January 29, 2008

Adding on add-ons

A few months ago, I put together some mockups of a scheme for making add-ons available through the Add-ons Manager.

Thanks to a lot of hard work from Dave Townsend, Laura Thomson, and the webdev team, you can, as of the latest nightly build, now explore add-ons from within the Add-ons Manager.

When you open it, you'll find yourself presented with a few recommended add-ons. You may see fewer than this in the near term, given that the manager will only recommend add-ons that are compatible with your version of Firefox, but more and more are compatible every day!

You can also search through the full addons.mozilla.org (AMO) catalog and install directly from the Manager:

When you install, you'll encounter a simpler confirmation dialog than in the past:

and, finally, we make it clear that a restart is required and give you a way to do it:

On top of these changes, the manager will now enable a Theme when you install it, so, one restart later, you'll see it in place.

This is a work in progress, of course, and there are some things still to come:

  • having the add-ons manager be open, where you left it, after you restart Firefox to give you some feedback about what's happened
  • highlighting your newly installed add-ons, post-restart
  • continuing UI polish

Please try it out and tell us what you think, either in comments here or in bugzilla (Firefox::Extension Manager). We're eager to hear what you think!

Posted by madhava at January 29, 2008 06:06 PM

Looks spiffy!

How are "Recommended" addons selected? Just randomly pulled from a pool of top extensions?

Posted by: Justin Dolske at January 29, 2008 06:27 PM

Looks good with nice new features. Now if we can get Search Engines in there (and possibly dynamic theme changing).

Posted by: Brandon Oglesby at January 29, 2008 07:57 PM

Great new functionality! Nice. But the button-menu, though simple, is confusing to a vast majority of end-users. Most people are confused with the difference between add-ons and extensions and plug-ins to begin with. I realize that both extensions and plug-ins are specific types of add-ons, but that took me a while to figure out.

Its confusing having a button that says Get Add-ons right next to buttons that list installed subclasses of add-ons. It would be much clearer to indicate that the last three buttons are showing INSTALLED add-ons and that those three names (plug-ins, themes, extensions) are actually specific types of add-ons.

Does the end-user even care whether an add-on is a theme, plug-in or extension? It might be much better to just have two buttons: Get Add-ons and View Installed Add-ons.

This is a great new feature, I just want it to be accessible to my mom and wife too! The current layout would probably just cause them to close the window in confusion. Maybe a "What's an Add-on?" link next to the buttons would be appropriate as well.

Posted by: mawrya at January 29, 2008 07:59 PM

Great feature...

Posted by: diego at January 30, 2008 10:10 AM

You should inform the user that doing a restart will NOT lose any data or web pages they are viewing.

This is the coolest thing about firefox 3 beta, just close it all down, go home, come in in the morning and BAM it's all there - ready to go :-)

BTW these screens looks soooo cool!!


Posted by: monk.e.boy at January 30, 2008 12:15 PM