Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Firefox Will No Longer Support Plug-ins Except for Flash

Firefox Will No Longer Support Plug-ins Except for Flash

Leia em Português

This item in japanese

Lire ce contenu en français

Mozilla has announced the end of NPAPI in Firefox by the end of 2016, the only plug-in continuing to be supported being Flash.

A 20 years old technology, NPAPI (Netscape Plugin API) has drawn criticism from Google that it is a “leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity.” Google decided that Chrome would no longer support it, which happened this year. Microsoft has also decided that their latest browser, Edge, will no longer support ActiveX plug-ins, forcing developers to develop solutions using web APIs.

Following suit, Mozilla has recently announced that will phase out support for NPAPI in Firefox, giving developers some time to port their plug-ins until the end of 2016. Benjamin Smedberg, Manager of Firefox Quality Engineering at Mozilla, said in a blog post that, indeed, plug-ins have become a “source of performance problems, crashes, and security incidents for Web users” and “site maintainers should prepare for plugins to stop working in all versions of Firefox by the end of 2016.” He considers that this move is possible now because much of the functionality which was previously available only through plug-ins has been included in the browser. He also added that the upcoming Firefox 64-bit for Windows will not support plug-ins.

One exception will be Flash, Mozilla deciding to continue supporting it because “Flash is still a common part of the Web experience for most users.” But Unity, Java, Silverlight, Adobe Acrobat will have to go. And some developers have complained that their products need access to native APIs. Smedberg recommended to either switch to a pure native application, recompile the plug-in to asm.js or Webassembly, or re-write them to use the new web APIs available in Firefox. He also mentioned that Mozilla will continue to “prioritize features that will make it possible for sites to switch away from plugins.”

The only major browser we do not know what will do about NPAPI is Safari. It is quite likely Apple will move away from it especially now that Mozilla has decided to stop supporting it.

Rate this Article