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Six Things You Didn't Know About Firefox Extensions

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Interviews

To many, a Firefox extension is more magic than technology, and the process by which it is developed and used is shrouded in mystery. To find out more about Firefox extensions and their capabilities, we asked some extension-related questions of the Mozilla Foundation's technology strategist, Mike Shaver.

LinuxPlanet: What's the technical difference between a plugin and an extension?

Mike Shaver: Typically, a "plugin" is a subset of what we consider to be "extensions" or "add-ons," and plugins usually provide the ability to view or manipulate a specific kind of content, such as a movie or document format, or even more dynamic content like Flash or Java. Plugins are typically restricted to a rectangular region of the page, and usually have limited interaction with the page and browser at large.

Extensions can cover a much wider range of functionality, not restricted to display of content types and are able to add "top-level" user interface elements or interact with the Web pages that the user is viewing.

LP: What is the limit to an extension's abilities with Firefox? To what extent can it work with programs and data outside of Firefox?

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