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Fx 10+ "Make Add-ons Compatible by Default" (Was sticky)

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rob64rock

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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 9:41 am

Proposal by Justin Scott, Make Add-ons Compatible by Default
Proposal Overview:
Firefox's switch to rapid releases has been stressful for add-on developers. Add-ons not hosted on AMO are especially pained, as they must update compatibility every 6 weeks without the benefit of automatic compatibility bumping.

Since the release of Firefox 4 and 5, we've learned that there are many more non-hosted Add-ons than we previously thought, mostly those installed by other software. Whether users make use of these Add-ons or not, seeing an incompatible add-on prevents many users from upgrading to new versions of Firefox.

More than 90% of Add-ons are compatible from one version of Firefox to the next, and the ones that aren't usually have binary components that will need to be recompiled every release. If we change the default compatibility assumption, we can reduce the action needed to only the very small number of Add-ons broken by the new release, rather than 100% of add-on developers.

We would move to a model where Firefox assumes Add-ons are compatible unless they have binary components, the author has explicitly said to strictly observe stated compatibility, or it is reported to AMO as incompatible through the Add-on Compatibility Reporter.

It's possible and likely we will occasionally enable add-ons that don't actually work, but as we omit add-ons with binary components, this should not cause crashes and users will simply not have the functionality they expect, and will complain to the add-on author.

This process would not remove the need for AMO's automatic compatibility bumping, as it's still preferred for authors to be aware of changes in Firefox and learn about upcoming deprecations and other changes.

Soliciting feedback at Google groups - mozilla.dev.extensions:
http://groups.google.com/group/mozilla. ... 7c18f037d#

  • Note: New Info posted here:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2272397&p=11787923#p11787923
Last edited by rob64rock on March 2nd, 2012, 2:53 am, edited 3 times in total.

Matt Lynch
 
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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 11:11 am

I personally think this is a good idea - I've had compatibility checking disabled since the Aurora 5a2 builds and have never had any add-ons that didn't work as expected.

rob64rock

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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 11:31 am

Matt Lynch wrote:I personally think this is a good idea - I've had compatibility checking disabled since the Aurora 5a2 builds and have never had any add-ons that didn't work as expected.

I agree I have a total of 15 incompatible extensions that didn't get an automatically compatibility bump for Fx 6, that still work fine without problems even on the latest Aurora and Nightly builds. I just hope this new proposal includes extensions for earlier Fx versions that have been abandoned or never got marked for Fx 4 compatibility that end up not being able to qualify for the AMO site new automatic compatibility bumps.

Also, Justin Scott proposal would most likely need to exclude Custom Themes on AMO site, so there would still be a need for ACR extension after all and the fact his proposal also depends on the metadata that the ACR extension sends back to the AMO site.
Last edited by rob64rock on August 6th, 2011, 11:59 am, edited 4 times in total.

RyanVM
 
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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 11:34 am

Makes sense to me. With 18 weeks between nightly, aurora, and beta, I would think any compatibility issues would have plenty of time to be resolved prior to final release. Better to get testing as soon as possible in the mean time. Also, should ACR be bundled by default with all nightly, aurora, and beta builds?

rob64rock

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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 11:40 am

RyanVM wrote:Makes sense to me. With 18 weeks between nightly, aurora, and beta, I would think any compatibility issues would have plenty of time to be resolved prior to final release. Better to get testing as soon as possible in the mean time. Also, should ACR be bundled by default with all nightly, aurora, and beta builds?

I figure if Justin Scott proposal is implemented Mozilla's next step maybe to integrate ACR extension into Fx or bundle it with nightly, aurora, and beta builds. There has been talk in the past about bundling ACR extension with nightly, aurora, and beta builds, but someone in Mozilla always says it's not going to happen, but we will have to wait and see if that is still the case after this proposal is implemented.

James
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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 12:36 pm

It should be "Make Extensions Compatible by default" as I believe they were not referring to Themes, Plugins and such also. Also wish the article referred to what they are referring to and not use the word addons as if it is a word used in place of Extensions
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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 4:52 pm

It will be dream come true for users living on the edge (using Nightly channel). Mostly addons will work out of the box (few exceptions). This is great!!

malliz
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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 5:02 pm

I think it's a cop out. Mozilla painted themselves into a corner with the rapid release system and now they are trying for a quick fix.
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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 5:29 pm

I don't like the proposal. Its better that compatible extensions be marked not compatible than error prone extensions interfering with users' browsing experience. Most users will just blame Firefox for not working than an extension. There should be a better way to check for compatible extensions than what is proposed. The system we have now, though somewhat broken for the rapid release at least works pretty well.

