Extension development for beta

Axel Grude axel.grude at gmail.com
Mon Oct 29 10:04:34 UTC 2018

Dear Geoff,

please don't confuse ESR60 with Thunderbird beta. (tb63) - the ESR (thunderbird 60.*) 
supports using install.rdf - so you can keep using that unless you want to support 
beta versions.

For testing beta versions I would suggest creating a separate batch script for 
buildng. I haven't managed to get mine fully compatible yet but it should be 
definitely possible to start from the same sources without being forced to "fork" code 
at this stage - let the batch script do the rest. You will need to build 2 different 
versions but you can use minver & maxver to control the behavior on ATN. Nothing stops 
you from releasing both versions alternately - they should be picked up by the update 
mechanism based on minver / maxver.

As regards having a separate beta trail, I think this would be the best option (we had 
this on AMO but I think it was removed again). Is this something that ATN could 


*Axel Grude <mailto:axel.grude at gmail.com>*
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> *Subject:*Extension development for beta
> *From:*Geoff Lankow geoff at thunderbird.net
> *To:*<tb-planning at mozilla.org>
> *Sent: *Monday, 10/29/2018 08:37 GMT ST +0000 [Week 44]
> 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 this conversation.
> 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 changes.)
> 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.
> GL
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> tb-planning mailing list
> tb-planning at mozilla.org
> https://mail.mozilla.org/listinfo/tb-planning
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