File Under: APIs, Browsers

Jetpack Edges Closer to a Starring Role in Firefox

Mozilla Labs has announced an update to its Jetpack extensions system that makes it easier for developers to write browser add-ons that more closely interact with a person’s computer desktop.

The new Jetpack SDK is version 0.7. It is quickly reaching the level of maturity required for it to become a standard feature in Firefox.

Jetpack is a new extensions framework for Mozilla’s browser designed to offer developers an easier, faster way to build browser add-ons using common web development tools like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The Jetpack extension framework will not replace Firefox’s existing framework, which uses heavier code. But Mozilla expects to see many developers switch to the new framework once it’s complete.

While Jetpack was innovative when Mozilla first announced it, Google has since added an extension system to its Chrome browser that works on the same principles as Jetpack — using web-based tools like HTML and CSS. More recently Apple joined the fray by adding a similar extensions system to Safari 5.

Firefox’s lightweight extension framework has spent a long time in development. Jetpack graduated from Mozilla Labs (though the project is still hosted there) in March of 2010, but, while there was some speculation that Jetpack might end up in Firefox 4, that appears unlikely.

Still, the developer SDK is now at version 0.7 which brings three new APIs for developers to test. The panel API creates floating modal popups that appear on top of web content and browser chrome and persist until dismissed by users or programs. There’s also a clipboard API for interacting with the OSes clipboard and a notifications API which mimics the look of Growl to display messages to the user.

The Jetpack roadmap calls for another SDK release near the end of September and then Jetpack should hit 1.0 sometime in the fourth quarter of 2010. Once Jetpack 1.0 is stable look for it to begin working its way into Firefox.

In the mean time, if you’d like to test out Jetpack and see what the fuss is about just install the Jetpack add-on, which allows Jetpack to work within current version of Firefox. Yes, it’s a little weird, but for now Jetpack is an add-on that you use to install add-ons.

See Also: