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Re: Pros and cons of different add-on install methods

David Illsley Feb 27, 2012 12:20 PM
Posted in group:

On 27 Feb 2012, at 03:15, Nicholas Nethercote wrote:
> <snip>
> - It's interesting that several add-ons (e.g. Yahoo! Toolbar,
> Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant) are hosted on AMO but the vast
> majority of the installations are not from AMO.  This could mean
> there's a prominent alternative location that the add-on can be
> installed from, but I suspect third-party installs are mostly
> responsible.

Is there an existing mechanism for 3rd party installers to request firefox install (with user consent) an addon from a URL/amo? It seems at least possible that doing so would result in fewer out-of-date addon installs.

> - Apart from the anti-virus add-ons, I don't recognize anything in
> that list that provided integration between Firefox and other apps.  I
> could well be missing some, though.

Skype Toolbar? Or is it truly the most poorly named addon in existence

> - There are 17 add-ons that have "toolbar" in their name.
>> If we frame the problem as "defending Firefox from
>> malicious crap" then the solution we create isn't going to be as complete as
>> it could otherwise be.
> That's true.  But the evidence suggests that "defending Firefox from
> malicious crap" has to be a sizeable part of the solution.


Apple's recently announced Gatekeeper approach seems like a possibility to be looked at. There are plenty of addons that won't/shouldn't be/can't be hosted on amo, but which come from responsible authors e.g.[1]. Providing a 'registered developer' program which signs addons in exchange for agreement to additional terms, but doesn't provide hosting would allow additional terms, simpler revocation rules, and known contact details to non-amo hosted addons. Firefox could, by default, only install signed/or amo addons. Users could allow unsigned extensions, but that would require *in advance* flipping a setting, and there would be no easy prompted mechanism. That could go with a hard and fast rule that any installer which works around this setting gets blacklisted.

I wouldn't want to go further than this, but for me an approach like the above protects users, but provides for user sovereignty in that they can, if they truly wish, install anything.


Is the add-on useful to an appropriately wide portion of Firefox's users? Your add-on doesn't need to be the next Greasemonkey or Firebug, but if  it is only useful to people at your company or who are part of a small web community, we may feel that it's not yet appropriate to put it in front of all of our users.