Firefox Add-ons and Compatibilty

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Firefox Add-ons and Compatibilty

Ken Saunders-2
There is a serious issue that we all face as advocates for Firefox
accessibility.
We work really hard to promote the use of add-ons that can aid people
with disabilities.
We try to convince them that they should use Firefox as their default
browser because Firefox offers great tools that can help them to use
and access the Internet in a more efficient and comfortable way.
So say that someone finds that Accessibar is ideal for them and it is
the determining factor for them to use Firefox. What happens to them
when a new version of Firefox is released and the add-on that they
have counted on for so long is not compatible with the latest version
of Firefox? To be blunt,, they're screwed.
It's true that they could choose to use the older version of Firefox
that their add-on worked with, but for how long? And why should they
have to use an older version of Firefox especially when the new
version has many improvements and is safer? That's all counter
productive to what we are all here for. We're for moving forward and
we can't claim that Firefox is the best option for persons with
disabilities when the latest version is not accessible to them.
We all know that it is the add-on developer who is responsible for
keeping their add-on updated to work with the latest version of
Firefox, but did you know that a great amount of people think that it
is a Firefox issue?
When Firefox 3 came out, the majority of accessibility add-ons
instantly became obsolete if you were a person that used the latest
version of Firefox. I have the insight and knowledge to understand
what is going on, the majority of Firefox users don't and so the
add-on that was their main tool in using the Internet is no longer
available to them, so they will quite possibly go back to a browser
that they were able to use on a consistent basis despite the fact that
it's an inferior product.

One incompatible add-on for a person with a disability who counts on
that add-on because we encouraged and convinced them to use it is a
huge blow to them.
To an average user who may use 5, 10, or 30 add-ons can no longer
check the weather in their status bar, that is an inconvenience while
a person that uses one add-on to customize web pages just so that they
can read it can be devastating.

I know these things because I've experienced them first hand, and I
have gotten many e-mails from users who have also faced this.

"Are there any plans to put up information here about add-on
compatibility with Firefox 3?  It would be wonderful to be able to learn
of plans and progress.  For now, it seems best not to upgrade to Firefox
3.  I have the luxury of a second computer where I have been testing to
see which add-ons are compatible.  I've been sending those who have
upgraded prematurely to oldversion.com/program.php?n=firefox in order to
download a previous version."

I'm sure that is nothing that Mozilla wants to hear.

I really don't have an easy plan on how to remedy this.
It is something that we all can brainstorm but only Mozilla has the
power to change it.
Perhaps incentives for add-on developers but what kind?
Financial incentives like grants would be great and effective but then
you'd have all developers wanting the same thing unless if it was for
a specific project that would group accessibility add-on developers
together, and the argument that people with disabilities are at a
disadvantage is a convincing one.
There would be no shortage of people from within Mozilla or this group
who would be qualified to judge what should be classified as an
accessibility add-on or an add-on that is assistive in one way or
another for persons with disabilities.

I am really hoping that someone reading this can provide some ideas
and/or feedback as to what can be done about all of this.

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read this.
Ken
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Re: Firefox Add-ons and Compatibilty

Steve Lee-3
Phew, you are quite right and I have seen a number of recommendations
not to upgrade in the a11y channels. I tried to explain but as you say
the perception is it's a FF problem.

I don't have any answers but hope we can brain storm it.

We talked about a a11y quality/kite mark for addons and a condition
could be early compatibility with the next version (and authors may
have a need to work with several versions as well). But that can only
work if the mark is something people want to achieve and keep.

How about FF fox gives clear messages when encountering incompatible
addons and suggesting that the users contact the authors. This could
be a special process after upgrade.

How about a report 'incompatible add on' feature? or central 'bad' list.


