Flock revealed the new version of their social browser, Flock 2.0. At the time, the company made a point to mention that most Firefox extensions would work in their browser, too, including one of our favorites, Greasemonkey. However, yesterday, Flock Community Ambassador Evan Hamilton sent out an email to all Flock developers about some changes the company had decided to make. The email made it clear that Flock had not just decided to support Firefox add-ons, they were killing all the Flock-specific add-ons, too.On Tuesday,
According to Evan's email:
Extensions.flock.com has had a bumpy history. There's a fundamental issue here: there are very few Flock-specific extensions, and a great many Firefox extensions that are already hosted on addons.mozilla.org. The architecture behind extensions.flock.com is not mature, and we have historically been unable to devote valuable developer resources to this. It's unrealistic (and doesn't make a lot of sense) to try to create our own system on the level of addons.mozilla.org until we have more Flock-specific extensions. Our admiration for the work Mozilla has done extends to addons.mozilla.org...AMO really is the best experience for getting extensions. With that in mind, we have cut the fat that is our unwieldy extensions system.
Sorry Developers, We Took Down Your Flock Extensions
The email goes on to inform the developers that the company had removed all the extensions from the site that are not Flock-specific - that is, any extensions that take advantage of some unique feature within the Flock browser itself. In addition, the Drupal back-end from extensions.flock.com has been removed which means no more comments or ratings on posts and no more automatic submission system. Any developer wanting to submit an extension going forward will need to email email@example.com instead.
For visitors to the Flock web site, the new extensions page will point them directly to addons.mozilla.org.
According to Flock, the changes will allow the company to move forward focusing only on Flock-specific extensions, and finally, themes. As we noted earlier, customization is an important aspect to the browser experience. Something as simple as being able to skin Flock could make the transition easier for those making the switch.
Flock's Real Message: We're Just A Version Of Firefox
We think Flock's decision to separate their extensions from Firefox's extensions is a good one. Although their email promoted the idea that this just freed up time for Flock to focus on other aspects of their project, that's probably not the whole story here.
Flock wants to appeal to the social media crowd, a group that typically includes a large number of Firefox users. But in the past, Flock had set themselves too far apart from the Firefox community and gave off the impression they were really an alternative browser. Now that Flock has upgraded to the Firefox 3 codebase and lets you use nearly all the Firefox extensions, the message they're sending is that they aren't that different after all, they're just a version of Firefox 3 with nifty social features. In other words, you get the best of both worlds: Firefox 3 and social media integration.
Will this change in direction work and help Flock pick up some steam? It's possible. If you can move to a new browser which works like your old one and take all your extensions with you, the experience is much less painful. Now all they need is some sort of extension import wizard and we'll be all set.