FAQ

Simple questions and answers 🔗

  • What versions of Firefox does Flagfox support?
    Flagfox 6.0 supports Firefox 57+, and has limited support for Firefox 56. Flagfox 5.2 supports Firefox 24-56 and SeaMonkey 2.21+, however Firefox 52+ (ESR) is highly recommended. Flagfox also may work in some Firefox forks based on equivalent versions, such as Waterfox, which is based on Firefox 56. (see version support table; Firefox 56 install instructions)
  • What languages does Flagfox support?
    Flagfox will attempt to use the language you have Firefox running in, and has translations for many locales:
    English, Français, Italiano, Español, Español (Argentina), Català, Português, Português (Brasil), Deutsch, Nederlands, Dansk, Čeština, polski, lietuvių kalba, Latviešu, Magyar, Slovenščina, Hrvatski, română, Íslenska, Svenska, suomi, Українська, Русский, Български, Српски, Ελληνικά, Türkçe, Հայերեն, עברית , العربية, Tiếng Việt, Bahasa Melayu, 中文 (简体), 正體中文 (繁體), 한국어, 日本語
  • Where do I see Flagfox after I installed it?
    Flagfox shows a flag icon in your address/location bar. In Flagfox 6+ you will have to refresh any tabs you already had open, first. You can right-click on the flag icon to perform actions to look up the current URL/website. Flagfox 6+ also has a context menu for various other stuff, accessible via right-clicking on page/frame backgrounds, tabs, links, images, or audio/video elements, which you can use to perform actions to look up its corresponding URL/website.
  • Does Flagfox send any information to any servers during normal browsing?
    No. Flagfox uses a built-in database to look up flags. For other features, read this and/or the Flagfox privacy policy.
  • In Flagfox 6.0 / Firefox 57+, why is the icon smaller and the menu shorter?
    Because Mozilla’s new mandatory-to-use WebExtension API is crap. (more details)
  • In Flagfox 6.0 / Firefox 57+, why can’t I customize keyboard shortcuts anymore?
    Because Mozilla’s new mandatory-to-use WebExtension API is crap. (more details)
  • In Flagfox 6.0 / Firefox 57+, why can’t I use middle-click hotclicks anymore?
    If you’ve read the prior couple questions, you may be sensing a pattern. (more details)
  • In Flagfox 6.0 / Firefox 57+, what do all the permissions asked for on installation mean?
    It means Mozilla’s new mandatory-to-use WebExtension API has a not-great permissions model. Flagfox has had sufficient permissions to set your computer on fire for the past 10 years prior to this new system, so there’s nothing new here. A detailed explanation is available here.
  • Does Flagfox work behind a proxy/Tor?
    Not really. Flagfox won’t be able to show a flag, but most other features will still work. Flagfox looks up sites based on its IP address, which you won’t have if you’re going through a proxy. I’ve got a whole separate Proxy/DNS Issue FAQ with more info.
  • What if I don’t like the TLD mismatch notification?
    Turn it off using the “Don’t show this again” checkbox. It’s just help for new users.
  • Why does the flag turn British when I click on it?
    The server that hosts Geotool, the default click action, is hosted in England.
  • What’s with the updates Firefox wants to download for Flagfox?
    Flagfox uses an internal IP location database to look up flags for servers. Each month, a new version of Flagfox is released with an updated database. (i.e. map of the Internet)
  • Does Flagfox support IPv6?
    Yes! Flagfox contains both IPv4 & IPv6 databases, which are updated monthly.
  • Flagfox has a middle-click function, but I don’t have a middle button.
    You can use ctrl+click instead of middle-click wherever needed in Flagfox.
  • Do I have to change my Flagfox options to open actions differently?
    Nope! When clicking a Flagfox action menu item, you can hold the ctrl/shift keys to use custom behavior:
    ctrl for background vs foreground & shift for new windows vs new tabs
    e.g. ctrl+click = new background tab, shift+click = new foreground window
  • How do I change my Flagfox options?
    Right-click on the flag icon and select the “Options” menu item.
  • How do I rearrange the actions in Flagfox’s options?
    Drag them around with your mouse, or select one and use the arrow icons.
  • How many Flagfox developers are there?
    One. There is also one Geotool developer that also hosts the support forum. (more info)
  • How do I contact the developer?
  • The Flagfox forum is usually the preferred method. Other means are here.

