AutoAuth, Comment Snob, Feed Sidebar, Links Like This, Mozilla, Mozilla Add-ons, Mozilla Firefox, OPML Support, RSS Ticker, YouTube Comment Snob

My Future of Developing Firefox Add-ons

Note: AutoAuth is now being developed by Steffan Schlein. If you would like to leave feedback, pleaseĀ create an issue on GitHub.

Mozilla announced today that add-ons that depend on XUL, XPCOM, or XBL will be deprecated and subsequently incompatible with future versions of Firefox:

Consequently, we have decided to deprecate add-ons that depend on XUL, XPCOM, and XBL. We don’t have a specific timeline for deprecation, but most likely it will take place within 12 to 18 months from now. We are announcing the change now so that developers can prepare and offer feedback.

In response to this announcement, I’ve taken the step of discontinuing all of my Firefox add-ons. They all depend on XUL or XPCOM, so there’s no sense in developing them for the next year only to see them become non-functional. AutoAuth, Comment Snob, Feed Sidebar, Links Like This, OPML Support, RSS Ticker, and Tab History Redux should be considered unsupported as of now. (If for any reason, you’d like to take over development of any of them, e-mail me.)

While I don’t like Mozilla’s decision (and I don’t think it’s the best thing for the future of Firefox), I understand it; there’s a lot of innovation that could happen in Web browser technology that is stifled because of a decade-old add-on model. I only hope that the strides a lighter-weight Firefox can make will outweigh the loss of the thousands of add-ons that made it as popular as it is today.

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Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar, For Sale, Mozilla, Mozilla Add-ons, Mozilla Firefox, RSS Ticker

Firefox Add-ons for Sale

The time has come for two add-ons, RSS Ticker and Feed Sidebar, to find new owners.

Since I started developing add-ons for Firefox, I’ve written at least forty different extensions: some for personal use, some as a freelancer, and some as the primary function of my full-time employment.

In order to free up more time to pursue new ideas and projects, I occasionally need to either retire or transfer ownership of add-ons that I wrote of my own volition. Some of these, like TwitterBar and FireFound, were retired by executive decision. Today marks the first time that I am attempting to actively sell the rights to some of my add-ons.

Allow me to brag about these add-ons

RSS Ticker and Feed Sidebar are my two most popular add-ons, and they’re fully functional in the most recent version of Firefox.

RSS Ticker Screenshot

Both of them have been featured as “featured” or “recommended” add-ons Mozilla Add-ons multiple times, and both maintain healthy usage by a dedicated base of users not interested in Web-based feed readers.

RSS Ticker averages 39,000 daily users and has been download 1.3 million times. Feed Sidebar averages 21,000 daily users and has been download over 900,000 times. The two add-ons are unlikely to have overlapping users.

RSS Ticker is the first Google result for firefox ticker. It is also the first result for rss ticker and feed ticker.

Feed Sidebar screenshot

Feed Sidebar is the fourth result for firefox feeds and firefox feed reader and number two for firefox feed. It’s number one for feed sidebar.

Both of these add-ons would be excellent footholds for a Web-based feed reader to attract users who prefer to consume news directly from their browsers; they would be equally beneficial for content-oriented sites to push recommended feeds to users via the already-integrated “Featured Feeds” feature in both add-ons. (Both extensions regularly check a list of “Featured Feeds” and suggest these feeds as subscriptions to their users.)

What do you get if you buy?

If you buy either of these add-ons, I’ll:

  1. Transfer ownership of the add-on(s) to you on Mozilla Add-ons.
  2. Redirect the add-on pages on my blog to the pages of your choosing.
  3. Forward any feedback e-mail I receive regarding the add-ons indefinitely.
  4. Add you to my Christmas card list.
  5. Be a good guy in general and offer free consulting and advice related to the add-on(s) for as long as I can.

If you’re interested in purchasing either or both of these add-ons and taking over their development, e-mail me at chris@efinke.com.

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AutoAuth, Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar, Interpr.it, Links Like This, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, OPML, Programming, RSS Ticker

Interpr.it now speaks Mozillian

Note: AutoAuth is now being developed by Steffan Schlein. If you would like to leave feedback, pleaseĀ create an issue on GitHub.

My browser extension translation platform, Interpr.it, is now able to parse locale files from extensions for Firefox, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, or any other Mozilla-powered program, and it can likewise generate Mozilla-compatible locale files. The interface for translation is the same as the one for translating Chrome extensions, but when the locales are downloaded via the API, the files are returned in the format in which they were originally uploaded (either DTD files or Java-style .properties files).

This is most obviously introducing a competitor to Babelzilla, the only major site offering a translation platform for Mozilla extensions. Babelzilla is a functionally sufficient solution for translation (I’ve used it without much issue for almost six years), but I’m moving away from it for two reasons:

  1. Translation/localization is a problem that I’d like to understand better, and I find the best way to understand a problem is to try and solve it yourself.
  2. I think that the experience of localizing an extension (or developing a localizable extension) can be better, and I have the hubris to think that I can be the one to make it better.

In the spirit of putting my money1 where my mouth2 is, I’ve moved five of my Firefox extensions (AutoAuth, Feed Sidebar, OPML Support, RSS Ticker, and Links Like This) from Babelzilla to Interpr.it.

If you are interested in trying Interpr.it, upload your extension (either using the Web form or API), and let me know how it works for you.

