When it comes to add-ons, there's arguably no browser with more cool stuff than Mozilla Firefox. But creating an add-on is out of the reach of many who lack the necessary technical skills or resources.

But thanks to Mozilla Labs' latest project, Jetpack, the creation of Firefox add-ons just got a whole lot easier.

As Mozilla Labs describes it, "Jetpack is an API for allowing you to write Firefox add-ons using the web technologies you already know". In short, it makes it possible for developers to use the tools they're already familiar with, including HTML, CSS and Javascript, to create Firefox add-ons.

Jetpack's API currently has built-in support for things like status bars, tabs and animations, and it supports external API libraries. So, for instance, using Jetpack it's easy to develop an add-on that interacts with the Twitter API. Jetpack is designed to make development fast and easy, so there's integration with Mozilla's Bespin development environment and Firebug for debugging.

One of the coolest things about Jetpack is that Jetpack-built add-ons can be activated and deactivated by the user without having to restart the browser. Additionally, Jetpack add-ons are supposed to function without risk when updates to the browser itself are made.

Needless to say Jetpack is an exciting experiment and is likely to lead to the development of even more interesting and useful add-ons for Firefox. Although Microsoft's Internet Explorer still holds a dominant position in the browser wars, it has been slipping while Firefox has made gains. With that opportunity and the potential threat posed to Firefox over the long term by the new kid on the block (Google's Chrome), Jetpack may be just what the Mozilla team needs to keep Firefox's momentum going.

If you're interested in checking out Jetpack, Mozilla Labs has provided a tutorial and demos.

Photo credit: nDevilTV via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 21 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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