Detailed questions and answers 🔗

Usage questions and information:

Common requests:

Mozilla Add-ons site questions:

Technical questions:

Developer questions:

Usage questions and information:

The location/flag shown for a site is wrong! 🔗

Maybe, but probably not. Sites can be hosted anywhere, they can have domains of any nationality, and can have multiple cache servers sending out the same site from different locations. Flagfox looks up the actual location of the server you’re connected to using the IP address Firefox is using and a database maintained by Maxmind, which may or may not be where you’d expect it to be. (read this for more info and correction request procedure)

Why do Flagfox and Geotool disagree on the location sometimes? 🔗

Cache servers; see the previous question. When you click the Flagfox icon it sends Geotool the host and IP to lookup. This is the IP of the server that the site sent you to, however Geotool is hosted in a different location from you so if you tell it to lookup the same domain it may be sent to a different (closer) server at a different IP. Thus, a Geotool lookup via Flagfox tells you where the server you’re connecting to is and a Geotool lookup via the Geotool search field or search plugin tells you where the server Geotool is connecting to is. The only way around this is to lookup on Geotool using an IP address rather than a domain, as a single domain can redirect to multiple IP addresses.

Why do I get a TLD mismatch info bar every time I go to Google? 🔗

Non-American users are redirected to their locale-specific version of Google. Google has an FAQ for this here.

Does Flagfox send any information to any servers? 🔗

Not during normal browsing, no. Flagfox uses an internal database of IP address locations and does not send anything anywhere during normal browsing. If you use one of the lookup features, such as Geotool or whois, then that server will be sent the necessary info (e.g. IP address or domain name) that one time to do the lookup. There are some other extensions that have some features similar to Flagfox and they do, however, send all of your browsing habits to their server to provide their information. Flagfox respects users’ privacy and makes a point to not do that. (see the Flagfox privacy policy)

Some of the actions’ pages have ads. 🔗

Each action is its own site; we certainly don’t run them all, just Geotool. A few have ads but nothing drastic, and if you’re using Firefox and any addons then why on Earth would you not be using an ad blocker (e.g. Adblock Plus)? If any action starts doing something evil please report it to us and we’ll consider kicking them out, but otherwise just use ABP or at least just don’t use any actions you don’t approve of.

How is Flagfox useful besides its lookups and educational value? 🔗

Not only does the flag imply the server’s location, but also what laws may apply and what the native language may be. For example, if I see a site indicated to be in China I know that it may be under some form of government censorship. This is also potentially useful in trying to figure out who’s laws may apply to various P2P-related websites.

Can Flagfox help with security/anti-phishing? 🔗

Flagfox can be used as a warning as to when a server isn’t where it should be. If you end up at a site claiming to be an American bank, and it shows as Nigerian, then you may want to think twice. However, I should also point out the common misconception that Flagfox is a “security” extension, as while it can be somewhat useful for this sort of thing, scam sites can be in America just as easily as somewhere else. Flagfox should be considered a useful addition to your security kit and not a security verification by itself.

Why are the default actions’ names and templates immutable? 🔗

It greatly lowers the complexity that normal users come into contact with and makes configuring each one simpler, as it doesn’t have to show the complexity needed for custom actions. This way the defaults are also always there and users can turn them off/on as needed, but if they can’t be edited/deleted then I don’t need to have a “restore default actions” button or anything like that. It also allows me to provide updates to them easily and allows for easier localization.

If you do want to change one of the default actions, you can select any action and “clone” it by using the hover/side menu for the add button (depending on Flagfox version). A new action will open up that’s based on the selected one, which you can then customize to your needs. You can then disable the default or use both if you want.

Those are just to load the favicons it shows for each action. The icons should be cached by Firefox for subsequent usage. You can disable showing these icons in the Flagfox options if you want to.

Where does Flagfox save user options/actions? How can you back them up? 🔗

Everything in Firefox saves its data in your Firefox profile. Its location varies based on OS, but its contents are generally the same for everyone. Please read the Mozilla Support article on profiles for details.

