File Under: Browsers, Software

Jetpack Add-ons for Firefox Get Closer to Blast Off

Mozilla Labs has released a new version of Jetpack, its system for extending Firefox using common web tools like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Designed to simplify the process of building Firefox Add-ons, Jetpack is still an experimental Labs project, but the latest release sees Jetpack moving closer to prime time.

While Jetpack is still very much a nascent project, there’s considerable promise in even these early release. If Jetpack succeeds in its goal of making add-ons easier to develop it will mean even more developers and in turn even more add-ons for Firefox users to enjoy.

Jetpack was just launched back in May, but there’s already a sizable collection of Jetpack add-ons capable of everything from e-mail notifications to a full-fledged image editor that can grab and edit any image on the web.

Developers interested in working with Jetpack can grab the latest release from the Mozilla Labs site. The new release, Jetpack 0.6, adds a couple of new APIs — a secure preferences system and a way for Jetpack add-ons to add and modify Firefox menus.

The menu mod functionality in the new API means you can use simple JavaScript commands to add items to, for example, Firefox’s right-click context menu, which brings Jetpack much closer to the capabilities of full-fledged Firefox add-ons.

From a user’s point of view the nice thing about JetPack add-ons are their simplicity — there’s no need to restart Firefox when installing JetPack add-ons, and JetPack add-ons will be compatible across multiple versions of Firefox. Because the tools JetPack offers — namely the various APIs — are baked into Firefox, subsequent browser updates won’t affect the JetPack add-ons.

For an overview of what you can do with the new Jetpack APIs, check out the following video. Aza Raskin, head of user experience at Mozilla, shows off some of the new possibilities for Jetpack:

Jetpack Menu API Tutorial from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

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