Jan 20, 2008

How to Manually Update any FireFox Extension XPI File

OpenSource is perhaps one of the greatest things about the web. Using OpenSource programs, however, can sometimes be frustrating because when some programs are updated, others are not. Usually, you will have to either wait for updates of your non-workable programs or delay the updating of other programs to retain functionality. With FireFox extensions, however, you can usually update yourself. Let me tell you how.

  1. Download the extension you want to update to your hard drive.

  2. Rename the extension from *.xpi to *.zip

  3. Open the file with your .zip application.

  4. Open "install.rdf" with your favorite text editor.

  5. Change the "maxVersion" setting as in the following example: REPLACE maxVersion=1.0+ WITH maxVersion=1.5.*

  6. Replace the "install.rdf" file with the one you just edited.

  7. Rename the extension from *.zip to *.xpi

  8. Install your updated extension.

girl firefox logoCongratulations! You just updated your extension, which in most cases will work with the higher version. It is that easy.

By now, you have figured out (correctly) that an XPI file is just a modified ZIP file. It is not exactly the same, however. You will notice that this does not work if you create an entirely new zip file. You must edit the original one. In addition, you will also notice that the file "install.rdf" is actually an XML file, which also makes sense. Many OpenSource applications put installation settings and other important instructions in XML files.

Without a doubt, the best way to learn about how things work on the web is to jump in and do things yourself. Updating your non-workable FireFox extension is a great example.

By David Picella

David Picella is a Family Nurse Practitioner and PhD Student at UW Milwaukee who studies women's health issues and NaProTechnology. He also writes computer technical articles. You can find additional technical resources for this article in the technology section at: http://www.majella.us

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