Get Add-ons in the Add-ons Manager: discuss!

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Feb 13, 2008, 6:05:00 PM2/13/08
I'm writing a blog post -- a this very moment! -- to solicit some
feedback about the new Get Add-ons functionality in the Add-ons
Manager, and I'm going to point it here. If you have thoughts about
what we ought to do differently with it, please discuss -- apologies
to those who have already started to do so in other threads.

David McRitchie

Feb 13, 2008, 11:25:09 PM2/13/08
"" ...

> feedback about the new Get Add-ons functionality in the Add-ons
> Manager, and I'm going to point it here. If you have thoughts about
> what we ought to do differently with it.

Not sure of the line between "get addons" and the website,
but here is my take on it, as I think a lot of it belongs on the website.

Don't know why there should be emphasis on the add-ons menu
got get extensions. It should specifically point to a decent advanced
search page. There used to be (before March 2007) a fairly decent
full functional search at addons where you could search on
categories and other items:

Category: any, Type: Extensions, App: Firefox, Platform: Windows,
Date: Any, Sort by: Name, Per Page: 50

The March 2007 "improvements" to the site made the documentation very
obscure, messed up viewing of examples, and instead of a more functional feature
rich search, the search was crippled to it's present form. All historical
comments were removed. A sandbox was stuck in and many extension
writers withdrew their addons to their own sites, and several such
author's sites have disappeared, which has been bad for all concerned.

This is the keyword shortcut equivalent of what you can use now.
addons:s Search with simplified search

The best that I can now do is to use Google, which allows you to
use an implied AND and an OR in your search, I have two keyword
searches set up. One to search and one to
also include one is "addons:", the other is "addons2:".

addons: Search for extensions at

addons2: Search two places for Firefox addons

More on keyword shortcuts at

David McRitchie,
Firefox Custom:

David McRitchie

Feb 13, 2008, 11:39:47 PM2/13/08
"" ...

> feedback about the new Get Add-ons functionality in the Add-ons
> Manager, and I'm going to point it here. If you have thoughts about
> what we ought to do differently with it,

Some things I would like to see builtin to Firefox of Add-ons functionality.

1) chronological event log file in the profile, showing when an extension
is installed, enabled, disabled, updated, uninstalled, and location it came from.

2) A method of marking extensions that are being disabled
simply for massive testing or debugging where you want
to disable half of the remaining extensions in each step,
but when you want to enable extensions again, you want
to avoid enabling those that were previously disabled)
in other words some kind of visual checkpoint.


Feb 14, 2008, 5:40:29 AM2/14/08
Allow to add other "search engines"/data sources.

Feb 14, 2008, 6:28:54 AM2/14/08
> I'm writing a blog post -- a this very moment! -- to solicit some
> feedback about the new Get Add-ons functionality in the Add-ons
> Manager

1. "See All Recommended Add-ons", "See all results" should update the
list, not open a tab.
2. Label capitalization: "See All Recommended Add-ons", "Browse All
Add-ons", "Learn More" vs "See all results (x)"
3. Clicking those links that open a new tab cause a noticeable delay
until the AMO tab opens (browser is responsive but the tab doesn't
open for 2-10 seconds).
4. 'See all results (x)', should somehow indicate that it's about
incompatible addons.
5. The addon details should also show compatibility information.
(Especially if (1) is implemented)
6. Maybe a dropdown list next to the searchbox with the addon types
7. Option to search in addon names only (may require search API
8. Can't find any search engines?
9. 'Learn More' link spans the entire width.

Myk Melez

Feb 14, 2008, 3:42:48 PM2/14/08

Hi Madhava,

When searching for "icecream" in the Get Add-ons pane, I get "All
results are already installed or incompatible," because I've already
installed the one matching add-on About:IceCream

Clicking the "See all results (1)" link then opens a tab showing me the

Something about this experience feels suboptimal. I think it's mostly
that I have to step outside the specialized interface of the Get Add-ons
pane to see the installed or incompatible add-ons, which not only takes
more time, it requires me to familiarize myself with (and switch
between) two different interfaces, and it makes it more difficult for me
to compare available add-ons with those I've already installed.

