Mozilla Says How Firefox Extensions Can Keep Up With Chrome

Google Chrome 88 introduced the Manifest V3 API for extensions, which changes the way extensions work in the browser. Mozilla has now set out its plans to integrate those changes into Firefox.

Manifest V3 is a major update to the extension API in Google Chrome, which is in the process of replacing the earlier Manifest V2 technology — Google plans to block older extensions in January 2023† Most of the changes are only important to extension developers, but there are a few key differences. Google has replaced the webRequest API used by content blockers (such as uBlock Orgin) with a more secure declarativeNetRequest API, which limits the number of lines. That prevents ad blockers and other privacy tools from having extensive lists of domains to block or filter, leading to criticism from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the developer of uBlock Originand many others.

Mozilla Firefox has a custom implementation of the Chrome extension API called WebExtensions, which is why there are so many browser extensions available for both browsers. Mozilla has now outlined how it plans to tackle Manifest V3 support, which is necessary for extensions to continue supporting both Chrome and Firefox with the same code. “For Mozilla, this is a long-term bet on a standards-based future for WebExtensions,” the company said in a blog post.

Firefox will soon support all of the new features and APIs introduced in Manifest V3, to maintain parity with Chrome, but Mozilla is keeping around some of the functionality that Google kicked out. Firefox extensions can still use the old webRequest API, so you don’t have to worry about content blocking tools breaking. However, Manifest V3 extensions in Firefox still have the same permission model as new Chrome extensions, so you can still easily allow or deny permission for certain sites.

Mozilla is aiming for Manifest V3 support to be complete by the end of 2022, which should keep Firefox’s extension ecosystem alive and well – Chrome is completing the Manifest V3 transition long before Firefox could abandon the Firefox versions of many extensions.

Source: Mozilla Add-ons Community Blog

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