Compatible by Default and the Add-ons Compatibility Reporter

ACR iconFirefox 10 is out and add-ons are now Compatible By Default. As reports are coming in that some add-ons are not working, I wanted to write a quick note on how this feature plays alongside the Add-on Compatibility Reporter (ACR) extension. In short, the ACR settings that make add-ons compatible are themsleves not compatible with Compatible By Default in Firefox. So these settings have been disabled in ACR, and the extension acts now only as a reporting tool. To put it another way, ACR no longer makes old add-ons work, deferring completely this task to Firefox.

Compatible By Default does not enable all extensions. The types not enabled include the following:

  1. Add-ons marked to work with a Firefox version less than 4.0
  2. Add-ons with binary components
  3. Add-ons explicitly marked by the author as incompatible, i.e. opt-out of Compatible By Default
  4. Add-ons tested and determined to not be compatible with a given version of Firefox, and marked as incompatible by Mozilla
  5. Themes

UPDATE (See Blair’s comments below): Add-ons installed by 3rd party software are enabled if you opt-in, which is a feature introduced in Firefox 8.

The original aim of ACR, hence ‘Reporter’ in the name, was for users to inform authors if their add-on did or did not work. I would still encourage you to install it and if an add-on degrades Firefox in any way then please use the reporting mechanism (Compatibility button on the add-on listing) to let Mozilla and the author know.

Note that ACR also works with Thunderbird and Seamonkey.

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20 Responses to “Compatible by Default and the Add-ons Compatibility Reporter”

  1. Blair McBride 2-Feb-2012 at 14:16 #

    Add-ons installed by 3rd parties are indeed compatible by default, just like add-ons installed by the user. Although, when such add-ons are first installed, you’ll be asked if you want to enable them – but that’s separate from compatibility, and was introduced in Firefox 8.

    Another reason an add-on may not be compatible by default is that add-ons can opt-out of this new behaviour. An add-on author may do this if they think their add-on is very likely to break every time there’s a new Firefox version – but this should be quite rare.

    Additionally, if an addon has been tested and determined to not be compatible with a given version of Firefox, then it will be marked as incompatible (and therefore disabled).

    My blog post has some technical details on this:
    http://theunfocused.net/2011/11/19/solving-firefoxs-add-on-compatibility-problem/

    • kinger 2-Feb-2012 at 15:20 #

      Thanks Blair, post updated.

  2. Blair McBride 2-Feb-2012 at 14:22 #

    Almost forgot:

    Themes are not compatible by default. This is because themes are almost guaranteed to have some part that is not compatible with a new version of Firefox, so themes have to be updated each time to keep up with changes in Firefox.

  3. John LoVerso 2-Feb-2012 at 18:48 #

    Brian, you are giving justification for the fact that Firefox 10 + ACR is broken in that it leaves users who had previously working add-ons (*compatible* in all but max version) that are disabled, with no obvious way to enable them.I have dutifully marked these add-ons as “working” via ACR in all of the plethora of Firefox releases this year. This leads me with the belief that ACR isn’t very useful, because to me, as a user, it hasn’t helped me at all.

    • kinger 3-Feb-2012 at 11:23 #

      It is not broken. A strategic decision has been made not to support a feature anymore, for technical and other reasons.

      There are other strategies to get pre-Firefox 4 add-ons working. These include hacking on them yourself (if even to just bump up the maxVersion), or asking the author to update them. I understand however these are not convenient.

      The ACR was never designed for this purpose. The purpose was for beta testers to test add-ons that were 1 or 2 versions behind the current Firefox, and to alert authors if they worked or not. Firefox 3.6 is now 7 releases behind.

      • Enigma 4-Mar-2012 at 05:15 #

        Since “binary add-ons are never compatible *between releases*” (see https://wiki.mozilla.org/Features/Add-ons/Add-ons_Default_to_Compatible), setting the maxVersion sometimes isn’t enough, but I just made two extensions compatible again by setting the maxVersion (to 10.*) *and* the minVersion (to 10.0).

      • DB 20-Jul-2012 at 19:10 #

        Someone made a “strategic decision” to not allow this add-on to enable “versions that are deemed to be incompatible”.

        Perhaps someone can also make a strategic decision to make a fork of the code and publish an “Add-On Enabler of ANY ADD-ON”?

    • S. Miller 21-Jun-2012 at 05:14 #

      I agree with you bro and Mr. Cracked down below. It is broken! Some of my most favorite add-ons have been permanently disabled:-( I hate how the company is arbitrarily taking away our ability customize Firefox and tailor it to our own personal preferences. Now that the ACR or Add-On Compatibility Reporter only reports and no longer makes old add-ons work. Firefox is useless to me. Because I don’t want to be forced to pick an Alternative Add-on. I want to use what I like. Then, to blow smoke up our butts and say that, “Making old add-ons work has been deferred to Firefox,” is Hogwash! It’s sad to see that Mozilla is turning it’s back on what made Firefox so great, which was “User Customization!” Perhaps after enough people switch to other browsers like IE, Chrome, & Safari, the company will finally get the message and make the ACR work like it was originally intended…

