Firefox/Feature Brainstorming:Add-ons

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« Firefox/Feature Brainstorming

What's the difference between 'Add-on management' and 'Add-on manager'?

Add-on access

We need direct access to addon/plugin-website so add a direct link on the Tools/Addons list.

  • This will allow us to bypass mozilla and comment and access directly to the addon/plugin.

Add-on management

  • Version compatibility
  • Options management
  • Integration with AMO
  • Make extensions "cleanware". Let all of their configuration lie in their own file directory instead of mashing it together with other extensions' configuration in One Big File. This reeks of Windows' "Registry Hell". Cleanly uninstalling an extension should be as simple as deleting its subdirectory.
  • Extensions should have compatibility mode to allow older extensions to run when a new revision of firefox is released and extension is not available. Maybe offer a "force install" to see if an out of revision extension will work.
    • See Nightly Tester Tools extension that is able to force such install mode over any given extension (or at least over most of them).
      • If this doesn't cause any problems in Firefox, then yes, backwards compatibility with old extensions is needed. --Armaetin 17:46, 24 January 2007 (PST)
  • Should be able to view date and time that extension was added, and sort extensions by that date (to aid debugging, by removing extensions in reverse order, until a recently-seen problem ceases to exist). Andy Mabbett
  • Offer a program that allows users to merely alter the color scheme of the Firefox. All gloss effects and UI aesthetics remain, save for the change in color. Once the desired hue is selected, it's as easy as naming, then applying that theme. The program takes care of the rest.
    • This sort of option should be kept as an extension for FF, as when you add too many sorts of options like this, you end up with a browser that has too much in it (akin to [eek!] IE). --FlyingIsFun1217 14:06, 1 January 2007 (PST)
      • Options are good, but this is unnecessary. Keep this as an add-on. --Armaetin 17:46, 24 January 2007 (PST)
        • STOP using "Groupthink". It doe's not help the process, it hinders it significantly. The OP has it exactly right. Maybe not ALL of these features should be added by default, but the majority of them are already on other ares in the application. It just seems ridiculous and lazy to not add them. If you don't like the idea, then add an "on/off" option to it. That solves it for everyone. Thinking that the rest of the world feels like you do or that you are supiour to everyone else, is absurd. It should have as many functions as it possibly can. This is what makes a good multi/research app. We at least need sort functions, BADLY, for the extension list window.
  • If it's possible, changing the theme without restarting (like it's managed in Songbird) would be great.
    • As long as FF does not become adversely affected by this (things such as graphical artifacts that may be common when switching themes), I fully support this idea. Restarting can take long on a laptop with a slow hard drive :( --FlyingIsFun1217 14:06, 1 January 2007 (PST)
    • If there are no consequences to be concerned over, then I agree. --Armaetin 17:46, 24 January 2007 (PST)
  • Since most extensions are of a small size, could extensions be mirrored on our hard drives in .xpi format? This way, one can open up the Profile folder, drag-and-drop all extensions into the Addon Manager and reinstall all extensions in case of a crash. This not only saves the user time and bandwidth, it also reduces stress and frustration due to the loss of a profile and speeds up the restoring process. (thus preventing temptation from Opera and IE) If huge extensions start popping up, which I doubt, an about:config setting could be added to only mirror extensions that are less than a specific amount of KB. A plain text file/ xml file could be placed in the mirror directory with the names of excluded extensions.
  • How about a Foxmarks-style feature that encompasses not just bookmarks, but extensions, themes, search-engines, and settings? New users could configure it on first-load, and old-users, when using different computers, could login and have their favorite stuff instantly downloaded and installed instead of spending ten minutes searching for everything. More details and mockups of the idea here: [1]
  • When an extension is downloaded from an untrusted site, the user should be given a dialogue telling them that, giving details of the site (to prevent phishing), asking them if they really want to install it, and giving them an option to do so. At the moment, it just gets blocked, and the only way round it is to add that site to your list of trusted sites. This is not only really clunky, it's a security hole - just because i trust the site for this extension doesn't mean i want to trust it ever again. If it's thought that this is not a good default behaviour, it should at least be allowed as an 'expert/reckless lunatic mode'.
  • Make add-ons visible for the current or all profiles at the user's choice, if easily possible. This avoids having "standard" extensions (e.g. RIP) to be installed over and over again. See item in the "Add-on manager" section about single/all users also. --ThomasP

