Concern about WebExtensions exclusive strategy from add-on authors and users

@Kenny_D thanks, I had already been there (via your earlier post under Favorite WebExtensions?).

Also Andrei Petcu’s WebExtensions I like :: Collections :: Add-ons for Firefox (via his comment under May’s Featured Add-ons | Mozilla Add-ons Blog (2017)), and so on.

My concerns about the seven extensions in my previous post are deep – and quite focused, after huge amounts of time spent seeking alternatives for a much broader range of extensions.


… the more recent Diigo Web Collector, first released 2017-07-19, is unsuitable (significant loss of functionality)

A little more detail:

– I suspect that the loss of functionality is not limited to I’m a premium user, so I can gain priority support in private, but it’ll be nice to have a public explanation.

Future alternatives to Firefox 57

Yesterday I rediscovered Seamonkey. Very recently updated for FreeBSD, and it seems stable enough (I have been using it primarily for Riot, which seems to be better in Seamonkey than in Firefox). Now I see it mentioned in last year’s [WebExtensions] Future of innovative add-ons by @desktopd

Hi Graham, here’s a couple notes for your seven extensions:

  • Diigo: we’ll reach out to the dev to see if we can help with the functionality loss
  • LastPass: we are actively communicating with them about their migration
  • Session Manager: might not be possible until after version 57, if at all. We’ll also be reaching out to them.
  • Showcase: we’ll look into this
  • Stylish: currently blocked, will find out the details about this
  • Tab Groups: best alternative for now is Tab Center Redux, but more work is being done on APIs here so we expect there to be more alternatives coming in the next few months
  • Vertical tabs: here’s one you can try out, but we also expect more alternatives for vertical tabs coming up
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Great, thanks.

Session Manager

Bug 26384 – Not compatible with firefox 57+?


Thanks. I’m already working without it (incompatible with Firefox 55).

As a limited substitute there’s the Switch to tab feature of Firefox when using FAYT in the location bar.



I tried Stylus, which is WebExtensions compatible. As far as I recall the beta was not effective for things such as these:

– for those UI enhancements and others, I have styles that work with Stylish but not with Stylus. might include an explanation.

Tab Groups

Development and Maintenance of TabGroupsManager extension – expect an update there about last month’s proposal, TabGroups Manager revived: rewrite for WebExtensions.

As far as I can tell there’s no group functionality. See below:

Vertical tabs

– to the side; not a substitute for Tab Groups.

For compatibility with Tab Groups, I chose Vertical Tabs Reloaded.

I sometimes use the sidebar of Tab Center Redux alongside the sidebar of Vertical Tabs Reloaded, only because there’s no Showcase with 55 and the FAYT results in Tab Center Redux are more visually appealing than the Switch to tab feature of the location bar. Visually appealing but limited to one window.

Thanks again. Result:

tabgroup values: where initial use of Tree Tabs was preceded by use of Tab Groups, distinguish between groups (#8) · Issues · Karol Jagiello / TreeTabs · GitLab


I sometimes use this:

About sessionstore

– for an overview of titles. Not linkified, but at least if I see something in the overview I can then use the location bar to switch to the required tab.

This is the bug associated with Session Manager if you want to follow along.

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Session Manager

… thanks, Mozilla bug 1322060 - Add WE API to provide functions of SessionStore.setWindowValue and SessionStore.setTabValue also found via the forum links in MozDev bug 26384 (in post 21 above) :+1:


There’s significant potential for the cross-container search feature of Taborama to partially fill the gap that arises from incompatibility of Firefox 55 with Showcase.

Whilst Taborama is listed as working with Firefox 57.0a1 and later, users of 55.x may find the search feature usable. I’ll be particularly interested to know whether search is reliable where 57.x has more than five hundred tabs in a session.

Tab Groups

Generally, I don’t treat container-/context-based extensions (such as Taborama) as potentially full-featured successors to Quicksaver’s Tab Groups.

Issues such as this may be exemplary:

– arising from the underlying emphasis on containment without movement.

Tree Tabs … maybe.

we can track the progress of Tab Groups necessary API in this bug,

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Thanks … the most recent comment in that Mozilla bug mentions TabGroups Manager revived. Developer @miguelromero2000 began a topic here in 2015:

From the July 2017 proposal, … TabGroups Manager revived: rewrite for WebExtensions …, a week ago:

I have been testing WebExtension API and it is a nightmare. It is a high level API with a very limited subset of basic browser functionality which lacks all the things we need to port TabGroupsManager. No toolbar widget neither API. No API to create a window with alwaysFocused property true. * Not file data manager APIs. …

And so on…

There has been a lot of complaints and hundreds of impressive letters sent to Mozilla …

Time to switch to Palemoon.

