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Mozilla Technology

Mozilla To Ditch Firefox Extensions? 415

Posted by Soulskill
from the greasemonkeying-around-with-a-good-thing dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Although some have raised concerns about how sane switching to Jetpack is, it seems that Mozilla's new gadget is bound to replace the powerful extension mechanism we know. Maybe Mozilla wants to replace all the great add-ons we use daily with gadgets that add an entry to the Tools menu, or maybe they just want to draw thousands of inexperienced developers into putting together a bunch of HTML and CSS that won't integrate in the UI. It seems to me that in light of recent decisions we've discussed before, Mozilla isn't going in the right direction. What do you think ?"
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Mozilla To Ditch Firefox Extensions?

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:21AM (#30714948) Homepage

    Seriously. Provide a link to the main stori(es) and that's about it. All this extra stuff is simply extraneous. How can we RTFA if we don't know which is the real frikken article?

    • by Rockoon (1252108) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:32AM (#30714994)
      The summarize:

      Mozilla is implementing Opera's User JavaScript.
      • by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:35AM (#30715008) Homepage Journal

        I believe all Chrome extensions are pure HTML and JS. Many people have criticized that learning how to use XUL is a pain, and that most memory leaks and instability issues come from poorly coded extensions. Everytime Firefox has a major release, they break all old extensions. People either update/re-write their extensions or they don't work anymore. If Mozilla says the latest Firefox requires your extension to operate as pure HTML and JS, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

        • by icebraining (1313345) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:13PM (#30715236) Homepage

          WTF? What about all those extensions that change Firefox UI, like Vimperator? Or those that use XPCOM to write files and launch apps? How can you do that in HTML and pure JS?

          • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:18PM (#30715266) Homepage

            WTF? What about all those extensions that change Firefox UI, like Vimperator? Or those that use XPCOM to write files and launch apps? How can you do that in HTML and pure JS?

            Look, it's a web browser. If you want an operating system, go download Emacs.

            • by Ziekheid (1427027) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:34PM (#30715370)

              The only reason I'm currently still using Firefox is because of some unique extensions, you can fully control how your browser looks and how it operates. With this functionality removed I would have no reason left to stick with Firefox.

              • by bheer (633842) <rbheer@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:48PM (#30715480)

                Mark parent +1 insightful. Compare Chrome's adblocking vs Firefox's, for example. Firefox wins. And there are lots of cool, useful addons, like TabHunter, which is a cool way to navigate through lots of tabs. Or FireFTP -- an FTP client that works wherever Firefox does. Or DownThemAll, a download manager that works wherever Firefox does. And so on.

                I think what Firefox _really_ needs is a Chrome-like Task Manager that shows you exactly how much memory/CPU/network your add-on is consuming. For example, on Chrome I know that the Gmail checker add-on takes 10MB memory, and ~0 CPU/network. I can always uninstall it if I think that's too much. Maybe when Firefox's Electrolysis project for per-process tabs goes mainstream, this feature will be implemented.

                • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @02:49PM (#30716340) Homepage

                  I think what Firefox _really_ needs is a Chrome-like Task Manager that shows you exactly how much memory/CPU/network your add-on is consuming.

                  I have been rallying for this functionality for years. It would improve the Firefox situation so, so much, and would likely provide a very useful tool for plugin/extension writers to troubleshoot/debug their work more thoroughly. Quality would go up across the line.

                  The way things are going, browsers are becoming more OS like every couple months. Gazelle is supposed to be the furthest implementation of such things to date, but Chrome is already well within "useful and well designed" territory.

                  What we need is the ability granularly manage independent elements within our browsers, because they're running a huge variety of different code: extensions which perform separate tasks; javascript on many different pages, Flash, embedded video, Java, etc. Really, when it comes down to it, most peoples' browsers are running more independently developed instances of code than they are running actual applications. (For instance, I'm running Firefox with 14 extensions and 3 plugins right now; I'm only running 6 independent applications, in addition to firefox).

                  The way it stands, Firefox is on par with Windows 3.1, in terms of process management. The closest thing to managing processes we've got is "taking a long time" javascript detection. Flash crashes, and Firefox crashes (unless you're using a crap wrapper). Extensions lead to Firefox leaking, and there's no way to granularly manage any of the data.

                  I saw Chrome's "process manager" for the first time the other day and was quite impressed. The fact that Google collects information via Chrome, and its limited extension/plugin repository (which doesn't provide the functionality I want) has so far kept me from giving it much of a serious look, but now, I'm having second thoughts.

              • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:11PM (#30717034)

                With this functionality removed I would have no reason left to stick with Firefox.

                You are so right. If they really did do this then they would lose so many of their users. This is so perfectly Netscape of them and as such I'd like to link to a suitable story from Netscape's past [joelonsoftware.com] in the hope to god that the Mozilla people can learn from the past.

