Firefox 3 Add-ons Manager is almighty too

Firefox Add-ons Manager has finally got extended to feature complete integration with Mozilla Add-ons (AMO) site through a new page added to the Add-ons Manager.

The Get Add-ons page features a search box, a browse all add-ons link that takes you to Mozilla Add-ons, and a list of recommended extensions and themes by default.

Enter a search term, press the search button and a list of matching themes and extensions compatible with your Firefox version is returned with the add-on name, its icon, a brief description and current rating. Click on an add-on for a more detailed description, a thumbnail, and a button to install the add-on without leaving Firefox.

My only suggestion would be to add some visual cue that the add-on is either an extension or a theme before having to select it.

The theme installation processed has also been simplified. In the past, when you installed a new theme, you were prompted to restart only to find that the new theme was not displayed. You had to activate it from the Themes page and restart Firefox yet again. Now, installed themes are automatically activated!

Also, the restart button has been moved to the information bar to drive more attention.

And don’t forget a couple of features introduced in the past. First, a new Plugins page was added to make plugins enabling and disabling a dead simple task.

Second, add-ons updates are much more secure since they require either to happen over an encrypted connection (to block malicious sites purporting the update site) or the add-on developer to sign it with a digital signature so updates can be verified to be from the same source.

There’s also good news in the add-ons compatibility front as Blog of Metrics reported last week that 40% of the add-ons that represent 95% of Mozilla Add-ons usage are already compatible with Firefox 3 Beta 2, the latest development release. And the picture should get even better as developer documentation gets updated and events like today’s Add-ons Hygiene and the announced Extend Firefox 3 contest take place.

That’s for yet another almighty feature for Firefox 3. Hopefully the search plugins manager will make its way to the Add-ons Manager on time for the final release.

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