From my perspective as an end user, a tester (with five years’ experience in various AppleSeed projects, 2009–2014):

  • generally, it’s reassuring to observe colossal amounts of developer activity in and around Mozilla
  • more specifically, WebExtensions components in BugZilla@Mozilla (2,550 bugs, including those that are fixed), there’s plenty to look forward to
  • I reckon that eleven weeks from now, the sum of those activities will not be an environment where successors to legacy extensions can combine in a way that will please a good proportion of power users.

What’s a ‘good proportion’? As long as a length of string :-)

Anecdotally, I seem to have more trouble (with Firefox 55.x) with modern, WebExtensions-compatible extensions than I ever had with legacy extensions – some of which are significantly outdated and/or unmaintained. For reasons that I’ll not give here/now, the majority of those troubles go unreported – sorry.

An ill-fitting one-size-fits-all strategy

– that is – in a nutshell – what I perceived coming from Apple in 2014, when (early during the project for pre-release Yosemite) I chose to abandon the company’s products. To cut a long story short: in lieu of Safari, which Yosemite wrecked for me, I began preferring Firefox – as a transitional browser.

Too many sizes

For me, thousands of extra features and styles never was a selling point. It was (still is) somewhat ludicrously difficult to find suitable extensions. Just rarely, not through, thanks to the communities I’d stumble across a gem. Tab Groups is by far the most valuable because it enables power use of a browser in a way that I had not previously imagined. I knew the risks of allowing my workflows to become interwoven with any one product but the experience was so good that I got into it, willingly.


Now: whilst I don’t have the same perception (ill-fitting one-size-fits-all) of the strategic Mozilla Firefox transition to WebExtensions, I do empathise – deeply – with developers and users who are frustrated by the strategy.

The empathy usually extends to people who use profanity and/or demonstrate a (natural) lack of understanding of what’s required for cooperative open source development for an excellent UX. Behind an apparently throwaway comment, often there’s a woman or man with an excellent bug report or enhancement request … if the details can be teased out of that person.

As long as a length of string

Back to that thought of pleasing a good proportion of power users.


Imagine deferring the cut-off date – from mid-November 2017, to mid-February 2018. Maybe enough time for a holistic round of enhancements, testing, supposed fixes and verified fixes … with an allowance for vacation and burn-out periods.

Less radically

Take a parallel initiative – maybe the September/October Firefox Campaign Quantum Sprint (launch event) –

– and integrate, or bolt on, things to help deal with the negative fall-out from the transition.


When add-ons go wrong:


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Tab Groups

I’m most interested in this –

– but we’re without a required API. (2017-08-11) refers to a Mozilla bug that’s still new and unassigned:

You can hide the tabs strip with CSS. No API needed if you are not afraid to hack the browser with some CSS :wink:

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Here’s the thing: whilst Simplified Tab Groups is most interesting, it’s also (for me) too simplistic in its current form:

reopened, and I do trust that @DenSchub will implement the feature …

… however I don’t imagine such things gaining priority until some time in 2018.

Pull requests, anyone? :-)

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Too much nerves, tears and regrets. I switched to Pale Moon wich in fact is the real Firefox. Is faster than Fx 56 and at least as fast as the claimed “revolution” Fx 57 (now is beta). Same customizable and user frindly-not flat UI like old Firefox and you can use almost all main addons from Firefox. What I understand from their forum, the dev’s will develop further in the same direction. Not least I noticed the behavior of moderators from #firefox channel. They do not accept criticism and you are banned for this.

Session Manager

Mozilla’s Extension Finder directs users of Session Manager to Tab Session Manager, which (for me) repeatedly, consistently, fails to restore anything with Firefox 56.0.2.

I’ll suggest reopening of the issue below, with reference to this post:

(The word ‘duplicate’ above refers to duplication of a separate issue.)

Maybe I can shed a little light on the not making any sense behavior of users:
I am one of those users but with one exception: I stick around. Have been around long before Mozilla firefox was born. I probably was adopting the browser in its early infancy. I came from netscape. Prior to that all there was for me was Cello and a little later Mosaic. When netscape came along.

Firefox was the ONLY alternative for me especially when microsoft bullied their Internet Explorer down out throats.

