Firefox Gecko, “which we lost”

    Evolution is on, and weaker, slower, and inefficient organisms are dying. Not so long ago, we conducted into the abyss of the history of Opera-12, looking somewhere into the distance, silently listening behind the sobs of sympathizers. Unlike the corpse of the last animal from the Red Book, it could still be used for 2-3 years, and users did not look like necrophiles. A similar situation is repeated with Firefox on the Gecko engine with the latest most convenient version 56.0.2. There are many useful and familiar functionality, not only built-in, but also in add-ons (extensions). Even reduced performance is not the basis for the transition to a new version if several useful functions are lost with it. And with the old engine there is something to lose ...

    Let's look at a list of what else you can use in the old version of Firefox and with what successes there is a replacement and restoration of this in new versions. What is completely new, for which it is worth giving up and forgetting. (Actually, it’s not necessary. After all, you can simultaneously open the old and new versions.)

    So, something that Firefox developers warned us about for a long time, happened. On November 14 (new style) in 2017, version 57 of "Quantum" captured the main release branch of the browser and did not let go of the victory banner. Old versions have remained the property of history and those users who have lived their lives who have not yet realized the great turning point and the inevitability of the arrival of a new system.

    The fact that we didn’t even notice this very much means that Firefox itself is on the sidelines of life, most users don’t need add-ons, and without them, the new generation in the new house showed a lot of improvements — good response speed, new window design and the structure of the add-ons interface. On average, there are significantly more pluses than minuses, and add-ons will increase by themselves, as happened more than once during the great extinctions of versions, even in the history of Firefox - remember at least versions 5-8 compared to version 3 or 4 - robbery and devastation there were quite a long time. Then there were less catastrophic events, as I recall on the 13th version, then on the 21-22th. So there is nothing surprising here.

    Another thing is surprising - that the developers have adapted so flexibly to make revolutions that they went through the last one prepared, having made several very serious changes, each of which previously led to the collapse and loss of users: they changed 1) the engine, 2) the extension system, 3) the interface design . And in future versions, they continue to introduce serious features such as contextual containers (March 2018).

    Nevertheless, the presence of a working version of 56 "Gecko" with a number of old add-ons is an argument to at least continue to use them until new ones are invented. Indeed, unlike earlier versions of Firefox (up to about 25-30), falling when expanding the occupied RAM more than about 2.5 GB (about 20 working tabs), the latest versions of 5X continued to work and when occupying 5.5 GB and only the general lack of memory in the computer prevented (someone like, but I did not test RAM with options with more than 8 GB). Though slower, but the pages open and perform their functions.

    Therefore, in advance, in October-November 2017, I reviewed the latest versions of Firefox (51-56) to see how well they support current extensions at that time. I personally have long had a couple of dozen extensions, which, of course, not everyone will survive the engine change, but they have benefits and amenities, so it was interesting to prepare in advance.

    It turned out that without any profiling (the ability of Firefox on one computer to simultaneously work with different accounts in the same OS), it was possible to run in turn different installed versions of Firefox and install different add-ons on them. In addition, as a separate version, a development (beta) version of Firefox was installed to simultaneously see what awaits us. The history and account of Firefox during these transitions began to get a little confused, falling into either the older or the newer version, but in general, this approach made it possible to choose the most convenient stewardess .

    Why choose among several? The fact is that extension developers started to fuss and change extensions in advance, so it was necessary not only to look at the browser, but also to select the exact version of each extension (add-on) that worked in this version of the browser. In particular, I wanted to find the moment when Firebug was finally abandoned, because the built-in debugger is still unstable (the displayed DOM tree disappears from time to time). It turned out with him that Firebug was abandoned until the 51st version and I decided that it was not practical to dig further and look for which version works.

