AMO Changes to Incompatible Add-ons

In the past while addons.mozilla.org (AMO) would indicate an add-on was not compatible with the user’s version of Firefox, it would still allow the user to try and install the incompatible add-on. The user would get a warning that the add-on is likely not to work with their current version of Firefox and they could click a button again to go through with the download/install process. Unless the user had add-on compatibility checking disabled, Firefox would generate an error saying the add-on could not be installed.

So if an add-on won’t work with the user’s current version of Firefox, why even give them the option to try and install? The main reason for this was for people who are testing developmental versions of Firefox and needed the ability to install add-ons that were not yet marked as compatible with the newer version of Firefox. Around 95%+ of add-ons that work with Firefox 4 will work with the newer versions (up through Firefox 7, more on this in a future post) without the extension developer needing to do anything on their end other than bumping the MaxVersion variable (the latest version of Firefox the extension will work with). However, for the average user it caused confusion and frustration having the ability to install an add-on which says it will not work with their version of Firefox.

To address this AMO is going to change the way incompatible add-ons are displayed in the category pages and search results. With the newer version of AMO an incompatible add-on will show dimmed in the list and there will not be an install button. This is going to make things easier for regular Firefox users. But, what about those of us who want to use the Nightly, Aurora or Beta builds? If the add-on developer hasn’t yet bumped up their MaxVersion, how are we to install these add-ons? In the past we have talked about the Add-on Compatibility Reporter extension. The benefit of this extension is it automatically makes the needed about:config tweaks in regards to add-on compatibility checking, plus it gives the user the ability to report back directly to Mozilla if an add-on is compatible with the version of Firefox they are presently using. With the upcoming changes to AMO, users who have the Add-on Compatibility Reporter extension installed will see incompatible add-ons displayed normally and will have the ability to install said add-ons. There will be a warning message below the install button saying it may not work X version of Firefox, but they will be able to install.

The nice thing about this change is it going to keep non-advanced Firefox users from wasting their time and becoming frustrated trying to install incompatible add-ons. With AMO as it is designed now, even though an addon is not compatible, it will still has the ‘Add to Firefox’ button allowing the user to try to install the incompatible add-on. It has no way of differentiating between a user who has add-on compatibility checking disabled and those who do not. Under new the new system, only those users with add-on compatibility checking disabled (mainly advanced users) will have the ability to install an add-on that has been identified incompatible with the version of Firefox they are running.

This is a work in progress and will be rolled out in a future AMO update.

Source:  Mozilla Add-ons Blog

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  1. Despite nearly 25 years of formal education including a doctoral degree, I am unable to understand this message. You do not tell us when to expect a change, what we should do about it or how it will improve our life. For instance, what does this mean?
    >The nice thing about this change is it going to keep regular Firefox users from wasting their time and becoming frustrated.

    What does AMO stand for. In part of your statement it is a URL, in another section an organization while elsewhere it designates a particular add on. Btw, can you decide whether the word is “add-on” or “addon?”

    Please, Guru, could you get somebody over the age of 40 rewrite this statement in English!

    Since I am having a major problem with keeping Firefox stable probably because of add-on incompatibility, this information is relevant. Please send me a rewrite to phitz96@gmail.com

    • AMO which is short for addons.mozilla.org is the official add-ons (extensions, themes, plugins and Personas) repository for Firefox, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey and the other Mozilla applications. These changes which are coming soon (no official time frame yet), will improve your life in that you will quickly be able to see which add-ons will work with your current version of Firefox. Unlike the system in place now, if you are not using the Add-on Compatibility Reporter extension you will not have the option to install an incompatible add-on. As it is now, user are told the add-on will not work, but there is still an ‘Add to Firefox’ button that users can click. This gives the user the false impression that they can install the add-on.Only after going through the motions to download and install will Firefox kickback an error telling the user the incompatible add-on can not be installed.

      It can either be add-on or addon and I tried to make sure that I had the same version throughout, but must have missed a couple.

      • Thank you, Guru. Much better. I would like to believe that your Avatar suggests a certain seniority but not enough Pixel to be sure.

        Is there any way to create an add-on collection and have it pass through a filter to indicate potential trouble with a Firefox version? I do believe I am having problems with plugins that are locking up my system. I am now watching Netflix on another browser because I know that before a film is finished while in FF I will get such a severe freeze that I have to turn off my CPU. I have followed your troubleshooting algorithm at least once to no avail. You have this retired codger stumped. I am too fond of FF to change browsers. I am hoping that 7.0 will really help the user with memory leaks and spiraling CPU use.

        P.S. If you answer this message I am not so informed by email.

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