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Mozilla officially announces it will ship WebExtensions in Firefox 48 in March 2016

Mozilla officially announces it will ship WebExtensions in Firefox 48 in March 2016

by AshwinDecember 22, 2015

Mozilla has finally announced when it will be bringing WebExtensions to the stable version of its browser, Firefox.

Mozilla Firefox 48 release date

For thopse of you who don’t know what this means, here is a brief description.

What are WebExtensions?

WebExtensions is an API for developing cross-platform browser add-ons which will work in multiple browsers. These include Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera. So, technically a developer only need to code his extension once, and it will work on all these browsers, with minimal effort to port them.

Microsoft is doing something similar for the new browser in Windows 10, Microsoft Edge. We have already seen multiple add-on developers teasing about the probability of extensions support being enabled soon in Edge.

Back to Mozilla’s announcement. This isn’t actually good news for diehard Firefox users. The new API, requires existing add-on developers to rewrite the code completely from scratch. As you can guess, this is hard work, and not all developers will be interested in redoing their work.

Some popular add-on developers have publicly criticized the move, and stated that they will abandon their add-ons, once the API is changed. They blame this on changes in the API, which they say is not very flexible.

But Mozilla says it is working to support the existing add=on repository. So technically, the future of the existing extensions is unclear, and for all we know, many of those could well be in jeopardy.

When is WebExtensions coming to Firefox?

Mozilla says it will be testing support for the new API, beginning with Firefox 45, in the developer channel of the browser. This testing period will see the browser’s beta gaining support for the new API in version 47, after which WebExtensions will officially be brought to Firefox 48, which is due to be released in March 2016, as per the Mozilla Release Calendar.

Mozilla is also drawing flak from users for its upcoming E2S Electroylis technology which will distribute the memory of each tab in Firefox, in its own individual process. This will prevent Firefox from crashing completely, when one tab crashes. But users are worried that some add-ons may be killed due to the introduction of this technology, as this will also need some changes to the coding.

Firefox 43, which was launched recently, disabled unsigned addons by default. But a flag setting does allow you to disable the mandatory check. This isn’t going to be available for long, as with the launch of Firefox 44 next month, Mozilla will remove the option from the browser, killing a few add-ons in the process, but making the browser more secure.

Would you continue using Firefox if it becomes a Chrome clone?