Enough of my parallel history - The reason many are leaving mozilla is, the first instinct of humans is, to fear change. Even the ones that face change, do so hesitantly.
Now, take a scenario where you are the user, you have your browser just ever so perfect tweaked over time. One morning you open your browser up, and [hyperthetically] you dont see your bookmarks, or dials. Next step you try to think, if it was you yourself that did something wrong the night before, having worked too many hours and were tired.
You then check the addons: and suddenly a entire slew of your addons have a loud yellow highlighter fever: Legacy. So, next step is you hurry to the addon page to see if others also have a problem.
And there you read with horror, that your daily usage of this addon may be killed off alltogether.

Panic, because you have to have your bookmarks or dials like the were yesterday.

Then you go to the developers forum for that addon, to find out [still hoping that this all is just a mistake] if and how fast they can restore or roll back so you have your addon working again.

That is then the moment when reality hits: you find out that there is an actual date set, when the addon world goes dark for you. If you are smart, you google and read about it as much as you can find out. You also know by then that your use of that addon may no longer be possible, because the author who spent the last 10 years refining this addon, simply cannot promise anything right now.
By now I hope to assume that you may start to get it what your average consumer feels: abandonement. He/she was not told of the looming danger. He/she read somewhere that firefox will only keep ca 3000 extensions and scapping the rest of the over 20 thousand addons.

Also, somewhere in the google results there was a sentence that Mozilla rested a little too long on its laurels from the early success days and also catered too much to coders.
Now, Mozilla will make a swift move and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Your user feels he or she is completely ignored in that entire process. Yes, yes, there is loud declaration about how much faster, lighter etc. the new version will be. That would be welcome, yes, but will be instantly forgotten, when the user can no longer use or even see his/her bookmarks or dials. No speed in the world can balance this out.

The search for the next cheese corner for browser is their target. They will pick the next best thing, because they feel abandoned.

No, I am NOT a abandoned feeling user. I have long learned to not only always back up what is important for my online well being, but also know that there is always a negotiable solution.
It’s just, your average user does not calm down fast enough to start thinking that a change may not be so bad. - That is where you see them exit rather fast.
It is the “Who moved my Cheese” syndrome. If you are not familiar with it you can watch it here. .

If all this sound patronizing - I sincerely apologize. This is not my intention. I rather meant for depicting a situation that most users find themselves struggling with. And these days it seems anger flares up so quickly.

I for my part, have of course also encountered some changes, but my solution was and is: report to the developer with an accurate account of cause and effect of the addon displaying with possible scenarios. That enables the developer to find a temporary workaround rather quickly.
I have seen in one developers forum tempers flare instantly, even name calling etc. - those are the ones that forgot within 1 second that this very addon has worked over the past ten years flawlessly, with the developer using his free time and countless hours to provide a free addon for users.
This particular developer has an addon that is not so simple ported. It has to be written anew from scratch. Am not sure if he can manage in time. I hope they can.
I of course will remain with using Firefox. But I have more Legacy highlights than clear ones. So, for my work, I will need to use Waterfox for a while. I have created literally a carbon copy of my current Firefox setup. It’s not my preference, but I too need an interim to see what all I will “not” have anymore in Firefox 57. Then go from there. Since a so called “alternative” for this particular addon does not exist. Not even close. Plus, I would be forced to manually create over 2700 entries - and I mean really “manually”. Just not a time saver which ever way one looks at it.

I would never switch to chrome or any other - that said. I do hope that Mozilla matures in to a less frenzy schedule one of these days. :slight_smile:


I look forward to watching Who Moved My Cheese – thanks!

Cheese and spam

Off-topic from WebExtensions APIs, but relevant to (receiving great attention in connection with the transition to Firefox 57): I do think of cheese whenever I find mis-placement of an extension in a category or collection. Yesterday for example:

Metaphorically: it’s miscategorising knives as types of cheese, because a knife might be used to cut or spread cheese. It’s simply wrong …

… and when misplacements significantly increase the information overload, there’s a sense of being spammed by AMO. If I’m shopping for edible cheese: be relevant – offer me cheese, don’t use inedible knives to obscure my view of the cheeses. If I’m shopping for tab-related extensions: offer me only what’s relevant. If I’m shopping for an organisational tool: offer me only that type of extension. And so on.

Back on topic …


I hope that developers and other contributors at Mozilla and elsewhere will avoid burn-out.

I’m allowing a few months for transition, for mature uses of WebExtensions APIs. Other users will be less patient.

Alternatives/complements to Firefox

A few days ago, in IRC:

I have yet to see a balanced blog post that puts, in perspective, some of the alternatives that people are looking towards. To be honest I have not sought one but none of what I see in IRC refers to any such post so … I smell an absence.


