Firefox 3 Beta 3 Add-ons Manager and Add-ons API

Yesterday the beta 3 of Firefox 3 was released to the world.  This beta contains the new Add-ons Manager, and people seem to be liking it so far - ArsTechnica says

One of the most promising and impressive new features in beta 3 is an
integrated add-on installer system that allows users to search for and
install add-ons from addons.mozilla.org directly through the Add-ons
Manager user interface.

The new Add-ons Manager is the result of collaboration between a bunch of smart Mozilla people - Madhava Enros and Dave Townsend to name two - and a small contribution from yours truly. 

The Add-ons Manager pulls data about Recommended addons and search results from the main addons.mozilla.org (AMO) website via the AMO API, which is my project.    When you ask for a recommendation, the Add-ons manager pulls a RESTian URL like

https://services.addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/api/list/recommended/all/

checks for addons that you don’t yet have installed from that list, and displays details of the remaining addons.

The API will be (is) available to the community as well, and promoted once testing is complete.  If you’d like to experiment with the API then draft documentation is available at
http://wiki.mozilla.org/Update:Remora_API_Docs
(This will move to the Mozilla Developer Center once it’s more fleshed out.)  Please file any bugs you find.

I’m still working on tweaks and bug fixes: I’ve already fixed a bunch of character encoding issues in different languages, and applied some performance tweaks. (Some still to go into production.)  Right now, I’m working on speeding up search.  Search is slow on the whole of AMO, and later this year I plan to implement a full text search.  Right now it’s just tweaking - it’s slow because when you search all the possible translations are searched (think many left joins), and the plan is to rejig the database to only search your local translation plus English (since many add-ons are only available in English, and we wouldn’t want you to miss out).

Anyway, it’s been great fun working on this project so far, and it’s incredibly rewarding to think that something I wrote is incorporated into my favorite browser. 

7 Comments

  1. funTomas:

    G’Day Laura. I just wonder, is it necessary to search across all the languages? When looking up for a name, the search should IMO occur only in the user-selected language.

  2. Seth Wagoner:

    I think search should probably place greater emphasis on the title of an add-on than the description text. At the moment, in FF3b3, searching for Interclue (for instance) pops up a theme that happens to support Interclue, and one must click through to the site to get the actual addon.

  3. blausand:

    Hi Laura,
    nice to see you are still busy with Mozilla.
    Months ago i suggested to the community some sort of loadtime and RAM-footprint details for each Add-On, not just the download-size. I’d like to know how much code is added or replaced by an add-on and how much it prolongs the loadtime of firefox/thunderbird on a standard system. Unfortunately, i never received a reaction,
    maybe you could post here or tell me of a site more relevant for making that suggestion?
    thanks a lot,
    blausand

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