Google Chrome extensions will soon be ‘largely compatible’ with Firefox, Mozilla has announced.
The browser is introducing a new extension API that will make it easier for developers to create extensions that run across multiple browsers and better protect users from rogue add-ons and malware.
Called WebExtension, the new API is Blink-compatible, better documented and easier to use. It will make it easier for developers who build extensions for Opera and Google Chrome to bring them to Firefox with minimal changes needed.
“We would like add-on development to be more like Web development: the same code should run in multiple browsers according to behavior set by standards, with comprehensive documentation available from multiple vendors,” the company explains in an article titled ‘The Future of Developing Firefox Add-ons’.
Like today, new WebExtensions will be distributed and installed through the addons.mozilla.org website.
But the move is not without drawbacks.
Mozilla say that many existing Firefox add-ons will need to be redeveloped from scratch.
While they plan to “work with the community to improve and finalize the WebExtensions API, and […] help developers of unsupported add-ons make the transition to newer APIs and multi-process support,” the news of a reset is unlikely to go down well.
Support for XPCOM- and XUL-based Firefox add-ons is to be phased out. This could see many popular Firefox themes and interface-based add-ons, like Classic Theme Restorer, no longer be able to do what they do at present.
In an effort to reassure those worried, Mozillian Kev Needham has said that personalisation is an ‘area of differentiation’ they’re keen to keep.
WebExtensions is not the only change that Firefox’s long-established add-ons platform is shouldering. Starting with Firefox 41 due September all existing extensions will need to be validated and signed by Mozilla in order to run.