Jan. 27th, 2017

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Another browser. Maybe Opera latest. It runs Webkit. I can use my current add-ons or duplicate their functionality via other add-ons that aren't exactly the Firefox add-ons I've been using. The only thing missing in trying to recreate my add-on environment is a ruler, but as I haven't searched Opera's store specifically for a "ruler", there might be one.

OK, so why is Firefox making me want to run screaming from my computer rather than keep using it?

Well. Try this, written on Dec. 14th by the author of DownThemAll! (the dev is apparently so pissed the website is MIA; enjoy a copy via WayBack Machine). [CW for strong language; CW2 for non-PC language if you visit the archived link directly. Also, I'm not a DownThemAll user; I ran across this when the website was still live, via someone else's DW]:

The whole story is basically that mozilla folks are fucking up the add-on space.

The whole story is that DownThemAll! would need a ton of niche APIs that mozilla has neither the resources nor the will to spec, implement and maintain[0].

The whole story is that WebExtensions APIs explicitly are supposed to be high level APIs, while tons of add-ons actually want, nay need low level APIs to implement their functionality.

The rational here seems to be "Fuck yall, we consider you too stupid and/or evil to give you low level access, also we're lazy and not good with money so we couldn't possibly support low level anyway" [..] The high level API shit is what's killing the platform, not XUL or (partial) XPCOM deprecation.

If you aren't getting that slightly oxygen-deprived, hubba-hubba feeling, then read on:

It is my opinion that it's not me who's leaving a 1.25M Active Daily Users DownThemAll! audience, but mozilla is abandoning them (and me) and not just them but also the developers and users of tons of other add-ons with small and large audiences[1].

I'll keep maintaining (most of) my add-ons for the time being, albeit with far less enthusiasm, in case mozilla wakes up or some viable fork comes along, tho.

> As far as i can tell, DownThemAll will be able to run on WebExtensions
> once the missing APIs (mainly file writing) will be integrated, and i
> got the confirmation this will happen in due time.

I have no hopes that they will implement proper APIs, not even for file writing[0 again]. Other than file writing, there are no proper APIs to do requests, there are no proper APIs for other stuff such as executing files, other kinds of OS integration, UI integration and so on and etc and pp.

And that's just DownThemAll!, looking at my other add-ons (public or for personal use) and also those I use of other devs, most of them will be dead in the water, or could only be ported with serious, serious limitations. Some add-ons I use already were abandoned, rightfully so because WebExtensions offer no way forward for those addons, and for now I fix them locally for me if something breaks (I cannot take over maintainership and publish them as I lack the time and motivation to do so) I have no use for crappy webrequest/toolbar button APIs alone. At least the Adblockers will survive I guess... hurray!

It goes on, and on, and on. I read it in its the entirety but won't reproduce it in full as I think these quotes give enough of an idea of what's apparently about to go down (which is the thing, so I welcome any corrections or updates on what the DownThemAll! author had to say).

I don't want to go without add-ons - again. I don't use many - just a handful - but I use them frequently enough that I need and want to keep them around, or my writing and CSS workflows - and how I view the entire web - will get pretty screwed up. I've gone too many years with things as I want them to say, "Oh, OK, I'm in Firefox but now it's so dysfunctional I might as well use Edge". Which: no; I will die first

The last time I dealt with scads of broken add-ons (and had the ones that did work break because of Firefox's design changes, which happily enough, also broke the browser chrome) I sort of made a big stir, and that's the last post I ever want to write that more or less opens with the word "motherfuckers" about anyone, much less Mozilla's entire dev team. Once is enough.

So I could switch to Opera on Webkit: it has built-in VPN, a built-in ad blocker, runs fast as hell even with a similar handful of add-ons installed, seems designed to protect privacy (which ahem, is important enough of an issue for iOS users to give them their own browser running Safari just to give them privacy, but is not important enough of an issue to give Windows or Android users a similar browser now or ever. Seriously? Why not?).

Or I could switch to Chromium - but only with Google services turned off. No built-in VPN, no ad blocker, and it looks like the same add-ons are missing in the Chrome store that are missing from Opera, more or less. So I think Opera will win hands down unless someone can make a really good argument as to why I should use Chromium instead.

To pre-empt the question: "Why don't you just use Chrome?", good question! Answer: "Because it has no privacy".

To stay with Firefox I'd need reassurances given on a massive, transparent, public scale that the version being discussed, when it does comes out, will not break the vast majority of add-ons. I mean, add-ons break nearly every time Firefox updates (I don't run a compatibility disabler for nothing) but that's mostly over things like someone forgetting to add a signature or to add or delete a line of code; it's usually minor and fixed fast.

This looks like a whole 'nother ball of wax.