2019 Add-ons Community Meetup in London

Firefox

At the end of October, the Firefox add-ons team hosted a day-long meetup with a group of privacy extension developers as part of the Mozilla Festival in London, UK. With 2019 drawing to a close, this meetup provided an excellent opportunity to hear feedback from developers involved in the Recommended Extensions program and to get input about some of our plans for 2020.

Recommended Extensions

Earlier this summer we launched the Recommended Extensions program to provide Firefox users with a list of curated extensions that meet the highest standards of security, utility, and user experience. Participating developers agree to actively maintain their extensions and to have each new version undergo a code review. We invited a handful of Recommended developers to attend the meetup and gather their feedback about the program so far. We also discussed more general issues around publishing content on addons.mozilla.org (AMO), such as ways of addressing user concerns over permission prompts.

Scott DeVaney, Senior Editorial & Campaign Manager for AMO, led a session on ways developers can improve a few key experiential components of their extensions. These tips may be helpful to the developer community at large:

  • AMO listing page. Use clear, descriptive language to convey exactly what your extension does and how it benefits users. Try to avoid overly technical jargon that average users might not understand. Also, screenshots are critical. Be sure to always include updated, relevant screenshots that really capture your extension’s experience.
  • Extension startup/post-install experience. First impressions are really important. Developers are encouraged to take great care in how they introduce new users to their extension experience. Is it clear how users are supposed to engage with the content? Or are they left to figure out a bunch of things on their own with little or no guidance? Conversely, is the guidance too cumbersome (i.e. way too much text for a user to comfortably process?)
  • User interface. If your extension involves customization options or otherwise requires active user engagement, be sure your settings management is intuitive and all UI controls are obvious.

Monetization. It is of course entirely fine for developers to solicit donations for their work or possibly even charge for a paid service. However, monetary solicitation should be tastefully appropriate. For instance, some extensions solicit donations just after installation, which makes little sense given the extension hasn’t proven any value to the user yet. We encourage developers to think through their user experience to find the most compelling moments to ask for donations or attempt to convert users to a paid tier.

WebExtensions API and Manifest v3

One of our goals for this meetup was to learn more about how Firefox extension developers will be affected by Chrome’s proposed changes to their extensions API (commonly referred to as Manifest v3).  As mentioned in our FAQ about Manifest v3, Mozilla plans to adopt some of these changes to maintain compatibility for developers and users, but will diverge from Chrome where it makes sense.

Much of the discussion centered around the impact of changes to the `blocking webRequest` API and replacing background scripts with service workers. Attendees outlined scenarios where changes in those areas will cause breakage to their extensions, and the group spent some time exploring possible alternative approaches for Firefox to take. Overall, attendees agreed that Chrome’s proposed changes to host permission requests could give users more say over when extensions can run. We also discussed ideas on how the WebExtensions API could be improved in light of the goals Manifest v3 is pursuing.

More information about changes to the WebExtensions API for Manifest v3 compatibility will be available in early 2020. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this conversation over the last few months on our forums, mailing list, and blogs!

Firefox for Android

We recently announced that Firefox Preview, Mozilla’s next generation browser for Android built on GeckoView, will support extensions through the WebExtensions API. Members of the Android engineering team will build select APIs needed to initially support a small set of Recommended Extensions.

The group discussed a wishlist of features for extensions on Android, including support for page actions and browser actions, history search, and the ability to manipulate context menus. These suggestions will be considered as work on Firefox Preview moves forward.

Thank you

Many thanks to the developers who joined us for the meetup. It was truly a pleasure to meet you in person and to hear first hand about your experiences.

The add-ons team would also like to thank Mandy Chan for making us feel at home in Mozilla’s London office and all of her wonderful support during the meetup.

The post 2019 Add-ons Community Meetup in London appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Firefox Preview/GeckoView Add-ons Support

Firefox

Back in June, Mozilla announced Firefox Preview, an early version of the new browser for Android that is built on top of Firefox’s own mobile browser engine, GeckoView. We’ve gotten great feedback about the superior performance of GeckoView so far. Not only is it faster than ever, it also opens up many opportunities for building deeper privacy features that we have already started exploring, and a lot of users were wondering what this step meant for add-ons.

We’re happy to confirm that GeckoView is currently building support for extensions through the WebExtensions API. This feature will be available in Firefox Preview, and we are looking forward to offering a great experience for both mobile users and developers.

Bringing GeckoView and Firefox Preview up to par with the APIs that were supported previously in Firefox for Android won’t happen overnight. For the remainder of 2019 and leading into 2020, we are focusing on building support for a selection of content from our Recommended Extensions program that work well on mobile and cover a variety of utilities and features.

At the moment, Firefox Preview does not yet officially support extensions. While some members of the community have discovered that some extensions inadvertently work in Firefox Preview, we do not recommend attempting to install them until they are officially supported as other issues may arise. We expect to implement support for the initial selection of extensions in the first half of 2020, and will post updates here as we make progress.