JayhawksRock

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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 6:36 pm

I think they should be allowed, but with a Strong Warning in the browser just before the Install. Something like USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.... MAY CAUSE CANCER AND YOUR COMPUTER TO BLOW UP AFTER CRASHING ! :D
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underscoreTom
 
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Post Posted August 6th, 2011, 6:40 pm

Just the same, the new release model of Firefox makes the likelihood of an incompatibility a lot lower.

In the same screen that says "these extensions aren't compatible" upon install, just add a widget that asks if you want Firefox to force compatibility (probably individually for each extension)

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Post Posted August 7th, 2011, 5:38 pm

To be the devil's advocate here... that screen has caused lots of headaches in the past. For one, it's worded and functioned completely backwards. The whole point of the screen is to get users to check for updates... especially if they had updating checking disabled for addons. The screen WANTS you to update to the new version of Firefox and carry all of your extensions with you... but what it does instead is scare people into believing that if they upgrade they won't be able to use any of their extensions... it creates update anxiety. Instead of assisting users seamlessly into a new version, this message single-handled makes users fear the updates themselves. This has been a problem for years, the fast release cycle just makes it come up more often.

But I don't think exposing users to potentially broken addons really fixes the update anxiety issue does it? What I think should happen is that Firefox should automatically check to see if there is a newer version of your addon available regardless of whether you have addon updates disabled or not... and instead of that nasty incompatibility warning, there should be a more friendly message that doesn't sound like the end of the world is about to happen.

Awhile back I made a suggestion for AMO that was never taken very seriously, but it was that AMO should detect seriously-out-date addons (at least two versions behind) and offer a way for other AMO developer members to provide links to similar or forked-and-updated addons. Severely out-of-date extensions should never be assumed to work perfectly, and currently it's a huge pain-in-the-butt sometimes to find new replacements for addons that have been abandoned.

Combine these two things and when you update to a new version of Firefox you could be offered a screen that shows you a list of addons that have new updates available and ask if you want to re-enable automatic updates, a list of addons that don't have new updates available and ask if you want to disable compatibility checking (should ask for every major version update, not indefinite), and lastly a list of severely out-of-date addons and the option to download a highly-ranked suggested replacement. These could be check-boxes with the defaults set to: yes update, yes disable compatibility checking, yes download similar addon. Word it something like, "Firefox has detected that several of your Addons need to be updated or replaced with similar replacements: Update Now."
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Post Posted August 8th, 2011, 1:13 am

patrickjdempsey wrote:But I don't think exposing users to potentially broken addons really fixes the update anxiety issue does it? What I think should happen is that Firefox should automatically check to see if there is a newer version of your addon available regardless of whether you have addon updates disabled or not... and instead of that nasty incompatibility warning, there should be a more friendly message that doesn't sound like the end of the world is about to happen.


That sounds like something I immediately thought of when reading the article. Passive checking and labeling. Active restrictions when its severely out of date and known to cause issues.

The old way was fine since Firefox did major updates once a year. But now the updates are frequent, a new system needs to be in place of the old one.
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Post Posted August 24th, 2011, 10:29 am

I think marking extensions as compatible by default could do more harm than good. Users will think their extensions are compatible, use them, and encounter problems with extensions that aren't compatible. Then they'll blame Firefox for their problems. I don't think many users will take the trouble to figure out which extension is causing the problem and report it as incompatible.

The plan seems to assume that problems with an extension will cause problems only with that extension's functionality. It's a poor assumption from what I've seen in these forums over the years.

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Post Posted August 24th, 2011, 11:07 am

There's actually a thread going on right now where a guy is very upset about Firefox 6.0 being "broken" because of various errors. It turns out it's because he's using Custom Buttons and has created his own custom button, and it's HIS button causing the errors. Of course Custom Buttons simply allows users to build a very simple extension... so he thought Firefox 6.0 was broken because of something he LITERALLY did himself. I bet GreaseMonkey users will run into similar stumbling blocks.
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