Mozilla has released this year a Firefox transition plan from XUL-based extensions to WebExtensions i.e. APIs that use Opera, Chrome, or Edge browsers. The first changes came in the spring.
Firefox has long been preparing for major changes to the expansion system. In 2016, Mozilla required to sign Mozilla's installed expansion, this year's working on full cancellation of support for old XUL extension. For many months, we already know that the interface should be turned off in the future in favor of the Universal WebExtensions API. This can be found today in Opera, Chrome or Edge browsers.
We were originally scheduled to arrive in 2017, but only this year has Mozilla published a specific plan. The changes will take place over the next twelve months. The first will not be notice by common user, for the first half of the year the news will only concern developers.
In version 51, Electrolysis achitecture was enabled for users with extensions that do not declare compatibility with multiprocessing architecture. This is at least for the time being, but it all depends on how beta extensions are tested.
Firefox version 52, the latest version of Windows XP and Vista. At the same time, the ESR will be released with long support so that users of older Microsoft systems or those without the desire to change the expansion will be able to postpone the update for another year.
The first major change will be released with the release of Firefox 53. From this version, it will no longer be possible to add XUL-based news to the official expansion database. However, it will still be possible to update and deliver already-known extensions to users.
A full transition to WebExtensions will take place in Firefox 57, which will be released in 2018. It will no longer accept other extensions, and XUL will end up in the extensions. In addition, it will be necessary to use only a new version of the extension. At that time, the API should be complete and compatibility should be high.
Mozilla wants to unify its extension interface with other browsers. As a result, the development should be simpler when the developer will not have to dive into the internal structures of Firefox so he can program it. On the contrary, in the future, it will be a matter of transferring existing extensions from other browsers in the future.
However, Mozilla admits that some extensions will no longer be possible with the new API. Especially in those cases where extension extends much to the browser. These extensions will either change functionality or they will have to disappear. Discontented users can use the Firefox fork called Palemoon, which split off Firefox in 2009 and continues to develop a classical fully configurable interface and will continue to support XUL. Probably, however, in the next few months, the number of extension developers who will pay attention to it will fall dramatically.
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