Flagfox 5.2 & 6.0+

All addons, including Flagfox, are installed into the “extensions” folder in your profile (for all modern Firefox addons, “installation” just means putting one compressed file in there). Flagfox 5.2+ on Firefox 52+ stores its settings via the WebExtension storage system, which saves all data under the “browser-extension-data” folder. Each addon’s installation file and storage folder is simply named using the addon’s ID. Newer addons generally conform to a format that looks like an email address (but it isn’t actually). Old addons have a completely random GUID inside curly braces. (Addon IDs are by definition permanent and can never be changed.) Flagfox has the lovely old-style ID of “{1018e4d6-728f-4b20-ad56-37578a4de76b}” (usually the only one starting with 101). All your personal Flagfox settings are stored in the aptly named “storage.js” file inside its extension data folder. (it’s JSON with the old/wrong extension) If you have nothing customized, even if you changed something and then went back to exactly the defaults, this file will be empty or very tiny, as Flagfox is optimized to only save data if it isn’t default. If you want to backup/copy Flagfox settings, copy that extension data folder. If you want to restore it, do so with Firefox closed so it can load it properly when it starts up. Flagfox does not need to be installed first. Mozilla said that they’d add a simpler way to do this, like existed for the old system, but they’ve yet to actually get around to doing that, unfortunately.

WARNING: Due to an incredibly bad decision made by Mozilla, if you uninstall any addon that uses this storage system, which is now mandatory for everything in Firefox 57+, your settings for it will be deleted without any warning, prompt, or backup. I can’t stop them or recover this data; yell at them if this screwed you over.

Flagfox 3.0 – 5.1

Old versions of Flagfox stored their data using the previously standard addon storage method, which was the general preferences system that Firefox itself still uses for its settings. You can search and view everything in there easily with Firefox open by using about:config. Flagfox’s data is in the preferences with “flagfox” in their name. The search bar there will also show you things with the search term in its value, which may include Firefox settings, such as those for the Addon Manager. Everything that shows in there is in the “prefs.js” file in your Firefox profile folder. (this one is in an odd old file format) You can save Flagfox settings by copy/pasting stuff from about:config. If you back up the entire “prefs.js” file you’ll get everything else, which you may not want. You can open that file in a basic text editor, with Firefox closed, and copy/paste lines to change things, though Mozilla often heavily discourages this. If you fear you’ll screw it up, then don’t, and just use about:config.

For settings to be migrated from these old versions of Flagfox to the format/location for the newer versions, Flagfox 5.2.x is required. See the next section.

How do I load my old Flagfox settings & custom actions in new versions? 🔗

Due to the complete lack of backwards-compatibility of Mozilla’s WebExtension API (mandatory-to-use for all addons in Firefox 57+), users wishing to migrate their personal custom Flagfox settings (e.g. options and any custom actions you’ve saved) must install and run Flagfox 5.2.3 with those settings in Firefox 52+ before updating to Flagfox 6.0+ and Firefox 57+. Flagfox 5.2.x has preferences migration capability for “legacy” prefs to WebExt storage, and if this isn’t used, your old data cannot be imported automatically. This is a fundamental technical limitation arbitrarily imposed by Mozilla. If you post to the Flagfox forum, I might be able to walk you through a manual import by fiddling with your Firefox profile, but most people hopefully just updated to Flagfox 5.2.x in the month before the Firefox 57 release and had their migration handled automatically and transparently.

Flagfox 5.2.x still has all old Flagfox preference migration, as well, so it can import from old versions as far back as Flagfox 3.x. Arguably, keeping a full decade of migration capability in Flagfox until the end of 5.2.x was overkill, but it’s nonetheless available.

Common requests:

Will you make a version for Mobile Firefox? 🔗

A version of Flagfox for Firefox for Android is in the works which I hope to make the time to finish eventually.

Will you make a version for Internet Explorer? 🔗

No. I’d have to rewrite everything from scratch and I don’t use IE. (and I rarely use Windows, for that matter)

Will you make a version for Google Chrome? 🔗

Probably not. I don’t use Google Chrome, and would generally recommend people avoid using the browser put out by a for-profit gigantic Internet controlling monopoly that integrates its own services into its browser in a way reminiscent of pre-legal-settlement Microsoft. Rewriting Flagfox for Google Chrome would be a very work intensive thing to do. If lots of users want this and contribute towards Flagfox development, I could consider it.

Due to Mozilla’s mandatory switch to its WebExtension API, which is based on Google Chrome’s addon API, a Google Chrome version is now under consideration. It’s only “based on”, not the same thing, but the brutal part already had to be done to get Flagfox working in Firefox 57 using the WebExt API, so it might not take all that much effort to do a port. We’ll see…

Will you add a feature to show the IP in the statusbar? 🔗

No. Public IP addresses by themselves provide no useful information. They’re just numbers and need to be looked up in something else to have value. For the instances where you actually do need to see the IP, Flagfox has it listed in the flag’s tooltip. (hover the cursor over the icon) If you need to use the IP for something else, there’s a “Copy IP” feature in the context menu.