Add-on manager

  • When prompted to restart because installing/uninstalling Extensions (or plugins), don't prompt to "close tabs?" -- this interrupts the restart flow...
    • Especially since the tabs are restored upon the restart of FF --FlyingIsFun1217 14:19, 1 January 2007 (PST)
  • "Update All Extensions" button
  • Allow a non-root user to deploy extensions system-wide (on Linux)
  • Provide changelogs for extension updates (Do I really want to update?)
    • Yes! Yes, Yes, Yes! I don't like updating an extension and restarting the browser just to find out that it works in [insert foreign language here]. It just wastes my time (as does finding the changelog on the mozilla updates page.) --FlyingIsFun1217 14:19, 1 January 2007 (PST)
  • When the plugin finder doesn't find any suitable plugin, show a description for making easier to the user to find it (show data type?)
  • «Visit Home Page» opens extension's home page in a new window; must have another context menu item to open it in a new tab.
    • How about just letting the user change where all extension links (that appear in the add-ons dialog) open, maybe under an extensions tab in options? --FlyingIsFun1217 14:19, 1 January 2007 (PST)
  • Allow us to specify which order each plugin will sit in.
  • Add a option to install plugin for Single User or All User mode while installing the XPI via the GUI.
  • Swap any special feature to an extension and add an Extension Manager that works like the Eclipse Callisto Project, so Firefox would be lightweight and functional
  • Ability to group extensions and themes into folders that can be enabled, disabled, and uninstalled as a group
  • "Restart Firefox" button for updated extensions (not just for new installed extensions)
    • See my comments under the update section of 'User Interface'. Maybe add a button that can be added using 'View->Toolbars->Customize' --FlyingIsFun1217 14:19, 1 January 2007 (PST)
  • Disabling of all extensions for specific sites. For example, at a bank you want to disable extensions to maximize security. Better would be built in, user-configurable, blacklisting and whitelisting for extensions. This would fit in with the Filter chains concept above (First stage in chain is a test for site with a 'return' target, {or first test in each stage for extension specific black/white-listing}).
  • Keep "Options", "Disable", and "Uninstall" visible with each extension even when not highlighted, to avoid the need to change row height.
    • Great idea. It can get somewhat annoying when you click on another item, and the whole layout seems to change. --FlyingIsFun1217 14:19, 1 January 2007 (PST)
  • Expand the Add-on manager to include sections for Plug-Ins, Dictionaries & Search Engines. Add-on Manager Screenshot
    • Wonderful idea. If you add something like that for search engines, make sure that there is an easy way to create a new one (and not depend on some tool outside of the browser). --FlyingIsFun1217 14:19, 1 January 2007 (PST)
  • Simple suggestion: Typing the first letter of the add-on name should take you there, to avoid scrolling
  • Ability to stop search for updates. Currently if an update search hangs on a particular extension, there is no way to interact with the manager without closing and re-opening it.
    • Good idea. It would also allow dial-up users to stop checking for updates (which can be very time consuming)
  • For the "Themes" tab of the Add-on manager, always keep the "Firefox (default)" theme on top, maybe with a separator under it, and then alphabetize the user-added themes below that.
  • When switching themes, put a "Restart Firefox" button just like when you install an extension. I don't like to have the "save tabs on shutdown" option enabled, so a restart button saves me from remembering all of my tabs. There is one for after installing add-ons, so I don't see why there isn't one for switching themes, since it requires a restart.
  • Fully automatic Add-on Update a-la Windows - optional:
    • DO NOT prompt before downloading and installing updates for add-ons - just do it. It disturbs the flow too much. When was the time someone actually chose not to update?
    • DO NOT ask to restart - just wait till next start.
    • DO NOT show updated add-ons window after restart - just show a little notifier icon somehere out of the way with a tooltip showing the list of updated add-ons if you move your mouse over it.
    • DO silently succeed!
      • Seconded! Nonzenze 18:15, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Remote extensions

