Extension Bugs

One common source of bugs that are resolved as “INVALID” on Bugzilla are bugs caused by third-party extensions (Google Toolbar for example). Currently in Bugzilla, most Triagers will move a bug that has been determined to be caused by an extension  to the “Extension Compatibility” component of Firefox, close the bug as RESOLVED>INVALID, and also mark in the whiteboard the offending extension (If known). Sometimes these bugs will morph into blacklist bugs, and there are cases where addons caused legitimate bugs in Firefox that needed to be addressed by Mozilla Developers (see Bug 327859 for a bug in Firefox that Adblock Plus exposed).

However, most extension bugs are bugs in the extensions themselves, not Firefox. There is little our developers can do to fix the issues. It is up to the extension developers themselves to fix the issues. Normally after closing a bug, the triager will ask the reporter to report the issue directly to the developer of the extension. This does rather unfairly place a burden on the original reporter. The majority gladly goes and reports the issue. However, extension reporters can be hard to find and get a hold of. AMO doesn’t necessarily do a great job of this. (Comments aren’t the place to report bugs, and not all developers have the resources or ability to have a bug tracker).

In trying to reach a solution for this, we run into scalability issues. There are over 6,000 addons for Firefox, and each of these has the potential to have bugs. I’ve considered having a specific Extension Product created (similar to the Pugins component on BMO). This approach works for Plugins because there are only 20-30 on BMO. There is no way we could list all 6,000 addons and keep them updated. So I’ve thought of two ways to approach the issue, one much more simple than the other, but not as efficient.

  1. Create an Extension Product in BMO with one component. Move all extension bugs into that product, and mark in the whiteboard and/or Summary what the offending extension is. Then, hope extension developers check for their extension in the list of bugs. This has the benefit of being very simple to implement, but the Extension product then runs the risk of becoming a bug graveyard, similar to the current Firefox:General Component.
  2. This one is more complex and would require more work on the part of Bugzilla and especially AMO developers. However, we already offer plenty of resources to Addon developers on AMO. Why can’t we offer a very simple bug tracker for them as well? Logged on users would be able to go to a bug’s page on AMO, and report a bug on the AMO bug tracker. Then addon developers would be able to see all reported bugs, and mark them as FIXED when they are fixed in the addon. In a way I envision this being similar to Get Satisfaction. Not just a comment section on a blog, but not a full bug tracker either. In addition, web developers that already have a bug tracker and don’t want to use the simple AMO one, can disable it and redirect users to their own bug tracker.
    The nice thing about this is we can direct users to the bug tracker, it would be the same for all extension on AMO, and users would not feel that the burden of reporting a bug is entirely left up to them. We could still resolve bugs on BMO as INVALID, but we can then put a “See Also” link to the appropriate AMO bug when it gets filed. This would make duplicate tracking much easier and users wouldn’t feel like their problem is being ignored.

I am not sure how feasible the second option is, but I don’t see it being too difficult. I plan to try to discuss this with a few AMO guys when I get the opportunity to. Comments are always welcome, maybe there is another option I haven’t thought of or ways to improve the above two.

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  1. January 16th, 2011
  2. September 7th, 2011

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