has an undiagnosed addiction to steamed pork buns
and works on webby stuff at Mozilla. more »

AMO Developer Tools Revamp, Part 1: Manage Add-on Authors

As I neglected to announce 2 weeks ago, AMO 3.2 launched very smoothly (technically anyway – the cluster stayed up this time!)

For a few weeks before 3.2 launched, I’ve been working on a big project for an upcoming release of AMO: a rewrite of the Developer Tools area to make the user interface more intuitive and provide a number of new features to give developers greater control over many aspects of their add-on listings. I don’t have the work done so far on a staging server, but I’ll be blogging with screenshots as I finish various sections and asking for community feedback.

There are a number of big changes to the overall structure of how add-ons will be submitted, updated, and modified. The first few posts will focus on the new editing tools. Managing add-ons will be really simple and easy to figure out in the new design because the tools have been separated out into 6 different sections rather than one long, confusing page.

AMO Statistics Dashboard

Yesterday, Mike announced the public preview of the upcoming changes to addons.mozilla.org (AMO). One of the new features that has been long-requested is the ability for developers to see how many update pings, or Active Daily Users, their add-ons have. Just like Firefox, extensions check for updates once a day, and we count how many times this happens for each extension. While the total number of downloads tells add-on authors about how many people have tried out their extension, the active daily user count tells them about how many people used it on a given day, although it’s not perfect.

There’s a bit of fine print regarding active daily usage, but some of the more important points are:

  • Only add-ons that do not have an updateURL specified are counted. All add-ons are required to have an empty updateURL when submitted to AMO. If an add-on is distributed from another website with an updateURL, those pings are not counted by us.
  • Active Daily Users is not the same as saying “this many people use my extension”. Not all extension users use Firefox every day of the week, users can manually check for updates which will count false active users, etc.
  • Many people keep extensions installed but disabled. The stats dashboard allows you to see the various statuses, such as enabled, disabled, incompatible, etc.

Now that some background information is out of the way, on to the features!

Rock Your Firefox Update

It’s been 4 months since my last Rock Your Firefox post, and since I’m all about stats updates lately, here’s the latest:

  • Over 7500 people have tried the application, with 4400 still using it and around 45 people interacting with it daily
  • Average of 13-15 application adds every day although occasional spikes up to 35 per day, and about the same number of removes every day, although most of the removes are from people that added some time ago
  • This chart shows the breakdown of how users found and added the application today.
  • There were 12 application adds this week from someone accepting an invitation to RYF sent by a friend
  • The application “About Page” has about 50 page views every day
  • Over 24,000 favorites added, 8000 of which were added using the automatic import feature

So, what amazing features are planned now? None! The app doesn’t have any major bugs and does its job well for the number of users it serves. I don’t think there’s a need for me to continue active development, which is why that actually stopped a number of months ago. Of course, the app is open source and part of AMO’s codebase, so patches are welcome.

There are a couple other reasons I’m not too excited about working on Facebook Platform stuff anymore.

For one, while it’s pretty easy to get started developing an application for Facebook Platform, it’s now almost a full-time job trying to keep an application up to date utilizing all of the latest bugfixes and improvements, something that only companies dedicated to Facebook App development can handle. There are changes and new features constantly announced in the Platform Status Feed, Developer News Blog, and weekly push SVN commit log. Developers might also find themselves spending time in the platform Bugzilla, forum, or wiki. There are so many sources of information to follow if you want to feel like you’re on top of things.

There was a time when I complained about the lack of all of these tools (mainly the open bug tracking system), so I suppose I should be happy they’re here. Rock Your Firefox has been fortunate in that it hasn’t been broken by any of the changes so far — at least not any of the intentional changes.

Another reason I think putting RYF into maintenance mode a few months ago was the right decision is that Facebook apps seem to have gone from cool and trendy to just annoying lately. When someone sends me an application invitation these days, I just feel bothered. Especially because I’m obsessive enough that I have to immediately get rid of it. I’m one of those people that clears their Gmail spam every time they notice the number. (Note: to anyone who plans on sending me a bunch of application invitations now, I have anticipated this and determined that it will not be funny. Now you don’t have to do it!)

This is a bit longer than it was supposed to be. I’ll probably post another RYF update in 6 months or so. If you haven’t tried out Rock Your Firefox, you can check it out here.

Password Exporter 1.1

I just released Password Exporter 1.1 after over a year since the last release. I’ve been getting several emails a week asking about Firefox 3 compatibility, but due to the Firefox 3 complete Login Manager rewrite, it wasn’t an easy fix. I rewrote the extension pretty much entirely, and split the Firefox 2/Thunderbird code into a different file from Firefox 3. From this point on, Firefox 2/Thunderbird is in maintenance mode and new features will probably only be added to Firefox 3. I had to drop support for Firefox 1.5 in this version, but exports can still be made from an older version like 1.0.6.

In addition to Firefox 3 support, this version added a number of new features including a cool import progress bar, a number of bug fixes, and a new locale (ja-JP – Japanese) bringing the total number of supported languages to 20. You can see the rest of the changes in the changelog.

If I have time, I expect I’ll be releasing a minor update in a few weeks with some locales that couldn’t update this week, as well as some bugfixes for things that will probably be discovered next week. I have a few new bigger features that I’d like to tackle in the coming months, but I may not have time.

If you already have the extension installed, Firefox will detect the update sometime over the next 24 hours. If not, you can always download it or check out the new website.

I had planned on making a post about the new website comparing Google Code Project Hosting to Trac, but couldn’t get around to it. Maybe I’ll do that soon. I’ve been very happy with GCPH – it’s very simple yet powerful.

In other Password Exporter news, there’s a MozillaZine thread about what was thought to be a security issue in the extension, but which I am considering to be a request for enhancement.

State of the Projects, 2007

Update of 2006 State of the Projects.

Free-time project status:

  • Password Exporter – Finished version 1.1 this week and is currently awaiting localization to the 20 languages it’s now in. Should be released sometime the first week of January. More details on that version will be in an upcoming post. Password Exporter has now been download over 203,000 times and has about 70,000 active users every day.
  • FavLoc – Haven’t had time to work on it. Will try to find time to update compatibility for Firefox 3 sometime soon, but doubt I’ll add any new features. 28,000 downloads and 6,000 active users.
  • LSU Campus Map – I haven’t updated anything since I first made it a few years ago, but it’s still very popular with people just searching for an LSU campus map. It had especially high traffic following the recent shooting on campus.
  • All other projects including arraise, Startup Authenticator, Degree Analyzer, elurt, and all other ideas in my head that I detail but never start – I haven’t had time to work on and are pretty much dead.

Work project status:

  • addons.mozilla.org – Remora was launched in March and the AMO team is currently working on version 3.2 to be launched in mid-January. I’ve been working on a statistics dashboard for add-on developers, and after 3.2 will be continuing to work mainly on AMO stuff, probably including a Developer Control Panel revamp with lots of new features.
  • Operation Firefox – Contest was a big success and winners were announced earlier this month. Site will probably stay the way it is.
  • Extend Firefox – Contest ends tonight. Future plans to be announced later.
  • Rock Your Firefox – 0.6 released. Work on other milestones is not currently scheduled, and the app is pretty much in maintenance mode right now.
  • Personas – Site hasn’t officially launched yet, but has been finished for a few weeks.
  • Misc. other projects popping up and going away just as quickly.

The last few days I’ve been cleaning up a lot of site stuff, as I was quite shocked to find I had over 50 subdomains on this site, many of which are no longer used. I think I’ll be removing the ribbon from my pages soon, as I don’t think it’s helping anything.