What about Geotool features? What about adding the local time to Flagfox? 🔗

Flagfox does simple local lookups and Geotool has more advanced information. Maps, local times, city/state names, etc. are shown there because they require larger databases and more detailed lookups. Features along these lines are not likely to be added to Flagfox.

Will you add or change an IP listing or region listing in the database? 🔗

Flagfox and Geotool just use the Maxmind database; we do not maintain it. You can of course contact Maxmind to request changes and we will subsequently include any updates they make in future versions. For more information, read this.

One of the flags is old. Will you update it? 🔗

Sure, assuming the region is already included and the flag update is not in heavy dispute. I have a system to allow me to programmatically check for flag updates and include them in Flagfox updates. If the current flag shown on Wikipedia for the country/territory in question does not match what Flagfox/Geotool uses, and I don’t do a flag update right away, feel free to contact me to mention it. For more information, read the section on this here.

Politically disputed flags 🔗

My policy has always been that I will not wade into political disputes with Flagfox. The flag I will show for your country/territory is the one Wikipedia uses. Convince their experts and I will go along with their decision, as I am not qualified to decide what is the “correct” flag to use for every country/territory on the planet. Read this for more information.

Mozilla Add-ons site questions:

How do I install Flagfox 6.0 in Firefox 56 / Waterfox? 🔗

Flagfox 6+ requires Firefox 57+ for proper support of all features. It was however built and tested largely using Firefox 56, as well, however various things discovered during the beta test period resulted in it being declared only partially supported. Whilst Mozilla blew up their universe by forcing all addon developers to switch to their new and very different WebExtension API based on Google Chrome’s addon API, they did not get everything needed for all addons implemented in a timely manner; they’re still adding/fixing stuff now. As a result, Flagfox cannot function in Firefox 52 ESR, no matter how much I wanted to get that working, and even in the last pre-WebExtension-apocalypse version of Firefox, there is stuff that isn’t quite right. I even stumbled into a bug Mozilla introduced in the WebExt API itself between 56 & 57 (though I worked around it). TL;DR: It’s a bit of a mess, so Flagfox 6.0 is marked as requiring Firefox 57+ on the Mozilla Add-ons site, and thus people will only be able to install or update to it normally if running Firefox 57+. However, I have left Flagfox 6.0, itself, with Firefox 56 compatibility; you’ll just have to install it manually if you want to do so.

To install Flagfox 6.0 manually into Firefox 56 or Waterfox (based largely on Firefox 56), first go to the normal downloads page for all Flagfox versions on the Mozilla Add-ons site. As the name would imply, this page lists all versions, along with their official changelogs (which don’t really fit into the squished column there…). If you’re running Firefox 56 (or something based on it) you’ll see all the Flagfox 6+ download buttons greyed out and the most recent green one is for Flagfox 5.2.3. Go to the newest version at the top, and next to its greyed out button it will say “This add-on is not compatible with your version of Firefox.” and then below that has a link that says “Download Anyway”. Do that. Save the installer somewhere temporarily, e.g. your desktop, and then once it’s fully downloaded, open up your Firefox Addons Manager (about:addons). Click the “Extensions” category on the left side, then click the little gear icon menu button next to the search box in the upper right corner of the page. Select “Install Add-on From File” and then just install Flagfox from the file you saved.

Firefox 56 issues: 🔗
  • Proxy detection doesn’t work, resulting in Flagfox getting confused and thinking that the location of the server you’re at is always your proxy. (the WebExt API stupidly lists server IPs as your proxy’s IP, which to some degree makes sense, but obviously breaks things; the ability to properly detect this was only added by Mozilla in Firefox 57)
  • IDN TLDs can’t be properly detected and assesed (domains with non-Latin-alphabet characters)
  • The paste actions menu item in the Flagfox options page doesn’t work (though, ctrl+v or via a Firefox menu should work, at least for some people)

The above is the list of major (currently) known issues, but I expect it to grow over time, not just from discovering new bugs in Flagfox or Firefox, but because I’m going to start developing/testing primarily for Firefox 57+. I will maintain support for it as long as is reasonable without making things problematic. I don’t know how long that will be, though I kept saying I was going to drop Firefox 24 support “soon” for two and a half years… :p

I get an error when I try to download or update Flagfox! 🔗

Firefox handles addon installation and updating; Mozilla Add-ons (AMO) handles hosting. I don’t have much control over these things and sometimes they may have problems. If you’re having a problem, please read this for help.