    With versions 51-56, it turned out that earlier versions are becoming more primitive, with outdated extension bugs in particular, so if you keep the old Firefox on your computer, then it’s advisable to choose one of the last two versions (55 or 56, taking into account minor indexes) )

    In this list of Firefox releases, we see generally any versions for any OS, and, in particular, for the 56th version, we see that the last stable release is 56.0.2 (or 55.0.3 you can try if you do not want to see a formal entry in the list of addons "obsolete").

    Please note that if you already have a stable latest version of Firefox on your computer that is greater than or equal to 57, and you want to install the old one, I would recommend using Firefox profiles to never get confused with accounts and their history while simultaneously enabling different versions. But for the purposes of the experiment, if you know well what you are doing, it is possible without this, but not to run different versions at the same time (there will be no trouble, but not the desired one, but already launched at the moment, as far as I remember). But if the new version of Firefox stands as "development" (beta) or "Aurora" (alpha), then they themselves can work with different profiles and accounts, as the registry uses different hidden data, and therefore deal with the profiling system not have to.

    Then, for those who want to install their usual add-ons, you need to carefully and carefully delve into the history of versions of each add-on - they change and often become incompatible, because developers are trying to keep up with the current version and offers the latest versions, often claiming that for this version of the browser and this add-on there are no “working extensions”.

    So, I installed the add-ons correct for them in each of the installed versions of Firefox and tested them. With the described approach (this was, I recall, in October 2017), each version worked without profiling, did not affect one another (if you did not start it simultaneously), and it was possible to evaluate the optimal version of Firefox for itself for old extensions. It turned out that the latest old version 57.0.1 is best suited, and you can ignore the messages "obsolete extension". This version supports the newest versions of the add-ons I use, so it turns out to be the most acceptable.

    There is a problem with the updatability of this version in terms of security. It is not considered LTS (long time support), so updates to it do not come out, and already from February-March, messages began to appear in the Firefox window about the need to update the version. But for now, it does not refuse to work, although vulnerabilities or errors may once play a role - here the user is left to himself and his common sense in terms of when to switch to the current version with the Quantum engine.

    There is another option - use LTS, which Mozilla calls ESR (Extended Support Release) with the number 52.x.xESR. For example, now there is with a release date of 26-Mar-2018, i.e. We see constant work on this release (win-linux-mac) and 17 releases starting from 06-Mar-2017. Unfortunately, then you will have to install old versions of add-ons, namely they keep some users from switching to Quantum.

    What about the new addons?

    In short - a lot, about 40% of interesting add-ons are buried and not supported in Quantum, and some of the most important add-ons work poorly, with errors that are not in add-ons for version 56. Not for everyone, of course, these add-ons will be "most important" - I, for example, by these words mean 2 add-ons - Tab Mix Plus and Session Manager. Some add-ons work relatively well (no errors were detected or insignificant): Adblock Plus, Greasemonkey, Stylus, Colorful Tabs, uBlock are the ones that have been tested and used in beta versions 59 and 60.0b11 at the moment. Their versions can be monitored here , but, in general, in each release branch at Firefox releases have automatic update tracking, which if you wish (do not recommend) can be disabled if you want stable browser properties.

    The statement above should not be understood absolutely - there will always be errors in add-ons, but someone will not need add-ons. I describe here only my own opinion and experience, which for a different set of add-ons will differ.

    List of reborn addons

    Their authors continue to support Quantum on a new engine like WebExtensions.

    • ColorfulTabs new , old - colors tab header backgrounds. He had previously been actively supported and sought to be compatible with other add-ons, continues this approach now.
    • Tree style Tab - heroically reborn, the author did not give up, but the new one is worse. Most likely the Quantum API is not enough and not debugged, so see the second list below.
    • Im Translator - a shell for Google translation between many languages. I felt good about the last 2 years, I settled down, but the transition to Quantum led to temporary instability of the interface, which did not interfere with its use.
    • S3.Translator is another shell that also normally survived the transition between the engines, and at the same time its developer was looking for new forms of interface expression, which ultimately benefited.
    • Tab Session Manager - a session manager that I haven’t tested a lot, but which can be an alternative to the extinct super popular Session Manager
    • Imagus - showing enlarged images on hover and some more hotkeys for viewing images. It is very useful to open less subpages and new blocks for viewing, or when an increase to the native size is not provided at all on the web page - a very common case, it turns out.

