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, please 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.

Browser Add-ons, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, RSS, RSS Ticker

Major RSS Ticker Update Coming: What You Need to Know

RSS Ticker has been an alternative to Web-based feed readers since 2006, displaying feed updates directly in users’ browsers. It hasn’t seen significant change in a while, but some of the internal Firefox code used by RSS Ticker has changed enough that in order for it to remain functional in Firefox 22, its entire architecture would have to change. That’s a lot of work.

RSS Ticker

I didn’t want to abandon RSS Ticker’s users (especially with the shutdown of Google Reader imminent, already leaving one less feed reading option), but I also couldn’t dedicate the time to completely rewrite the add-on and keep all of its features. So here’s what I’ve done:

RSS Ticker has been completely rewritten. This has given me the opportunity to use the knowledge I’ve gained in the last seven years of programming to improve the overall design of the ticker and to restructure the code to play nicely with the new Firefox APIs.

What hasn’t changed? RSS Ticker will still scroll your feeds in your browser. You can still choose to put it at the top or bottom of your Firefox window. You can still exclude specific feeds. You can mark as read, mark feeds as read, open in tabs, open all in tabs, etc. You can temporarily disable the ticker. You can change the ticker speed, smoothness, and direction. You can hide the ticker automatically when it’s empty.

What has changed? In order to continue supporting RSS Ticker, I’ve had to drop a number of features. Here are some things you can no longer do with RSS Ticker:

  • Manually refresh the feeds.
  • Specify how often the feeds should refresh.
  • Randomize the order of the ticker items
  • Limit the number of items per feed
  • Display items that have already been read
  • Show unread items in bold
  • Manually limit the width of ticker items
  • Customize the context menu

I know some of you liked and used these features. I’m sorry I had to remove them, but it was the choice between removing them or abandoning the add-on altogether.

A few features haven’t been removed, but they have been changed (a.k.a. “improved”):

1. All of the remaining options (six of them, down from a total of 37) are displayed inline in RSS Ticker’s section of the Add-ons Manager.

RSS Ticker Options

2. If you want to temporarily disable the ticker, just uncheck it in the View > Toolbars menu.

Disable RSS Ticker

3. To remove a feed from the ticker (but not from your bookmarks), right-click on it in the Bookmarks Manager and uncheck “Show in RSS Ticker.”

Show a feed in RSS Ticker

This new version will be available in a couple of weeks after some more testing, but if you’d like to test it early, leave your e-mail address in a comment or ping me at and I’ll send you a copy.

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

AutoAuth, Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar,, Links Like This, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, OPML, Programming, RSS Ticker now speaks Mozillian

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

My browser extension translation platform,, 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

If you are interested in trying, 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.”
AutoAuth, Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar, RSS Ticker

Translation Tuesday

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

There are a number of extension updates available today simply due to new translations:

AutoAuth 1.1.1

  • French (fr-FR)
  • Dutch (nl-NL)
  • Spanish (es-ES)
  • Japanese (ja-JP)
  • Portuguese (pt-PT)

Feed Sidebar 1.1.1

  • German (de-DE)
  • French (fr-FR)
  • Dutch (nl-NL)
  • Italian (it-IT)
  • Japanese (ja-JP)
  • Russian (ru-RU)

RSS Ticker 1.9.1

  • French (fr-FR)

The updates can be downloaded from each add-on’s respective homepage or via your browser’s auto-update feature for extensions. Thank you to the translators at BabelZilla for all their hard work.

Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar, Mozilla Firefox, Programming, RSS, RSS Ticker

RSS Ticker (finally) updated to 1.9

I’ve finally gotten around to updating RSS Ticker. Among other things like new locales and code optimization, this version includes a rewrite of the options dialog and its related code, so any reported bugs related to the Options dialog should be fixed now. This includes the known incompatibility with the All-in-One Sidebar extension.

You can download the latest version of RSS Ticker 1.9 from the RSS Ticker homepage.

On a related note: I originally wrote RSS Ticker so that I could use Firefox’s Live Bookmarks to manage my feeds but still have an easy way to see new items from a small number of feeds. Since then, the number of feeds I follow has grown, and the ticker interface has become too restrictive for me. If this sounds like you, you might want to check out my new extension called Feedbar. It uses your Live Bookmarks for feed management like RSS Ticker, but it displays the new items in a sidebar, so it’s easier to scan through a large number of feeds.

Browser Add-ons, Feed Sidebar, Mozilla Firefox, RSS, RSS Ticker, Software

Announcing Feedbar (Firefox extension)

About a year ago, I wrote my first RSS-related Firefox extension, RSS Ticker. It was intended to be used for getting instant notifications from a small number of feeds. As the number of feeds I follow has grown, I’ve found the ticker interface inadequate and frustrating, so I’ve been working on a new RSS extension for Firefox over the past couple of weeks.

I’m calling it “Feedbar,” and it’s a sidebar for Firefox that aggregates all of the unread items from your Live Bookmarks in one place.

Partial screenshot of Feedbar
Click for full view.

It’s not trying to be yet another standalone RSS reader that just uses Firefox as a platform (like Sage, infoRSS, or Wizz RSS). It doesn’t have its own feed manager – it just uses the feeds you’ve already bookmarked and shows you the items from those feeds that you haven’t visited. It’s intended to be simple, easy to use, and something that could be included by default in Firefox without seeming out of place. As far as I know, there’s not another extension already doing this.

You can download Feedbar 1.0 alpha 1 at the Feedbar homepage. Feedback is greatly appreciated.

Browser Add-ons, Mozilla Firefox, OPML Support, RSS Ticker, ScribeFire, Tech News, URL Fixer

New Mozilla Addons site is was live

Update: URL Fixer was acquired and is now hosted at

After a series of delays, the new Mozilla Addons site (codenamed Remora) went live late last night. Changes to the site include redesigned visual aspects, localization, and an overhauled discussion/comment system, but probably the biggest change you’ll notice is that new extensions do not undergo a mandatory approval process before being available for download.

As extensions are uploaded, they are relegated to the “Sandbox.” This means that while they won’t appear in search results or under their respective categories, the author can still take advantage of Mozilla’s free add-on hosting by pointing users directly to their add-on’s download page. Sandboxed addons can be nominated for general availability by requesting an editor review, but according to Mozilla, this should be reserved for addons that are of use to the general population and enhance the Web browsing experience, and I fully agree. We don’t need the site cluttered with hundreds of “ Forum Toolbar” extensions that are only used by their author.

As far as my extensions go, ScribeFire and URL Fixer have been deemed public-worthy, and I’ve nominated OPML Support. I’ll probably leave the others (Slashdotter, GoogleTabs) in the sandbox, as they’re not really what I consider “general use.”

Update: It looks like the site has been rolled back to its previous state; I can’t determine why, but the Mozilla Webdev blog will probably post an update. You can still check out Remora at the Mozilla Addons Preview site.