                Dear Mozilla people:

                • if you are defining a new plugin interface only use it if it's better
                • if it is better; then implement the old interface using the new one. If you can't then it isn't better.
                • prove that you can refactor the plugins so that 95% or more of old plugins (and 100% of popular ones) work in the new system
                • Until you get 90% of old plugins working, don't let the new system anywhere near production.
                • Make it the responsibility of the people with the new interface to get the refactoring working for those 90% of plugins.

                It's so simple. The new should not be allowed to break the old. If the new has to do that, then it's design is bad.

            • by azgard (461476) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @03:20PM (#30716610)

              Learn from the masters, young padawan:
              http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2007/01/pinocchio-problem.html [blogspot.com]

              To quote:
              "Moving right along, world-class software systems always have an extension language and a plug-in system — a way for programmers to extend the base functionality of the application. Sometimes plugins are called "mods". It's a way for your users to grow the system in ways the designer didn't anticipate. ...
              Firefox has a plugin system. It's a real piece of crap, but it has one, and one thing you'll quickly discover if you build a plug-in system is that there will always be a few crazed programmers who learn to use it and push it to its limits. This may fool you into thinking you have a good plug-in system, but in reality it has to be both easy to use and possible to use without rebooting the system; Firefox breaks both of these cardinal rules, so it's in an unstable state: either it'll get fixed, or something better will come along and everyone will switch to that."

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by MikeFM (12491)
              If you want a crappy browser go use Internet Explorer.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by rliden (1473185)

            Check out the products list at Mozilla Labs [mozillalabs.com]. There are some interesting ideas being tossed around. They are exploring sync technology in a project called Weave. There is a project called Prism that lets you split web apps out from the browser. It seems like Mozilla is also trying to evolve and improve the way people use and develop for their browser system. Take a look at that page and decide for yourself. I think the author of the article should have presented what else is going on with Mozilla's dev

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by BZ (40346)

            Just as a note, vimperator is an excellent example of how not to write extensions in a number of ways. Leaks all over the place, assertions firing due to it doing things that are explicitly forbidden by various contracts, etc.

            Running it against a debug build is pretty horrifying.

    • by clang_jangle (975789) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:34AM (#30715006) Journal
      I disagree, the links seem appropriate in their respective contexts.
      However, TFS' question strikes me as superfluous -- FF already has lots of extensions of questionable quality. They're simply looking to transition to a new implementation of extensions, which hopefully will bog the browser down less and create fewer security issues by sticking with simpler code. Can't see how that would be "the wrong direction", frankly...
      • by blee37 (1181835) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:51PM (#30717396) Homepage
        I agree that Jetpack will make it easier for developers to create apps and will also likely result in safer apps that don't fail as often. However, this is only apparent in hindsight, now that we realize writing add-ons with HTML/CSS/JS type technologies is probably smart. The fact is that Firefox has a significant number of extremely useful applications that might go beyond what is possible to implement with Jetpack. My business uses some Firefox extensions that are absolutely critical to us. I don't mind if Mozilla goes to Jetpack, but I think that they should keep support for traditional extensions. If they get rid of extensions, they will hurt a lot of people. Going to "Jetpack only" would make more sense if they were starting from a clean slate, but currently I think they have a responsibility to existing users.
    • by YourExperiment (1081089) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:39PM (#30715406)

      You're half right IMO - the extra links provide some useful context, but it's incredibly irritating not knowing which is the main article.

      I realise this goes against all tradition, but why not just have the main link prominently displayed above the summary?

    • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:20PM (#30715732) Homepage Journal

      Seriously. Provide a link to the main stori(es) and that's about it. All this extra stuff is simply extraneous. How can we RTFA if we don't know which is the real frikken article?

      That is the most stupid thing I have ever heard!!! This is Slashdot!!!! You arent supposed to read the article!!!! Thus, it shouldnt matter how many links there are!!

      Get with the program! You've been here long enough to know this!

      ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

  • Car Analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:25AM (#30714962)

    Removing extensions from Firefox is like removing the guns from a tank.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So it'll be an APC now? ...yeah thaaat'll work.

      • by rossdee (243626)

        or an armoured engineer vehicle, or an anti-mine vehicle . Happened a lot in WWII.

        [Back on topic] I will just stay with the last version of 3.5.x or maybe swith to Seamonkey.

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:26AM (#30714972) Homepage Journal

    I never did think Mozilla was headed in the right direction. I've long shunned their browsers because, to me, they were bloatware, overly complex and bug-prone and not even offering the features I'd come to love in the competition.

    But that didn't prevent Mozilla from making a very successful browser.

    So, if now I say that I don't think they are headed in the right direction, what does that really tell anyone? Obviously, their success depends on other things than what I think about it. I wish them all the best, I hope they'll enjoy working on their products, and we'll see how they pan out in practice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Penguinisto (415985)

      ...and not even offering the features I'd come to love in the competition.

