Add-on hosting: Mozilla vs Google vs Opera

I habitually develop browser user scripts to stream-line things for myself (and others) on the web – and a half random scattering of them tends to end up proper add-ons, when I think the benefit of them being easy to find, install and reuse by others merits the added work for myself of packaging them and submitting them to an add-ons gallery.

This happens rarely enough for me to forget some details of the process (yet often enough to be annoying), hence this post to document salient parts of it, applaud parts of where hosts worked things out really well, and note where there are holes to patch up. (I don't cover Safari since I have not made any Safari add-ons.)

Firefox add-ons: addons.mozilla.org, a k a AMO

Your add-ons are listed here: addons.mozilla.org/en-US/developers/addons
Add-on URL: addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/your-configurable-addon-slug
Public data: current version, last update time, compatible browser versions, website and, optionally: all add-on detail metrics, if the developer wants to share them (excellent!)
Public metrics: total download count, average rating, number of ratings
Detail metrics: TONS: mainly installation rate and active installed user base over time, broken down by all sorts of interesting properties or in aggregate, graphed and downloadable in csv format. Notable omission: add-on page traffic stats. Public example: Greasemonkey stats
Developer page linked from the public add-on page when you're logged in: NO
Release process: Manual review process that can take a really long time, as AMO often is under-staffed, and hasn't successfully incentivized developer participation in the process to an extent as to make it not so.

Summary: great stats and an ambition to make information public and transparent.

Chrome add-ons: chrome.google.com/webstore, or the Chrome Web Store
Previously lived at chrome.google.com/extensions, the Chrome extensions gallery

Your add-ons are listed here: chrome.google.com/webstore/developer/dashboard
Add-on URL: chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/your-addon-signature[/optional-add-on-slug]
Public data: current version, last update time, if installed: a checkmark and the sign "Installed", instead of the "Install" button (excellent!)
Public metrics: total download count, average rating, number of ratings
Detail metrics: If you jump through the relatively tiny hoop of creating and tying a new Google Analytics account to your add-on, you get detailed add-on page traffic stats, over in Google Analytics. Notabe omission: all metrics about your installed user base :-/
Developer page linked from the public add-on page when you're logged in: NO
Release process: Automated review process, making yourself the only release blocker, in practice. This is bloody awesome!

In summary: A really delightful release process that doesn't waste your time. The metrics part is really disappointingly missing the most interesting data; I hope that will improve with time. There are other essential missing docs too: to find out that you can self host your add-on AND publish it in the chrome web store, with the same add-on id, you need excellent Google fu, or this secret knowledge:

  • first (before your initial web store submission) build your add-on locally
  • store the .pem file in some good location
  • rename it key.pem
  • copy that .pem file into the add-on directory
  • zip up that directory (so the top level of the zip file only has one directory)
  • NOW (and for all later versions, IIRC) upload this zip file to the Chrome Web Store
  • …and it will use your add-on signature, instead of that of Google's secret .pem

Opera add-on page

(slightly de-horizontalized screenshot taken here)

Opera add-ons: addons.opera.com/addons/extensions

Your add-ons are listed here: addons.opera.com/developer (this page is near impossible to find by navigation, and was the reason I created this blog post :-)
Add-on public URL: addons.opera.com/addons/extensions/details/addon-slug[/version (redirects visitors here)]
Add-on developer URL: addons.opera.com/developer/extensions/details/addon-slug/version (no redirect help, but links to all other versions)]
Public data: current version, last update time, add-on size (excellent!)
Public metrics: total download count, average rating, number of ratings
Detail metrics: NONE. Notabe omission: all data about your installed user base, AND add-on page traffic :-(
Developer page linked from the public add-on page when you're logged in: NO
Release process: Manual review process, rewarding the behaviour of publishing as little data about your add-on as possible, since each bit of data is a plausible blocker. (Example: it is a bad thing to link to your development site on github, unless it is a repository that only has Opera-addon-centric stuff in it, and not, say, covers the source code used to build add-ons all browsers it caters.)

Summary: young; still a far cry from easy to find your way around. I accidentally managed to log in via my email address (after having reset the password), which had gotten the same password as the account nickname I had published from before, but was otherwise treated as another account, with its own (empty) list of add-ons. So I first found no way to upgrade my existing add-on and just uploaded a new one. When I found the mistake, there was no way to abort the review process I had started (but I could edit it to add some reviewer notes for the probably equally confused reviewer). What probably looks like a really well integrated set of connected Opera sites to an Opera employee is a huge maze of web pages, none related to publishing your add-on, to an add-on developer.

All of these hosting sites have developer log-in of some sort, yet fail to link the developer's admin view from the public add-on page. For Opera, this hurts really badly, as there is so much Opera noise around, which does not try to help you publish your add-on; for the others, it's a smaller nuisance (it's also entirely possible that I learned where to find the "Developer Hub" and "Developer Dashboard" links long ago enough to now find them near intuitive).

Update: I just found Opera's dashboard link! Your logged-in name is the link that takes you to your dashboard of add-ons. And it only took knowing the wanted url, opening a web console and typing [].slice.call(document.links).filter(function(a){ return a.href == "https://addons.opera.com/developer/"; }) in it. What do you know? :-)
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