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Extend Firefox: Your Guide to Writing Firefox Extensions

This tutorial is a legacy tutorial that is no longer maintained, nor supported by Rietta Inc. It was written by nine students at Georgia Tech in 2005, for Firefox 1.5, which is highly out of date. This page is preserved for historical purposes.

A Decade of Firefox Extensions

Originally published nine years ago, this tutorial has helped many people get started writing Firefox extensions.

Written in 2005 by Chee Lee, Frank Rietta, Scott Betzel, Buddy Moore, Robert Stewart, Arwa Tyebkhan, Stephen Congo, Mahmudul Jilani, and Jason Whitehurst.

This group of nine Georgia Tech computer students in 2005 developed this tutorial for a required collaborative technical writing class. They have gone on to work for Microsoft, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Flowers Foods, Fog Creek Software, and other companies.

Because this tutorial has helped so many people through the years, as evidenced by our web server logs, Rietta is proud to continue to sponsor the hosting for this tutorial to make it available to the public for free, as in always free.

A copy of the PowerPoint presentation that was given to the LCC 3401, Technical Communication Practices, class in November, 2005, is available to you as well.

Your Guide to Writing Firefox Extensions

Tutorial Index

Extend Firefox


Due to the recent surge in the number of Firefox users around the world, the interest in developing well-written extensions has become a goal of many individuals. Unfortunately, many of the tutorials currently online provide enough information to get users writing simple “Hello, World” extensions, and leaves you hanging on developing more interesting projects. The goal of this tutorial is to provide the reader with the information and resources to write feature-filled, Mozilla-compliant, extensions.

In addition, this Tutorial is one of the first providing information on developing Firefox 1.5 extensions. Currently, this new version of Firefox is in the ‘Release Candidate’ stage; the official version should be released within the next few months. Due to many major changes to the extensions framework in this version of Firefox, we recommend creating your extensions specifically for this new version.

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About the Website

Archivist’s Note: This tutorial has been converted to Markdown to fit within the framework of the overall Rietta website. Where possible, I have not made any editorial changes except to correct dead links. - 2014


This website has been developed using the Apache Forrest publishing framework. Forrest provides developers with the options to easily layout, create, and modify documentation-style content for the Internet. In addition, Forrest provides the readers with many features that we feel you will enjoy. These features include a superior navigation system, PDF conversion for easy printing, and more!

For more information on Apache Forrest, please visit their website: http://forrest.apache.org/.

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Expected Background

This website is intended for individuals new to Firefox programming who wish to create well-written extensions for distribution to the public. Some JavaScript and basic coding skills will be necessary; however we try to get you started on these topics as needed.

Be sure to visit the Further Reading links at the bottom of most sections if you are having trouble understanding a topic.

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About Us

This website was developed for a technical communications class taught by Professor Ben Miller at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The team consisted of 9 Computer Science majors furthering their teamwork and communications skills. The goal of this project was to create a fact-filled website that is currently needed on the Internet. Our group found that while several online Firefox tutorials exist, most seem to leave the reader hanging on how to perform more complicated tasks. Hopefully our website will help you in your initial extension development endeavors. In addition, our website is one of the first aimed towards Firefox 1.5, the next version of Firefox which contains many changes to the extension framework.

We hope that you enjoy exploring this site and learn a lot in the process. If you created an extension based on this tutorial, we would love to see it! Please feel free to send information to extensions.at.firefox.jasonwhitehurst.com!

Unfortunately we are unable to answer specific questions related to extension development, so please refrain from sending such emails. Of course, should you notice any errors or problems with this tutorial, please feel free to contact us at extensions.at.firefox.jasonwhitehurst.com.

Thank you for your interest in our Tutorial.

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