Extension development for beta
geoff at thunderbird.net
Mon Oct 29 08:37:47 UTC 2018
We have a problem. Actually, a series of problems.
Firstly. For an extension to run on ESR60, it must be:
1. an overlay extension with an install.rdf manifest, or
2. a bootstrapped extension with an install.rdf manifest, or
3. a WebExtension with a manifest.json
C is very rare, because ESR60 supports so few of the WebExtension APIs.
B isn't an issue yet but will become one soon, so I'm ignoring it for
For A to run on beta, it must have a manifest.json and /NOT/ have an
install.rdf manifest. (At this point it's technically a WebExtension and
we're just lying to the extensions back-end about what it's actually doing.)
This leads to the second problem: it's impossible to have an extension
that both has an install.rdf and doesn't have an install.rdf. Therefore
an extension developer cannot make an extension that can run on both
ESR60 and beta.
(Side note: I've been trying to make a backport for ESR that can run an
updated legacy extension, but I'm uncomfortable with the size of the
The extension developer /could/ make a separate version of their
extension which is only for beta. Given the other big changes in the
platform, that's probably the best option anyway, but that takes us to
problem three: they can't host the beta version of their extension on
ATN, because ATN no longer has support for development channel
extensions. I /think/ there's an ugly workaround involving uploading
versions out-of-order such that the ESR version is the one displayed,
but I really don't think developers should have to deal with that, or
would bother. They could also self-host the extension but I think most
wouldn't want to do that.
We're left with a bunch of not-very-nice options, as well as all the
other issues facing extension developers, which I think is just going to
put a lot of developers off altogether, and we'll lose a large fraction
of our extensions.
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