Web Extensions: The Next Big Thing for Content Publishers?

Firefox is making the move to web extensions, and it’s a pretty big deal. It means that developers can easily write web browser extensions (add-ons) that’ll work with every major browser. Web extensions could be the next big thing for publishers. Imagine a browser add-on that alerts your readers to stories that interest them, or catalogs blog posts they’d like to read later. Perhaps the New York Times would be interested in creating an add-on for their world-famous crossword puzzle? (NYT, we’ll give you that idea for free as long as you release it for Firefox first.)

Add-ons also have real potential for winning long-time users. First, add-on users browse more to begin with. According to our data, they spend more time in Firefox than users who don’t have any add ons. They’re also more engaged — Once they activate an add-on, they use it a ton. (Stay tuned for more data from a study we’re conducting about browsing habits based on anonymous data).

Firefox dev Potch talks WebExtensions

Why the move to WebExtensions? Five reasons.

It’s open

That means developers can write one extension and port it to any browser without extensive rewriting.

It’s easy

WebExtensions can be written with just two files: The script, and a manifest describing the extension and how it works.

It’s future-proof

XPCOM/XUL add-ons are can break with browser updates. WebExtensions will work today across Firefox and other browsers moving forward.

It’s secure

XPCOM could introduce security and stability issues. WebExtensions does not allow arbitrary access, so code can’t touch anything it’s not supposed to.

It’s sticky

Change how your users browse and you’ll win them for life — or at least for a long time. Great WebExtensions are extremely valuable to users.

You should get into the WebExtensions game. They let you provide a real, tangible benefits to users’ everyday lives. And once your extension becomes part of their workflow, it’ll be indispensable.

For more technical info on WebExtensions, read this wonderful blog post by Mozilla add-ons master Potch on the Mozilla Add-ons blog.

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