All items may be placed and grouped freely on PrefBar's bar. The bar itself may be moved using the browser built-in "toolbar customize" feature to anywhere you like (even in foreign toolbars, next to the menubar, ...).
In my first post about the possible future situation, I may have underestimated the API situation (status of the future WebExtensions API) a bit. As Mozilla is already asking developers to use the new API for new Addons, I thought it would be more feature-complete, but in fact I think they are doing this to get feedback about which features are missing by developers. To be honest, I don't have time for that. I'll start with the new API as soon as it is at least 80% feature-complete. So far it seems like it may take pretty much time until I even can do first trys with it.
I did a first try to replace a few PrefBar buttons with individual (existing) Addons on my system and started with a simple thing: "Restore Tab". I found two Addons that would fit for that but both seem to be unmaintained and both had at least minor bugs. They also both depend on XUL and XPCOM, just as PrefBar does, so if these technologies are no longer available, they stop working, too.
The next problem is, that there is no API function in the WebExtensions API to restore a tab. Even Google Chrome doesn't have this. The Google Chrome Addons, which do this, seem to handle their own tab history.
Then I found the following website http://arewewebextensionsyet.com/#chrome which shows that Mozilla doesn't even have 40% compatibility with the feature set of Google Chrome (first browser which based Addons on "WebExtensions" API) which is known to have a somewhat limited API. Mozilla's plan was to add more features, later, to make stuff possible which is impossible with the Chrome API. Maybe this will even cover a simple "tab.restore" API call.
To make a long story short: I think it is far too early to a) worry about PrefBar and b) think about developing a replacement tool. But I also think it is good to communicate early so people can give feedback, allowing me to come up with a good replacement as soon as possible.
A few words about the future of PrefBar
The most important first: Unlike other Addon developers, who decided to stop developing their Addon with the announcement of the deprecation of XPCOM and XUL, I won't do so. At least not now and not in the foreseeable future.
PrefBar started in a time where customizable toolbars were not possible at all in Mozilla. The only way to do this in the Mozilla browser was PrefBar.
Installing new features without browser restart was impossible while PrefBar allowed to load buttons dynamically without restarting the browser.
Even "addons.mozilla.org" didn't exist, so it was difficult to find the right Addon for the right task. As PrefBar integrated many needs in one Addon, this simplified things a lot and with the simple "button import" feature, there was one central place to get more features.
But over the time things have changed.
Firefox got a very nice user interface, allowing you to change nearly any aspect of the interface with just a few clicks. PrefBar somehow got modified by me to integrate at least at a basic level with this UI, but it has some downsides. For example the buttons still are bound to the PrefBar toolbar "container" and have to be moved as group inside the Firefox customize dialog.
Sharing "buttons" (or better full Addons) is now easier, too. Mozilla has launched "addons.mozilla.org" some time ago where you can easily search the addons for your needs.
Even creating Addons got much simpler. Especially with the new WebExtensions API, currently in development by Mozilla. This new API is still far from complete but it will simplify Addon development a lot. Installing Addons without browser restart? No problem if Addon is designed to be loaded dynamically!
One big downside of the "All in one" attempt of PrefBar is, that I only use a fragment of the features myself. I depend on feedback of users if a feature, I don't use myself, gets broken. Unfortunately I only get feedback very rarely, so it may happen that some features keep broken for months. I'm almost 100% sure that at least one of the buttons in the upcoming 7.1 release is still broken. I don't have the time to test them all with every new release!
So in my opinion the whole PrefBar concept somehow got obsolete. I would prefer to get my "buttons" from addons.mozilla.org and to move them to everywhere I want in the Firefox GUI.
My plan is to wait until the whole "WebExtension thing" gets critical. Meaning that the first "Servo based" Firefox is in Beta or Mozilla decides to disable XUL based Addons in the Gecko based Firefox.
At that time I'll see if there are Addons available which fit my needs. If they are missing or are not ported to WebExtension, I'll create the missing Addons, but only in the form "one tool for one need". No more "all in one" attempts!
I don't know when this will happen and so far the WebExtensions API is still very basic and misses many features.
Maybe it still takes several years...
I'll keep updating PrefBar as long as possible and as long as XUL addons are possible in Firefox, but I'll move over to single addons (which will be linked here in some kind of "how to migrate" list) as soon as Mozilla definitively drops XUL from Firefox.
PrefBar 7.1 is on its way
PrefBar version 7.1 is waiting for review. This version should fix some of the latest bugs with current browsers. It also removes some obsolte stuff. Please have a look at the Changelog for detailled information.
Two new howtos available.
Yan Li sent two howtos to be published on the PrefBar homepage. Thank you very much for sharing your work!
In the navigation you find the howtos below "Documentation". The new entries are:
- How to use icons instead of text labels on PrefBar buttons.