If you haven’t yet had a chance, why don’t you give Firefox Preview a try and let us know what you think.

The post Firefox Preview/GeckoView Add-ons Support appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

New Caching Change Could Dramatically Accelerate Google Chrome

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

Google is exploring a new method of improving site performance in Google Chrome, this time by adding a new back-caching feature that would keep certain data in memory, even after you’ve left a site. The company writes:

A back/forward cache (bfcache) caches whole pages (including the JavaScript heap) when navigating away from a page, so that the full state of the page can be restored when the user navigates back. Think of it as pausing a page when you leave it and playing it when you return.

The company states that this feature could improve performance by up to 19 percent in mobile Chrome, and by 10 percent on desktop PC based on the number of site interactions that represent a back/forward usage pattern. This type of caching wouldn’t accelerate sites you visit on a regular basis or improve performance overall. It’s a specific change that would make it easier to surf when moving forward and back on the same site after having accessed it the first time.

According to Google, Chrome isn’t using the default WebKit implementation of a bfcache, due to incompatibilities with Google’s multi-process architecture. Google also has work to do on the browser, ensuring that JavaScript actually freezes on the page to be cached, rather than continuing to run in the background. Allowing background JavaScript to run from cached pages would be a significant privacy and security issue.

This is a feature that Firefox and Safari already use, albeit apparently in a somewhat different way. I tried comparing Chrome and Firefox in an ordinary desktop comparison, checking the load times on several sites in succession in the same manner as the videos on Google’s developer blog. Firefox may have outperformed Chrome slightly in these tests, but not enough for me to feel comfortable declaring it a winner, and it didn’t produce the same behavior as the Chrome test did for Google. The instant load of the previous page due to bfcache doesn’t seem to happen the same way. Then again, the video is supposed to show how the feature could work in the future, not serve as a final illustration of implementation.

These changes could increase RAM usage in Chrome, but Google plans to minimize this with smarter rules about when and how to keep data in RAM while pages are suspended. The goal is to implement the feature throughout 2019 and roll it into shipping Chrome in 2020.

Now Read:

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.

Get the Firefox Focus Experience Now on Android Smartphones

Remember Firefox Focus, Mozilla’s privacy-based web browser? Well, it has finally made the jump over to the Android operating system after making its debut on iOS devices.

For the most part, the Firefox Focus experience on Android is very much the same as the one that can be found on iOS devices. Firefox Focus for Android retains all of the features that makes the browser a great alternative such as the ability to block ads, analytics and social trackers.

settings

Also, in the Android version of Firefox Focus is the ability to disable the custom web fonts on a website to make web browsing even faster, as well as an Erase button that lets you wipe your browser clean on-demand.

Unfortunately, some of the browser’s demerits are also present on the Android version as Firefox Focus has yet to implement a tab browsing.

disable custom web

While the Firefox Focus experience is largely the same as the iOS version, the Android version of the browser did receive some new tricks. Android users are given the option to set Firefox Focus as their main browser, a feature that isn’t available to iOS users.

In addition, Firefox Focus for Android now comes with a reminder notification that lets its users erase their browsing history without even needing to be on the browser.

erase browsing history
10 Firefox Plugins For A Safer Browsing Experience

.no-js #ref-block-post-15177 .ref-block__thumbnail { background-image: url(“http://media02.hongkiat.com/thumbs/250×160/firefox-security-plugins.jpg”); }

10 Firefox Plugins For A Safer Browsing Experience

Mozilla’s Firefox browser is a user-friendly and feature-rich browser, with around 35% of all web users using it…Read more

Get the Firefox Focus Experience Now on Android Smartphones

Remember Firefox Focus, Mozilla’s privacy-based web browser? Well, it has finally made the jump over to the Android operating system after making its debut on iOS devices.

For the most part, the Firefox Focus experience on Android is very much the same as the one that can be found on iOS devices. Firefox Focus for Android retains all of the features that makes the browser a great alternative such as the ability to block ads, analytics and social trackers.

settings

Also, in the Android version of Firefox Focus is the ability to disable the custom web fonts on a website to make web browsing even faster, as well as an Erase button that lets you wipe your browser clean on-demand.

Unfortunately, some of the browser’s demerits are also present on the Android version as Firefox Focus has yet to implement a tab browsing.

disable custom web

While the Firefox Focus experience is largely the same as the iOS version, the Android version of the browser did receive some new tricks. Android users are given the option to set Firefox Focus as their main browser, a feature that isn’t available to iOS users.

In addition, Firefox Focus for Android now comes with a reminder notification that lets its users erase their browsing history without even needing to be on the browser.

erase browsing history

Compatibility Update: Add-ons on Firefox for Android

Firefox

We announced our plans for add-on compatibility and the transition to WebExtensions in the Road to Firefox 57 blog post. However, we weren’t clear on what this meant for Firefox for Android.

