marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
[personal profile] marahmarie

Need to clear out bookmarks in upcoming entries in anticipation of moving browsers, which I'm going to do, after learning the switch from XUL to WebExtensions for add-ons is roughly six months to a year away. The ban on new add-ons that use XUL happens much sooner - with Firefox 53, due out this March, when Mozilla takes its first step in turning Firefox into Chrome.

One could argue: "Why switch browsers when they'll all be the same?" but the thing is, Mozilla's giving a giant "fuck you" to the very technology that makes its browser what it is and its devotees who they are, which is like giving a giant "fuck you" to Firefox's entire userbase. I take it as a very bad sign when independent devs are constrained in the tools and resources they have on hand to make the most fresh, innovative, interesting, and capable add-ons possible.

But WebExtensions can't interact with browser chrome (unlike XUL), which severely limits the code's usefulness and functionality, and are not in a state of being anywhere near ready to use in Firefox, because some APIs which both Chrome and Opera depend upon won't work in Firefox (to put it more or less in Mozilla's own words) so the to-date utterly incomplete API framework will have to be forced to work with Firefox's particular limitations and peculiarities.

Mozilla's basically aiming for a proprietary version of WebExtensions, which can't be fully ported across platforms, then asking - demanding - that add-on devs learn to work both within that proprietary framework and, if they wish to port their add-ons, the more interchangeable APIs already in use in Chrome, Opera, and Edge.

Add-ons made for Webkit browsers should just work in Firefox; Firefox add-ons will probably have to be shimmed in to work with them, because apparently Mozilla decided it's easier to shim in an existing cross-platform technology solely for cross-browser compliance than it is to standardize technology running their browser in order to not have to shim in normally cross-platform APIs. Freakishly high performance demands are therefore created just to make an add-on here and there, if you ask me.

Firefox's add-on devs have been through enough. I'm tired of us holding hands across the dev/user spectrum, moaning over the latest edicts, breakages, holdups, and prohibitions. First XUL was the main technology and all was good. But that wasn't enough, so we needed Jetpack. But then that wasn't enough, either; the XULs in Jetpacks had to be delivered through SDKs.

But even that's not enough; now add-ons have to be re-checked for compatibility in every new Firefox version - even if, theoretically, you get three new Firefox versions per week over security issues or code snafus.

But nope, that's not enough, either; now add-ons have to be signed, which means an often tedious and at times very slow review process by Mozilla that still lets adware and malware sneak in despite so-called "reviews". (<--Are these what they call "scare quotes"? They should be, because that's pretty scary).

And what does the end-user get in return for the contortions add-on devs must perform to keep up?

Add-ons that are often in a state of not meeting compatibility requirements from one Firefox update to the next. It's anyone's guess which add-ons will work after an update and which ones won't for a few days to a few weeks to never again (Charamel/Silvermel being a rather perfect example) and a browser that never adequately addresses its high RAM usage, slowness, or Flash incompatibility - to the point Mozilla recently disabled Flash in Firefox by default to prevent its heavy RAM usage and frequent browser crashes.

What are we getting in return for the torment of add-on devs who make Firefox the masterpiece of creative thinking, "anyone can write some code for this" invention it once was? This is more a question for the commenters because I really can't think of a damn thing that makes Firefox worth using except its incredibly useful, capable add-ons, whose creators are being tortured out of existence to make Firefox look, act, "feel" and make money more like Chrome does.

Like Chrome does.

Maybe I'm in the minority compared to the vast amount of people Mozilla banks on to be unable to tell the difference between browsers, so just use whatever's put in front of them, but how, pray tell, will Mozilla put it in front of them? Not via its devotees - the biggest, most vocal, enthusiastic built-in fan base Mozilla will ever have - who are increasingly frustrated and abandoning the browser.

Through a partnership with Google? How else? With Microsoft's support for the more standard spec of WebExtensions that Chrome and Opera have adopted, it's possible Mozilla might turn to Microsoft, but either way they must turn to one or the other (or take up arms with Opera) to have any hope at all.

Mozilla's market share has declined so rapidly - the userbase is down so significantly (we're less than 10% of all browser users in the world) that I don't see how un-differentiating makes Firefox somehow stand out. It's insulting that Mozilla assumes we'll just go along. I won't. I'll switch away from Firefox before I really even have to just to prove it.