Application version support policy and plans

Current Flagfox 4.1.x supports:

  • Firefox 3.5 – 7.0a2
  • SeaMonkey 2.0 – 2.4a2

The max versions correspond to current Aurora channel builds for both Firefox and the SeaMonkey equivalent. For quite a while now I’ve been using Aurora Firefox myself and have more or less settled on a policy of continuing to keep Flagfox compatible with it. Minefield (now named simply Nightly) is not listed as compatible, however Flagfox does work perfectly with it at the moment.

Why does Flagfox not list compatibility with Minefield if it is?

Minefield is always, well, a minefield. It can blow up at any time. In the past Flagfox would sometimes support it if I were personally using it and during the run up to Firefox 4.0 I moved continued support for all prereleases to the beta channel as compatibility was breaking too often to fix in the main release channel. These days it’s currently somewhat stable but I have no clue when that will change again.

Fortunately for Nightly users, Mozilla has made accommodations for you. Instead of having to set individual compatibility checking override preferences for each version you can set “extensions.checkCompatibility.nightly” to false in about:config to disable compatibility checking in nightlies and keep it off even as the version numbers increment. If you’re using nightlies and wish to use Flagfox this is the suggested route. Just keep in mind that at some point Flagfox or any one of your addons may break, in which case I ask that you please report the problem so it can be addressed. You can report Flagfox compatibility breakages on the forums.

Future application support plans

One of these days I will get around to working on Flagfox 4.2 enough to post an alpha or beta. With that new major version I currently plan to drop support for Gecko 1.9.1, meaning Firefox 3.5 and SeaMonkey 2.0. I dropped support for Gecko 1.9.0, Firefox 3.0 and all Flock versions, with Flagfox 4.1 because supporting such old and obsolete browsers required not only a bunch of hacks but quite a bit of extra testing and futzing. Even then some features were simply not supported under Firefox 3.0 or Flock, namely the drag and drop features in the options dialog (importing/exporting and reordering actions). Firefox 3.5 isn’t that drastically different from Firefox 3.6, however now that the number of major Firefox versions Flagfox supports is up to freakin’ 7, I just can’t conceive of not going insane doing new development and trying to support all the way back that far. On more than one occasion I’ve written something new, tested it fully in the most recent couple browser versions, then tested it in Firefox 3.5 only to find that some quirk breaks something. It’s a mess not worth fighting with. Additionally, Mozilla has recently changed Firefox 3.5.x updating to go straight to Firefox 3.6.x as a minor update and 3.5 is now officially at its end-of-life. It was on borrowed time for many months but they finally dropped support for it and I will too. To summarize:

Current Flagfox 4.2 support plan:

  • Firefox 3.6 – 8.0a2
  • SeaMonkey 2.1 – 2.5a2

When this will be I don’t know yet. Honestly, I really would like to drop support for Firefox 3.6 too, but there’s simply way too many people still using it to consider such a thing yet. Flagfox 4.3 isn’t even on the drawing board yet but hopefully the usage stats eventually get to a point where I can drop it.

Footnote: There were a few thousand people still using an older version that was still in the development channel. I’ve deleted it from AMO so now all development channel users will now update to the current stable version. At some point when I post a Flagfox 4.2 alpha or beta I will add a first-run page in the current stable version shown only to Firefox/SeaMonkey prerelease users to offer it.

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3 Comments

  1. andré

    I can certainly understand your frustration with the new mozilla development model. It requires a lot more resources to keep up.
    I’m still using the old flagfox 4.0.14 with seamonkey 2.0 since I much prefer showing the flag outside the address field, which is already too small. (I’m going to upgrade to sm2.2 shortly.)
    I’d like to know if you have yet allowed displaying the flag on the menu bar ? To me that is a nice solution. The size isn’t a problem, the small flag just fits in my configuration.
    If it hasn’t been done yet, if you give me a few pointers, I’d like to try to do it myself.

    Regards

    • I’m not really frustrated with the new Mozilla development model. I really would have liked it if they kept some more meaning to the version numbers and went 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc. with a major bump when more major addon compatibility breakages/feature additions were to happen. What I am extremely frustrated with is their old and continued release practices, specifically the absolutely PATHETIC Firefox update rate.

      The current approximate breakdown as of 2011-07-21 is, in order of usage:
      Total peak Flagfox users: 1.7 million
      Firefox 5.0.x : 1.1 million (65%)
      Firefox 3.6.x : 361 thousand (21%)
      Firefox 4.0.x : 151 thousand (8.8%)
      Firefox 3.5.x : 54 thousand (3.2%)
      Firefox 6.0b : 29 thousand (1.7%)
      Firefox 3.0.x : 14 thousand (0.8%)
      Firefox 7.0a2 : 2.8 thousand (0.2%)
      Firefox 8.0a1 : 1.3 thousand (0.07%)
      all SeaMonkey 2.* : 1 thousand (0.06%)
      (what’s worse is that within each major version, people are often scattered wildly across many different minor updates)

      Firefox 3.5 usage has plummeted about half over the past few months, which is good, but it’s still shockingly high, especially given the fact that Firefox 3.6.x is now considered a minor update to it. People just don’t update, but they still expect their addons to update and work fully.

      Until Mozilla gets off its ass and adds a forced automatic updater for most people, this mess will continue to get worse with each new rapidly released version. They have said this was in the plans, but if they don’t do this soon Firefox will die a slow death of entropic decay…

      In reply to the request to add Flagfox icon repositioning options, specifically to the menu bar, my primary response is: what menu bar? Mac and some Linux has a unified OS-level menu that would be untouchable, Firefox on newer Windows has a single button new-style menu by default, and older Windows and Linux can (and should) turn it on as an option. A few SeaMonkey users might want it, but there are hardly any and even fewer that care that much about icon positioning. I’m sorry, but I won’t go back to the increased complexity of a dynamic positioning system just for SeaMonkey or obsolete versions of Firefox. (as an aside, I really did try to release a Flagfox 4.0.15 for you, but AMO never approved it because their editor system doesn’t allow non-beta addon branch releases to be reviewed in parallel) I don’t get around to much new development as-is and my next target is in-GUI Sync support, not tinkering with the icon position again. Your offer to help is nice, but in reality software development decisions often get decided based on the work of testing and maintaining things into the future, not just writing the initial thing.

      • andré

        The new firefox numbering is indeed strange. It won’t be long before they are up to 20 and more.
        Even though sm is following the same update scheme, at least the numbering is more reasonable.

        Attempting to force automatic update will never work. With seamonkey, to be informed it requires attempts to update automatically, but that is easily blocked by denying permissions. The same thing can (or at least could) be done under Ms-windows.
        Many users are unfortunately unconcerned about updates, and as well updates have so often broken working applications under msw that many users avoid them like the plague.
        In many business environments, end users are unable to update, and conservative admin policies result in updates being not being done.
        Besides regular warnings, I have no idea what could be done about this.

        What menu bar ?
        I have Firefox 4.0.1 installed (it is installed by default with the distro), and it shows a menu bar.
        (I never use ff, as I find sm much more convenient.)
        Seriously, I can’t imagine using anything but the simplist application without a menu bar.
        I have some applications with a one-button menu, and I find it very awkward, error-prone, and time-consuming to use. But it can have it’s place on very small screens.

        I just had another idea.
        Maybe a transparent flag in the address field. That way, as much of the address text would visible — which is my main concern — but you wouldn’t have much more complication.
        (And maybe even a user-definable % of transparency, to get a little fancier.)
        Would it work for you ?
        If that is already available, I’d like to know, as I can’t easily try the latest version without loosing my old version.

        Regards 🙂