Add-ons add a new functionality to Gecko based applications like Firefox , Thunderbird and SeaMonkey. There are two types of add-on :

  • Extensions – Add a new features to the application.

  • Themes – modify the user application interface.

  • Let us see how to develop Extension for Firefox.

    There are three different techniques to build extension,

  • Add on SDK extensions – Develop restartless extensions using high-level JavaScript APIs  

  • Restartless extensions –  Develop extension that do not require to restart browser.

  • Overlay extensions – Develop traditional extension using a XUL overlay.

    • Let us develop extension using Add on SDk extensions – Easiest way

    To develop with Add-on SDK, you will need python 2.5 or 2.6 in your machine.

    For that you need to have Firefox Add on SDK extension, you can Download SDK.

    Unzip the downloaded file. And Install the SDK. This is not like normal installation, it is need only when you are working with extensions development.

    Get inside the addon SDK directory using cd addon-sdk from your terminal / command prompt

    Linux or Mac OS X  Bash Users

    $ source bin/activate

    Non bash users

    bash bin/activate

    Windows users run


    Then in your terminal should have prefix


    SDK Virtual Environment :

    The new prefix addon-sdk indicates that you are entered into virtual environment, that gives access to all SDk command line tools. You can leave virtual environment by running deactivate any time or you can simply close the terminal / command prompt. You have to activate it again to use SDK command line tools using bin/activate.

    Check your sdk is working perfectly or not by using


    in you command prompt.

    Getting started with cfx tutorial:

    You can create extensions where ever you like in you machine, browse to the location from the same terminal, your terminal should prefix with addon-sdk so that only you can access SDK command line tools. And create your add-on directory and initialize it.

    mkdir my-addon

    cd my-addon

    cfx init

    cfx init will create basic skeleton for your add-on.

    cfx init skeleton

    You can start run your extension using

    cfx run

    The above command will run the new instance of your Firefox extension installed in your Firefox browser.

    sometimes when your run it for first time, you will get a message that no id creating new ID for you. In that case you can run the above command again to run your extension.

    If you would like to add description and author name for your add on you can simply edit your package.json file.

    In the description part you can add the description of your extension and in the author field you can enter your name.

    Building XPI file 

    Once you done with extension you can build XPI installation file by using

    cfx xpi

    The above command will create xpi file and you can publish it in

    Install XPI file from firefox

  • Open your Firefox browser go to tools–>Add-ons or ctrl+shift+A

  • Either in Get Add-ons or in Extension tab you will find tools drop-down menu

  • tools

  • Click it and choose Install add-on from file

  • Browse and install your xpi extension file

  • Now you have created your first Firefox add-on

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