2008/7/9 Ken Saunders <[hidden email]>:

> There is a serious issue that we all face as advocates for Firefox
> accessibility.
> We work really hard to promote the use of add-ons that can aid people
> with disabilities.
> We try to convince them that they should use Firefox as their default
> browser because Firefox offers great tools that can help them to use
> and access the Internet in a more efficient and comfortable way.
> So say that someone finds that Accessibar is ideal for them and it is
> the determining factor for them to use Firefox. What happens to them
> when a new version of Firefox is released and the add-on that they
> have counted on for so long is not compatible with the latest version
> of Firefox? To be blunt,, they're screwed.
> It's true that they could choose to use the older version of Firefox
> that their add-on worked with, but for how long? And why should they
> have to use an older version of Firefox especially when the new
> version has many improvements and is safer? That's all counter
> productive to what we are all here for. We're for moving forward and
> we can't claim that Firefox is the best option for persons with
> disabilities when the latest version is not accessible to them.
> We all know that it is the add-on developer who is responsible for
> keeping their add-on updated to work with the latest version of
> Firefox, but did you know that a great amount of people think that it
> is a Firefox issue?
> When Firefox 3 came out, the majority of accessibility add-ons
> instantly became obsolete if you were a person that used the latest
> version of Firefox. I have the insight and knowledge to understand
> what is going on, the majority of Firefox users don't and so the
> add-on that was their main tool in using the Internet is no longer
> available to them, so they will quite possibly go back to a browser
> that they were able to use on a consistent basis despite the fact that
> it's an inferior product.
>
> One incompatible add-on for a person with a disability who counts on
> that add-on because we encouraged and convinced them to use it is a
> huge blow to them.
> To an average user who may use 5, 10, or 30 add-ons can no longer
> check the weather in their status bar, that is an inconvenience while
> a person that uses one add-on to customize web pages just so that they
> can read it can be devastating.
>
> I know these things because I've experienced them first hand, and I
> have gotten many e-mails from users who have also faced this.
>
> "Are there any plans to put up information here about add-on
> compatibility with Firefox 3?  It would be wonderful to be able to learn
> of plans and progress.  For now, it seems best not to upgrade to Firefox
> 3.  I have the luxury of a second computer where I have been testing to
> see which add-ons are compatible.  I've been sending those who have
> upgraded prematurely to oldversion.com/program.php?n=firefox in order to
> download a previous version."
>
> I'm sure that is nothing that Mozilla wants to hear.
>
> I really don't have an easy plan on how to remedy this.
> It is something that we all can brainstorm but only Mozilla has the
> power to change it.
> Perhaps incentives for add-on developers but what kind?
> Financial incentives like grants would be great and effective but then
> you'd have all developers wanting the same thing unless if it was for
> a specific project that would group accessibility add-on developers
> together, and the argument that people with disabilities are at a
> disadvantage is a convincing one.
> There would be no shortage of people from within Mozilla or this group
> who would be qualified to judge what should be classified as an
> accessibility add-on or an add-on that is assistive in one way or
> another for persons with disabilities.
>
> I am really hoping that someone reading this can provide some ideas
> and/or feedback as to what can be done about all of this.
>
> I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read this.
> Ken
> _______________________________________________
> dev-accessibility mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo/dev-accessibility
>



--
Steve Lee
Open Source Assistive Technology Software and Accessibility
fullmeasure.co.uk
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Firefox Add-ons and Compatibilty

T.V Raman
In reply to this post by Ken Saunders-2
well said.
I can personally attest that getting Fire Vox working with
Firefox-3 was *a lot of work* -- and what's more --  that work
had to be done while Firefox3 was still in beta and
unstable. This meant that you also had to keep the extension
working under Firefox 2 which was  the only stable way of using
FF for production use. Hopefully these are growing pains -- and
will get better over time; but I agree with you that a vital part
of the "community" are extension developers like yourself and
Charles  to name a few --- and frankly the support that those
extensions get  from the so called FF Accessibility PR machine is
-- leave alone the technical machine -- minimal to negative at best.