  • Support for remote extensions (i.e. dev tools package)
  • Store XPI files in a central location so multiple users on the same machine do not have to download the same XPI multiple times. Maybe allow user to set location so only one download is needed for multiple users on a corporate network.
    • Option when installing an add-on to install it for all users or the current user. Must have privileges to alter the user's settings.
  • a complementary web service to store your extension profile in so you could customize your experience at public computers with a simple login
    • I like the idea (as I'm sure quite a few other people do). If its possible... --FlyingIsFun1217 14:21, 1 January 2007 (PST)

Enable/Disable Add-ons

  • Allow user to disable plugins via "about:plugins", Options/Prefs, or Extensions
  • Dynamic loading/unloading of extensions. No more restarting just because an extension was installed/uninstalled/updated. (Like nglayout.debug.disable_xul_cache = true, only better.)
  • How would you secure this? This seems a great way to share a virus
    • Disabling extensions is now possible in Firefox However, enabling and disabling an extension requires the restarting of Firefox. The dynamic installing/uninstalling of add-ons could allow an external program to force feed a bug into Firefox, but I don't see how that's possible with dynamic disable/enabling of extentions. --Armaetin 15:16, 31 December 2006 (PST)
  • When disabling or uninstalling an add-on, put a "Restart Firefox" button just like when you add an add-on. I don't like to have the "save tabs on shutdown" option enabled, so a restart button saves me from remembering all of my tabs. There is one for after installing add-ons, so I don't see why there isn't one for disabling or uninstalling add-ons.
  • Add an option to protect the enabling/disabling of a plugin with a password. This is essential to use firefox in a work/buisiness environment and it's also quite a nice feature for some specific plugins. For example; it is now easy to disable the adult filter plugins. For these kinds of add-ons, password protection is essential.

Syncable Add-ons data/prefs

  • Export/Import of Addons Information.

Extensions Packs

  • Firefox should support extension packs, in order to deliver a set of extension in a simple way. This is critical in order to add features without annoying the users with "hundreds of extensions" to find and configure.
    • One of the main issues I've seen upon the adoption of Firefox is "to get Firefox working like <insert browser name here> I have to find and setup too many extensions... I'll keep <same browser name>".
  • Have "Extension Packs" available for download immediately upon completing a Firefox install (also see "Installer" and "Uncategorized: Firefox Core/More" notes)
  • Firefox Core/More solution (under Other or Uncategorized) will handle both extensions packs on install, intuitive configuration and trust.
  • Export/Save Extensions (as backup) used/installed.


  • Limit amount of Plugins/Addons from overwhelming the Interface. Allow Firefox to limit 2-20 lines of toolbars for real estate recovery. Have Arrow Up and Arrow Down at the start of the Toolbar rotator or use the scroll wheel (when mouseover the Plugin toolbar) to rotate between plugins.
  • Prevent, limit, or allow user control over the way extensions add sub-menus to the right click menu (or whatever it's called). It gets too cluttered.
  • Have an override (like shift + right click) to get firefox's menu instead of plugin menu. This would make it possible to save flash animations, or have a field for "stop playing flash", or have a volume adjustment for the plugin if the plugin / content doesn't allow this.

