When YAHOO! announced it was shutting down a number of its services, tech reporters and geek commentators focused on pioneering search engine Alta Vista. But buried in that announcement was the most heart-wrenching news for me personally — the end of Foxytunes.
When YAHOO! acquired it, Foxytunes was starting an evolution from browser plug-in to music encyclopedia. Maybe someone somewhere thought Foxytunes usage could be leveraged to funnel users to YAHOO!’s music properties.
But development on the plugin languished, which wouldn’t have been an issue if it weren’t for the death knell of the accelerated Firefox release schedule. The Firefox plugin architecture is structured in such a way that plugins must report which versions they support. When a new version of Firefox gets released, plugin developers have to ratchet the version number in a configuration file, even if the code itself doesn’t change.
YAHOO! would update Foxytunes just in time for Mozilla to release yet another version of Firefox, thus ensuring the plugin would never be compatible. After a while, YAHOO! just gave up.
And the world is a sadder place for it.
Foxytunes was the perfect aid against clueless music site owners who insisted on setting the autoplay attribute of their embedded Flash files to true. Because, really, who would be listening to their own music while visiting their site? When such an obnoxious site would blare its cacophony, I could pause my player with Foxytunes while I stashed the offending autoplay file in my AdBlock Plus black list, then resume my player without switching windows.
One thing I missed when I switched from Firefox to Chrome was Foxytunes, but by then, the lag in releases had already started to wean me from dependence on the plugin. CTRL+TAB came back into my muscle memory, and Foxytunes became a distant but fond memory.
I’m hoping someone would rescue the plugin code from YAHOO! (Unlikely.) Of course, cracking open the source of a Firefox plugin is as easy as changing the .xpi extension to .zip and unzipping the file. I don’t have nearly enough gumption to wade through the code that powers Foxytunes, but I have faith someone with more fortitude would do so.
Honestly, I would rather there be a Foxytunes-like plugin for Chrome. I ought to look.
In the meantime, rest in peace, Foxytunes plugin. Like Homesite, the Tweetdeck Android app and Google Reader, you were a useful piece of technology ravaged by the demands of a fickle marketplace.