- How to attach tooltips to PrefBar buttons
PrefBar 7.0 available
As PrefBar 6.6 did not get the review, required to be distributed as update, I had to rewrite a few things. The way, how code is executed, was changed completely. As this is no small change and may cause some buttons to fail (I'll check the buttons in the online database as soon as possible and publish updates where needed) I decided to publish this as "7.0". Please report any problems you find.
This release is prepared for the upcoming "multiprocess support" (electrolysis) in Firefox. I at least tried to keep compatible with older Firefox versions, but I'm only testing with the latest final and with an up-to-date nightly version. If something fails, please report.
PrefBar 6.6 RC1 available
To fix a few of the current problems (non-working colors checkbox, non-working button import from "More buttons" page, ...) I've prepared a release candidate for PrefBar 6.6. Please report any problems, you still have with this, either via mail or via Bugzilla.
You may download the release candidate from here: PrefBar 6.6 RC1 MD5: 88ae30f40f46dd0746b73026abf0a4bd
PrefBar 6.5 released
A new release will be available, soon. This release contains the fix, required to clear the cache on Firefox 32 and a few smaller interface changes. For a full list of changes have a look at the changelog.
PrefBar 6.4 released
A new release is on its way. This release contains a new feature for the "Resize Menulist". Now it is possible to create entries that only set the width or height without modifying the second value. Have a look at the help system to find out how to use this.
The new release also contains many fixes for the new Firefox 29 interface (Australis). I hope that all major bugs are fixed now. If someone still has problems, then please contact me.
Checkbox "Full Page Zoom" updated
I've updated the "Full Page Zoom" checkbox to use a Firefox builtin feature to toggle the setting.
With this change, you no longer have to reload the page to see the effect.
PrefBar 6.3 released
As usual it will take some time until reviews are done, but in a few days, PrefBar 6.3 will ship as official compatibility update with Firefox 26.
This release also contains first fixes to get compatible with the new "Australis" theme, so give it a try if you already use an Australis based Firefox.
I've also replaced all occurrences of "Preferences Toolbar" with just "PrefBar". I don't want to advertise PrefBar to be a "toolbar" (separate bar in your browser) anymore, as this is just wrong with current PrefBar versions. You can use the "PrefBar menu" button or you can move the PrefBar button group to other toolbars. No need to use PrefBar's own toolbar!
PrefBar 6.2.2 released
This new PrefBar version fixes a problem with the plugin toggle checkboxes on Firefox 23. The plugin toggles now work again and with Firefox 23 and above you may change how the plugin toggles work with the new preference "preferences.plugintoggle.mode".
For more informations on this new preference, and what it does, please have a look at the help system.
PrefBar 6.2.1 awaiting review
This is primarily a bugfix release to fix some problems with latest browser versions.
This is also the first time, I open a thread on the MozillaZine forums for discussions about the new release, or PrefBar at all. I hope this helps me to get better contact with my users and maybe someone has good ideas or feature requests for the next release ;)
Maybe it's even a good idea to drop the PrefBar mailinglist and move all discussions about PrefBar over to the MozillaZine forum platform.
The forum announce thread is linked as "Comments" at the end of this news item.
Some buttons updated in the Button database.
At some point I finally want to get rid of backwards compatibility with the old "RDF based" PrefBar button format. So it's a good idea to port the whole button database to the new "JSON based" format.
While doing so, I fixed and improved some of the buttons:
The Clear Download Manager Button now uses a PrefBar builtin function so most probably no future updates will be needed for this button.
The eBayNegs Button has been fixed to work with the current eBay website layout.
PrefBar 6.1 waiting for review...
PrefBar 6.1 currently is waiting for review on addons.mozilla.org. The biggest new feature is the built-in Japanese translation. Thank you to Norah Marinkovic for translating PrefBar to Japanese! There are a few smaller changes, too. For a full list, please have a look at the Changelog.
New button "Locale Switch Menulist", updated "Online Checkbox"
On the "More buttons" page, you'll find a new button called "Locale Switch Menulist". This is a very useful tool for addon developers, who want to test their addon in a different language, easily. Also have a look at the button description for more info.
Thanks to Norah for sharing!
The "Online Checkbox" was updated to work in current PrefBar releases. The new version properly updates, if the online status changes, and not longer throws errors on error console.
New button set "Addon Developer Buttons"
This set of buttons contains 5 buttons, useful for addon development. It contains checkboxes for a few pref toggles, useful for developers, and a button, which reloads the current browser window, including all overlays, without needing to restart the full browser process!
Thanks to Norah for sharing!
[2012-01-26] Update: Norah sent me a new version of his button set. Now it includes 8 buttons for addon development. Please have a look at the button description for details.
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