… sorry, I was distracted from the ‘alternatives to Firefox’ shortlist stuff.

(I’m compiling a shortlist, but I’m not a blogger.)

@amyt as you are Community Manager for Add-ons and Marketplace please, can you point us towards a reasonably balanced blog post?

I foresee things becoming extremely heated in IRC with vents of steam from people who will be surprised by losses of functionality with 57. It will be easier to keep users on board if there’s a single, reasonably authoritative point of reference.

(Wikipedia’s list of web browsers is fairly comprehensive, but it’s not the type of thing that can help to guide a passionate user of Firefox through a period of transition that ends with renewed, or continued, use of Firefox.)


Other essentials will include:

  • points of reference for users who wish to downgrade (if, technically, there is no downgrade path) from 57.x to 56.x or from 57.x to ESR 52.x.

Spun off from post 106 under Favorite WebExtensions? … in alphabetical order, with a handful of links to reddit, here’s a shortlist of most of the other legacy extensions that I use. Listing here because it’s easier than working with collections at

I accept that some of these will be irreplaceable. For posterity:

  1. About sessionstore – no support site – if I recall correctly, the developer does not plan a rewrite
  2. about:addons-memory
  3. Add-ons Manager - Version Number
  4. Add-ons Manager Context Menu :heart:
  5. Auto Unload Tab :heart:
  6. Autoscroll
  7. Bookmark Shortcut Keys :heart:
  8. Cache Disabler :heart:
  9. CacheViewer
  10. checkCompatibility – probably no need for a replacement
  11. Chrome Store Foxified
  12. Classicish Add-on Manager :heart:
  13. Cleanest Addon Manager :heart:
  14. Configuration Mania :heart:
  15. Diigo Toolbar (2013-02-27) :heart: – consider the negative reactions to losses of functionality with the version that’s 57-compatible
  16. Dorando keyconfig :heart:
  17. FEBE (Firefox Environment Backup Extension) :heart:review
  18. FindBar Tweak :heart:
  19. FireShot
  20. FireTitle :heart:Crappy Firetitle is horribly constrained by current WebExtensions APIs
  21. FoxyAbout :heart:
  22. GitHub Extension Installer
  23. Long URL Please Mod
  24. Mobile Dyslexic :heart:
  25. pdfit
  26. Performance Reporter :heart:
  27. Quick Locale Switcher 2 :heart: – see FreeBSD bug 221916 – cease www/firefox-i18n dependency on old, incompatible xpi-quick-locale-switcher
  28. Restart Application Button
  29. Scroll Position Highlight :heart:
  30. ScrollUp
  31. ScrollyFox
  32. Search Panel in Context Menu :heart:
  33. Slim Add-ons Manager :heart:
  34. Speed Tweaks (SpeedyFox) :heart:
  35. Status-4-Evar – for ScrollyFox
  36. Task Manager
  37. Toggle Document Fonts :heart:
  38. User Agent Overrider :heart: – 0.5.2 compatible with sites such as

– I’ll enjoy them for the next few months.

As far as I can tell, Sessionstore isn’t compatible with Quantum either.

I’m still fuming over Mozilla’s imposition of Quantum. Wouldn’t it have made sense to give the option to delay the update so users could download or record saved sessions?

Does anyone know how to roll back to 56? I’m not against what Mozilla is trying to do and maybe I’ll come to think that Quantum is the best thing since sliced bread but Session Manager was so useful and without doubt (for me, anyway) the best FF add-on. I’d just like to get back to 56 and access Session Manager to ensure I’ve book-marked everything I need. Then I would be happy to explore and be more open-minded about the potential benefits of Quantum.


Downgrade advice

Without extended support from Mozilla includes 56.0.2.

I have not read (have not sought) any reports of problems.

With extended support

In any case

Have good backups before and after updates, upgrades or downgrades.

Some post-update reflections


WebExtensions is far from solid as a whole, since most of its parts are simply missing, unstable or undergoing changes. Example: the part of Bookmarks API that would support tags and descriptions.

In the corresponding bug the developers say that no one knows when the mentioned will be implemented, since “this is the question of resources”. Previous API disabled, current API just doesn’t support required features - is it how you encourage developers to use WebExtensions?

If you would prepare the WebExtensions at least supporting the majority of functionality supported by XUL, before disabling the latter, there wouldl be less problems for both legacy add-on developers porting their extensions an users using those extensions.

When you change API next time, please consider making it really solid and reliable and covering the features already existing in present API - before disabling existing API. No need to repeat such an epic fail again.

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