!

You can enable the new look for AMO now. Just look for the View Mobile Site link in the footer:

View mobile link in footerIf you want to go back to the old site, look in the footer again for a link labeled View classic desktop site.

View classic site link in footerSome pages won’t be ported to the new design by November. Notably, user profile pages and collection management. They are still available, but using the old look. Also, some features like contributions and the permissions view in listing pages will be added in later iterations.

If you run into any issues with the new design, or think something’s missing, please file an issue (bonus points if you test on our development site first!). Some may be things we already know about and we plan to add soon. Even in those cases your feedback will help us prioritize our follow-up work.

If you’re not sure if something is an issue or not, or just want to give general feedback about the new design, please post in this forum thread.

Credits

Lots of people have worked on the new front-end and the supporting APIs, so I won’t try to list them all. I’ll just highlight tofumatt, pwalm, kumar, and muffinresearch, who did and continue to do the bulk of the work for the new site. Scott DeVaney leads the content discovery effort, which will be visible mostly on the homepage (for now!). And, of course, we couldn’t do all of this without the help of the QA team lead by Krupa Raj, and our many community contributors.

The post Test the new look of addons.mozilla.org! appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.