It has taken a long time for the Firefox team to come up with a significant update to the Add-ons Manager, but it’s finally coming to Firefox.next. It looks and works great and there are a lot of opportunities for the new interface.
The Add-ons Manager as you knew it is gone. The new version works in a tab with a sidebar to choose what kinds of add-ons you want to work with: Languages, Extensions, Themes, and Plugins. Plus the Get Add-ons section that integrates with Mozilla Add-ons (not hooked yet) for the fastest, easiest experience.
The Main addition to the AM is (finally) a section for search engines management, becoming a real add-ons central.
Right now you can only remove a search engine from there (or undo it, though it doesn’t work yet). You can’t organize search engines, ask for search suggestions, set a keyword, or restore the default search engines, so it’s not a replacement for the current search engine manager yet. It’s also somewhat buggy. For example, it shows search engine sizes in the order of megabytes, which makes no sense as they are only a few kilobytes XML files.
Also, I don’t know if there are plans for an Add-ons Manager button (which would be very useful according to Mozilla metrics numbers that suggests it’s one of the most used menu items), but it would be easy to do so with a bookmark pointing to about:addons, the new special address.
Changes are not limited to the UI but there’s also “a totally new extension manager backend that will make it easier for us to improve and build upon in the future.”, noted Dave Townsend on a blog post.
Among improvements to come are support for jetpacks (or light extensions) at some point scheduled for Firefox 4, silent extension updates (optionally), and ,hopefully, a streamlined interface for add-ons configuration.
It’s also worth noting neither the icons, nor graphics are final here.
This is a great time to help test the new AM. Mozilla QA has prepared a new Add-ons Manager Test Day for tomorrow April 30th.