    List of add-ons we lost

    Based on this experience and assessment, I will give the "swan song" of those add-ons that will irrevocably leave, but could be or have been useful throughout the history of Firefox Gecko.

    Every year or two earlier, I provided lists of add-ons that I used, and they turned out to be useful to someone : for Fiferox 13, 2012 , Firefox 29 (2014) . Later, for quite some time, there was no need for revising add-on lists; the stability time stretched for as long as 4 years. For our time, this is an incredibly long time. And we complete their work with this "swan song", pulling the end as far as possible. Therefore, the list was not published immediately after the release of Quantum, and not everyone needs this particular list, but someone will be struck by nostalgia.

    So, we accept the list of the swan song from the group of add-ons selected over the years of use. (By the way, to find more extensive lists of other authors, simply type in the search for Yandex or Google or Habr the words "Firefox add-ons" or "Fifefox addons".)

    • Tree style Tab - old versions - with a tree-like style of tabs, saves from the number of tabs, folding branches of dependent tabs; long-standing and legendary addon, constantly standing ahead of the rest in terms of the number of functions and supporters of its use. He is not dead, he exists for Quantum and uses the hardware capabilities of the new browser sidebar, but it has such drawbacks for now (Win7 / 10):
      • when you return to the memorized list of tabs in the side panel, it forgets the levels of their nesting, but preserves their order; if you do not use sessions, then you can work;
      • there are errors when turning the sidebar on or off - sometimes the tabs in it do not work, but, fortunately, the tabs are always duplicated in the horizontal bar at the top (or bottom), even when they are not needed;
      • it is impossible to remove the horizontal tabbed bar if it is not needed (when using the sidebar).

    There are, of course, a number of other minor flaws (there were always problems with the size of the tab headers, but in the old version everyone found their own niche solutions - in particular, not all options will work if you need the ColorfulTabs add-on to work), but basically - it works. And with the new version - its inconvenience, which some will seem insignificant, but not all.

    Otherwise, as you can see, work on it is actively ongoing, and sometime suddenly it will suit everyone, but for now - no. There are so many factors that can affect quality, and the OS used is also.

    • Speed ​​Dial, only old versions - the famous patriarch of add-ons, an answer to the Opera Speed ​​Dial at a time when this interface was revolutionary. Now his ideas are implemented in every new browser, with one exception - this is user-driven, and those implementations are always "not very". Instead of the built-in tabs in Chrome, they vying with each other offer options, analogues. Often the complexity of analogs destroys their stability. The same in Firefox - has always been stable.
    • OmniBar - combining address and search strings. A constant loser due to the liberty of the Gecko-interface. Once it was stable, then it lost this property or was not supported in Win. Quantum doesn't seem to be needed anymore. But why is there an item in the search bar in the "Items into the toolbar" list ??? Maybe once the built-in union doesn’t fire?
    • Classic Theme Restorer, only old versions - the same add-on important for the transition period (from the 28th version), which allows you to gently abandon the add-on bar, postponing its demise, reduce the address bar height and restore some control keys on the interface elements. Formally, it is logical that it is no longer supported, but was most useful for customizing the interface.
    • Session Manager - session manager; it seems he was favored in the browser development team, he was officially recommended, and suddenly, he came to an end. Probably decided to transfer functionality to the browser? But so far, such functionality is not visible, and you have to look for a replacement in the new engine.
    • Simple Add-on Manager - makes viewing and managing add-ons, user scripts and user styles much more compact, more convenient and does not lose anyway in usefulness. Since it is strongly attached to the old interface, it is logical that Quantum is not supported in this form. But the substitute for him is still unknown (and is there now?).

