Feeds

Why port your Firefox add-on to Internet Explorer?

Because your competitors won't, says Microsoft

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Add-on-Con Is there a good reason to build a browser add-on for Internet Explorer as well as Firefox? Yes, according to Microsoft IE evangelist Joshua Allen. Building an add-on for IE is so difficult, he said, your browser app competitors won't even bother.

"It's harder to write apps for IE - so it's a harder market for competitors to get into," Allen told developers this morning at Add-on-Con, a Mountain View, California, mini-conference dedicated to, yes, building browser add-ons.

Of course, Allen also argued that IE has more market share. "You want to get to that 70 per cent of the market that uses Internet Explorer," he said. "Right now, IE 6 probably has more market share than Firefox."

And he pointed out that Firefox users are more likely to "mess" with your business model. "They tend to install things like ad blockers, whereas the Internet Explorer user is more mainstream."

Allen acknowledged that add-on makers are more likely to launch their tools on Firefox, a platform that offers real developer tools. He even said that launching on Firefox is the way to go because Michael "TechCrunch" Arrington is more likely to review your product. Arrington - blogging's king maker to start ups - is a Mac man, and Macs don't run IE.

But Allen is happy to say IE 8 will solve the developer tools problem. And he insisted that although porting add-ons to IE is annoying, it can be done. "With Firefox, you've got this more enthusiast audience, more of a controlled test bed. It's a good place to try out ideas before porting them to Internet Explorer," he said.

If you port your Firefox add-on to IE, you may have to use C++. And Allen admitted that this is a bit 1998. "The first thing people say is 'That's horrible. No one programs in C++ anymore,'" he said. But he reckoned there are ways of using languages like Python or Microsoft's C#.

This involves using the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR). But the trick here is that you'll have to make sure your add-on works on all versions of the CLR. Microsoft only loads one version of the CLR for each IE executable, so you have to make sure there are no breaking changes between versions. "It's a little bit tricky," Allen said.

But go ahead. Give it a shot. Yours competitors won't. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.