Flagfox 6.0 Beta 1 with Firefox 57+ support

Dear lord that took forever… my initial estimate morphed from dozens of hours to a couple hundred hours to… more… but I’ve got something worth posting now. I spent half of the last week rewriting some important stuff because I found yet another Firefox bug in the WebExtension API, this time a regression from 56 (yep, they managed to break some WebExt stuff on exactly the Firefox 57 update). My running todo list of Mozilla bugs to file is currently longer than my changelog. My previous posts on this topic are here and here.

Flagfox 6.0 Beta 1 has been posted to AMO’s beta channel for people to test

As with all software development builds, a backup of your relevant data is generally recommended. Though, seeing as I was already using the WebExt API for storage in Flagfox 5.2 (for transitioning data, seeing as the WebExt API has NO method to access old prefs), you’re probably fine (though, I did change the action tab/window open setting format, but that’s a really minor thing). Flagfox 5.2+ data is in the “browser-extension-data” subfolder of your Firefox profile. Addon data is in there by addon ID, for which Flagfox has the lovely very-old-style ID of “{1018e4d6-728f-4b20-ad56-37578a4de76b}”. (full Firefox profile backup instructions are here)

Flagfox 6.0b1 changelog:

  • First pure WebExtension API version of Flagfox; Firefox 57+ support added (min version Firefox 56)
  • Ported Flagfox options from XUL window to HTML tab (along with all other dialogs), per WebExt requirement
  • Improved IPDB to now run in its own dedicated JS Worker thread
  • Started using ES6 promises everywhere (some new uses because it’s better; many compelled by WebExt API)
  • Faster flag icon updates using new WebExt API (pages loaded/cached prior to install/update must be refreshed)
  • Added simple indicator tags for HSTS and HTTP/2 to flag icon tooltips
  • Added Flagfox actions context menus for elements within a page and background tabs (IP-related stuff not yet implemented)
  • Improved keyboard support in the options page
  • Added options page support for paste to import actions from text, via main menu or hotkey (e.g. ctrl+v)
  • Fixed some bugs with actions import/drag/drop in options under recent versions of Firefox
  • Added Linux support for opening actions in a background window (not that anyone likely cares)
  • Implemented custom locale properties file parsing/loading, because screw WebExtension’s bloated I18N
  • Implemented universal automatic English fallback for locales (Flagfox 5 had some; Flagfox 6 has it for everything)
  • Now stripping redundant manual English fallback strings on build, to save a bit of space
  • Added automatic locale file unload after disuse to reduce memory use when no longer needed
  • Significantly improved location/host/ip caching (which is now required, due to WebExt APIs)
  • Implemented (partial) replacements for various features Mozilla abandoned with the WebExt transition (e.g. eTLD)
  • Removed old grey question mark icon; replaced its last remaining use with globe icon
  • Various default action changes (Netcraft & IntoDNS HTTPS; Wave A11Y dropped; WOT demoted from default menu)
  • Geotool action hotkey changed from Ctrl+Alt+G to Alt+Shift+G due to the very limited WebExtension hotkey API
  • New default action hotclicks: “Check Server Status” on double-click and “Google Cache” on triple-click
  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for December 2017

Note that some new stuff should be considered to be “experimental”, for now (aka it might not work perfectly yet). The new features were actually fairly quick to implement, given the APIs available. The new menus are the main thing you can point to as an actual improvement that’s a direct result of the WebExtension API (out of, like, two things). The HTTP info tags took like 10 minutes. 🙂

Broken stuff I can’t fix, due to WebExtension API limitations:

  • Icon is smaller and squarified, per WebExt API’s apparent requirements (not documented properly)
  • Icon menu has default toolbar menu items in it, even if N/A; no way to disable; nightly is better with this
  • Icon menu limited to 6 top-level items, per arbitrary WebExt API limitation; others in auto-submenu
  • Icon menu item favicons (if enabled) have no default; WebExt API has no way to set a default/onerror
  • All menu generation is done more often than prior versions due to primitive WebExt API (no show event)
  • Icon tooltip doesn’t have columns or decent styling, as the WebExt API here is primitive (plain text only)
  • Icon middle-click settings no longer work, due to limited WebExt API (existing settings left alone, but hidden)
  • Hotkey customization is no longer available, due to very limited WebExt API (no user-set hotkey support, at all)
  • The WebExt notifications API outputs to the OS notifications system, which may get truncated text (likely to replace)
  • There is no way to select “Don’t show this again” for notifications (custom buttons not supported in Firefox)
  • Firefox wipes all WebExtension data on uninstall, without user notification or prompting (affects everyone)

Known issues (aka broken stuff I should be able to fix):

  • JS actions are currently not available due WebExt API restrictions; I can probably hack around this
  • The new page element action menus do not yet support actions that use IP addresses (WIP; implementation TBD)
  • There’s sometimes a IPDB recursion error on first startup, though it recovers with nothing breaking
  • A few RTL issues (always expected; Arabic and Hebrew users are probably used to seeing this in all software)
  • Options page action drag/drop to reorder always snaps to the bottom if you drag out of the box
  • Options edit action dialog autocomplete and help popup are disabled (cut for time; will reimplement later)
  • Options page is kinda ugly, due to having to port to HTML and CSS being horrible (and me sucking at it)
  • Options page add item hover menu option for pasting doesn’t work (may or may not be possible with the API)
  • Keyboard focus handling in options subdialogs is not working correctly
  • Icon/tooltip sometimes doesn’t update correctly on non-existent domain error pages
  • All page notifications for TLD/IP country mismatches have been disabled until I can make it work better
  • The browser console will end up with lots of log messages from l10n.js due to leaving a setting fairly low for testing. The setting has been turned up a bit and the log messages will be shut up for future versions.
  • New default action hotclicks aren’t activated on startup; reload Flagfox or set/unset a action option to work-around (sigh… found literally minutes after posting this)

Another known issue: I need to look into making the content area on this blog wider to fit this stuff better. (Edit: fixed via theme change)

Also note that this is the first time I’m using Mozilla’s beta channel since they switched to mandatory addon signing. It’ll probably work fine, but I don’t actually know yet.

Bug reports / feedback can be posted in a comment to this post or to the thread on the support forum. You can also email me or send me a tweet or whatever.

7 thoughts on “Flagfox 6.0 Beta 1 with Firefox 57+ support

  1. This one shows the proxy address when using an HTTP proxy. (I know, there is no API for DNS queries now.)

    • Sigh… the documentation is shit. It says nowhere that the webRequest IP could be anything other than the server’s IP; I apparently have to reverse-engineer this junk. I’ll fix this for the next version, though I’m not quite sure how to handle this best, which tends to happen when you have no info. >.<

  2. Many thanks for the new version, awesome job! It is now almost perfect for me, I don’t either need any fancy features, the server flag and iplookup.flagfox.net are the most essential components.

    I’m happy how the flag looks currently. If the WebExtension doesn’t allow bigger or non-squre icons, that’s it. But please don’t modify the icon theme at all in any case, it’s the best of all extensions I have ever used. Look how small and ugly flag icon packs other Firefox extensions use!

    Carry on! 🙂

    • Thanks for the vote of support for the icons. I’ve been worrying about them, but they don’t seem to be as much an issue to many as they are to me. I’ll still complain to Mozilla to get their API de-crapified, however. 😉

      The icons themselves are dereived from Wikipedia icons (see Flagfox about page), using a build/render system I wrote. They’re not just squished automatically by Firefox, as that was uglier, so I run some batch image editing on them to get their aspect ratios slightly better with some transparent padding (because Firefox will stretch/squish at will if it isn’t exactly square >.< ).

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