About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon (discussion)

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About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon (discussion)

Post by arkaland » 2020-07-14, 20:14

I'm afraid I'm a bit confused as to the exact meaning of the related changes in the new Pale Moon 28.11.0
The Release Notes say "Denied other types of add-ons that aren't explicitly targeting Pale Moon's ID." And Moonchild adds: "Time to stop using those incompatible Firefox themes etc. and properly fork them!"
What if a current user (such as me) has been using "legacy-type" Firefox extensions SUCCESSFULLY with Pale Moon 28.10.0. In other words, they're NOT incompatible with 28.10.0 - not at all. Does this actually mean that they will definitely STOP working in 28.11.0? I previously modified 2 or 3 "install.rdf" files and that sufficed in 28.10.0.
Or perhaps the phrase "other types" is what's confusing me.
Please be kind enough to clarify; I am literally afraid to update to 28.11.0 until I have a good idea of what to expect with extensions.
Thanks a lot.

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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by Moonchild » 2020-07-14, 20:26

Extensions are not affected yet, but they _are_ more clearly marked with the status of using unaltered Firefox extensions that are increasingly incompatible.
What has been changed and now denied in 28.11.0 is other types of add-ons (i.e.: add-ons that aren't extensions) that are not targeting Pale Moon.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by spiralofhope » 2020-07-14, 22:11

I see the addon panel is now loud and clear about compatibility, and is helping me learn which extensions I should investigate a replacement for.

I will check these forums and look for advice on how to maintain them myself.

Of note, I see this relevant thread: Why do some extensions not work in Pale Moon?

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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by Ziko577 » 2020-07-15, 04:34

So now that this is a thing, I have three addons that may stop working at some point but there's no alternatives other than to abandon them. LastPass is a must but I've been stuck on 3.3.4 as the later versions don't work as well as an Image Zoom one and Session Manager. I know people suggest TabMixPlus for the latter but I've had many issues and keeping it separate has worked wonders up to this point. The Image Zoom (ugly fixes) addon is really good and I've really not needed an alternative. What can I do about this other than to risk using them?

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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by moonbat » 2020-07-15, 04:59

Ziko577 wrote:
2020-07-15, 04:34
What can I do about this other than to risk using them?
See first whether their license allows for redistribution with modification (the CAA page will show the license info on the right side). Most of them tend to be - MPL, GPL licensed extensions are fine.
Next, you will have to fork them to work with Pale Moon, which could mean anything from simply targeting the extension to work with Pale Moon as detailed here, or actually diving into the code to fix any errors that may appear in the browser console if that alone doesn't fix it.

If the license allows for redistribution, please consider contributing to the community by being a maintainer for the extension after adding it to the Pale Moon addons site (and hosting the code repository on Github or equivalent). Also, the redistribution license applies to the code but not necessarily to artwork/icons so you may have to change those.

If the license is unknown or just says 'copyright', then you can't legally redistribute it and can only keep the modified extension for personal use.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by athenian200 » 2020-07-15, 16:51

Ziko577 wrote:
2020-07-15, 04:34
What can I do about this other than to risk using them?
Unfortunately, not much. I'm in a similar situation with an add-on I use called ReminderFox. I don't actually know if the licensing is such that I can fork it if I want to, plus I really don't know JavaScript the way I know C++, so it seems like I'm better off just using something else or doing without. There are a few other more active add-ons I could use instead that do enough of what I need that I can technically do without it, which reduces my incentive to save it.

I mean, ultimately development resources are limited, and there's only so many people working with XUL today. The changes we're making to the browser to be compatible with the modern web are breaking a lot of extensions anyway, so this is just heading off complaints about extensions that can't be fixed anyway.

It would take significant development resources to fake the "best" Firefox version for every single extension out there, which would basically be a lot like maintaining IE version compatibility modes for each extension. And if someone has to go in and change around the extension to work with the next version of PM anyway, they might as well just fork it and target the extension at PM, right?

Only real problem is extensions that still work, but can't be forked due to licensing issues. With those the best you could do is probably modify the extension to work on your own system, and then create instructions on how to modify it, which you could of course distribute. But you couldn't distribute the modified extension, and each person that wants to use it would have to hunt down the unmodified extension and patch it on their own using your instructions.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by moonbat » 2020-07-15, 16:55

athenian200 wrote:
2020-07-15, 16:51
I'm in a similar situation with an add-on I use called ReminderFox. I don't actually know if the licensing is such that I can fork it if I want to
I looked it up on CAA, it's licensed under MPL 1.1 so you should be able to fork it. Every extension on CAA shows the license on the right hand side, along with homepage/support information, so it's a good idea to check there for the license it was released under. The ones that just say 'copyright' or 'license not determined' are the problematic ones where distribution is concerned.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by groundhog2 » 2020-07-15, 16:58

Seems some of the extensions I'm using were highlighted as yellow in the Addon Manager but they're still working. Most concerning is an extension like LastPass. I don't believe newer versions would be compatible anyway.