Extension Crash Control

  • Monitor the resource usage of the extensions, and allow Firefox to "take over" and terminate, suspend, or otherwise neutralize a misbehaving extension. At the moment, much of the Firefox "instability" is caused by a misbehaving extension, such as acrobat or flash, which is causing the whole browser to stop responding.
  • Often when a flash plugin is handling a lot of data (like streaming website statistics), the browser can stop responding while the flash plugin is calcuating. In cases like this it seems that firefox needs to force-ably pause the plugin for a moment to allow the firefox main screen to refresh.
  • Make the browser not become unstable after a plugin crashes.


  • Plugin manager that can be used to disable or enable specific plugins.
  • Flash plugin to let the Windows version of Flash run using Wine (or similar.)
    • Since the Linux version will always be several versions behind what is used on most web sites and honestly expecting this to change is bordering on insanity, provide a way to run the Windows version under Firefox.
  • Fix the Flash Installation on Linux
    • One always winds up having to do a manual install. If Firefox needs root permissions to do the install ask for the root password, don't just fail out.
  • Allow 32-bit plugin in 64-bit Gecko
    • requiring the full 32-bit stack needed by Firefox instead of the few dependencies actually needed by the plugin is ludicruous on 64-bit systems
  • Better XPCOM debugging/introspection/build support
    • Include some good xpcom query/introspection/debug tools in the distribution. Debugging plugins is painful (the debug build crashes under gdb for me - for those developers who think I'm whinging without rtfm-ing).
    • Fix the build, it's a dog (I realize that this has been discussed before on bugzilla but this complicated and non-standard build you use is a real barrier to entry for new-to-firefox/mozilla programmers). It makes plugin development a pain (I can build .so files using the mozilla dist or the plugin sdk but firefox silently ignores them - I just want to know why).
  • A function like blocking grafics also for Flash advertising. Block Flash from Host XYZ.
  • Button "Don't show again" for Plugin bar... Sometimes I just don't want a plugin like Flash and don't want to be reminded on that on every page with advertizing.
  • Support for executing a .NET Framework code.
  • Bulk application reassignment (I want to be able to change everything from QuickTime plugin to something that works like VLC or MPC)

Plug-in for non integrated formats

  • Allow plug-ins to add support for file formats not supported by gecko (in ex. PDF, iCalendar, MS .doc files) or supported but needed to render differently (in ex. XHTML, feed RSS, IE rendering support)
  • Change MozIStorage to enable different caching modes for different connections. This makes it possible to share data with external applications without data corruption.
  • IMPORTANT ! Hi ! I constated that many website are using WMV or WMA (with or without DRM), I mean some majors music websites or some movies rental websites. And it is COMPLETELY impossible to use Firefox to see those websites because of lack of ActiveX. I know that ActiveX has been disabled because of security issues, and I know too that some add-ons are managing activex for Firefox (but it's not official add ons). You should create an official addon in order to enable activex use with security in FF3. (sorry for the language, I'm french ;)


  • Send Theme name and version currently in use in the HTTP headers.
    • Why? Why would a website owner, for instance, need to know what theme and version I'm using? Why would I want to release this information? J.B. Nicholson-Owens 15:27, 26 October 2006 (PDT)

General tasks

  • Improve extension installation/management UI
  • Unify add-ons management (extensions, themes, search engines, dictionaries, plugins)
  • Improve interaction design around customizing browser interfaces

Variable icon size

  • Have an option for a theme to use svg images for icons so that users can adjust icon sizes. As it is now, I must provide 3 themes (e.g. -SphereGnome, SphereGnome_Big and SphereGnome_Jumbo) to present 4 icon sizes from 24x24-pixel to 64x64-pixel images.
  • Have an option to use variable system icons. For example, my themes use 16px, 24px and 32px images for menuitem images, tab favicons, etc.

Maybe you guys could include some nice-looking themes from start? Maybe some more colorful themes than the default-theme in Firefox 2?

Maybe icons based on SVG, and so continuously resizable?

