WebRunner for Firefox 3.6?
Having discovered that some recent changes to WebRunner had broken compatibility with Firefox 3.6, I had more or less decided simply to discontinue support for older versions of Firefox. Then I stumbled on the fact that nearly 64% of Firefox users still have version 3.6. I thought a bit harder about it, but I’m still inclined to release future versions of WebRunner for Firefox 4.0+ only.
One practical consideration is that working with older Firefox versions imposes a number of constraints on extension developers. For example, I upgraded to XCode 4 the other day and, while it still has a few bugs and other annoyances, I quite like it. Unfortunately, it seems that I can’t build Firefox 3.6 anymore on my Mac since it requires use of the OS X 10.5 SDK, which is not shipped with XCode 4. I could try copying it over from an older XCode installation, but already I’d be pushed into the kind of hackery that I would just as soon avoid. I depend on having a debug build of Firefox when testing so this is quite a nuisance.
A more general issue is that we will be forced to test all new WebRunner versions not only on three platforms (Mac, Windows and Linux) but also on two Firefox versions. For a small team, this can be a major effort and will take away from the time that we can spend on adding new features, developing great sample apps, writing documentation and the like. It’s true that the new, more aggressive Firefox release schedule is probably going to force us to support multiple versions anyway, but this could be seen as all the more reason to discontinue support for Firefox 3.6.
This is not such a big deal for most extension developers, since they probably aren’t doing many things that require changes between Firefox 3.6 and 4.0. WebRunner, however, is a complex extension that includes a lot of binary code and XPCOM components and uses various APIs that have changed — or, like the extension manager, been completely rewritten — between Firefox 3.6 and 4.0.
I’m interested to know what others think. In the case of WebRunner specifically, is it reasonable to expect users to upgrade to Firefox 4.0 if they want to use it? And have any other extension developers discovered that maintaining support for Firefox 3.6 will be a non-negligible effort? If so, how are you addressing this?
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