Ken Saunders writes:
 > There is a serious issue that we all face as advocates for Firefox
 > accessibility.
 > We work really hard to promote the use of add-ons that can aid people
 > with disabilities.
 > We try to convince them that they should use Firefox as their default
 > browser because Firefox offers great tools that can help them to use
 > and access the Internet in a more efficient and comfortable way.
 > So say that someone finds that Accessibar is ideal for them and it is
 > the determining factor for them to use Firefox. What happens to them
 > when a new version of Firefox is released and the add-on that they
 > have counted on for so long is not compatible with the latest version
 > of Firefox? To be blunt,, they're screwed.
 > It's true that they could choose to use the older version of Firefox
 > that their add-on worked with, but for how long? And why should they
 > have to use an older version of Firefox especially when the new
 > version has many improvements and is safer? That's all counter
 > productive to what we are all here for. We're for moving forward and
 > we can't claim that Firefox is the best option for persons with
 > disabilities when the latest version is not accessible to them.
 > We all know that it is the add-on developer who is responsible for
 > keeping their add-on updated to work with the latest version of
 > Firefox, but did you know that a great amount of people think that it
 > is a Firefox issue?
 > When Firefox 3 came out, the majority of accessibility add-ons
 > instantly became obsolete if you were a person that used the latest
 > version of Firefox. I have the insight and knowledge to understand
 > what is going on, the majority of Firefox users don't and so the
 > add-on that was their main tool in using the Internet is no longer
 > available to them, so they will quite possibly go back to a browser
 > that they were able to use on a consistent basis despite the fact that
 > it's an inferior product.
 >
 > One incompatible add-on for a person with a disability who counts on
 > that add-on because we encouraged and convinced them to use it is a
 > huge blow to them.
 > To an average user who may use 5, 10, or 30 add-ons can no longer
 > check the weather in their status bar, that is an inconvenience while
 > a person that uses one add-on to customize web pages just so that they
 > can read it can be devastating.
 >
 > I know these things because I've experienced them first hand, and I
 > have gotten many e-mails from users who have also faced this.
 >
 > "Are there any plans to put up information here about add-on
 > compatibility with Firefox 3?  It would be wonderful to be able to learn
 > of plans and progress.  For now, it seems best not to upgrade to Firefox
 > 3.  I have the luxury of a second computer where I have been testing to
 > see which add-ons are compatible.  I've been sending those who have
 > upgraded prematurely to oldversion.com/program.php?n=firefox in order to
 > download a previous version."
 >
 > I'm sure that is nothing that Mozilla wants to hear.
 >
 > I really don't have an easy plan on how to remedy this.
 > It is something that we all can brainstorm but only Mozilla has the
 > power to change it.
 > Perhaps incentives for add-on developers but what kind?
 > Financial incentives like grants would be great and effective but then
 > you'd have all developers wanting the same thing unless if it was for
 > a specific project that would group accessibility add-on developers
 > together, and the argument that people with disabilities are at a
 > disadvantage is a convincing one.
 > There would be no shortage of people from within Mozilla or this group
 > who would be qualified to judge what should be classified as an
 > accessibility add-on or an add-on that is assistive in one way or
 > another for persons with disabilities.
 >
 > I am really hoping that someone reading this can provide some ideas
 > and/or feedback as to what can be done about all of this.
 >
 > I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read this.
 > Ken
 > _______________________________________________
 > dev-accessibility mailing list
 > [hidden email]
 > https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo/dev-accessibility

--
Best Regards,
--raman

Title:  Research Scientist      
Email:  [hidden email]
WWW:    http://emacspeak.sf.net/raman/
Google: tv+raman
GTalk:  [hidden email], [hidden email]
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Re: Firefox Add-ons and Compatibilty

Aaron Leventhal-3
In reply to this post by Ken Saunders-2
These criticisms are important. It's the first step to fixing the problems.

I'd like to hear constructive ideas on how to improve the process.

So far I've heard (from here and other places):
1. Find a way to incent or help a11y add-on developers to provide timely
updates for new releases of Firefox
2. Provide info in addons.mozilla.org about which extensions are
accessible (and perhaps make it easy to limit queries to only the
accessible extensions)
3. Make a11y part of the addons.mozilla.org review process -- perhaps
require basic a11y to get into the system
4. Get a list of Firefox addons that are specifically targetted to
people with disabilities (Ken, I thought that AccessMozilla.org *was*
that list, and that you were the guy who was most on top of that).

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to think about their words and
keep the discussion friendly. No one is perfect and we all just want to
make things good for the end users.

- Aaron
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Re: Firefox Add-ons and Compatibilty

Steve Lee-3
2008/7/9 Aaron Leventhal <[hidden email]>:
> 1. Find a way to incent or help a11y add-on developers to provide timely
> updates for new releases of Firefox

You know I think it's actually broader than that as people with
disabilities can be more reliant on the technology services of add-ons
that are not concidered to be a11y specific. If they stop working when
FF is upgraded they have a problem that is more acute than for those
who can easily find alternatives and live without a particular
extension for a while.

--
Steve Lee
Open Source Assistive Technology Software and Accessibility
fullmeasure.co.uk
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