Why I Can’t Test 3.0b1

I can’t test 3.0b1, because it’s a completely different browser to It’s not that the core team has rewritten stuff, it’s just that my 3.0b1 does a lot less – because almost none of my addons are compatible.

The Firefox addons system is a victim of its own success. I wager that most of the technically-adept Mozilla community, who should be the first people to test new versions of the browser and file high quality bug reports, have a large set of addons they can’t do without. And until those addons are available for Firefox 3.0b1, they won’t be migrating – or will do so only for dedicated testing sessions, not every-day browsing. This is certainly true for me.

Here’s the list of my important addons which currently don’t work:

  • Aardvark
  • Auto Auth
  • Firebug
  • Flashblock
  • Greasemonkey
  • Highlight Focus
  • Link Alert
  • Live HTTP Headers
  • Nightly Tester Tools (!)
  • Web Developer
  • Zotero

And that’s just the ones I’d have trouble managing without. There’s another five or ten (e.g. CustomiseGoogle) that don’t work but I don’t care too much.

I’m not sure if this is because the addon authors are fed up of writing to moving APIs and are waiting for the final release, or because it just takes time, or because they’ve done all the work but it’s stuck in the a.m.o. review queue.

Still, if we want good testing coverage for 3.0b1, we need to find a way to get updated addons (at least, the most popular ones) done and available on a.m.o. ASAP.

33 thoughts on “Why I Can’t Test 3.0b1

  1. For me at least the following addons work without noticable errors after manually adjusting the Version Number in install.rdf:

    – Firebug
    – Link Alert
    – Web Developer

    Because I do not use the others I cannot say anything on them.

  2. Greasemonkey development has sort of stalled due to a lack of time from the original maintainer – things are being worked on and he’s hoping for some help.

    This message (and surrounding thread) explain…

    I’m not sure if any other addons are in the same position, but I know quite a few were when 2.0 came around. So, that’s another option for your list – if an addon isn’t being actively developed, then it may never make the jump to the new version (although many of the addons are open source, so someone else could step in to help…)

    I’m also not using the 3.0 beta beyond a few test sessions – not because of any addons, but just because the places stuff is so buggy it’s annoying. But there is still time – as I understand it there will be at least another 2 betas. So if the addons and additional testing don’t turn up until beta 3, there will still be time to fix stuff…

  3. Just to confirm Suka’s comment that Nightly Tester Tools is working in 3.0b1, and I’ve willed Greasemonkey into working with it.

    I actually don’t use that many addons anymore – the only other two I have enabled at present are AdBlockPlus and RetailMeNot. The Firefox developers have a knack of implementing features I really like into the browser for me.

  4. I think the situation is getting better as extension authors moving to Firefox 3.0b1 and users are trying this version, testing and reporting bugs.
    I have enough essential extension working to be able to switch to Firefox 3.
    I had to search for compatible versions and tweaks for a while.

    Nighty tester tools works with firefox 3.0 (not sure if I installed the version from the addon site or the origin site. Got 1.3b3)
    Flashblock seems to work after being “marked compatible” via the nighty tester tool.
    Other extensions I use :
    AdBlock plus working well (Couldn’t surf on some sites without)
    Console2 (have to install the dev version 0.3.8+, support secure update)
    Download statusbar 0.9.6beta1 (I like having the download in the same firefox window)
    Firefox Showcase
    Fullerscreen 2.3.1 (just updated to support secure site update when not hosted on the addon site)
    Leak Monitor 0.3.6 (enabled but didn’t see any leak)
    Make Me Up 2 Date 0.2
    PDF Download (works well)
    Reliby 1.2.0 (works but missing secure update)
    Tab Mix Plus (dev version from the tmp site. Unfortunately, doesn’t support secure update at the moment) (I tried standard tabs on Firefox 3 and it’s much better than before but I couldn’t live without TMP)
    Unplug (enabled but not yet tested)
    Update Channel Selector 1.0.2

