Mozilla engineers are preparing to remove one of the Firefox browser's oldest features —its built-in support for RSS and Atom feeds, and inherently, the "Live Bookmarks" feature.

All Firefox users are probably well accustomed to this feature, albeit not many have ever used it.

This feature powers the browser's ability to detect when users are accessing an RSS/Atom feed and then show a special page that lets them subscribe to the feed with a custom feed reader or the browser's built-in "Live Bookmarks" feature.

Firefox built-in feed reader
Firefox built-in feed reader

All Live Bookmarks are also stored in the browser's Bookmarks section and can be added to the Bookmarks Toolbar (like in the image below).

They work by showing the latest ten articles published on a site's RSS/Atom feed and letting the user access them with a click.

Firefox Live Bookmarks feature
Firefox Live Bookmarks feature

Built-in feed support, Live Bookmarks to be removed this year

But in a recent discussion on the company's bug tracker, Mozilla engineers said they plan to remove feed support sometime later this year, with the release of Firefox 63 or Firefox 64 —scheduled for October and December, respectively.

"After careful consideration of various options (which also included doing nothing, or investing heavily in updating the code), we've decided to go ahead and remove builtin feed support from Firefox," said Gijs Kruitbosch, an engineer on the Firefox browser.

The Mozilla team is already set in its decision and has even drafted a blog post for the official announcement. In this unpublished document, engineers share more of the reasons that led to the decision to remove Firefox's built-in feed support and Live Bookmarks utility.

◉  Live Bookmarks doesn’t really have a concept of a "read" state. It uses a history visit state as a proxy, which doesn’t work for redirects.
◉  Live Bookmarks doesn't work well with Firefox Sync
◉  Live Bookmarks is not available for Android or iOS and has no mobile integration
◉  Doesn't work well with podcast types of feeds
◉  Only 0.1% of the Firefox userbase uses Live Bookmarks
◉  Outdated and hard to maintain code (last update was 7 years ago)
◉  Uses its own custom code for various tasks instead of reusing Firefox's current libraries

"These features had an outsized maintenance and security impact relative to their usage," the draft announcement said. "Making these features as well-tested, modern and secure as the rest of Firefox would have cost significant time and effort, and the usage of these features doesn’t justify such an investment.

Users advised to use a dedicated feed reader

Mozilla says that when it will remove feed support and Live Bookmarks from Firefox, the browser will export the user's RSS/Atom feeds as an OPML file that users can later import into a specialized desktop or web-based feed reader.

Firefox engineers didn't volunteer to port the Live Bookmarks feature as a WebExtension-compatible add-on, but don't be surprised if the Firefox community does this instead.

Firefox's built-in feed reader was once ported as a Chrome extension a few years back, and at least one user has offered to port that Chrome extension back as a Firefox add-on.

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