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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by moonbat » 2020-07-15, 17:29

They will work - this update only increases the spotlight on the fact that they need to explicitly target Pale Moon. But of course everyone will overreact as though extensions are broken.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by Moonchild » 2020-07-15, 17:38

Of course, as pointed out through the post report function (that's not what it's for!) instead of simply adding a comment to the thread, the first step, as people have noticed, hasn't been taken with 29.0 as was written in the original post (from January!) but rather 28.11.0
You know what? plans change when circumstances change. We originally planned to have v29.0 out already, but there are 2 things that held that back; first being WebComponents taking a lot longer to implement than originally thought because of how it fundamentally changes the way documents are structured in the browser, and second because, as Tobin pointed out in unmistakable terms, it will cause additional issues with extensions when our version number strays into Australis territory. Extensions that were made for Firefox might assume they need to do things differently if they check the version number, and might break as a result -- yet another reason to get to the forking.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by __NM64__ » 2020-07-16, 00:43

athenian200 wrote:
2020-07-15, 16:51
Only real problem is extensions that still work, but can't be forked due to licensing issues. With those the best you could do is probably modify the extension to work on your own system, and then create instructions on how to modify it, which you could of course distribute. But you couldn't distribute the modified extension, and each person that wants to use it would have to hunt down the unmodified extension and patch it on their own using your instructions.
I'm reminded of game modifications that are distributed in patch files, like IPS and the newer BPS, purely because one cannot legally distribute the original content in an already-modified state (and, considering your signature, presumably you're also familiar with such patch formats).

However I recall asking about such patch formats previously and being told that, if anything, it was actually worse than directly distributing a modified XPI file (though I no longer remember anything farther than that regarding the matter including the reasoning and what-not)

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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by Swibbz » 2020-07-16, 01:41

Is there any plug-in similar to Session Manager for PM. That's a Plug-in/extension I could use, especially due to crashes and stuff
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by back2themoon » 2020-07-16, 10:03

I'm sorry but I'll come back to this important issue one final time. Suggestions such as:

"You will need to fork it"
"Search the forum for related posts"
"You all have to step up if you want extensions to remain viable in the future. They need to be fixed and maintained, and it needs to be the community that does this" etc. etc.

...will never have a chance to reach or help a typical user unless you provide one, just one pinned thread/article on how a non-technical user can attempt those things starting with ZERO knowledge. Again, not asking to set up a school but a single post with a simple list e.g.

1. Read this (include link)
2. Then study this and that (include links)
3. Then take this simple extension and study this (offer an example Firefox extension and dissect it, to show how things should be done to make it a Pale Moon extension with fully described steps)

Writing this up shouldn't really take THAT long for someone who knows their stuff. It will save you a lot of time in the long run and the rewards would be hopefully significant. I did get some information out of you in the past after insisting, but I already forgot about it since it I didn't write it down, and good luck to me finding those old posts now. Currently, I believe only fully technical Pale Moon users will be able to help, and they are not enough (in quantity, not quality). It's no surprise JustOff already received requests to fix this and that!

So, unless you provide a clear path and an initial decisive push on how one is supposed to fork AND maintain extensions, the "community stepping up" will remain a unattainable dream.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by adesh » 2020-07-16, 10:38

I can point you to at least this which will solve most of the issues for "users". Obviously it is recommended that if you follow that, you also submit the extension to the Pale Moon add-ons site so everyone can benefit.
Link: How to create a Pale Moon targeted extension

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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by Moonchild » 2020-07-16, 11:07

back2themoon wrote:
2020-07-16, 10:03
Again, not asking to set up a school but a single post with a simple list e.g.
Anyone is free to post on the forum. If you make such a post I'll be more than happy to pin it, too.

But:
The issue you still don't seem to grasp though is that every extension is different. There is no magic wand or general template to follow to make extensions compatible with Pale Moon. If there was, we wouldn't have asked you to step up. This will take effort. Asking for something fleshed out on a silver platter won't work because the work that needs doing, what little it is in most cases, is not uniform. So if an extension works as-is? Great! You can target Pale Moon in install.rdf and re-brand it, and that's all -- but we do ask that you, if you do this, remain available to maintain it in case there are issues in the future. If it doesn't work (or doesn't work fully)? Then you'll have to look at what is wrong, check for any errors, and learn about the code that's inside the extension. And you are free to ask for help on the forum; you don't have to do that alone and can collaborate with others. Work together.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by back2themoon » 2020-07-16, 12:05

Moonchild wrote:
2020-07-16, 11:07
Anyone is free to post on the forum. If you make such a post I'll be more than happy to pin it, too.
Not sure how to take this. I've wasted so much time trying to explain that I have zero knowledge (as most other users, I suspect) on these matters, yet here's another reply like this. This can only be written by an expert, not by a clueless user so if you are seriously expecting from me or someone like me (=most users) to write something like this... it will never happen.
Moonchild wrote:
2020-07-16, 11:07
The issue you still don't seem to grasp though is that every extension is different. There is no magic wand or general template to follow to make extensions compatible with Pale Moon.
I grasp all of this. Again, only asking for general guidelines but with clear indications and a single, fully detailed example. Same with adesh's link. At this point, I can only suggest you try a bit more to see things from the perspective of someone who knows nothing. Zero.