    Not working :
    Resizable Form Fields (something has changed breaking the extension, reported to extension author)
    Live HTTP Headers (didn’t try to force activation)
    Javascript Debugger (didn’t try to force activation)
    MySpell French Dictionnary (should try to force activation and test !)
    SwitchProxy tool (Unmaintained, always behind firefox versions)

  5. Agreed 10000%. I am using 16 extensions in Firefox. 2 are compatible (including one I wrote myself).
    Please note it’s a serious issue with amo itself : until very recently, it was not possible to declare “3.0b1” as a max target version for Firefox. So no extension is ready when 3.0b1 is released even if the extensions were tested on nightlies the day before the beta1 release…

  6. Firebug has a beta version that is compatible with the Firefox 3 trunk (see Google for address), and it seems to do its job. However, it�s quite crashy (or rather, Firefox is probably causing those crashes), I�ve disabled it now. E.g. when the password save bar pops up it crashes the browser, and it also crashes all the time on e.g. kotaku.com.

    I�ve gotten most of my essential extensions to work, either by finding a version that is newer than what�s on AMO or by using the Make Compatible functionality of Nightly Tester Tools. The only thing I couldn�t get to work is my feed reader, Sage (and Brief which seems like it could be a replacement doesn�t work either). I�ve moved my feeds to Thunderbird now.


  7. NTT works fine here, as do all of my other extensions except Google Browser Sync (which is actually broken, as opposed to just failing the ill-designed MaxVersion check). Most are from amo.

    – Chris

  8. Actually, I think I realised prefer Firefox without most of my extensions. I really don’t use most of them.

    I do miss having localised builds though, which you don’t really get with the nightlies.

  9. I also think McCoy needs to be more widely advertised so extension developers who distribute their addons outside a.m.o know how to sign them and avoid the complaints of the new extension security measures in 3.0b1.

  10. Someone needs to find a creative solution to not just beta testing with addons but also releasing new versions with addons.

    Really Mozilla is rich enough to offer some sort of financial incentive for the developers of the most popular extensions to upgrade extensions prior to the release of a new Fx version.

    Otherwise the take-up rate of new versions will be slower as people wait for the extension author to update.

    another major problem with extensions is when a developer loses interest in the extension and doesn’t update it – even just maintenance releases – so the extension can live on.

    One way to fix this might make it a condition of publication through AMO that if the project has not been worked on for 6 months, another developer can come in and take it over. Methods of determining developer activity against a certain project are already used on sites like sourceforge. The mozdev people might be able to help with this functionality too.

  11. Hello Gerv,

    I am the main Flashblock developer and I’d like to point out that the latest Flashblock 1.5.unstable.xpi from work fine in current Minefield nightlies so it should work in 3.0b1.

    By the way I also have about 80 extensions installed and working in SuiteRunner (SeaMonkey 2.0a1pre) nightlies.


  12. By the way, I have to agree with Lee above, every time I start using beta releases this is a problem, but actually it�s also kind of a good thing because it lets me evaluate my extensions and whether I really use them :).

  13. I guess something’s wrong with me :-) I consider myself a browser power user and I just haven’t become dependent on any extensions. I block ads and Adblock Plus seems to stay current. Even if it didn’t work with a beta, I’d get by just fine. I use Firebug when messing with my blog templates but if Firebug isn’t working, I can get by with DOMI, just put off that work, or do it “blind”.

    I’m not a Web developer and that’s one group I can understand would come to depend on Firefox extensions like Firebug or Web Developer. Not having the tools to do your job can be a deal breaker. If I was a Web developer, I think I’d just create two profiles for my two different browser versions.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve lived on nightlies for about 8 years now that I never let myself become dependent on add-ons. Maybe most add-ons don’t live up to my quality expectations. Maybe I’m not really a power user. Whatever the case, I think Firefox is a pretty sweet browsers even without extensions.

    – A

  14. I should make it clear that I’m doing “check for updates”, and most of my updates are supplied via addons.mozilla.org. So if addons.mozilla.org is not a good place for testers to get addons (because it updates too slowly), and they need to get them directly from each originating site, we need to make that clear.