Why isn’t a fix listed in the forums in Flagfox yet? 🔗

The process of making a new version is as follows:

  1. I make changes to Flagfox
  2. I package a new version with these code changes and upload it to Mozilla Add-ons (AMO)
  3. An AMO editor reviews the new version and approves it for public consumption
  4. The AMO page is updated and the new release is available for download and update

If I mentioned I fixed a problem in a thread on the support forum or elsewhere, you’ll need to wait for me to upload it for you to get it. If I’ve uploaded a new version it will take a while to show on the all versions page, however it won’t be on the front Flagfox AMO page until it gets editor approval. This is actually rather fast for Flagfox, but it’s not immediate, and it can vary depending on how busy the editors are. You can download any uploaded version here, including those pending approval as well as development versions.

I see some gibberish listed under “Included locales” or elsewhere. 🔗

Your OS, probably older Windows, isn’t properly installed/configured and can’t display certain Asian languages. You’ll also have problems on other sites. Read here.

Do you delete Flagfox reviews? 🔗

No, of course not. It’d be a pretty horrible review system if I was even capable of deleting reviews for my own addons. Anyone can report a review for a Mozilla policy violation of some kind, and moderators do delete applicable reviews, often without need to report it at all. If you posted something that wasn’t spam, but it got deleted, then chances are it wasn’t actually considered a “review”, but rather a bug report or a support request. Official Mozilla policy is to direct users to proper support channels (e.g forums) rather than clutter up addon reviews, especially because the ability to reply to and get notifications of reviews is extremely limited. If you need help, an addon review should be your absolute last resort, and nobody likes review bombs (though, Mozilla doesn’t have a policy of censoring legitimate complaints that can’t be addressed elsewhere).

Also, Mozilla’s email notifications system for their addon reviews is currently broken, so the review message isn’t sent directly to me anymore. If you post a review and it’s deleted before I see the notification and go to the site to read it, then it’s gone forever and I will never be able to see it. Please use an appropriate communication channel.

Technical questions:

Flagfox version browser support history table 🔗

The following table lists the last/latest stable Flagfox versions for Firefox back to before Firefox 1.0 (Flagfox is old). A list of all Flagfox versions is here. If you’re not familiar with standard software version numbering conventions, a short explanation is here. This table has gotten a lot more complicated due to Mozilla’s new absolute requirement for all addons to use their WebExtension API, which has no backwards-compatibility. Note that only the most recent versions of addons can receive updates due to longstanding Mozilla policy, however browsers will only update to the newest addon versions actually supported by that browser version.

Firefox Other Browser(s) Last supported Flagfox version
Firefox 57+ (none yet) Flagfox 6.0.4 (2018-3)
Firefox 53-56 Flagfox 5.2.3 (2017-11)
Firefox 52 ESR SeaMonkey 2.49+ Flagfox 5.2.5 (2018-3)
Firefox 24-51 SeaMonkey 2.21-2.48 Flagfox 5.2.3 (2017-11)
Firefox 17-23 SeaMonkey 2.14-2.20 Flagfox 5.0.15 (2015-6)
Firefox 3.6-16.0 SeaMonkey 2.1-2.13 Flagfox 4.2.17 (2014-1)
Firefox 3.5 SeaMonkey 2.0 Flagfox 4.1.17 (2012-7)
Firefox 3.0 Flock 2.0-2.5 Flagfox 4.0.14 (2011-2)
Firefox 2.0 Flock 1.0 Flagfox 3.3.20 (2010-1)
Firefox 1.5 Flagfox 3.2.8 (2008-8)
Firefox 0.9-1.0 Flagfox 2.4.19 (2007-9)

It is dangerous to yourself and others to use an obsolete web browser. Setting the security risks aside, supporting old versions forever in an addon that has to run inside it is not viable.

