Mozilla has announced its plans to introduce an open ecosystem of extensions for Firefox on Android, offering a range of possibilities for developers to optimise their desktop extensions for mobile usage.
The exact launch date is set to be revealed in early September, with expectations of the rollout occurring before the close of this year. Firefox will then become the sole major Android browser to support an open extension ecosystem.
While Firefox for Android has been limited in terms of extension support in recent years, Mozilla has invested its efforts in enhancing core functionality and understanding the preferences of mobile browser users.
By establishing the essential infrastructure to support an open extension ecosystem, developers are encouraged to adapt their desktop extensions for mobile compatibility proactively.
Giorgio Natili, Firefox Director of Engineering, said:
“There is so much creative potential to unlock within the mobile browser space.
Mozilla wants to provide developers with the best support we can so they’re equipped and empowered to build modern mobile WebExtensions.”
To facilitate a smooth transition for extension developers, Mozilla is preparing to offer comprehensive guides, resources, and community events, all aimed at aiding developers’ adaptation to a managed multi-process environment suitable for Android.
Key changes include the transition of background scripts to non-persistent event pages, in response to the recent introduction of multi-process support in Firefox for Android Nightly. This update means that extensions are no longer housed in the main process of Firefox’s user interface.
Given Android’s tendency to shut down resource-intensive processes, like extensions, a non-persistent event page architecture has been introduced to enhance stability and resilience against abrupt process terminations. Developers are encouraged to update their manifest.json background key and make adjustments to ensure synchronous registration of listeners at the top level.
Further adjustments, such as recording global state in the storage API and switching timers to alarms, are also recommended.
For developers seeking to test their mobile extension versions, the creation of a collection on addons.mozilla.org (AMO) and subsequent testing on Firefox for Android Nightly is advised. Alternatively, developers can debug and run their extensions using web-ext before publishing them on AMO.
Mozilla’s announcement marks an exciting phase for developers looking to extend the reach of their desktop extensions into the Android mobile realm. For community discussions and support, developers are invited to join the conversation on Firefox Add-ons Discourse.
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