MOZILLA HAS UPSET a huge chunk of the firm's Firefox add-on developers after announcing plans to lock down the ecosystem that surrounds them.
The changes will, according to Mozilla, take advantage of Electrolysis and Servo, two new technologies that Mozilla has been developing to speed up multitasking and performance.
However, the other aims of the project are looking at reducing spyware and adware, but at the same time making it easier for Mozilla to authorise new add-ons quickly, and are causing some consternation.
The company announcement comes in four parts, getting increasingly more irritating for devs as they go. Firstly, a new extension API known as WebExtenstions will come online, offering broad compatibility with Chromium-based browsers.
Secondly, developers have been warned that their extensions will need to be compatible with the Electrolysis version of Firefox when it hits primetime.
Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, Firefox will require all add-ons to be validated and signed before submission.
Finally, XPCOM and XUL add-ons in the current add-ons library will be depreciated over the next 12 to 18 months.
Mozilla is keen to argue the overall benefits of the overhauled service, but does, by its own admission, recognise the fly in the ointment.
The company said in a blog post: "A major challenge we face is that many Firefox add-ons cannot possibly be built using WebExtensions or the SDK as they currently exist.
"Over the coming year, we will seek feedback from the development community, and will continue to develop and extend the WebExtension API to support as much of the functionality needed by the most popular Firefox extensions as possible."
This has resulted in hostile responses from some developers with comments like: "Have you lost your mind? Good add-ons are the reason to use Firefox. If you remove them you basically have a bad Chrome clone. Thanks Mozilla!"
Another said: "Well, was fun while it lasted I guess. Thanks for ruining something beautiful."
The biggest issue here is that Mozilla's proud boast that developers will need to support only one code base is being marred by the concerns that without XPCOM and XUL, Mozilla is effectively just another Chromium.
Whether or not that's a good thing depends on whether you like Opera, which made the same move back in 2013. µ
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