Mozilla plans to discontinue Firefox’s add-on system in 2017 to replace it with the up and coming WebExtensions standard.
The organization wants to accomplish a series of goals with the move including making add-ons less dependent on Firefox code (less breaking caused by changes), easier review processes, easier porting from and to other browsers, and full multi-process compatibility.
The downside is that all legacy add-ons will stop working once Mozilla cuts of support for these add-ons in a future Firefox version.
Add-on developers have only two options to move forward at this point in time: spend a considerable amount of time porting their add-ons so that it is provided as a WebExtension, or abandon the add-on.
Some add-on authors, like Quicksilver, have stated already that they will quit add-on development for Firefox. Others have noted that Mozilla’s timing is off, and that the fact WebExtensions is pretty much a technology that is still in development, does not help either.
Crowdfunding for Firefox EPUBReader add-on
The author of the EPUBReader add-on for Firefox hopes to keep the add-on alive through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
EPUBReader is a popular ePub document viewer for Firefox that has roughly 400,000 users at this point in time. The add-on is rated highly, and according to the author in the top 30 of most popular Firefox add-ons.
The add-on needs almost a complete rewrite according to the developer who works as a freelance software developer. The requested sum, €25,000, allows him to work on porting EPUBReader so that it will remain available for Firefox users once Mozilla turns off the legacy add-on system in the web browser.
Firefox announced massive changes to the Firefox Add-on interface. The result will be, that EPUBReader won’t work any longer in a few months. To avoid this, it’s necessary to rewrite EPUBReader almost completely. As EPUBReader is a very complex Add-on, the effort to do this is high.
I’m working as a freelance software developer. So the fundraiser is run to allow me the full-time work on the needed development.
The crowdfunding campaign is at €15,295 at the time of writing of the goal of €25,000 with 26 more days to go.
Most features that EPUBReader supports right now will also be supported by the WebExtension version. There are some differences though. On the good side, the 250 Megabyte limit for ebooks is lifted, and ebooks are opened in memory which should make them open faster.
The downside is that the new version won’t support private libraries. The reason given is that the WebExtensions API does not support the functions needed for that.
The developer hopes to have a release version ready by mid 2017 if the Kickstarter campaign is successful.
Now You: Do you think crowdfunding could become an option for porting Firefox add-ons that would not be ported otherwise?