Dropping legacy support: Moving forward

Onno Ekker o.e.ekker at gmail.com
Mon Oct 7 06:03:27 UTC 2019

On Sun, Oct 6, 2019 at 12:08 PM John Bieling <john.bieling at gmx.de> wrote:
> Hi,
> so learning WebExt is inevitable now. I have to start from scratch. My current knowledge about WebExt: Zero. That is going to be a hard time.
> I will have a lot of questions, which probably only core developers can answer. But I think tb-planning is not the right place to ask them, but https://thunderbird.topicbox.com, correct?
> As we really need support of core devs to help us, will you follow topics there? Time is running fast and answers are needed fast. Will you be there?
> One question is of general nature and thus I want to ask it here: Why will WebExt Experiments be disabled in a few years?
> We are in this situation, because Firefox/Mozilla decided, that WebExt is the new thing. If Firefox would not have done that, we would be still be able to create powerful add-ons, which can do almost everything. There has never been a security issue with Thunderbird extensions. The reason Firefox closed WebExt Experiments, are security issues, I think.
> I can understand, that we need to follow the WebExt path, but disabling WebExt Experiments is your own choice, right? If WebExt Experiments do allow us to do all the things we need, why are we not allowed to use them (later)?
> Sure, if there are WebExt Experiments, that are of general use, they should be moved as MailExtension API to core. But there will be experiments, that will be useful only to a single add-on. Why should that be moved into core? And there is still the chance, that it gets rejected. Also, it makes add-on development much harder, as you have to send patches to core.
> I think this question must be answered now, as I do not want to go through this in 5 years, when my addons again stop working, because WebExt Experiments will be disabled.
> Thanks for your time
> John

I think this is a very important question too: why and when will
WebExt Experiments be deprecated? I'm willing to convert my add-on
into a WebExt (Experiment), but I don't think it would be a good idea
to create WebExt API's got everything add-ons want to do. If you do
that, you'll end up with a super fat Thunderbird client, instead of
the lean and mean client it is supposed to be now. I think there will
always be a demand for things that are not possible via the normal
API's. And even if everything would be possible, not everything will
be allowed. For instance, at the moment you can redefine keys in a
WebExt, but you can't redefine single, unmodified, stand-alone keys. I
have an extension that does just that, but it's not possible in a
regular WebExt.


P.S. When I read my message again, I notice that "I think" a lot. And
assumptions are the mother of all F**ups, so it'd be nice if a core
dev could enlighten me, so that I know and understand a bit better :-)

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