This past weekend I attended MozCamp EU in Warsaw, and it was really energizing to see so many awesome Mozilla contributors come together. The theme of this MozCamp was “Mobilize Mozilla”, and I co-hosted a session about developing add-ons for Firefox for Android.
In the first part of this session, we walked through the basics of developing a simple restartless add-on. After that, we set developers loose to start hacking on their own add-ons, encouraging them to start with a bootstrapped add-on skeleton. Before long, we saw a bunch of excited developers pointing to test menuitems and notifications appearing on their phones, followed by discussion about all the cool things they wanted to build. This was one of my favorite parts of MozCamp!
Although this session proved that it’s not too hard to get started with mobile add-on development, there are definitely some pain points. Here are some things we need to work on:
- Create an easier workflow for getting an add-on from your development machine to your phone. Right now the easiest way to do this is using adb, but some developers want to be able to test their add-ons without installing the Android SDK.
- Fully support using the Android emulator to develop mobile add-ons. Some of the developers attending the talk didn’t own Android phones; we had extra phones on hand to lend to them, but that’s not a long term solution. I know that work has been done to run Firefox in the emulator, but I don’t know of anyone on the mobile team actively testing this to make sure it always works.
- Better documentation! This is always true of everything, but I want to call it out. In particular, I think we need more documentation about manipulating content from mobile add-ons. Even though this is very similar to what you would do for a desktop add-on, getting at the content window is different, and this confused some developers.
I’m looking forward to seeing more mobile add-ons, and I’d like to know if there’s anything else we can do to make it easier to develop add-ons for Firefox for Android. The mobile team is always hanging out in #mobile on irc.mozilla.org, so please jump in there if you have any ideas, or if you need help developing your add-on!