    Adjusting version numbers in install.rdf and even using Nightly Tester Tools is possible but not good because it means that if you find a problem, you don’t know if it’s Firefox, or one of your nearly-working addons. You really need people who know those addons well to debug them and certify a new version as compatible.

    Daniel: Yes, I noticed your extension was one of the few that was properly tested and working :-)

    Philip: Great, but sadly I don’t get that version by doing “Check for updates” :-(

    Asa: Interesting. Just for everyone’s info, this is why I feel some of the addons on my list are important, and I’ve tried to rank them in order:

    • Zotero – Absolutely vital – using it all the time for research
    • Greasemonkey – various very useful helper scripts
    • Flashblock – because Flash is crashy on Linux
    • Aardvark – deleting bits of pages before printing them
    • Auto Auth – Foundation wiki
    • Nightly Tester Tools (!) – Makes other extensions work!
  15. I had to stop using/testing the trunk builds because the only usable feed reader (“Sage”) stopped working once “Places” was enabled on the trunk. :-(

    I used the trunk builds exclusively ever since Mozilla came out with a usable product (“M17” in the nineties or thereabouts).

    The built-in feed reader is nothing more than a tech-demo (unusable for a news junky like me) and all the other add-on feed readers are inferior to “Sage” (either they treat feeds as e-mails thus wasting vertical space (WIZZ), or they make their own broken sidebar (“Brief”, “Beatnik”)).

    So yes, incompatible add-ons are a huge problem for at least this (now former) trunk tester/user.


  16. Personally, I can get by with only one extension: It’s All Text. With that, I can live without everything else.

  17. Firebug is now Open Source.


    Firebug 1.1 is at beta 10. Firefox is at beta 1. So give a chance and time to module developers to update their modules.

    The latest Nightly Tester Tool version is working nicely with Firefox 3.0b1.


    Some developers will wait for a final release of Firefox, though, before making available any new version of their modules.

    Why would not Mozilla Corp give grants to modules authors to help them upgrade their wares?

  18. Firebug is now Open Source.


    Firebug 1.1 is at beta 10. Firefox is at beta 1. So give a chance and time to module developers to update their modules.

    The latest Nightly Tester Tool version is working nicely with Firefox 3.0b1.


    Some developers will wait for a final release of Firefox, though, before making available any new version of their modules.

    Why would not Mozilla Corp give grants to modules authors to help them upgrade their wares?

  19. I have the opposite problem: I always use trunk, so I don’t get to play with the extensions everyone is talking about, like Sage and Firebug.

    Greasemonkey works fine on trunk, though.

  20. It’d actually be nice if you would at least report a problem to the add-on author or try the latest versions before announcing to the world that an add-on doesn’t work on the beta.

  21. Messop –

    Have you filed a bug against the addons.mozilla.org component asking for support, in the browser, for reporting bugs to addons developers? If so, cc me please. Thanx.

  22. The del.icio.us extension only party works also. It is interesting that some developers of main, commercial add-ons don’t bother making their extensions work with the newest beta yet. Notable exception is adblock plus which is perfectly compatible and working with the latest nightlies.

  23. I am using Live HTTP Headers frequently in a XULRunner application – so I know that it works fine in current nightlies. You only have to change the compatibility info manually. I guess it is the same with most other extensions. Too bad that most extension authors don’t bother marking their add-ons compatible with alpha/beta versions.

  24. Mossop: I think every addon author has better things to do than read email from me saying “Your addon doesn’t work in the beta”. Presumably they know that – that’s why they haven’t updated the maxVersion number yet.

  25. From my point of view (as a developer), there are two sets of issues to deal with in terms of extension compatibility:

    1) Technical issues with the update/compatibility process
    2) Social issues

    I always try to test and bump my maxVersion values soon after a release (before where possible), but there’s a problem – updating the values on AMO’s database and updating the values in your XPI isn’t the same thing.

