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Firefox Unveils Overhaul of Add-ons Manager

Gordon Kelly


Firefox Unveils Overhaul of Add-ons Manager

I don't know about you, but one of the switching points for me and many others who recently left Firefox for Google Chrome was the latter's adoption of third party extensions. Furthermore, Chrome's approach allows for extension installs and uninstalls without any need for browser restarts while they also tend to consume less system resources and their sandboxed nature means they don't crash so browser. Thankfully Mozilla is fighting back...

The open source developer has ripped the veil of its next generation add-on manager which, while not providing the radical overhaul promised by the ongoing Jetpack project, does make some much needed changes. The most fundamental of these is centralisation.

At long, long last Firefox users can see add-ons, custom search engines, themes, languages and plugins all located in the same place and neatly integrated into the sidebar with Javascript. Finding new add-ons will also be available directly from the sidebar and Jetpack extensions - which are expected to be run alongside existing add-ons when they do eventually arrive in a final format - will be housed in there as well.

"What you see on trunk over the next few days is just the initial steps to switching to a redesigned UI and (more importantly from my point of view) a totally new extension manager backend that will make it easier for us to improve and build upon in the future," explained Mozilla's Dave Townsend. He also warns "there will be some add-ons broken in the new builds", but this is to be expected.

The new Add-on manager will be made available only in Firefox's nightly builds at this stage and, if you don't know where to find those, it really does suggest you should steer clear of it for now in this raw form. Then again, I'm all about choice - so here's a link... it could be the start of a whole new Firefox era.


Via Oxymoronical (Dave Townsend's blog}

Image courtesy of Boriss' Blog


May 3, 2010, 4:49 am

Good news - Firefox's add-on system needed an overhaul. Now, if they could just make Firefox as responsive, and quick to startup, as Chrome I might be tempted back. Oh and a new, updated, user interface wouldn't hurt either.


May 3, 2010, 5:59 am

Probably the main reason i havent switched to Chrome. I just cannot enjoy my browsing experience without some of the add-ons i use on a daily basis with firefox.


May 3, 2010, 12:07 pm

@adoniteINK - interesting. What add-ons still tie you to Firefox? I ask not because they can or can't necessarily be replaced, but that it illustrates Google still hasn't done a good enough job with evolving its own app store to better demonstrate what is and isn't there. There are lots of gold nuggets, but - amusingly - finding them is a mess.

Martin Daler

May 3, 2010, 1:16 pm

I know it is heresy on these pages, but Adblock Plus is why I won't leave Firefox, that and a feeling of comfort with the browser I know. Every now and again I switch Adblock off, just to see what life would be like without it, and I know that some of the ads might actually be good for me (and TR) - might point me to the very bargain I didn't yet know I was looking for (only slight tongue in cheek there, really) - but I just can't go back to that sea-sick feeling I get when everything is swimming around the margins of the screen. Maybe TR should covertly sponsor a developer to come up with a version of Adblock-lite which freezes ads, presents just a static image from them. The daft thing is, in a gadget review magazine, I love the ads, magazines like Which? suffer for the lack of them, but then they are static.


May 3, 2010, 1:35 pm

@gordon - I think chrome is a great browser, but still use firefox mainly because of these add-ons

Gmailmanager - i know chrome has something similar, but this works fine

mouse gesture redox - which can be customized

Foxytunes - allows me to control foobar2000 from inside firefox

toolbar buttons / personal menus / tabs open relative / download statusbar

Firetune - speeds up firefox?

Ad block plus - only joking!! (Not on TR)

chrome is nearly there!

iain coghill

May 3, 2010, 2:14 pm

@Gordon - I perhaps shoudln't admit this on a commercial site, but ad-blockers on Chrome don't work nearly as well as Adblocker Plus on FF. They load all the adverts first and then hide them again, which is a bit pointless really.


May 3, 2010, 3:15 pm

i use stumble upon, and on chrome, it is not as good as there is no tool bar, and it sometimes disappears, otherwise all the others i use seem to be okay on chrome.


May 3, 2010, 4:34 pm


You are probably right although my chrome experience is really limited as the only time i made use was during the early days after its launch and then, add-ons like download managers, pop/ad blockers, etc weren't available. As for firefox, i just like the synergy between flashgot and DownThenAll or Jdownloader. AdBlockplus and probably greasemonkey are other essentials. The rest are mostly asthetic or media enhancers.


May 3, 2010, 4:51 pm

Not that you were asking me but, the add-on that keeps me using Firefox as an occasional browser is 'Modify Headers'. It's purely so I can keep watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report after they were blocked in this country late last year.


May 4, 2010, 12:51 am

ad-block plus, chromes implementation is weak.

Stumbleupon and greasemonkey.

Saying that though I do like Chrome but find it is still in its infancy. I tend to have problems with certain site elements on occasion (case in point, using mysupermarket got to the end of a £120 shop, tried to send to tesco and wouldnt let me enter a password, the box disappeared when clicking, but worked fine in FF), cant delete single elements from history only full days (dev version can but crashes on occasion when typing into the address bar) havent seen an option to remember tabs from last time and havent been bothered to look again. Last Pass is also a poor implementation compared to FF's version.

Chrome gets used for google searches and gdocs, FF mainly for everything else. The only thing I really like is pulling a tab out of chrome to put on my other screen such as a youtube vid and it continues to play the whole time without reloading.

Mini J

May 4, 2010, 4:39 am


I want to kiss you! I've been watching The Daily Show on More4 ever since they were blocked, but I haven't seen Colbert in over a year! Now I can watch the full extended interviews. I can't thank you enough!

Erm... well at least I can say I'll be using Firefox about 1% of the time now (Chrome is the other 99%)

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