Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mozilla Add-on SDK 1.0b1

Jetbug – Add-on SDK debugging to the fullest!

Dogfooding is an essential part of product development for many reasons and should not be a task set aside for only certain teams. Dogfooding products helps you understand the true user experience a product offers, brainstorm new features, and uncover rough edges in need of correction. Recently while using the Add-ons SDK for a Personas related add-on, I got frustrated with the stringified console logging available by default in the SDK. While attempts were made in the past to provide more robust debugging, none have been able to maintain stability, as they were strongly tied to various moving-target applications.

The Jetpack team is thrilled to announce the release of Add-on SDK 1.0b1, the first beta release of Mozilla’s new software development kit for building Firefox add-ons!

Add-on SDK 1.0b1, the culmination of months of hard work and nine alpha releases, is the best way to get started with building add-ons for the upcoming Firefox 4.

* It combines tools for creating, testing, and packaging add-ons with a set of high-level APIs that make it simple to access pages, tabs, and other browser features.
* With the SDK, all you need to know to build Firefox add-ons are common web technologies like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.
* Add-ons built with the SDK can be installed into Firefox without having to restart the browser afterwards, making them easier for users to acquire.
* And the SDK’s APIs are designed to be compatible with anticipated future changes to Firefox (in particular, the Electrolysis project to display web pages using multiple processes), so you can write your add-on for Firefox 4 and run it on future versions of Firefox.

To get started building add-ons with the SDK, download it and then check out the tutorial! And try out these add-ons built with earlier versions of the SDK:

* Grooveshark Remote Control by HernĂ¡n Rodriguez Colmeiro
* Copy ShortURL by Fred Wenzel
* Browse By Name by Ehsan Akhgari

Note that this version of the SDK is not a feature-complete beta, as we intend to enhance existing high-level APIs and add new ones in future beta releases. But it is a feature-stable beta, which means that we don’t expect to make breaking changes to the existing set of high-level APIs in subsequent betas, and we will make such changes only for very good reasons.

But keep in mind that low-level APIs and functionality labeled experimental or internal in the SDK documentation are still subject to change in future releases.

If you tested alpha versions of the SDK, formerly known as Jetpack SDK, you’ll find that we have made a number of changes to its tools and APIs in preparation for this release. Check out the release notes and documentation for details about the changes and the current feature set along with Daniel Buchner’s State of the Add-on Developer Union blog post for a comparison of the APIs provided by the various browsers.

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