Note that while Flagfox 5.x supports as far back as Firefox 24 and up to Firefox 56, usage of Firefox 52 ESR, which will receive bugfix updates until mid-2018, is highly recommended for proper security and performance. Flagfox 6.0 does technically support Firefox 56, however only if installed manually, as proper support for all features requires Firefox 57+. Firefox 52 ESR, SeaMonkey (currently based on Firefox 52 ESR), and any other Firefox forks based on the current ESR are unfortunately not supported in current Flagfox 6.0+ due to a lack of WebExtension API updates that are only available in newer versions.

  ▸ Firefox
  ▸ Firefox ESR (extended support release)
  ▸ Firefox development versions
  ▸ SeaMonkey (not recommended)
  ▸ Mozilla Release Archive (all installers for all versions of all Mozilla software)

Old versions of Flagfox can be downloaded here, however the older the version, the more out-of-date the geolocation database will be, and the older the browser version, the more dangerously insecure everything will be.

Note that whilst both the mobile and desktop versions of Firefox are called “Firefox”, they are quite different, and are considered different applications for all purposes. Other variants/forks of Firefox, usually based on Firefox ESR, may or may not be supported unless explicitly stated.

Flagfox version history and changelogs 🔗

The following table lists all stable Flagfox versions back thru 2006. Flagfox test/alpha/beta versions not listed here. If you’re not familiar with standard software version numbering conventions, a short explanation is here.

Version Numbers Dates / IPDB Versions Changelog
Flagfox 6.0.0 – 6.0.4+ 2017-12 – 2018-3+ 6.x changelog
Flagfox 5.2.0 – 5.2.5+ 2017-10 – 2018-3+ 5.x changelog
Flagfox 5.1.0 – 5.1.29 2015-6 – 2017-9
Flagfox 5.0.0 – 5.0.15 2014-2 – 2015-5
Flagfox 4.2.0 – 4.2.17 2012-8 – 2014-1 4.x changelog
Flagfox 4.1.0 – 4.1.17 2011-2 – 2012-7
Flagfox 4.0.0 – 4.0.14 2010-2 – 2011-2
Flagfox 3.3.0 – 3.3.20 2008-9 – 2010-1 3.x changelog
Flagfox 3.2.0 – 3.2.8 2008-2 – 2008-8
Flagfox 3.1.0 – 3.1.7 2007-11 – 2008-2
Flagfox 3.0.1 – 3.0.7 2007-10 – 2007-11
Flagfox 2.1.1 – 2.4.19 2006-1 – 2007-9 2.x changelog

Migration of Flagfox user settings’ formats is done automatically as-needed, however the hard break-point in backwards-compatibility Mozilla created with Firefox 57 makes things more complicated. More detail is available in another FAQ section here.

Note that on the Mozilla Add-ons site, old versions of all addons have “-signed” tacked onto the end of their version numbers, as Mozilla introduced a code signing program for all addons and applied it retroactively, with automatic version number changes applied as such. Newer versions are thankfully free of the version number pollution and get signed automatically upon normal release.

Old versions of Flagfox can be downloaded here, however the older the version, the more out-of-date the geolocation database will be, and the older the browser version, the more dangerously insecure everything will be. Note that some older versions have bogus upload dates listed due to AMO bugs and some dates differ from official release dates due to timezones.

What do the parts of version numbers mean? 🔗

Most software generally follows a de facto standard for labeling versions, though things can vary greatly between developers. In general, version “numbers” should not be interpreted as decimals, but rather a series of dot-delimited numbers. Thus, 1.10 is strictly newer than 1.9 (e.g. 1.10.0 vs 1.9.0); trailing zeroes on numbers are never dropped. Numbers are listed in descending order of importance/incrementation, from left to right, thus 1.10.1 is strictly newer than 1.10.0. A trailing “.0” is often dropped or implied; 1.10 is usually considered equivalent to 1.10.0, and 1.10.0.0, if need be. Version zero is usually considered to be the series of development builds prior to official final release of a version 1.0, such that 0.9 is some (arbitrary) 9th milestone working towards completion of a final product.

Within the variant of this system used with Flagfox and Firefox/addons, most letters are used in versions to indicate pre-release/development/alpha/beta versions, of various kinds (e.g. 1.11b1 means 1.11 beta #1). A letter ‘x’ or asterisk (“*”) is used as a wildcard to indicate version (support) ranges, such that 1.* and 1.x are equivalent to 1.0-1.∞ (or more practically, whatever the newest version is). A trailing plus sign (“+”), e.g. 1.0+, indicates a version (support) range including that version and all later versions (at the time of whenever it was written; if things change, a more precise range is generally used thereafter). A leading “v” or “ver” is just an abbreviation for “version”, and confers no additional meaning.

