Mozilla Delivers Overhauled Version of Jetpack, for Firefox Extensions

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 13, 2009

In May and June, we covered Mozilla's Jetpack, which is an API and framework designed to make building extensions for Firefox easier and faster. It won't require extensions to be written in XUL, and will allow developers to use standard technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Notably, Jetpack will also allow Firefox users to load extensions without annoying browser restarts, and will resolve compatibility issues between older extensions and newer versions of Firefox. Over the weekend, Mozilla announced a 0.3 update to Jetpack, downloadable now, and provided some information on how the project is moving along.

According to Mozilla's post:

"There are now over 60,000 people who have the Jetpack platform extending their browsing experience. And many of these Jetpacks have been written by first-time extension developers."

The Firefox browser, of course, gains much of its advantage over other browsers through its many useful extensions. The central idea behind Jetpack is that while many developers create Firefox extensions, end users could come up with very useful ones if they find it easy to build them.

The new version of Jetpack includes a number of updates to Mozilla's Jetpack API, designed to make using it prettier and easier. There are now several demos online that show how to take advantage of the new additions, such as this one, this one, this one, and this one. (You need to install Jetpack to work with the demos.)

Jetpack still strikes me as a good idea, for reasons discussed in this post. It's all too easy for open source developers to fall into the trap of either developing for other developers, or building things that only a developer would really appreciate. Hopefully, as Jetpack matures, Mozilla will offer incentives for developers of all stripes to come up with innovative extensions. It's hard to believe how much more extensible Firefox already is than any other browser, and Mozilla should charge ahead with that advantage.

You can find a FAQ about Jetpack here,  and there is a tutorial movie here.