      FF had tabs long before most other browsers (except perhaps Konquerer), had anti-phishing, and in general was once light and fast.

      As for features today? AdBlock Plus, BetterPrivacy, NoScript... those three alone are more than worth the weight, not to mention the tons of multimedia add-ons.

      Also, FWIW, Firefox isn't the only big boy on the bloat scale, at least in Windows. IE only appears light because it has a habit of stuffing most of its weight into a pile of processes hidden under the catch-all name of "

      • by Toonol (1057698) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:49AM (#30715106)
        FF had tabs long before most other browsers (except perhaps Konquerer)

        I think that feature (and many others) were primarily copied from Opera.

        While I do think Firefox is bloating, and really think they've made some questionable decisions (such as force-feeding the terrible Awesomebar), I can't think of anything wrong with this move. The extension model needs revision, and only elitist bastards would be upset that they're making it simpler and more accessible.
        • by plover (150551) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:06PM (#30715204) Homepage Journal

          The extension model needs revision, and only elitist bastards would be upset that they're making it simpler and more accessible.

          And possibly more limited. Are jetpacks really going to have the same full access to Firefox internals? Not every useful extension repaints the UI.

          I'm also concerned that the bar is already low enough that most of the extensions out there are total crap. By setting the bar on the floor, every idiot will be able to produce terrible jetpacks. Do you really want to wade through 100,000 crappy jetpacks to find the dozen nuggets?

          The Apple app store is already getting there. Search for some useful term, and there are two dozen apps that pop up, and you waste half an hour wading through them all to find one that's reasonably close to what you want. Will Firefox really be better if adddons.mozilla.org starts featuring jetpacks that are no better than a "Lady Gaga-fier" or a "DUDE!!1! I MAD A J3FF PHILT3R!!11!!"

          Elitist bastards live better than the standard rabble because they set the bar higher. Not everybody wants to be surrounded by crapware.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:46PM (#30715470)

            So you're arguing that we should make creating Firefox extensions difficult because good programmers make good software?

            I wanted to be clear because there are about a thousand arguments against such a position - of which I'm enumerate a few:

            1) good programmers != good application designers
            2) good programmers may not have the next cool idea
            3) even good programmers would like programming to be easier
            4) making programming more difficult than it has to be is NEVER A GOOD IDEA
            5) good programmers might not say "Lady Gaga-fier" but will say some stupid 3l33t non-sense. ...

            That said, I do hope that they keep extensions around for a while, as it seems Jetpack doesn't do everything yet.

          • by Warbothong (905464) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:01PM (#30715580) Homepage

            I'm also concerned that the bar is already low enough that most of the extensions out there are total crap. By setting the bar on the floor, every idiot will be able to produce terrible jetpacks. Do you really want to wade through 100,000 crappy jetpacks to find the dozen nuggets?

            Voting systems, bloggers, word of mouth, the list goes on. That argument doesn't work online if there are lots of likeminded people (and if you think that your needs are different from everyone else's then there's no point looking no matter what system is used, since nobody else would have scratched your unique itch)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dog-Cow (21281)

          The first browser I used that had tabs was on Windows 3.1. It was from a company called GNN, that AOL had bought before becoming an ISP in their own right.

          Opera and FF were both VERY late to the table with tabs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hkmwbz (531650)

            The first browser I used that had tabs was on Windows 3.1. It was from a company called GNN, that AOL had bought before becoming an ISP in their own right.

            Really? What was that browser called?

            Opera and FF were both VERY late to the table with tabs.

            Opera certainly wasn't late.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Jay L (74152) *

              The GNN browser was actually Internetworks, from a Massachusetts company called BookLink; it was also the embedded AOL browser for the first few versions before IE replaced it.

              (And the GNN server was NaviServer, from CA-based NaviSoft. And the Mac client used a different browser, whose name I can no longer remember.)

      • by sznupi (719324)

        The add-ons (their functionality specifically) that you mention are in no way exclusive to FF. You just think they are. Similarly with tabs - it was not only Konqueror that had them, in the times before FF even existed

        As for bloat - I imagine suggesting much lighter alternatives won't go down well, so try this: run Seamonkey instead of FF for some time. It's almost hilarious that Seamonkey is for long time faster, specifically in "snappy" area, able to survive much heavier browsing and more stable generally

      • by bheer (633842) <rbheer@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:33PM (#30715360)

        IE only appears light because it has a habit of stuffing most of its weight into a pile of processes hidden under the catch-all name of "svchost.exe", with additional chunks hidden in the OS itself.

        This is exactly why sysadmins shouldn't pretend to be developers, and vice-versa. I don't use IE a lot (only if Firefox and Chrome both fail) but this statement is just wrong, a lazy repeating of a tech 'urban legend'. Go run Process Explorer and it'll show you what the svchosts are doing (hint: hosting services like DNS clients, etc). As for "additional chunks hidden in the OS itself", where exactly is this hidden, especially now that modern IEs don't even have any filesystem-browsing capability?

