Extension first-run pages are increasingly common and are a great way to inform the user about what the extension they just installed can do, how to access it, how to get help, and oftentimes guide the user through creating an account or logging in to a service. They are usually very graphical and clean-looking, and really show off the extension or author’s brand. Sometimes in addition to or in lieu of a first-run website in a new tab, additional first-run components are used, such as opening a sidebar or popping up a modal dialog or wizard.
The practice of using first-run modal dialogs, pages, sidebars, and wizards is a great way to make sure the user doesn’t forget to try out your extension after installing it. But there’s a pretty big problem that’s developing as more and more extensions do this: installing more than one extension at a time. As an example, I installed 4 extensions that are “recommended” by Mozilla in a brand new Firefox 3 profile. This is what I got after restarting:
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With the release of the first beta of Firefox 3.1 today comes everyone’s favorite release-time festivity: extension compatibility updates!
If you’re an extension developer using a maxVersion of 3.0.* or less, please test your extension before declaring 3.1b1 compatibility. Some of the changes for extension developers are listed here. 3.1b1 is an allowed version on AMO, but 3.1.* will not be added until closer to final release. Keep in mind that you can always look at the Developer Statistics Dashboard to see how many of your users are on 3.1 betas and may be marked as incompatible/disabled.
And as another reminder, if you only need to bump the maxVersion number for compatibility with 3.1b1, you do not need to submit your add-on for review. Simply use the Developer Tools area to bump the maxVersion and Firefox will check AMO for this when determining which add-ons are incompatible.
If you’re an extension user and one or more of your add-ons isn’t working in Firefox 3.1b1 yet, please be patient. Many add-ons are developed by volunteers in their spare time who may not be able to address compatibility immediately if their extension requires significant changes, which it should hopefully not. As in previous releases, Mozilla will be reaching out to developers in an effort to get as many extensions as possible updated before 3.1 is released.
With last night’s update to AMO, the new tools I’ve been blogging about are now available to try out. On the en-US Developer Tools index, you should now see an invitation to try out the new tools, which will take you to the new “Developer Dashboard” where all the links will point to new tools. Using the old index will continue using the old tools until the next update when we intend to make the new tools the default and only tools.
Please remember that any changes you make will actually take effect, so if you’re looking for an environment to play around with the new tools without harm or try out uploading a new add-on, just use our preview site, which uses an older snapshot of the database.
If you’d like to report any bugs or feedback, please add it to this wiki page or file a bug in Bugzilla.
For details on the specific new tools, check out my previous posts:
The last tool of the AMO Developer Tools revamp I’ll be posting about is the uploader used when submitting a new add-on, updating an existing add-on, and adding a file to an existing version. Previous versions of this tool have involved a complicated multi-step process of uploading the file, editing add-on information, editing version information, and finally editing translations. In the revamp, all uploads will have just one step: uploading the file.
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The revamp of the Developer Tools area of AMO has a brand new tool called the Status Changer. This tool provides an interface to see what the status of your add-on currently is, what that status means, and how to get to a higher status if applicable.
The interface has two main areas: one shows the status level of the add-on: whether it’s Incomplete, In Sandbox, Public, etc. The other area shows whether the add-on is currently marked as active or inactive. The content of the page varies depending on what status an add-on is currently in, but I’ll highlight a few common states below.
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