I do not expect you take users from level 0 to level 10 (scale 0 to 10), but you can take them to level 1 or even 2-3. Offering scattered posts and links, mostly aimed at already knowledgeable users does not help. The "How to create a Pale Moon targeted extension" post starts with "Mainly aimed at add-on developers" so you already lost there the vast percentage of users right from the start.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by Night Wing » 2020-07-16, 12:22

back2themoon wrote:
2020-07-16, 12:05
I do not expect you take users from level 0 to level 10 (scale 0 to 10), but you can take them to level 1 or even 2-3. Offering scattered posts and links, mostly aimed at already knowledgeable users does not help. The "How to create a Pale Moon targeted extension" post starts with "Mainly aimed at add-on developers" so you already lost there the vast percentage of users right from the start.
I'm a non technical user. And your comments above perfectly describe "me". While others have said, "it isn't rocket science", it is rocket science to me. Shame too. Since I'm retired from work, I have a considerable amount of time on my hands especially now since I'm stuck at my home because of the virus thingy running amok in the world.

If I can't comprehend what I'm reading, I just let it go. As for extensions, I never got into having a lot of extensions. I figured there would come a time relying on lots of extensions would cause problems when they were no longer maintained. And judging from this topic thread, I was correct.

I only use two extensions and they are NoSquint and uBlock Origin.

The only extension I'm concerned about when Pale Moon goes to version 29 is NoSquint because of my very poor eyesight. Right now, it is only compatible with versions 27-28.

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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by athenian200 » 2020-07-16, 15:29

back2themoon wrote:
2020-07-16, 12:05
I grasp all of this. Again, only asking for general guidelines but with clear indications and a single, fully detailed example. Same with adesh's link. At this point, I can only suggest you try a bit more to see things from the perspective of someone who knows nothing. Zero.

I do not expect you take users from level 0 to level 10 (scale 0 to 10), but you can take them to level 1 or even 2-3. Offering scattered posts and links, mostly aimed at already knowledgeable users does not help. The "How to create a Pale Moon targeted extension" post starts with "Mainly aimed at add-on developers" so you already lost there the vast percentage of users right from the start.
Hmm... does this help at all?

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/doc ... _Manifests

This provides the background information that the post adesh linked assumes you already know. All the talk about target application blocks that probably went over your heads (I know it did mine at first) will make more sense after reading this. You may not need to read it all, just scroll down to the part about the targetApplication, it explains things in a bit more detail. I know it's flagged as obsolete content, and it's probably archived somewhere else without that warning, but this was the only version I could find easily. Not everything in this document would apply to our browser, of course, but a lot of the basic concepts do.

Right now, it really seems like everything is more setup for former Firefox add-on developers to develop the knowledge they need to start targeting their extensions at Pale Moon. As far as I know, there really isn't a whole lot besides the old Mozilla documentation that could get a person started from zero, and then from there it's just a matter of learning how Pale Moon is different.

As Pale Moon diverges from Firefox, though, the documentation becomes less and less relevant and more notes are needed. It reminds me of this movie I watched about a school that couldn't afford new textbooks, so they were putting sticky notes all over the pages to make note of inaccuracies in the textbook and things that had changed since it was printed.

You say we don't need to setup a school, but actually... a lot of the metaphors that come to my mind for this situation involve the education system for some reason, so it's interesting you put it that way.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon

Post by back2themoon » 2020-07-16, 15:40

athenian200 wrote:
2020-07-16, 15:29
Hmm... does this help at all?
I know about that content and it does help, but isn't the whole point here to finally get rid of all Firefox ties when it comes to extensions? Having old, Mozilla Firefox documents as our main or only guide is totally counter-productive and a bit insane. I expect better from Pale Moon.

Let me repeat: I don't expect the PM devs to replicate and update the full Mozilla Docs. I expect one quality guide/article with detailed links on what one needs to begin learning when starting from scratch, and a fully dissected extension (Firefox-to-Pale Moon fork) complete with steps and descriptions.
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Re: About using Firefox extensions on Pale Moon (discussion)

Post by moonbat » 2020-07-16, 16:08

back2themoon wrote:
2020-07-16, 15:40
I expect one quality guide/article with detailed links on what one needs to begin learning when starting from scratch, and a fully dissected extension (Firefox-to-Pale Moon fork) complete with steps and descriptions.
Which full time paid technical writer do you expect to do this from the people on this forum? Given that the state of XUL documentation itself is utter shit - pages missing, incomplete reference material and the only tutorials present were contributed by other people (kind of what we're expected to do here) from XULPlanet, another site whose documentation is even more obsolete, applying to Gecko 1.x rather than 2.x, and all despite Mozilla definitely being able to afford dedicated staff to keep these docs updated.
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