        IE (like Mozilla, like Chrome) uses a lot of DLLs, but memory use etc is counted per process, and what IE reported upto IE7 was actually a fair representation of what each process used. With IE8 on, there are per-site processes like Google Chrome (not per-tab for both browsers as usually thought -- in fact, IE8 released this feature before Chrome) and you can get a better idea of how much memory a site is consuming.

        • by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @04:49PM (#30717376) Journal

          As for "additional chunks hidden in the OS itself", where exactly is this hidden, especially now that modern IEs don't even have any filesystem-browsing capability?

          The trident engine loads when Explorer loads. Replace the shell with an alternative shell, and disable DLL preloading with a tool like Autoruns. IE start time will shoot up to crazy levels. When I did it on an old Win2k-AthlonXP PC (obviously with IE6), it jumped from about 6 seconds cold start to 20 seconds.

          Not much point doing it though. Lots of programs depend on Trident, like Steam.

          P.S. Disabling Explorer knocked off 45MB memory usage. Disabling Trident knocked off another 25MB. Since 25MB is roughly what Firefox uses to display Google, shouldn't IE8 use 1MB? The rendering engine is already loaded into memory - unless it has to make copies or something.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        abit of stuffing most of its weight into a pile of processes hidden under the catch-all name of "svchost.exe"

        No it doesn't, you don't know what you're talking about.

        with additional chunks hidden in the OS itself.

        Those are called shared libraries, and every OS worth its salt uses them. I'm sorry you think its logical for Windows to reimplement and reload a web browser in every application that uses one (which is most now days) rather than sharing them. Sadly, again, this is something that every half way de

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bheer (633842)

          > Sadly, I don't think you even understand why its bloated.

          To be honest, as a developer, I've been trying to understand it myself. Firefox feels snappy on low-end machines (even VMs) for light browsing (few tabs open) and only a couple of extensions loaded. It becomes sluggish with loads of tabs open, esp if kept open for a long time. My guess is that despite the improvements to the garbage collector, the one-process-for-all-tabs architecture is to blame.

    • by lyinhart (1352173)
      I thought it was headed in the right direction... back before it was called Firefox. But by the time the 1.0 milestone rolled around, the browser was pretty bloated. I remember the IT department at university was recommended its use over the old, security hole-filled Internet Explorer 6. The problem was, the browser kept generating a huge >1MiB prefs file, which was problematic since a regular user's roaming profile capacity was really small.

      I use Firefox now, because it's probably the best overall ch
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sznupi (719324)

        I get an impression that too much weight is given to synthetic benchmarks when determining "speed" of browser. Specifically, js-only benchmarks.

        Where's overall speed of browsing, snappiness of UI, especially after a long session with many tabs open?

    • by plover (150551) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:48AM (#30715096) Homepage Journal

      I initially chose Firefox for all the "wrong" reasons. It was open source, where IE was not. It was more secure by virtue of its smaller adoption footprint, where IE was the fat target. And it was not by Microsoft. I did not choose it because it was feature rich, or less buggy.

      Since then I have grown to appreciate it more and more, mostly through the added value I get from extensions. Surfing is definitely faster. I have many more convenience options. I have control over the typical crap that blocks the content off most web sites.

      The big questions I have are: why make developers of perfectly good extensions rewrite their code? For that matter, will some of them give up because they don't want to reimplement their code in Jetpacks? Or maybe they've already stopped supporting their old extensions, and now they'll just die.

      Given all that, I wonder if his comments were more to stir up community reactions than an actual product roadmap?

      • by maxume (22995) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:40PM (#30715422)

        It doesn't sound like the old extension mechanism is going anywhere:

        http://steelgryphon.com/blog/2010/01/09/on-personas-and-themes/#comment-107468 [steelgryphon.com]

        (that comment is by the blog author; the key part is "I personally don't think we're anywhere near the point where we can look at the old-style extension model and claim it's not needed anymore. But the goal is to drive everything that can be moved to Jetpacks to that model, because it's a better model for users and developers." )

  • this isn't news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by new death barbie (240326) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:28AM (#30714984)

    It's rabblerousing. Slashdot, news for the hard of thinking.

    Editors, please try to give these stories at least a pretense of fairness. Unless you need this for your application to work at Fox News.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Enderandrew (866215)

      Slashdot has *always* been very biased. Slashdot is pro Linux and Apple, and very anti Microsoft for example.

      It really gets me that people only identify bias that they don't agree with, and then assume that bias that matches your views isn't considered bias.

      MSNBC and Fox News are equally biased for instance, but it seems Fox News gets called out for it considerably more.

      • by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:56AM (#30715138) Journal

        TBH, Microsoft kind of earns it... unless called out publicly, they do have a habit of regularly doing things that seem designed from the start to squash innovation, destroy computing freedoms, and in general make tech a raging PITA for anyone who isn't them.

