Reimagining Personas (Background Themes)

I found this post I wrote a year ago that I never published. With the renaming of Personas, it seems more relevant than ever. It's time for Background Themes to get some love.

Personas Interactive (PI) from Brand Thunder integrates tightly with the Personas support in Firefox. Because the overhaul of the Add-ons Manager in Firefox 4 caused some major changes to the Personas code in Firefox (LightweightThemeManager.jsm), I had to revisit how PI integrates with Firefox. As I was working through those changes, I realized that many of the changes I'm making should not be a part of an add-on - they should be core functionality in Firefox 4. So what I'd like to do with this post is talk about three areas where Personas support in Firefox could be greatly improved. Those areas are Website Integration, Core Functionality and Extensibility.

Understanding Add-on Scopes

In my earlier post on Integrating Add-ons into Firefox, I indicated the for some of the install methods, you have to set the preference extensions.autoDisableScopes to 0. In the comments, Blair McBride recommended against setting this preference to 0, because it would enable any third-party add-on install. Based on the feedback I've seen from enterprises since the release of Firefox 8, they simply want things to work the way they did before Firefox 8. to do that, you set the preference to 0. But Blair's statement made me realize that a much better explanation of add-on scopes and the two related preferences was in order.

CCK Wizard 1.3.4 is Available

I've released version 1.3.4 of the CCK Wizard. It's available here.

It has the following changes:

  • Delete the previous CCK's bookmarks upon upgrade.
  • Install plugins in the correct directory
  • Allow two CCKs to coexist
  • Much better method for overriding about:config
  • No longer use JAR files
  • Bump internal versions to 10.*

A problem was discovered after I released this where if your Company Identifier contains a dash (-), you'll run into problems. You can either remove the -, or use the beta version I uploaded here. This wasn't a big enough problem for me to refresh the build.

Feedback is appreciated. Support is available on

How Firefox Loads Plugins

While debugging getting plugins working again with the CCK Wizard (it broke when Firefox removed platform specific directories in extensions), I learned a lot about how plugins load within Firefox. In particular, I learned a lot how to stop Firefox from loading plugins from different locations. So I thought I would share. Note that this post is primarily about loading plugins on Windows.

Customizing the Firefox Installer on Windows (2012)

This is an update of a previous post. It has some new questions answered as well.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how to customize the Firefox installer on Windows and how to bundle add-ons with it. This Q&A should give folks answers to the common questions they have. If you have more questions, please post in the comments.

Making Firefox 10 More Like Firefox 3.6

Update: A preference was introduced in Firefox 12 for allowing tabs on bottom. I've update the add-on to account for this.

With the release of the Firefox 10 ESR and the upcoming end of life of Firefox 3.6, I am getting more and more requests to add functionality to the CCK to make Firefox 10 look more like Firefox 3.6. Rather than add those features to the CCK, I'm providing a separate add-on to satisfy that need.

Resolving Intranet URLs

On problem with Firefox that enterprises commonly report is that there is no easy way to tell Firefox that http://name is a URL on your intranet. Firefox will go through the normal process of attempting to add www and com to the name and it will fail. I think I've found a solution.

Happy Belated New Year!

One of things that has kind of become a tradition for me is the New Year's message at my church.

The message this year was focused was on creating new habits. I called it "Helpful Habits for a Happy New Year."

The five areas I picked were:

  • Physical Habits
  • Intellectual Habits
  • Financial Habits
  • Emotional Habits
  • Spiritual Habits

I would encourage you in this New Year, pick a couple of those areas and come up with new habits that you are going to start. And habits you are going to stop.Then write it down! Keep yourself accountable. And make this a great new year.

If you'd like to give it a listen, it's here.