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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Extensions in Firefox 83

In addition to our brief update on extensions in Firefox 83, this post contains information about changes to the Firefox release calendar and a feature preview for Firefox 84.

Thanks to a contribution from Richa Sharma, the error message logged when a tabs.sendMessage is passed an invalid tabID is now much easier to understand. It had regressed to a generic message due to a previous refactoring.

End of Year Release Calendar

The end of 2020 is approaching (yay?), and as usual people will be taking time off and will be less available. To account for this, the Firefox Release Calendar has been updated to extend the Firefox 85 release cycle by 2 weeks. We will release Firefox 84 on 15 December and Firefox 85 on 26 January. The regular 4-week release cadence should resume after that.

Coming soon in Firefox 84: Manage Optional Permissions in Add-ons Manager

Starting with Firefox 84, currently available on the Nightly pre-release channel, 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 the browser.permissions.onAdded and browser.permissions.onRemoved API events. This ensures the extension is aware of the user granting or revoking optional permissions.

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Extensions in Firefox 82

Firefox

Before we get to the Firefox 82 updates, I want to let you know that Philipp has passed the baton for these blog posts over to me. I plan to stick to the same format you know and hopefully love, but leave a comment if there’s anything you’d like to see change in future installments.

Language Packs

Starting with Firefox 82, language packs will be updated in tandem with Firefox updates. Users with an active language pack will no longer have to deal with the hassle of defaulting back to English while the language pack update is pending delivery.

Misc updates in Firefox 82

The cookie permission is no longer required in order to obtain the cookieStoreId for a tab, making it possible to identify container tabs without additional permissions.

The error message logged when a webRequest event listener is passed invalid match patterns in the urls value is now much easier to understand.

Firefox site isolation by default starting in Nightly 83

As mentioned earlier, we’re working on a big change to Firefox that isolates sites from one another. In the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out an experiment to enable isolation by default for most Nightly users, starting in Firefox 83, with plans for a similar experiment on Beta by the end of the year.

For extensions that deal with screenshots, we’ve extended the captureTab and captureVisibleTab methods to enable capturing an arbitrary area of the page, outside the currently visible viewport. This should cover functionality previously enabled by the (long deprecated) drawWindow method, and you can find more details about new rect and scale options on the ImageDetails MDN page.

While we haven’t seen many reports of extension incompatibilities till now, Fission is a big architectural change to Firefox, and the web platform has many corner cases. You can help us find anything we missed by testing your extensions with Fission enabled, and reporting any issues on Bugzilla.

Thanks

Thank you to Michael Goossens for his multiple contributions to this release.

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What to expect for the upcoming deprecation of FTP in Firefox

Firefox

The Firefox platform development team recently announced plans to first disable, and then remove the implementation for built-in FTP from the browser.  FTP is a protocol to transfer files from one host to another. It predates the Web and was not designed with security in mind. Now, we have decided to remove it because it is an infrequently used and insecure protocol. After FTP is disabled in Firefox, people can still use it to download resources if they really want to, but the protocol will be handled by whatever external application is supported on their platform.

FTP was disabled on the Firefox Nightly pre-release channel on April 9. To mitigate the risk of potentially causing breakages during the COVID-19 pandemic, FTP will not be disabled from the Firefox release channel until at least July 2020. If the pandemic situation has not improved by July 28 (the expected release date for Firefox 79), there may be further delays.

Add-ons that use FTP may experience breakage on Nightly but will continue to work as usual on the Beta and release channels. We want to help developers address these breakages as best as we can while this change is on Nightly. If you maintain an extension that uses FTP, please test it on Nightly (or on any current version of Firefox by flipping the preference network.ftp.enabled to false) and file a bug if you notice any issues. We will also evaluate whether new features should be added to help you maintain file transfer functionality.

In the long-term, we encourage developers to move away from using FTP in their extensions. However, if you would like to continue using FTP for as long as it is enabled, we encourage you to wrap any features that require FTP and use the browserSettings API to check whether FTP is enabled before exposing that functionality.

Please let us know if there are any questions on our developer community forum.

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