Mozilla has cultivated one of the most interesting and healthiest ecosystems for extension developers around its popular Firefox browser. The problems with this, of course, is that whenever Mozilla releases a new version of Firefox, developers have to make sure that their software is compatible. For the next release of its browser, Mozilla aims to make sure that 90% of those add-ons that make up the top 95% of add-on usage will be compatible with the latest version of Firefox. The release of Firefox 3.1 is still a while off, but currently only 28% of the top extensions are ready for the transition.

Long Tail

According to Mozilla's Justin Scott, 861 add-ons make up 95% of the total usage, while the other 5% are distributed among close to 5000 add-ons. 94% of the top add-ons are currently compatible with Firefox 3.0.

According to Mozilla's compatibility dashboard, as of today, only about 28% of the top 861 extensions are compatible with the latest builds of Firefox 3.1.

Getting to 95%

Currently, Mozilla's evangelism team is trying to reach out to all Firefox developers to make sure that everybody is ready by the time Firefox 3.1 is released. The release date for Firefox 3.1 is currently a moving target, but the second beta version should be available to the public by the end of this month, which might be followed by a third beta before the final version is released.

Some extensions, of course, are abandoned by their developers over time, so it might not be possible for Mozilla to get to the 95% mark for Firefox 3.1, but given the importance of Firefox and the extension ecosystem around it, it is good to see them reach out to developers proactively. For developers, getting ready for 3.1 should also be a priority, as Firefox users tend to update their browser very quickly after a new version is released.

For more information about the transition to Firefox 3.1 for extension developers, have a look at Mozilla's 'Add-on Compatability Center,' which will soon also feature additional tools for developers.