I’ve had this idea of hacking additional functionality onto Perakun for a while now, to make it more useful for taking snippets while reading Japanese. Now that I’m actually diving into it, I’ve learned that there’s a lot of doom and gloom in the Firefox extensions community surrounding the new WebExtensions addon system.

Apparently, the old addon system is going to be phased out by Firefox 57 (slated for November 2017) in favor of WebExtensions. Cited reasons for the move include a need to optimize performance by moving away from the old system (i.e. Gecko) and cross-browser compatibility – WebExtensions addons ostensibly plug into Chrome or any compliant browser with minimal effort. Seeing as how Chrome has 60% market share as of this post, it would be nice to write an extension that can reach that many more users. But developers protest, saying that WebExtensions is still a couple of years out from being even feature-equivalent with what the current addon system offers. The future of some big-name addons beyond the end of this year is unclear. Personally, I am worried about what will happen to my Tree Style Tabs and TiddlyFox support.

But technology trends aside, I really want to take this chance to try my hand at modifying a WebExtensions addon. Chinese Perakun is available in Chrome, but conspicuously, the Japanese version is missing, so I have a straightforward goal:

  1. Clone the Chinese Perakun WebExtensions project and make it fully cross-platform. My test will be that it installs on Chrome and Firefox with no modification.
  2. Create a fork that supports Japanese.
  3. Once the Japanese addon is ready, extend it to be able to post to a Rails app.

I’ve already made headway with my first goal by setting up the cperakun repository. I’ll post a writeup when I’m able to get it up and running in Firefox.