File Under: Browsers

Mozilla: Soon Your Add-Ons Will Work With Firefox Beta and Aurora

Mozilla is revamping the way Firefox add-ons are tested. The changes will ensure that fans of the new Aurora and Beta early release channels can test future versions of Firefox and have working add-ons.

Previously Mozilla would not mark add-ons compatible with a new version of Firefox until the add-on author had tested it against the latest release. That frequently meant that those of us who enjoy using Firefox betas had to go without our favorite add-ons until the final release arrived.

Under the new proposal, add-on testing will be automated. Add-ons hosted on Mozilla’s website will be tested against any new Aurora and Beta builds and automatically marked as compatible unless some problem is discovered. For those add-ons that are not hosted on the official site, the updateURL mechanism will accomplish the same thing. The Mozilla blog says that the new setup will mean that the Aurora and Beta channels will be compatible with the vast majority of add-ons.

If you’re a fan of the bleeding edge, using Firefox nightly builds, you’ll still need to disable add-on compatibility check as the new testing model does not apply to nightly builds.

Also note that Mozilla is still working on the tools that will power the new add-on testing scheme so it won’t be in effect for the current Aurora builds. Mozilla expects to be able to automatically bump 4.0.*-compatible add-ons to 5.* during the Beta period, but Aurora users won’t see the benefit until the next six-week cycle begins.

The change in add-on testing is part of Mozilla’s move to speed up the development of Firefox to match that of Google Chrome. The chief difference from the old Mozilla model is that releases will be staggered. In other words, like Chrome, the nightly channel might be at Firefox 7, while the Aurora channel might still be at Firefox 6, the beta channel at Firefox 5 and so on. Aurora, the new channel in the mix, is designed to bridge the Wild-West bugginess of the nightly channel and the much more stable beta channel.

The new add-on development model solves one of the two potential problems we pointed out for those who want to use a prerelease channel alongside the final Firefox release. The other problem is that there may be profile conflicts if, for example, Aurora changes something in your default profile and Firefox final doesn’t know what to do with the changes. For some solutions to that problem, see our earlier writeup.

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