Mozilla’s official documentation of the versioning system they use is available here. Current Gecko and Firefox versions are in the mid to high double-digit range due to bad release numbering decisions they’re now stuck with forever. (e.g. they went … 3.5, 3.6, 4.0, 5, 6, 7, … 57, 58 …)

What are Flagfox’s system requirements? 🔗

Flagfox is not operating system or architecture dependent. As long as a supported browser runs on it then it’ll work fine. Installing all browser updates is highly recommended for ideal performance. See the browser support section for specific requirements.

Current versions of Firefox required by current versions of Flagfox require one of the following:

  • Windows 7 or later
  • Mac OS X 10.9 or later
  • Linux with GTK+ 3.4 or later

Firefox 52 ESR is the final version to support Windows XP (SP3) or Vista. Current Flagfox 6.0+ cannot not support this due to fundamental technical limitations, however Flagfox 5.2.x ESR does, for the remainder of its lifespan. Support for Firefox 52 ESR will be unfortunately dropped by Mozilla in August 2018, and Flagfox support for it will drop shortly thereafter. If you absolutely cannot upgrade your OS, please consider switching to a fork of Firefox which maintains support.

A full table of OSes supported by Firefox is maintained here.

What WebExtension permissions does Flagfox use? 🔗

Flagfox 0-5.x on Firefox 0-56 used what Mozilla now calls “legacy” APIs, though they’ve lumped together sets of old and newer APIs that took significant effort to upgrade to. The “legacy” APIs were basically just the same APIs Firefox developers use when making Firefox features; that’s why they’re so powerful, and why they are feared and now banned. Frankly, Mozilla was overdue to clean things up, but instead of what most people would have preferred, these chose to change the addon universe to ban everything that previously existed in favor of a new WebExtension API based on the addon API in Google Chrome (yeah, you read that correctly; Google’s all-consuming influence has taken another leap forward). It asks for various permissions on addon install, and they’re not all particularly well-defined/thought-out, though it’s not the worst permissions model to ever be created. Below is a translation of what it shows (in English) for Flagfox install permissions vs what it actually means (in more verbose and less opaque English):

“Access your data for all websites”
  ▸ This addon can interact with loaded/loading webpages and view webrequests, as-needed. It can do more too, and they don’t really have a middle-ground between this and limited access to the current tab (which also requires permission). Flagfox needs this in order to work, for a couple reasons:

  1. Some Flagfox actions, included by default or added by users, need to do stuff with web pages. This ranges from auto-filling form fields to custom JavaScript actions (only a basic one is included by default). It’s also needed because the clipboard (copy/paste) API available to WebExtensions is stupidly primitive and can only be used from a webpage, in the current version of Firefox.
  2. Flagfox looks up locations via a local (included in the installer) IP location database – essentially a map of the Internet – so in order to show flags it needs to get IP addresses for the sites you browse to, which it has to listen to webrequests for, as there is no longer any DNS API to just ask Firefox for them. There are some technical benefits to this new way of doing things, but it still means Flagfox needs this particular permission for its main functions to work.

“Input data to the clipboard” / “Get data from the clipboard”
  ▸ Copy/paste. This isn’t rocket science; they just used way too many words here. This is of course only used if you, for example, use the “Copy IP” action to copy a site’s IP address so you can paste it elsewhere.

“Display notifications to you”
  ▸ I currently use the fairly not-great WebExtension notifications API, but the most common notification is currently disabled due to the aforementioned “not-great” notifications API. If Mozilla would just implement it fully, I could add a “Don’t show this again” button, similar to the checkbox I had for the exact same notifications in Flagfox 5.x. However, they’ve not finished implementing this. Even after Mozilla made this API mandatory and banned all alternatives, they’ve yet to actually finish implementing it fully.

“Access browser tabs”
  ▸ Flagfox shows flag icons for tabs, can open tabs upon user command, and does normal stuff that apparently needs its own permission, now. Whether or not Flagfox actions are opened in the current/foreground/background tab/window (5 options are available; default is new foreground tab), is user-configurable in Flagfox’s options page (right-click on flag icon, go to the submenu that is required due to completely arbitrary limitations on addon menus, and click Options; or, open the Addon Manager and click Flagfox’s Options/Preferences button).

New ones might be needed in the future depending on how they change things and how I attempt to deal with this API to get stuff working properly. The above list is fortunately quite short, and there’s nothing particularly unusual or difficult to understand. It’s more informative than the zero-information prompts that Firefox previously had, but less information than is needed to fully understand what it’s asking without knowing more. At least it’s getting better. 😉

A full list of all the permissions addons can request through Firefox is available here.

What is Flagfox written in? 🔗

JavaScript, HTML (XUL pre-2018), & CSS

How do I view the source? 🔗

XPI files are just glorified ZIPs. Open the Flagfox installer file in your favorite archive program and root around at your leisure.

Developer questions:

Flagfox license and privacy policy 🔗

Flagfox is free to use and open source. The only restriction is on redistribution of mods via official browser addon sites such as Mozilla Add-ons. (the purist will say that’s only 99% FOSS; the realist has seen app stores full of bad/confusing ripoffs)
  ▸ Read the Flagfox license here.

Flagfox doesn’t spy on you or otherwise collect information. It links you to various sites, all of whom have their own individual privacy policies. Use of an ad-blocking addon is recommended, but not required.
  ▸ Read the Flagfox privacy policy here.

How do I contact the developer? 🔗

You can report bugs, ask for support, or share custom actions on the Flagfox forum. Commenting on recent blog posts is often also available. I have an addon support email address set up (though, please don’t expect a quick reply; expect no reply if it’s something the auto-respond message answers). You can also send me a tweet (ever since Twitter dropped support for email notifications, I’ve been slower to notice messages and reply to them, however). You can leave constructive feedback in reviews on the Mozilla Add-ons page (Mozilla policy requires reviews actually be reviews, so bug reports / support requests are deleted by moderators; due to their broken email notifications system, if it’s deleted before I read it, then it’ll be lost forever, like tears in rain). If we’ve ever exchanged emails previously, feel free to send me a message on my primary email address. Forum PMs are also available for localization issues on Babelzilla (the Flagfox forum also supports PMs, but please use a better method). I never learned semaphore or smoke signals, and I always forget Morse code, so those are best to avoid.

If you want a quicker response on Geotool-related topics, use the forum, as the Geotool developer maintains it, too.

Who makes Flagfox/Geotool? 🔗

David Garrett is the developer of Flagfox.
Richard van der Leeden is the developer of Geotool and maintains the support forum.

For the full list of translators and any other credits see the Flagfox about page. (In Flagfox 6+, open the Flagfox options via the Flagfox menu or Addon Mangager, and click on the link at the bottom of the page. In older versions, use the Tools menu / Firefox menu button -> Add-ons -> Extensions -> right-click on Flagfox -> About)

For a little more detail on the people and places involved, read here.

Jennifer Garrett (sister of David Garrett)

When/why was Flagfox created? 🔗

Flagfox started out as a good idea attempted by a few different people, but one that was abandoned long ago. (there have been multiple pieces of software to geolocate stuff with flags) At some point, for reasons I have forgotten, I wanted to install an addon to check the locations of websites and came across Flagfox 2. It was being maintained by a web developer (the current developer of Geotool), but the addon itself was bare-bones and had severe performance issues that prevented it from being practical for general use. My first thought was to see if I could just fix the issues… the actual result was me doing a complete rewrite of the concept. Together we tested Flagfox 3 and I managed to migrate the handful of existing users of various other versions over to my new addon. I have since rewritten Flagfox from scratch and added completely new features, including a wide array of site lookup actions and a custom action syntax to add more. (I literally just opened up new blank files and started typing for Flagfox 4) With Flagfox 5 I overhauled the look of the addon and added yet more new capabilities. With Flagfox 6 I again (under duress) rewrote things from more-or-less scratch, in order to support Firefox 57+ after Mozilla banned all old APIs used by all addons for over 10 years.

A very brief timeline of Flagfox history:

  • ~2004 – original “FlagFox” by Joseph Birr-Pixton
  • 2006 – new “Flagfox II” by Richard van der Leeden (with new addon ID)
  • 2007 – new “Flagfox 3.0” by David Garrett (first upload to AMO)
  • 2010 – Flagfox 4.0 major update by David Garrett
  • 2014 – Flagfox 5.0 major update by David Garrett
  • 2017 – Flagfox 6.0 major update by David Garrett

At this point, the only thing connecting the original addon and the current one are the concept and the name (which is capitalized differently).

Statistics 🔗

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