  • Hello. I use LiteStep under WindowsXP, thus I am able to adjust my IconSize bigger than 48x48 Pixels. For now, I used a png-File, made a new ico-file with also a 64x64 icon in it and used Res-Hacker to replace the icon-group in the mozilla.exe file. -->> Although Windows XP nativly does not support icon sizes over 48x48 pixels, it would be nice if future Firefox versions would contain icons with a size above 48x48. I don't know, how many users would appreciate this, but on the other hand, it does not cost much. Same for Thunderbird and Sunbird. As much as I know, Vista will support icon-size over 48x48, so maybe you will do it anyway.

Switchable background images

  • Have an option for a user to choose background images supplied by a theme. Currently, I have four themes set up essentially to deliver different backgrounds. With variable icon sizes and switchable background images I could reduce my SphereGnome-based themes to two, and my Scribblies themes to one.
  • Have an option for a user to choose no background image. A number of users request "plain" themes.

Automatic Garbage Collection

  • Have an automatic garbage collection for extensions to mitigate the memory leak problem of poorly built extensions. Deconstruct any objects created by extensions that are not referenced by anything. "Trusted" code from the mozilla should probably run as is to maintain performance.

Theme editor

Defunct extensions

  • The auto-update feature for extensions should include the self-removal of extensions rendered obsolete, e.g. when their functionality is incorporated in a new version of FF. Pigsonthewing

View new extensions


Theme Options

  • FF should provide themes with the ability to show an options dialog. A lot of themes ship with different options for URLbars, button shapes, etc. A lot of themes on AMO are even just repackages of the same theme with icon color changes.
    • Ideally the theme could just provide FF with a list of optional stylesheets and descriptions of what they change. FF could display the options in the addons manager with the preview without adding another dialog level. Allowing different color themes (until SVG becomes usable) would require the ability to group and set default stylesheets.

Rollback Extensions

  • Keep the last n versions of an extension around and allow rollback if the user doesn't like the newest version.

Combine Themes

  • The ability to combine themes, similar to the behavior in Ubuntu GNOME's theme editor. It could allow the user to say "Use icons from theme x, use tabs from theme y, use window color from theme z". I would like this because there are some great themes out there, but most of them do not change the look of Firefox 2.0's tabs, which I do not like the look of. I would like to be able to use, say, Qute icons with Winestripe tabs. --JohnnyK 09:46, 4 March 2007 (PST)

Parallel Themes

During my work, i usually can open a browser window dedicated to one topic and another one dedicated to another topic. each of these windows has a set of tabs inside it. it would be a good idea to apply a theme to the first window while keeping the other window with a different theme, effectively having "parallel" themes (like parallel processing). This will create a visual aid to help me know which mind thread a window (and all its tabs) belong to. This of course could be pushed further if Microsoft allows me to define my own taskbar groups, so that i can have more than one group of FireFox in the taskbar, one for each mind thread. --Mb2nd 31 March 2007

Custom bookmark with partially blank values

  • I often feel the need to be able to insert, or replace values in an URL. Therefore it would be nice with a custom bookmark where I could set some of the URL as blank, and write that blank spot when I were to open the bookmark. An example could be:
    • A YouTube user profile URL looks like:
  • I would like to write a username, and then visit that profile without worrying about the rest of the URL. So I could make a bookmark called and then be prompted for the username every time I opened the bookmark. Thereby I could visit any profile I would like. This would be practical in so many ways. --Keba 19:22, 8 December 2007 (PST)

JavaScript cache

Pages like gmail and similar web 2.0 (and maybe future web 3.0) apps downloads huge amount of data everytime it loads. However if the javascript they use is simply stored in the user's computer like an addon, it is obviously going to be much faster. For example, the collection of all the gamil's javascripts and other files can be packed into a zipped file and be available for download. Any update by google can be available as a small change to the package instead of downloading the entire stuff again. Also, if some library like domTT is used in many websites, it wont be required to load the full library everytime as we already would have it installed in our firefox.