Mozilla draws criticism over add-on plans

Mozilla has sparked a revolt among developers by admitting that stability and simplicity will soon take precedence over flexibility when creating Firefox add-ons.

Mozilla draws criticism over add-on plans

In a blog post, Firefox architect Mike Connor admitted that Mozilla considered add-on creation and maintenance far too difficult, and was looking to make the process easier through tools such as Jetpack.

Jetpack allows developers to create adds-ons using web technologies including HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

According to Mozilla, add-ons created in Jetpack won’t break every time the browser gets a major overhaul – at a stroke removing one of Firefox’s biggest annoyances. However, it’s not as flexible as the current system – a compromise, Connor claims he’s happy with.

We knew from the beginning that we would have to trade off truly limitless customisations to produce a more stable API/pseudo-API

“We knew from the beginning that we would have to trade off truly limitless customisations to produce a more stable API/pseudo-API, but we felt that was worth it to achieve our long-term goals for the project,” he writes on the blog.

“This is a strategic product decision, intended to grow our developer ecosystem and broaden the scope of potential developers as much as possible, and deliver a much better user experience with customisations across core application updates.

“That does mean, in effect, that we are discriminating against the old systems, and I am personally at peace with that,” he concludes.

Shaver may be at peace with the decision, but it led to an instant backlash from developers.

“What are you thinking?” Demanded Asbjørn. “Kill Firefox’s powerful customisation capabilities and I shall find another browser. The infinite customisation is one of my primary reasons for using Firefox.”

An equally enraged posted identified as Zirnyak accused Mozilla of copying Chrome. “If Mozilla just tries copying Chrome (look at the Firefox 4 theme mockups), it’ll end up doing it worse than Google does. Why doesn’t it focus on the stuff that Firefox can do better than Chrome?”

The argument comes as Mozilla unveils the first release candidate of Firefox 3.6.

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