      • HR 1-Aug-2012 at 14:51 #

        Well you can always try to CONTACT the AUTHOR of any add-on you like.
        If the author is called MicroSoft, many people seem to be appy to PAY them for working upgrades.
        same for Oracle I hear.
        Why are so many people whining about plugins that are GRATIS, and often perfectly “hackable” for those who really WANT to dive in?
        If someone gives his work for free, should (s)he be PUNISHED for that, by users who want “free updates” for LIFE ?
        So I read that ACR / Add-ons Compatibility Reporter, due to a change AT MOZILLA, can not “enable” extensions, but still allows users of said extensions to “report them to the author as not working” in a very easy way.
        The name of the thing is not “add-on Enabler” , just “compatibility REPORTER”
        Which is fine.
        and don’t tell the author that “it is broken” if you just invented that it “should” do something else than what it pretends to be.
        PLEASE get of this authors’ back !

  4. Girish Mony 3-Feb-2012 at 05:19 #

    Add-ons marked to work with a Firefox version less than 4.0 will not be enabled by default. Do using Firefox add on compatibility reporter enable it?

    • kinger 3-Feb-2012 at 11:24 #

      No it does not.

  5. crack3d 1-Mar-2012 at 17:22 #

    Many fans are turning away from these products because of the “Passive – Aggressive” stance between users and developers that Mozilla has taken on updating add-ons. Mozilla has made it to easy for a developer to throw up an add-on and walk away leaving the users to fend for themselves. I can list examples where, if you want to currently use the add-on, you have to hack it yourself.

    My point is without features like these “ACR no longer makes old add-ons work, deferring completely this task to Firefox” just makes this add-on and the Mozilla products useless for the normal user.

  6. Andy 3-Mar-2012 at 21:25 #

    So how can you even report if an add-on is compatible if it’s disabled? That’s like telling me drive without giving me a steering wheel. I can’t tell if it works until I can run it.

  7. Hacking2bFair 19-Mar-2012 at 13:38 #

    It seems to me that options were in about:config to allow add-ons to load. At least in ff7.
    I have set them with no nesult. I can only guess the culling started back then.

    Strange, I use the site to install a add-on and it works, Others work but if you install the exact same one from a file you get a “not compatible” message.

    There is some unlock trick going on. The issue is say, I have a collection of xpi’s that I know were made for a ver of FF because I used the site to load them. Later I find the need to re-install FF and the saved xpi’s. Now the problem happens. If I am not online when I install from disk/file then FF will not load some of my xpi’s. If a xpi ever is allowed there should be a way of installing it without FF running home to mother to check if the xpi again!

    I get the feeling someone is making the system so one has to use a newer FF when it is produced or force a redo of add-ons to support a newer ver of FF making a forever loop of forcing users to upgrade something when someone wants then to and not by free will.

    It might not seem like it now…. But how long till web sited requires a XPI for there site to work and only certian versions of FF…. this locking/unlocking system could be abused if users don’t have a way to load xpi’s at there will to see if at least there ver of FF works.

    If not for all that…. then this…. A user should never find something that worked fine with FF be unable to use it just because some one forgot to allow cross a t or dot an i. We hate IE because MS thinks only they should make choices on what we do. Is Mozila going to start telling us what we can and can’t do with FF as time changes?

    Just drop the act and tell the users what they want to know. HOW DO YOU TELL FF TO ALLOW A ADDON TO BE INSTALLED WITHOUT IT ACTING LIKE IT KNOWS MORE THAN WE DO ABOUT WHAT WE WANT TO INSTALL!!!!!!

    Do you know how many time I have gone to set up a FF install on a computer and be delayed because Mozillas web site for addons was too busy to clear a xpi! I KNOW IT WORKS! I HAD INSTALLED IT FROM THE ADDON SITE WITHIN THE WEEK ON A DIFFERENT COMPUTER!

    Well, How do we force a install of a file we know will work????
    I know how to hack a XPI… But should I have to? It’s not my fault the addon site allows a install of a xpi that is known to work but the file will not tell FF that it can when installing from a disk!

    Get it in one hat folks…

  8. Emilio 22-Apr-2012 at 07:09 #

    What do you think about this add-on?
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/checkcompatibility/

  9. amman 23-Apr-2012 at 10:18 #

    i like tis but uesd only home

  10. new chrom user 7-Jun-2012 at 03:03 #

    Just had to leave a comment. I tried delaying a firefox upgrade for as long as i could, and for some reason it updated today and i find that a addon i use daily is now not working, The last time i updated i simple used ACR to enable it, now i have to jump through hoops. I think i’ll switch to chrome.

  11. G. Eyish 14-Jun-2012 at 22:30 #

    Hi,
    just want to add my 2 cents: Mozilla sucks more and more but i have found an addon that will help me using the addons i’d like to use. Thanks Emilio! And of couse kinger!

  12. plus one 20-Jun-2012 at 15:49 #

    Thanks Emilio and Kinger too, I got my toolbar back again.
    Emilio, your addon is great, it makes ACR work like before.

    • Anonymous 18-Jul-2012 at 11:19 #

      Please for FF 14.0.1