    • Tab Mix Plus - tab manager, died with the old version. It was very popular. I even helped to fix something in the tabs that the Tree Style Tab could not do, and I had to include both of them (the pole is still Classic Theme Restorer). Not always such a bunch worked equally in different OSs. Last year or two, everything was settled, but now it has collapsed. (Do we get used to it?)

    We mention 3 very specific, but necessary in the old add-on engine for developers.

    • It's All Text! - allowed to edit textarea-fields in your own or in your text editors (a button appeared for jumping there). But this is not the point. The main thing is that it helped to edit user styles in its editor. As described here: . Please note - not in the new user style display mode, but in the old (first version), without syntax highlighting. And it suited for years, but there was no other way to work with user styles. they are pretty closely integrated with the Stylish addon. Or the browser interface - or your text editor. Of course, your editor was more convenient.

    Now it’s gone to Quantum, an interface similar to Chrome has appeared to display user styles, and once (but not immediately) buttons appeared to import and export to the Mozilla user style format (when editing a specific style). The superfluous Ctrl-C is added - Ctrl-V, which successfully dispenses with this add-on (I repeat - for the old version of showing user styles without highlighting). ... They killed the mammoth, but it was useful.

    • ViewSourceWith - you could watch the source code of the page in your text editor. It was especially useful a long time ago when there were few dynamic pages, and the Web Inspector (which is F12 or Ctrl (Cmd) -Shift-I) was still small.
    • UserCSP - Content Security Policy (CSP) management for debugging or for the general ability to run user script in some places, at least in your browser.

    And one that became unnecessary a little earlier (more than a year ago and earlier than the 51st version - the older ones did not check, because many other add-ons in the 51st already began to look worse than their latest versions), because by itself itself broke and ceased to be supported - Firebug. He somehow ingloriously left, and hesitated a long time before, so we will not talk bad about him.

    This list is very limited and subjective, but it can help to recall some extensions or the last time to find out what they were. Or what seemed impossible in a browser without extensions is possible.

    Should I use Gecko further?

    For more than 90% of Firefox users, the answer is no, due to the fact that they do not use add-ons (extensions).

    The answer is entirely determined by your interests in old extensions. The continued use of version 56.0.2 shows that it is too early to write it off and because of the stable operation of the old and "lost" extensions, working with it is more comfortable. Here, the testing of the web pages of your projects, of course, needs to be done on the new engine, taking into account a number of factors specific only to you, and use so far is acceptable, approximately the same as those who are used to using the old Opera 12.x for over a year its interface.

    We must also remember the lack of browser security support for version 56, but the availability of such support in 52.x.xESR (update this version regularly).

    Переход не вызывает проблем, страницы быстрее открываются, но зачем выбирать то, что пока менее удобно в связи с недостатками аддонов? Это каждый решает сам, исходя из привычных ему аддонов для старой версии Firefox. А у большой части пользователей такого вопроса вообще не стоит, потому что у него основной браузер — не Firefox. Смотрим актуальную статистику использования браузеров в Рунете:

    Только зарегистрированные пользователи могут участвовать в опросе. Войдите, пожалуйста.

    Каким браузером вы в последний месяц пользовались?

    • 48%Google Chrome637
    • 6.7%Yandex Browser89
    • 61.2%Firefox, текущая новая версия 57+ с угловатыми табами, которая с осени 2017812
    • 14.7%Firefox, версия не выше 56 (на движке Gecko, с большой оранжевой кнопкой в углу)195
    • 6.9%Safari92
    • 5.6%IE75
    • 8.4%Edge (версия от MS в Windows, следующая за IE)112
    • 12%Opera (новая или даже старая)160
    • 8.8%Vivaldi117
    • 6.7%Мобильный Safari89
    • 1.2%Мобильный UC Browser16
    • 13.8%Мобильный базовый браузер Chrome for Android184
    • 6.9%другой92
    • 0%браузер Интернет (
    • 0.9%браузер моей собственной сборки13

    Also popular now: