Firefox to Support Chrome Extensions
Extensions are a popular way to add functionality to your browser, but just like app development, developers often have to make several different versions of their extensions for different browsers. Mozilla wants to cut down on that hassle and allow extensions made for Chrome to also work on Firefox.
“We would like add-on development to be more like Web development: the same code should run in multiple browsers according to behavior set by standards, with comprehensive documentation available from multiple vendors,” Mozilla said in a blog post.
So Mozilla has a new Blink-compatible API in Firefox called WebExtensions, which will allow extensions code for Chrome and Opera (and maybe Microsoft Edge one day) to run on Firefox “with few changes.”
“WebExtensions will behave like other Firefox add-ons; they will be signed by Mozilla, and discoverable through addons.mozilla.org (AMO) or through the developer’s website,” the company said. “With this API, extension developers should be able to make the same extension available on Firefox and Chrome with a minimal number of changes to repackage for each platform.”
WebExtensions is currently available in the Developer Edition of Firefox 42. Details about how to test them are on the Mozilla wiki.
Mozilla acknowledged that the move will result in trade-offs.
“Developers who already support Chrome extensions will benefit since they will have one codebase to support instead of two,” Mozilla said. “Developers of Firefox-only add-ons will have to make changes. Those changes may require considerable development effort up-front, but we feel the end result will be worth that effort for both Firefox’s users and developers.”
Mozilla posted a link to a blog post that it said is a “must-read for people who are concerned about how the add-ons they develop, use, and love will continue to be part of Firefox.”
Mozilla also provided details on Electrolysis, “which uses a separate operating system process to run Web content.” As TechCrunch noted, this means Mozilla will separate browser tabs and the user interface, so a tab crash doesn’t crash the entire browser.
The final release for Electrolysis will be determined based on user testing, but Mozilla published a rough outline of when it will roll out. Next up: Electrolysis will be available to users as an “opt-in” on the beta channel on Sept. 22.
For more, see The Best Free Google Chrome Extensions and Which Browser is Best? Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Internet Explorer.