I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now, but I just haven’t had the time for it given all the work I’ve been doing surrounding the Firefox 4 release. The editor review queues are predictably getting much more submissions, and I’ve been trying to keep add-on developers up to date with Firefox 4 breaking changes.
A while ago I suggested a different packaging system for add-ons that would (arguably) make it easier to work with. I proposed it as a project for the Google Summer of Code, and it was accepted. That was kind of unexpected, and I was very excited to be part of that experiment. There was a good student submission for the project and everything looked well underway.
Fast forward a few months, and I was contacted by the student working on the project. He wanted to drop it due to lack of time and progress :(. After chatting for a while, I agreed with him that dropping it was for the best. In the end the problem was a mixture of poor communication and a scheduling mismatch between the summer break in the US and other countries (Brazil in this case). He just couldn’t focus on the project due to school work.
So, the experimental implementation never happened, but the idea lives on. The project’s approval motivated me to create a pretty decent spec that I’ll update once Firefox 4 is released. Many changes have been introduced in Firefox 4 that affect manifest files, and others that overlap with some of the proposed features. Once Firefox 4 is stable for add-on developers, I’ll update the wiki and probably post an update here. I don’t have any plans to implement this or push the idea too hard, but I still think there’s some value there and it’s worthwhile to keep it alive.