        Also, Microsoft tends to get a pass far more often than other corps... take the whole Danger data loss affair. About a week of techie outrage, a couple days of MSM mentions, and that was it. If it was Oracle, IBM, or one of the other big boys who borked customer's data, you can bet hard money that the mainstream media would have called for some CEO's head on a platter. You could also bet hard money that the whole 'cloud' hype would have come to a crashing halt... instead of carrying on like nothing happened. Hell, if that happened to a smaller player, that small player would've been Chapter 11 within a month.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ShieldW0lf (601553)
          Microsoft, via the Gates Foundation, killed legislation that would have removed intellectual property restrictions from drug markets in poor countries. They actively and for their own gain perpetuate the death and suffering of millions and millions of people. Who gives a flying fuck what they did about innovation in the IT industry compared to that? They're no better than any other mass murderers.
          • by MrMr (219533) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:31PM (#30715810)
            Well, to be fair, they had a lot of help from the US pharma and IP industries and the elected government.
            Enough blame to go around.
        • Microsoft has done plenty of evil things. Yet when they do something nice, such as opening tons of documentation to the Samba team, people spin it as part of some evil scheme. In reality, it is a nice move largely predicated by the EU judgement against them.

          While I share the general dislike for Microsoft, it doesn't change that /. is very biased against Microsoft at the same time.

          • by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:25PM (#30715316) Journal

            Microsoft has done plenty of evil things. Yet when they do something nice, such as opening tons of documentation to the Samba team, people spin it as part of some evil scheme. In reality, it is a nice move largely predicated by the EU judgement against them.

            Thus you've answered your own question - they did something nice not out of altruism or community, but in an effort to avoid punishment for something. Would they have done it if the specter of EU punishment for other anti-competitive actions hadn't been looming? I'm thinking not. I won't even have to bring up the whole "embrace, extend, extinguish" ethic they provably have.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Enderandrew (866215)

              Internal documents prove that embrace, extend, extinguish was at the very least a tactic they used in the past.

              Are they quite as evil today? That's hard to say. Microsoft does seem to be opening up and playing a little nicer.

              Gates isn't CEO anymore. Ray Ozzie doesn't come across as quite so evil. Ballmer is still there. And I don't assume every division and team at Microsoft is staffed by evil people.

              I'm not saying Microsoft is a great company. I'm simply saying that the /. bias is to assume every move is p

          • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:46PM (#30715466)

            Microsoft did nothing "nice". They were dragged, kicking and screaming, into court and had their fingers slapped to the tune of over one billion US dollars by the EU for their misbehavior. And they attempted to poison the well by inserting patents into the published documents, patents incompatible with GPL software such as Samba. There are plenty of references to the court cases, but the interview with such developers of Samba as Jeremy Allison at http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070919214307459 [groklaw.net] are particularly enlightening.

            The Samba site also has this note about the patent encumberment and GPL incompatibility Microsoft tried to slip in: http://us1.samba.org/samba/ms_license.html [samba.org].

            And if you think there's anything "nice" about their efforts, go read the documentation. It was apparently written by monkeys trying to produce Hamlet, and bears little if any resemblance to how the protocols actually work.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by MightyMartian (840721)

            They didn't open up documentation on networking protocols to be nice, they did it because the EU was holding a gun to their head.

      • by ivan256 (17499) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:52PM (#30715512)

        Slashdot is pro Linux and Apple, and very anti Microsoft for example.

        It really gets me that people only identify bias that they don't agree with

        You've never been to the games section, have you? It's *very* pro-microsoft. Or maybe you really get yourself for not identifying the biases that that you agree with?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Slashdot has *always* been very biased. Slashdot is pro Linux and Apple, and very anti Microsoft for example.

        Slashdot may have a bias, but that doesn't preclude posting comments that are (for some definition of the word, anyway) "pro-MS", and get them modded up to +5, Insightful/Informative.

        Thing is, if you go "with the bias", you can say absolutely anything so long as it conforms to that bias, and be modded up - no references needed. If you go against it, you will need sources to back up your assertions. But, well, if what you say is factual, you shouldn't have a problem with finding sources, and it's a good idea

  • OMG programming is HARD! We need to reduce features and make it simpler so any moron can do it!!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TuaAmin13 (1359435)
      It's going to be like the new AppMakr framework that allows any idiot with an RSS feed or twitter account and $200 to make an iPhone app. You'll have to wade through more junk to find the good stuff.

      I don't doubt that there will be good add-ins via this. There's just going to be so much more trash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) *

      That was actually one of the things I was thinking of. Do we really need to lower the barriers to entry? Are good ideas really going missing because "extensions are too hard?"

      As a consumer of extensions, I have installed about 20 out of the 8,000 available. If I have a catalog of 80,000 jetpacks, does that mean I have to look through 10 times as much crap just to find the 10 useful ones?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Goaway (82658)

        Extensions were broken from day one. You only need to look at the fact that they are bound to specific versions for proof of that. Extensions see too much of the internals of the browser without any insulating abstraction. This means they are insecure, unstable and break when new versions are released.

        This is in some cases a strength, because extensions can be very powerful, but it also a huge liability for both the programmers of the extensions, and for the programmers of Firefox itself.

        This change would j

        • by plover (150551) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @12:23PM (#30715296) Homepage Journal

          Yet the extensions I have that are specifically bound to internals are exactly the ones that provide me with the most utility. The All-in-One Sidebar, Fission, FxIF, Cookie Button, FEBE, CLEO, User Agent Switcher, Xmarks, Exif Viewer, Aging Tabs, all those are bound to specific versions of Firefox because they're doing more than simply tampering with the http stream.

          Could Firefox handle the binding any better? Sure. Could the team provide a route to handle backward and forward compatibility better? Again, yes. But that's a detail in an abstraction facade, and not what it looks like jetpacks are trying to be. Jetpacks look like "Greasemonkey scripts made official" with Mozilla's blessing. (Or maybe I'm seeing them as more limited than they plan for them.)

          Maybe that's it. Perhaps Mozilla should instead be looking at adopting and integrating Greasemonkey technology, instead of trying to reinvent it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Goaway (82658)

            Yes, that is why I specifically said "This is in some cases a strength, because extensions can be very powerful".

    • by Toonol (1057698)
      OMG programming is HARD! We need to reduce features and make it simpler so any moron can do it!!!

      Pretty much true. You seem to have actually spit out a true statement in an attempt to make a sarcastic rant.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        Yes, we need to reduce features IF we want any moron to do it. But do we want any moron to do it? I don't.

    • I checked out the featured "jetpack image editor" [mozillalabs.com] and how EASY it is to write such a complicated feature in JUST 14 lines. [azarask.in]

      Gluing in some one elses code is not coding: $.get("http://developer.pixlr.com/_script/pixlr_minified.js", function(js){ ... } )

      In fact, how many levels of derivation could a popular feature possibly use, my plugin references yours, references a library, that includes another external, etc.. all because some kiddies liked another kiddies script ad infinitum.

      How many dependenci
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by plover (150551) *

        How many dependencies on servers having uptime, and being secure? Imagine a world of plug-ins that rerference each other so heavily that a cat on a certain keyboard could crash everyones extensions.

        "Dr. Schroedinger, the veterinarian is on line one. He said something about your cat, but then my computer locked up."

  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:35AM (#30715010) Homepage Journal

    Jetpack is a Mozilla Labs project that enables anyone who knows HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create powerful Firefox add-ons. Our goal is to allow anyone who can build a Web site to participate in making the Web a better place to work, communicate and play.

    Or may be they are going in the right direction. If companies such as google, litl webbook and projects such as bespin are thinking along the lines of creating a GUI/web platform its possible that their's a new direction that computing is headed. One where older heads like us may not necessarily think to go.There are many parallels in computing (PC, Minicomputer, Internet) Not saying the above is so (I find the above net GUI idea restrictive), it just pays to think about possibilities, such as a more robust GUI without the need for adding complex libraries.

  • Yeah, uh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:36AM (#30715012)

    ...or maybe they just want to draw thousands of inexperienced developers into putting together a bunch of HTML and CSS that won't integrate in the UI...

    And this is different than the current system how? Sure, there are TONS of great add-ons/plug-ins/whatever-they-are-called for FF, but honestly, the entry bar is pretty low, and for as many great ones there are, there are two crappy pieces of shit.

    • by hduff (570443)

      And this is different than the current system how? Sure, there are TONS of great add-ons/plug-ins/whatever-they-are-called for FF, but honestly, the entry bar is pretty low, and for as many great ones there are, there are two crappy pieces of shit.

      Just like people. Mozilla imitates life.

  • Is that you Steve? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:37AM (#30715024) Homepage
    From the linked Firebug blog, paragraph 2 states, in its entirety:

    "I don’t think these changes will have a big impact on Firebug. Firefox will continue to support extensions while the jetpack technology matures. We can adapt as we go along."

    I think that if you want to spread FUD you should make sure that you don't link to a web page that makes this statement in the second paragraph Mr. Billmer.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:38AM (#30715032)

    ...or maybe they just want to draw thousands of inexperienced developers into putting together a bunch of HTML and CSS that won't integrate in the UI...

    Just change the scripting engine to PHP... IT'S A JOKE...

  • Bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:39AM (#30715044) Homepage

    Extensions and the customization they provide is THE reason I use Firefox. If they are so foolish as to eliminate this capability, they're going to lose a lot of users. If this happens, I won't upgrade for as long as I can, and when I'm eventually forced to switch, I'll find a browser that supports allowing me to customize it. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the OSS community forks the project over this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chdig (1050302)
      Parent's sig applies perfectly to those that moderated him "insightful". The number of "Ifs" in the comment remind me of FOX news commentary.

