Promoted Add-ons Pilot Wrap-up

A few months ago, we launched a pilot for a new program to help developers promote their extensions on addons.mozilla.org (AMO). The main goal of this program was to increase the number of add-ons that our staff can review and verify as compliant with Mozilla policies and provide developers with options for boosting their discoverability on AMO.

For the pilot, we tested one iteration of how this type of program might work. Pilot developers would have their add-ons manually reviewed for policy compliance. After successfully passing manual review, the pilot add-ons received a Verified badge on their AMO listing page and in the Firefox Add-ons Manager (about:addons), while we removed the standard warning label about the risks of installing third party software.

Add-on listing page example with verified badge

Pilot developers could also promote their Verified add-ons on the AMO homepage.

AMO Homepage with Sponsored Ssection

During the pilot, developers participated at no cost. However, the intent of the experimentation was to determine if the Promoted Add-ons program made sense to graduate into a paid service for developers.

After reviewing the pilot results, we have decided not to move forward with this iteration of the program. Later this month the Verified badges for pilot participants will be deactivated and the Sponsored shelf on the AMO homepage removed. This was a difficult decision, but we believe there are other, more impactful ways we can help add-on developers be successful; and we’ve turned our attention to exploring new experimental programs. As we chart new developer focused efforts in 2021, we’ll be sure to post updates here.

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Extensions in Firefox for Android Update

Firefox

Starting with Firefox 85, which will be released January 25, 2021, Firefox for Android users will be able to install supported Recommended Extensions directly from addons.mozilla.org (AMO). Previously, extensions for mobile devices could only be installed from the Add-ons Manager, which caused some confusion for people accustomed to the desktop installation flow. We hope this update provides a smoother installation experience for mobile users.

As a quick note, we plan to enable the installation buttons on AMO during our regularly scheduled site update on Thursday, January 21. These buttons will only work if you are using a pre-release version of Firefox for Android until version 85 is released on Tuesday, January 25.

This wraps up our initial plans to enable extension support for Firefox for Android. In the upcoming months, we’ll continue to work on optimizing add-on performance on mobile.  As a reminder, you can use an override setting to install other extensions listed on AMO on Firefox for Android Nightly.

We’ll be sure to provide more updates on this blog about extensions in Fenix as they become available.

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Friend of Add-ons: Andrei Petcu

Please meet our newest Friend of Add-ons, Andrei Petcu! Andrei is a developer and a free software enthusiast. Over the last four years, he has developed several extensions and themes for Firefox, assisted users with troubleshooting browser issues, and helped improve Mozilla products by filing issues and contributing code.

Andrei made a significant contribution to the add-ons community earlier this year by expanding  Firefox Color’s ability to customize the browser. He hadn’t originally planned to make changes to Firefox Color, but he became interested in themer.dev, an open-source project that lets users create custom themes for their development environments. After seeing another user ask if themer could create a custom Firefox theme, Andrei quickly investigated implementation options and set to work.

Once a user creates a Firefox theme using themer.dev, they can install it in one of two ways: they can submit the theme through addons.mozilla.org (AMO) and then install the signed .xpi file, or they can apply it as a custom theme through Firefox Color without requiring a signature.

For the latter, there was a small problem: Firefox Color could only support customizations to the most popular parts of the browser’s themeable areas, like the top bar’s background color, the search bar color, and the colors for active and inactive tabs. If a user wanted to modify unsupported areas, like the sidebar or the background color of a new tab page, they wouldn’t be able to see those modifications if they applied the theme through Firefox Color; they would need to install it via a signed .xpi file.

Andrei reached out with a question: if he submitted a patch to Firefox Color that would expand the number of themeable areas, would it be accepted? Could he go one step further and add another panel to the Firefox Color site so users could explore customizing those areas in real time?

We were enthusiastic about his proposal, and not long after, Andrei began submitting patches to gradually add support. Thanks to his contributions, Firefox Color users can now customize 29 (!) more areas of the browser. You can play with modifying these areas by navigating to the “Advanced Colors” tab of color.firefox.com (make sure you have the Firefox Color extension installed to see these changes live in your browser!).

A screenshot of the Advanced colors tab on color.firefox.com. You can toggle colors for various backgrounds, frames, sidebars, and fields.

If you’re a fan of minimalist themes, you may want to install Firefox Color to try out Andrei’s flat white or flat dark themes. He has also created examples of using advanced colors to subtly modify Firefox’s default light and dark themes.

We hope designers enjoy the flexibility to add more fine-grained customization to their themes for Firefox (even if they use their powers to make Firefox look like Windows 95).

Currently, Andrei is working on a feature to let users  import and export passwords in about:logins. Once that wraps up, he plans to contribute code to the new Firefox for Android.

On behalf of the entire Add-ons Team, thank you for all of your wonderful contributions, Andrei!

If you are interested in getting involved with the add-ons community, please take a look at our current contribution opportunities.

To browse themes for Firefox, visit addons.mozilla.org. You can also learn how to make your custom themes for Firefox on Firefox Extension Workshop.

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Extensions in Firefox 85

Firefox

Before we get into the updates coming to Firefox 85, I want to highlight two changes that we uplifted to Firefox 84, now on release:

Now, back to our regular programming. Here’s what’s coming in Firefox 85, which is scheduled to be released on January 26, 2021:

And finally, we want to remind you about upcoming site isolation changes with Project Fission. As we previously mentioned, the drawWindow method is being deprecated as part of this work. If you use this API, we recommend that you switch to the captureTab method.

About 15% of users on Nightly currently run with Fission. If you see any bug reports that you can’t replicate, remember to test with Fission enabled. Instructions for enabling Fission can be found on the wiki.

Thanks

Big thanks to Liz Krane, Ankush Dua, and Michael Goossens for their contributions to this release!

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Extensions in Firefox 84

Here are our highlights of what’s coming up in the Firefox 84 release:

Manage Optional Permissions in Add-ons Manager

As we mentioned last time, users will be able to manage optional permissions of installed extensions from the Firefox Add-ons Manager (about:addons).

Optional permissions in about:addons

We recommend that extensions using optional permissions listen for browser.permissions.onAdded and browser.permissions.onRemoved API events. This ensures the extension is aware of the user granting or revoking optional permissions.

Thanks

We would like to thank Tom Schuster for his contributions to this release.

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