Archive for May, 2009

On Jetpack

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
Aza Raskin of MozillaImage by gkanai via Flickr

MozillaLabs released Jetpack – a lightweight way of extending the browser. It’s essentially an API that allows you to write extensions for Firefox with web technologies. You can check out the video here:

Mozilla Labs Jetpack – Intro & Tutorial from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

While you’re at it you should also read the guiding principles.

What I want to do here is list what I want from a lightweight extending system (in no specific order):

  • Only web technologies should be used in the development process (CHECK)
  • Installing as easy as Greasemonkey user scripts (CHECK)
  • Should take care that add-on authors don’t need to update for every version (CHECK)
  • Provides local storage and cross-domain posting capabilities
  • Add-on updates are handled automatically
  • Central add-on repository with usage & install statistics
  • Easy access to add-on options (think options button in add-ons list)
  • Possibility to use web pages as configuration interfaces for add-on settings

My current way of creating Firefox add-ons is to build Greasemonkey user scripts and compiling them to add-ons into a full .xpi. This provides a good framework to add other things that normal Greasemonkey scripts cannot do.

As I checked Jetpack I missed a lot of the things from the list – too many to be able to create a Jetpack version of Tweecious. Since it’s still in 0.1 my hopes are still high.

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