We did this intentionally, since at the time the plan wasn’t clear to us either. WebExtensions APIs are landing on Android later than on desktop. Many of them either don’t apply or need additional work to be useful on mobile. It wasn’t clear if moving to WebExtensions-only on mobile would cause significant problems to our users.

The Plan for Android

After looking into the most critical add-ons for mobile and the implementation plan for WebExtensions, we have decided it’s best to have desktop and mobile share the same timeline. This means that mobile will be WebExtensions-only at the same time as desktop Firefox, in version 57. The milestones specified in the Road to Firefox 57 post now apply to all platforms.

The post Compatibility Update: Add-ons on Firefox for Android appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

AMO Has a New Look on Android

The mobile version of addons.mozilla.org (AMO) recently debuted a new appearance. It’s not a complete redesign, but rather the start of an iterative process that will take months to fully transform AMO for mobile. The new look is also a preview of what’s to come for desktop AMO. Once the mobile design elements mature, we’ll apply the same concepts to desktop, likely sometime later this year.

“Parity between the two platforms is a high priority,” says Sr. Visual Designer Philip Walmsley. “We’re using mobile to test and learn what works, and uplifting that into the desktop designs. And anything new we discover along the way on desktop will be designed back into mobile, as well.”

Our main goal was to make browsing add-ons more intuitive and effortless. To that end, the new design presents content in a cleaner, more streamlined manner. There are fewer buttons to tap, but the ones that remain are bold and clear.

Illustrated in the images above, the homepage displays a subset of categories represented primarily though iconography… The density of information on an add-on detail page is more balanced now, with only essential information in clear view… and theme previews are bigger and screenshots more prominent.

There’s a bit more color, too. In general much of the aesthetic was in need of a modernizing overhaul. These recent changes are just the start. Plenty more to come. If you’re exploring the new AMO on your Android device and spot a bug, please feel free to let us know about it.

The post AMO Has a New Look on Android appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Contribution Opportunity: Mobile Redesign Testing

Firefox

Calling all testers!

On March 9, a new look will be coming to addons.mozilla.org (AMO) for Android. This redesign will feature a cleaner, more user-friendly add-ons store on Android devices and tablets. We would love your help to track down any remaining bugs.

If you have access to an Android phone and a passion for bug-hunting, we encourage you to look at the instructions on this etherpad and the Contributors Guide and start testing. No prior testing experience is required to contribute. Please be sure to record your name and any bugs you worked on using the etherpad. After the release on March 9, we still welcome you to file any bugs you see!

If you have any questions or would like to talk to your fellow bug hunters during redesign testing, join the #amo channel at irc.mozilla.org.

Happy testing!

Firefox Focus – Mozilla’s very own minimalist private browser

Browsing the internet privately is made easy these days as many internet browsers come with their own version of “Incognito” mode. However, enabling this private browsing session requires one to dig through the browser’s settings. In an attempt to provide a private browsing appearance right from the get go, Mozilla has brought its Firefox Focus browser online.

How to Optimize Firefox for Better Performance

.no-js #ref-block-post-11149 .ref-block__thumbnail { background-image: url(“http://media02.hongkiat.com/thumbs/250×160/firefox-optimization-tips.jpg”); }

How to Optimize Firefox for Better Performance

Your web browser of choice is truly the gateway into accessing the global Internet. The web has been…Read more

Currently available only on iOS devices, Firefox Focus is a browser that is built around privacy. From the moment you boot up the browser on your device, Firefox Focus is set to block ads, analytics and social trackers by default. All of these settings can be toggled on and off via a slider found in the menus.

firefox focus block ads

If that isn’t enough for you, you can set Firefox Focus to block additional content trackers and even disable a website’s custom web fonts, so you get to browse the website faster. The trade off for doing so is that you might risk breaking site compatibility.

To take the whole privacy shtick a step further, Firefox Focus comes with an “Erase” button located at the upper right hand corner of the browser. Tap it and Firefox Focus will immediately erase your current browsing history, leaving other people none the wiser about your browsing habits.

firefo focus

While Firefox Focus’ dedication to privacy is admirable, the browser itself is rather rough around the edges. Features that are standard on other browsers such as multiple tab browsing isn’t available on the current build of Firefox Focus.

Despite the general “early-build” feel that the browser has, Firefox Focus is an interesting browser to have when privacy is of utmost importance. While the browser itself won’t be competing against the likes of Safari or Chrome just yet, if Mozilla decides to properly support Firefox Focus, the browser may prove to be a worthwhile addition to your iOS device in the long run.

10 Coolest Hidden Firefox Settings You Should Know

.no-js #ref-block-post-27666 .ref-block__thumbnail { background-image: url(“http://media02.hongkiat.com/thumbs/250×160/hidden-firefox-settings.jpg”); }

10 Coolest Hidden Firefox Settings You Should Know

There are plenty of settings that Firefox offers besides general ones you can find in the Options menu.…Read more