That latter point is relevant because there's a lot of functionality
overlap between add-ons; and my memory is too poor to remember which
add-ons I've installed, their current state (enabled or disabled), and
what they do.

So when browsing for add-ons that match some search, it would be useful
to be able to see them side-by-side (or top-by-bottom, as it were) with
the ones I've already installed.

Incompatible add-ons are less relevant to me personally, but I could
imagine them having some utility in driving upgrades to newer versions
of Firefox for which desirable add-ons are available.

So it seems to me that it would be useful for "See all results" to show
installed and incompatible add-ons in the Get Add-ons result pane, with
some indication of their state (maybe with a different background color,
or the incompatible ones could be greyed out as if disabled).


Myk Melez

Feb 14, 2008, 3:45:46 PM2/14/08

It might make sense to have sticky buttons (like the Errors, Warnings,
and Messages ones in the Error Console, except not mutually exclusive)
next to the search box for installed and incompatible add-ons, so you
can filter the results to include or exclude such add-ons.

For multiple searches using the same criteria, that would be less work
than regularly clicking "See all results" after each search.


Myk Melez

Feb 14, 2008, 3:47:08 PM2/14/08

When I start a new search while an existing search is pending, nothing
changes to indicate that my new search has been activated. One solution
to this would be to make the "Searching add-ons" string read "Searching
add-ons for <search terms>".


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Mar 10, 2008, 4:40:45 PM3/10/08

This is a good thought. I hadn't thought about this particular case
-- the list of interactions to account for always gets so much longer
once you can actually interact with the UI in question. :)

Part of the issue is the progress indicator segues seamlessly from one
search to the next -- inappropriately. There's no visual
acknowledgement of a change of direction in the search. Even a 10ms
pause or disappearance/reappearance of the throbber when the user hits
enter, so as to suggest that it's in reaction to the new search
starting, would probably have the desired effect here.

I wonder if this is better than putting the text that we're searching
for inline -- initially, it feels a little cleaner to me in that we
already list the current search terms above in the search bar and that
we keep the area as spare and quick to parse as possible. An
advantage to putting the search terms in, though, is that it would
list what the current search is for even once the user has started to
type in new search terms.

Mar 10, 2008, 4:59:19 PM3/10/08
On Feb 14, 6:40 am, Archaeopteryx <>

> Allow to add other "search engines"/data sources.

Do you mean allow searching for search engines (i.e. for the main
firefox search bar) or that you'd like to be able to search for add-
ons using other search mechanisms than the site


Mar 10, 2008, 5:16:55 PM3/10/08

I agree that the current blended approach is not ideal. For this
iteration of getting add-on recommendations and searching ability into
Firefox, we started from the point of realizing that AMO will (and
should!) continue to exist and, given that it can use the entirely
content area, it will probably always be able to provide a richer
experience for learning about and sophisticated searching of add-ons
than a UI contained within the bounds of Add-ons Manager, as it
currently exists. Our goal with this searching and recommending
interface was partly to help new users find their way to the world of
add-ons from within the product proper, and also to serve as a
platform to build on top of later -- for example, letting users click
on "Get me add-ons for this task/part of the UI" buttons in the
browser which would lead to a list of candidates in the Add-ons
Manager's own search interface.

So, there are some smaller annoyance level issues with what we have
that we might be able to shave off, and there are also, independently,
some larger foundation-level issues that we may have to revise away
over time. In the example you gave, the annoyance is particularly
palpable given that there is only one add-on in question (and it's
even the one you were looking for), and, rather than telling you
anything about it, we're making you click on a link to another UI to
see anything about it.

This approach (linking off to AMO) makes more sense in situations
(a) there are a lot of add-ons that we don't want to show you for some
reason (the argument that AMO is the better place for people to deal
with long lists, etc., obviously isn't very compelling in the 1 add-on
(b) the reason we're not showing them is not because you already have
it but, rather, is because they're not compatible
(c) there are search results that are not so clearly exactly the thing
you were looking for

All of that said, I can definitely see the advantage of dealing with
incompatible add-ons and add-ons already installed separately and

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