  1. For extremely small values of “money.”
  2. For extremely large values of “mouth.”
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Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar

Feed Sidebar 4.0 Released

Feed Sidebar 4.0 has been released for all users of any previous version of Feed Sidebar, and this version has two great improvements over version 3.1:

  1. You can now sort your feeds by three different criteria:
    Sort by Name, Date Updated, or Date Added
  2. Feeds are now updated constantly, rather than all at once. So if you have 60 feeds, and you have Feed Sidebar set to update once per hour, instead of updating all 60 feeds after an hour, Feed Sidebar will now update one feed every minute. This should fix any issues users have had with Firefox locking up while feeds are being update.

You can read more about these improvements in my previous blog posts: Feed Sidebar 3.2 Beta 3: A Gentler Feed Updater, Feed Sidebar 3.2 Beta Update, and Sort your feeds in Feed Sidebar.

To upgrade to version 4.0, you can install this update from Mozilla Add-ons, or if you already have have Feed Sidebar installed, it will be automatically downloaded for you.

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Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar

Feed Suggester for Feed Sidebar?

I was thinking it would be neat to add a recommendations component to Feed Sidebar. It would work like this:

  1. You’d opt in to share your list of feeds anonymously.
  2. Your list of feeds is sent to a central server.
  3. Other users do the same thing.
  4. Magic happens.
  5. The Feed Sidebar would occasionally recommend a new feed based on what other people like you are reading.

Would anyone besides me use this? I know that other Web-based feed readers have similar features, but those of us who control our own data are getting left out in the cold.

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Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar

Feed Sidebar 3.2 Beta 3: A Gentler Feed Updater

I’ve been working on decreasing the CPU consumption of my Feed Sidebar Firefox extension; one of its main problems is that when it’s time to update the feeds, Firefox can grind to a halt while the Sidebar starts to make tens or hundreds of HTTP requests.

A solution I’ve settled on allows the sidebar to slowly work through your feeds list, spreading out the updates over the interval you’ve set (e.g., update every hour), so that there’s never one big update. For example, if you have 50 feeds, and you have set Feed Sidebar to update them every hour, it will now update a single feed every 72 seconds (60 minutes / 50 feeds = 72 seconds per feed), rather than updating all 50 feeds at the same time every 60 minutes. However, in order to keep the sidebar working as it previously did where all of your feeds would update as soon as you started up Firefox, the sidebar will still do one initial update, leaving only a second between each feed update.

You can install this beta version right here if you want to take advantage of the new update mechanism. Some changes that you’ll notice:

  • The statusbar no longer shows text like “Next update: 4:32 PM”. This is because your feeds are always being updated.
  • As each feed is updated, text will appear in the status bar like so: “Updating 1 of 50 (Joe Smith’s Blog)…” You can click on this text to visit the site of the feed that is being refreshed.
  • If you click “Mark All as Read”, it won’t affect any feeds that were refreshed less than 3 seconds ago. This is to avoid accidentally marking things as read before you realized they were there.
  • There is now an option to disable automatic updates completely.
  • You can still quickly update all of your feeds at any time by clicking the Reload button in the sidebar.
  • The pop-up notifications that used to appear after a full update (“100 new feed items”) are now specific to each feed. The title is the name of the feed, the image is the website’s shortcut icon, and it will either say “2 new items” (or 3 or 4…), or if there’s only one new item, the title of that item will appear in the notification box.

I’d appreciate any and all feedback (comment on this post, email chris@efinke.com, or ping me on Twitter) so that when I release this to the general Feed Sidebar public, I’m not inundated with e-mails saying “Why didn’t you do it this way?” (Again, you can install the new version here.)

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Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar

Feed Sidebar 3.2 Beta Update

I’ve published an update to the beta of Feed Sidebar that I talked about here: Sort Your Feeds in Feed Sidebar. In this version (3.2pre2), I’ve made the following changes:

  • Enhanced the sorting mechanisms so that updates occur more seamlessly.
  • Added some accessibility fixes, courtesy of Marco Zehe.
  • Fixed some security holes related to JavaScript injection in the preview window
  • Added a little delay to Feed Sidebar’s first feed update each browsing session to allow Firefox to start up a little more quickly.

I’d appreciate any and all feedback (send to chris@efinke.com) so that when I release this to the general Feed Sidebar public, I’m not inundated with e-mails saying “Why didn’t you do it this way?” You can install the new version here.

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Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox

Sort your feeds in Feed Sidebar

A lot of people have asked for the ability to sort the feeds that appear in the Feed Sidebar extension for Firefox, so I’ve taken some time to integrate some basic sorting options. I would like to get some feedback on this feature before releasing it to the general Feed Sidebar audience, so I’ve uploaded a version for testing here. (You may have to save it to your computer and open it with Firefox in order to install it.)

Sort button in Feed Sidebar

The sorts I’ve implemented are:

  • Default: Sorts the feeds in the order that you added them to your bookmarks. This is how your feeds have been sorted up to this point.
  • Name: Sorts the feeds alphabetically by feed title. (This doesn’t yet ignore things like “a”, “an”, “the”, but it will before the final release.)
  • Last Updated: Sorts the feeds with the last updated feed at the top.

Please leave any feedback you have either as a comment on this post or by emailing me at chris@efinke.com.

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