Archive for July, 2008

Extension Developers – Don’t Fear Firefox 3.1

Firefox 3 had some big changes (and little changes) that caused some grief for extension developers wanting to update add-ons to the newest version. There were some deep architectural changes (Places bookmarking API), numerous security changes (same-origin on file:// and restricting chrome:// from content), and large UI/Theme changes (URLbar, XP/Vista/Linux/Mac themes). Needless to say, getting lots of new greatness in Firefox 3 (XULRunner 1.9) came at a high maintenance/refactor cost to extension developers.

The good news is you made it! Overall, I think Mozilla did a good job keeping developers updated on changes and, along with a great developer community, provided lots of help to developers who were having trouble updating extensions.

So, you might have heard that Firefox 3.1 is coming out soon, probably before the end of the year. Firefox 3.1 alphas could start showing up in less than 2 months. If you have been reading some other posts on Planet Mozilla or watching some of the checkins landing in the source tree, you might be aware that Firefox 3.1 will add some serious, ass-kicking features. Many of these features are web-content facing and are based on web specifications.

Will all of these serious, ass-kicking features mean that updating extensions will be a major pain-in-the-ass, again?! No! There appear to be no plans to make extensions developer lives miserable. The new features (did I mention they kick-ass?) are not being added in a disruptive manner. Most of them layer onto existing features and technologies.

Just to be clear: Firefox 3.1 will not require a major update for add-ons. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say updating to Firefox 3.1 will be easy. We’ll make sure the are no surprises along the way.

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On Searching and Distributing

Searching

Adobe has been creating a buzz lately with the announcement that Google and Yahoo will be using a specialized Flash player to allow indexing Flash content. This is appears to be big news for the Flash world, even though Google was scraping text content previously (and this still only applies to text content). Now, search engines (or at least Google and Yahoo) will have more context for the text.

I am left wondering if other search engine providers will get access to the proprietary, search-enabled Adobe Flash player? Also, even though some have stated that this new search capability puts Flash on the same level as HTML, I wonder how linkable the Flash search hits will be? Yes, I am referring to the Flash “Bookmark Problem”. Just because Google gives me a link to some text it found in a Flash application, can I jump directly to it? Without doing any special coding?

Distributing

While I am poking Adobe, I noticed that the new Adobe Reader 9 release will include Adobe AIR. Hmm, does Reader use AIR? or is this yet another attempt by a software vendor to stuff unwanted, unneeded software on my machine? Oh, I see. AIR is needed to run an AIR application to allow me to use the Acrobat.com website. I’m still calling shenanigans.

So, 33.5MB download (just download) for Reader 9. Goes up to 52.4MB if you choose to download the “eBay desktop” application too, and it’s checked by default. How about letting me skip the AIR download too? Didn’t we just go through this with Apple?

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