      Nowhere is it being proposed that you can no longer extend Firefox -- it's just that you will need to use a more user-friendly language than XUL to do it. It's called something else, and suddenly those that don't take the time to read the linked articles freak out and declare that the end of the world has come for Firefox. Does anyone not think that the Firefox te
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:40AM (#30715050) Homepage

    Right now, it looks like AdBlock, Flashblock, CustomizeGoogle, and my own AdRater couldn't be implemented under JetPack. The Jetpack API documentation [mozilla.org] has a section "Content - Methods for interacting with web pages. [mozilla.org] That's the mechanism anything that deals with ads needs. That leads to "Page modifications" [mozilla.org], which leads to This documentation is under development. Please see the page modifications API proposal for now." [mozilla.org]

    That leads to Jetpack Extension Proposal #17 - Page Mods [mozilla.org], which discusses how to implement Greasemonkey-like functionality using Jetpack. Current status is "Implementing (since May 27, 2009)".

    So the functionality needed for AdBlock, etc. is vaporware. It's not even clear that, if implemented, the proposed mechanism would support AdBlock. The author of Adblock Plus wrote last month "Jetpack has to support Adblock Plus, not the other way around. As it is now, Jetpack isn't suitable for complicated extensions." [adblockplus.org]

    It's significant that Mozilla gave priority to implementing "themes" and such, which are needed for vendor-branded browsers, while putting off implementation of user-oriented features like ad blocking. Is this a back-door effort to get ad-blocking out of Firefox?

    • by The End Of Days (1243248) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:50AM (#30715108)

      Since you gave your conclusion first, I made the silly mistake of assuming you actually supported it somewhere in your post instead of undercutting it by demonstrating it isn't clear one way or the other.

      You did make a populist plea, though. I'll give you points for excellent rabble rousing technique.

    • I actually sometimes find myself preferring Safari for actual web-browsing... especially for Slashdot! Firefox seems to slow down when loading long discussion pages, whereas Safari is quite fast. But extensions are Firefox's killer feature. AdBlock Plus, but also Zotero (citation management, only available for Firefox), Greasemonkey + DownloadThemAll... without the extensions, there's little that would make me prefer Firefox to Safari.
    • Is this a back-door effort to get ad-blocking out of Firefox?

      If Firefox wants to turn itself into another Internet Explorer, I say let them. It's their foot. From a UI perspective, most browsers are largely at parity nowadays anyway, and Mozilla should realize what it is that has made Firefox the most popular non-Microsoft browser. Put it this way: the reason I've used Firefox extensively for the past few years is the security plugins that are available. If you take that away from me, I have no real reason to stick with Firefox, and probably won't. Now, I've never wr

    • Optimizegoogle [optimizegoogle.com]
      NOT
      Customizegoogle

      Same code base, except customizegoogle is no longer updated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FictionPimp (712802)

      You realize in their demo video, they write a adblock like jetpack with 80 lines of code.

      • by Animats (122034)

        You realize in their demo video, they write a adblock like jetpack with 80 lines of code.

        A demo of undocumented features, perhaps? The manual says those features aren't implemented yet. If the Mozilla crowd wants developers to use their new API, they'll have to document it.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Is this a back-door effort to get ad-blocking out of Firefox?"

      If that happens, it's time to relentlessly savage Firefox and do everything practical from a geek perspective to reduce its adoption.
      That would be a deliberate betrayal of the user base, because extensions are the only reason to use Firefox.

      The makers of ANY software should know their users will turn on them in a heartbeat when they choose to screw up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by frdmfghtr (603968)

        "Is this a back-door effort to get ad-blocking out of Firefox?"

        If that happens, it's time to relentlessly savage Firefox and do everything practical from a geek perspective to reduce its adoption.
        That would be a deliberate betrayal of the user base, because extensions are the only reason to use Firefox.

        The makers of ANY software should know their users will turn on them in a heartbeat when they choose to screw up.

        Or exercise some good ol' open source muscle and fork it. Isn't that supposed to be one of th

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      Yes, it is, because when they announced the Jetpack stuff, they also told us all that standard extensions were going away and we'd all have to adapt to the Jetpack API.

