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28 February 2013, 11:20

Firefox's Add-on SDK future mapped out

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Firefox Add-on Mascot Jeff Griffiths, the product manager for Mozilla's Add-on SDK, known as Jetpack, has announced that, from Firefox version 21 (which will include SDK 1.14), the SDK will synchronise releases of the SDK with releases of the browser.

He says that, by the end of the transition, it should be much simpler to make use of the Add-on SDK as developers will always be able to make use of the latest API features in the current Firefox. It will also allow the Jetpack team to make faster progress on enhancing the Add-On SDK as they will not need to support older versions of Firefox and the Firefox developers will also be able to rely on the SDK's APIs when creating new Firefox features.

Jetpack, which became the Add-on SDK, appeared in 2009 and offers developers a way to create extensions for Firefox using only HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. This is an alternative to the traditional way of making Firefox extensions – coding tightly integrated C/C++ to use the XUL layer of Firefox.

With this new delivery regime in place, Griffiths says the Add-on developers will then be able to focus on a number of initiatives to deliver new features. Most visible of these initiatives will be a project to bring new Add-on integration into the Firefox toolbar. This has already been mocked up and the plan is to implement the toggle buttons, widget views, control panels and sidebar views as reliable, efficient, high-level APIs without the need for markup or manual handling of loading and unloading.

Another initiative is a plan to make the Add-on SDK useful for the Firefox development community by turning it into a fully fledged tool to prototype and test new Firefox features and even going as far as shipping those features based on the prototype code. Finally, the Add-on SDK team are looking at building on the Firefox Developer tools and creating debugging and prototyping tools for all Add-on creators.


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