Recently below notice from current Tab Group extension authors Quicksaver about he will stop working on his extensions (include Tab Group) after we keep only WebExtensions in Firefox 57, raise many aware and worries about Firefox everywhere (like on reddit, gHacks or local . forums).
Replies from hundred of users all worried about that we’re losing the most distinct part (besides do no evil) to tell Firefox from Chrome, the endless possibilities extension ecosystem will cease to exist after we choose to focus on WebExtension and drop Addon-SDK after Firefox 57, due to many many extension authors just don’t or cannot to continue their effort.
And most of the messages i observed from those users is that, after their most relied extension stop working, they tends to switch to Chrome (or Safari), and not stay on Firefox. Frankly speaking, why stay in Firefox if we had similar extensions with them but not appear to be faster?
I believe most user only use none or few extensions, so the decision seems logical in the beginning, that number of affected users will still under control. But we cannot forget that those heavier extension users tends to be the KOL we need to continue promote Firefox. Once they leave, we’re losing the ability to communicate with much larger general and light users through them.
One KOL can bring thousand and thousand of users in past many years, and will also leave with their followers. We already observed such effects in local market in past few year locally.
Let me quote “Esor Huang” as example. He is one of the best Chinese blogger on promoting Firefox (and been nominated to MozSummit 2013). He had wrote more then 500 articles to share tips on working with Firefox from 2007 to 2016. Thousands and thousands of users learn to use and switch to Firefox from his articles. He is the KOL that we cannot stand to lose. But Tab Group will be the last straw for him.
On the other hand, popular extension authors also shows their concern about our decision making procedure.
It took me a year and a half of extensive rewritting to make my add-ons e10s/multiprocess compatible, something that is being rolled out only now, all with the prospect of a long-lasting life for them. And the WebExtensions announcement was made not two months after. “Demotivating” doesn’t quite cover it…
Extension authors already took many many time to rewrite their extensions into Add-on SDK for e10s in last 2 years. One of my friend, Ett Chung (author of BBSfox), had spend every single Friday night and saturday in past one and half years to rewrite his extension with Addon-SDK. that is _more then 700 hours of work.
1.5 year of works lead to even not a year longer of extension’s life.
You can imaging how disappointed he is, after he saw our decision to drop support of Addon-SDK. And it’s even not possible to rewrite it into WebExtension if he has time. It just lack of too many necessary APIs for now. When we finished those APIs later this year (if it’s going to happen - there are many info reveals that security concern is blocking new APIs), he will have no enough lead time to port his extension before Firefox 57.
Extension authors need much more lead time then 6 versions. The current schedule just not work and will force our core contributors to giving up.
It seems that we need to improve our communication and decision making procedure a whole lot with those extension authors, core contributors and KOL and even local leisure contributors. Extension had been our competitiveness and our commitment to user, we really need a good solution to maintaining the Firefox extension eco-system.