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Now's the time to make your first Firefox add-on with the Mozilla Add-ons Builder

Released with nary a muted fanfare, you'd be forgiven for having never seen or used the Mozilla Add-ons Builder. The Builder is a Web-based add-on SDK (and yes, you need to use Firefox to get the most out of it!)

This new tool, which is obviously aimed at boosting both educational and commercial adoption of Firefox's new add-on architecture, is actually constructed from two technologies that we've discussed before: Jetpack and Bespin. Jetpack is the future of Firefox add-on development and promises simpler, more powerful and 'restartless' extensions. Bespin is Mozilla's new Web-based text editor (which I'm not a huge fan of).

The Add-ons Builder basically tacks on a rather pretty (albeit nascent and not-very-useful) 'file explorer' interface to Bespin. It works, but only just. While the SDK helps you find libraries, there's no auto-complete for library methods. The tutorial suggests you look at the source code of other add-ons for inspiration, but there's no way of searching through them -- just a big, page-after-page directory. The only desirable feature of the Add-ons Builder has to be its rapid prototyping; the ability to test your new code with a single click is very cool. I'd much rather use a desktop SDK though!

Still, if you're looking to noodle around with the Jetpack API, or just practice your JavaScript, the Add-ons Builder is a great place to start. I'm building a menu bar out of widgets at the moment... exciting..!

Tags: add-on, bespin, extension, firefox, html5, javascript, jetpack, mozilla add-ons builder, MozillaAdd-onsBuilder, sdk, web-based