      Wait a second, they haven't done that.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:41AM (#30715052) Journal

    Chrome extensions are entirely HTML/CSS/JavaScript, and so are many Chrome pages (the New Tab Page, the Downloads Tab, etc). I'd tag this badsummary, because it's not the idea of Jetpack that's the problem here, it's the implementation. From the first article, which is the only one that seems to be seriously concerned:

    I like its power, I dislike its syntax. I _really_ dislike its syntax.... images are inline as data URLs because Jetpacks misses offline support and packaging; the HTML element inserted into the statusbar has to be precisely positioned and that will suck depending on the preferred user's font size;

    Contrast to Chrome's extension API, which is fairly clean where it isn't strictly what's already available to any webpage. In particular, those two issues are addressed: Chrome extensions are packaged (more or less) as a cryptographically signed zipfile, so you can have separate images, scripts, etc; there are currently very well-defined ways to add a button either to the URL bar or to the browser itself, and when toolstrips were available (I don't think they are anymore), they were exposed as HTML pages with most of the work done for you in predefined CSS, so no absolute positioning (at least not that you have to do yourself).

    integration with native or native-alike (hear xul) UI and cross-platform issues, a major concern

    Basically, the article seems to be assuming there are (and will always be) advantages to XUL. To me, the answer to this is not to expose XUL, but to fix/extend the HTML used. In a way, I think Chrome proves that users really don't care that much about the UI looking and feeling "native", but care much more about it being themable.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:43AM (#30715062)

    Without Firefox folks doing something about these leaks, I will continue to bash their otherwise good product.

    Heck, leaving Firefox running overnight on Windows XP means a reboot for the computer since it becomes unusable after Firefox has consumed megabytes of memory! This is insane.

    May be the upcoming 4.x release series will have all the goodies one can be proud of. Time will tell.

  • UI Integration? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Integrating with the UI"? So whatever happen to XUL [wikipedia.org]

  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @11:57AM (#30715156)

    When Firefox was first released, it was a breath of fresh air -- a fast, effective browser that discarded the bloat which plagued Seamonkey.

    Firefox laid the groundwork that has brought us to the current state of browsers... there's a competitive market, except in the business space, where the inability to manage browser settings has made the enterprise the last refuge for Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, the project doesn't have the desire to expand its impact further -- they refuse to accept bug reports or feature requests regarding issues that are critical to business users, and shout you down when you try to complain.

    So you have this great browser, but you can't script the install, can't manage update distribution (ie. autoupdate is not appropriate in many use cases), and manage config in a sane way.

    Now instead of fixing those issues, they are "fixing" something that isn't broken -- the extension system that makes Firefox so cool for so many people!

  • I have never liked the Firefox design, and I have never trusted the XPI installer mechanism. Switching to an extension mechanism that doesn't open up the whole performance and security bag of worms the Firefox extensions do would be worth trying.

  • Will never happen. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:00PM (#30715574)

    Because that is the only point over using any other browser out there.
    Firefox is not exactly fast or lightweight, you know. And without extensions it can’t hold a candle to Opera.

    If extensions are going to get replaced, it will be by something that is so equal in what it offers, that it most likely still will be called extensions.

    If they really kill their reason of existence off, I’ll switch over to Opera in the blink of an eye. The Opera guys never disappointed me, and always were pioneers.

  • by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:17PM (#30715704) Journal

    For me , personally, virtually every change since FF2.0 has been for the worse; the gui has gotten harder to use, simple things i need are hidden, extensions are constantly breaking....
    What has surprised me is that a group of devs hasn't forked to keep FF2 and all that was great in it, and try to add things that are really neat: how about a powerful business contacts manager, a la windows BCM, that is native in side FF
    How about video that actually works ? (vlc has never worked well for me)

    how about serious privacy (its clear 'they" are getting new tricks faster then ff can stop them)

    how about a decent calendar - the thunderbird type calendars suck .....
    instead we get all sorts of useless tinkering with the gui..

  • Probably! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Vector7 (2410) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @01:48PM (#30715920) Journal

    Mozilla's UI team has a ten year history of cluelessly grandiose blunders - so if it seems like they're doing the wrong thing, they probably are.

  • by Myopic (18616) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @02:30PM (#30716176)

    Look, to be honest, I don't use FireFox because it is awesome, although it is pretty awesome. I use FireFox because it has AdBlock, which is the killer app for websites. Without AdBlock, the internet becomes immediately useless, with too much noise-to-signal. Other browsers have less compelling ad-blocking extensions; not compelling enough to use. My opinion of this "JetPack" thing will rise or fall with the success of AdBlock.

  • by Sarusa (104047) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:31PM (#30718282)

    The reason I'm using Firefox is the because the extensions are so much better than on any other browser. AdBlock, FlashBlock, DownloadStatusbar, RefControl, NoScript. You can half-ass these on other browsers like Chrome or Opera, and I've done it, but in the end the ease and simplicity of it wins out, especially when I have to explain to other people how to do it and the first thing you do on a new machine is install a decent browser and extensions. I do not want to have to locate the profile directory and hand edit or copy things on every machine, much less have to explain to my parents how to do this.

    If you cripple this to the level of Opera UserJS, which is fairly powerful but also a pain in the butt, then I have no reason not to move to Opera or Chrome.

    Now if they can somehow make this transition while preserving the addon manager functionality and allowing actual browser extensions like DownloadStatusbar or TabMixPlus to work, then I'm fine with that. It's the results that count, not how it's implemented.

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