    Unless something has changed with AMO or Firefox recently and I haven’t noticed, having an XPI with compatibility 1.0 – 1.5.0.* and an AMO entry with compatibility 1.0 – 2.0.0.* should work for 100% of AMO installations and should allow my extension to stay enabled after a minor upgrade (i.e. to My inbox suggests otherwise.

    This wouldn’t be an issue if AMO would let you update your XPI in-place (i.e. make and submit changes without changing the extension version number, subject to sandboxing/review), but as far as I can work out, this has never been possible. I’ve always ended up pointing people to my own webserver, where I can do what I like (and my XPIs are version bumped), and this has a 100% success rate thus far.

    So, in terms of #1, perhaps AMO could repack XPIs based on compatibility data that you submit (seeing as we’re dealing with little more than a known XML structure inside a zip file). This could even bypass the review process, seeing as changing version numbers already does so.

    In terms of social issues (#2), well, I’m really referring to developer time and commitment. I often find that after alpha, beta (and sometimes even nightly) releases, my extensions are marked as incompatible yet continue to function correctly, and someone will helpfully drop me an email to let me know.

    Given the power and proven usefulness of social networking, it seems somewhat crazy that extension developers are still the bottleneck for compatibility when there may be hundreds, if not thousands of users that are willing and able to test the extensions they use and report back their findings. I’d really like to see an AMO mechanism that allows users to suggest or set compatibility data and note any caveats or missing functionality.

    So, to reiterate my suggestions in non-rant/babble form, it’d be lovely to have the following:

    1) Facility to re-submit XPIs with the same version number (subject to review) or the ability to repack XPIs with new version compatibility details (not subject to review).
    2) Community-based compatibility changes, where sufficient numbers of people are in agreement.

    I think these changes would help a reasonable amount.

  26. …and yes, writing to a moving API is definitely a minus in terms of extension development. Hopefully FUEL will reduce the severity of this problem over time.

  27. Don’t feel bad, Gerv, I’ve been testing Gran Paradiso for a few weeks, trying to force some of my favorite extensions to work, but tonight I have decided to back off my testing of Fx3 for a bit. Too many things seem to be borking, and they’re changing too bloody many things from Fx2 wit little apparent logic behind the change (no real text zoom, default theme in Linux is borked lately, and now they’ve ripped out the Go button unless you type in the address bar). I never thougth I’d say this, but I’ll stick to testing Fx2 nightlies. I’ve lost my appetite for testing Fx3.

  28. I was thinking almost exactly the same thing here. I’ve actually installed Firefox 3 beta 1 and am sticking with it for now, but the one I miss most sorely is Sage, the best feed reader for Firefox by a mile (Microsoft went with a very Sage-like design for IE7 and it’s one of the very few areas IE7 beats Firefox. I’m currently using one called “Feed Sidebar” which I can just about cope with, but it’s rubbish compared to Sage.

    I think the Firefox team need to adopt a few of the main extensions where they end up abandoned by their developers (Sage is one good example here).

    Enabling my disabled extensions one by one with Nightly Tester Tools has let a few of them work. I’ve currently got working:
    – AdBlock Plus
    – All-in-One Gestures (another I can’t live without, I really feel we need official mouse gestures)
    – Console2
    – CuteMenus (unchanged since Firefox 1 I think and it still works – it really makes Firefox so much prettier, and is a functional enhancement too)
    – Download Statusbar
    – Feed Sidebar (installed to temporarily replace Sage)
    – Nightly Tester Tools
    – SEOpen
    – Tab Mix Plus (I had to hack the update URL to a pretend https one but I really needed this extension)

    I had to hunt dev versions for many of these, and hack maxVersion even then.

    I think Mozilla made a mistake by implementing the secure-only updates thing right before the beta – they should have released one alpha with it on, as that’s the cause of many of my extensions no longer working.

  29. By the way, Live HTTP Headers does work if you hack the maxVersion. The window doesn’t resize properly, but otherwise it’s ok.