Enhanced Steam Coming Back to Firefox

Mozilla has been hard at work fixing issues with their new WebExtensions API, and fortunately for Enhanced Steam users that means you’ll be getting regular updates again once all the bugs are ironed out.  Since support for Enhanced Steam on Firefox ended early last year, a lot has changed.  Mozilla decided to shift away from their traditional extension architecture in favor of supporting Chrome-like functionality.  Because of this, I can package new versions of Enhanced Steam that are compatible with Firefox with very minimal effort.  The WebExtensions API is still being worked on, and Mozilla is planning on a “stable” release with Firefox 48 later this year.

In the mean time as a proof of concept and to test compatibility, I’ve compiled a Firefox version of Enhanced Steam 8.4 that’s compatible with Firefox 48 which is currently in the “nightly” branch.  Simply head over to firefox.enhancedsteam.com and click on the “Try the beta!” button.  The beta is currently unsigned so you’ll need to disable extension signing in your testing browser for it to work properly.

For the most part, a lot of stuff is already working really well (especially on the store side of Steam).  Here is a list of known bugs:

  • There are some CSS rendering issues while loading the extension in Firefox, specifically with the Enhanced Steam loading bar.
  • The extension’s options can only be accessed by selecting the “Options” button in the “Enhanced Steam” dropdown menu at the top of Steam pages, they cannot currently be access in about:addons.
  • Cross-origin requests on some pages are currently not functioning. I’ve created a bug report for Mozilla regarding this behavior. In the meantime, this means data loaded from api.enhancedsteam.com will not function from pages in the steamcommunity.com domain – so features such as custom profile backgrounds, early access banners, supporter badges, etc will not work on community pages until this bug is resolved.
  • $.getJSON calls are returning a “not well-formed” error in the javascript console, but appears to load correctly. This may cause some issues with localizations / translations.

Some of these bugs will have to be fixed by Mozilla before Enhanced Steam can be fully supported, but a lot of this we’ll start incorporating into the Chrome dev build which should eventually give us full support without needing to re-write particular functions specifically for Firefox.

The end goal is that once the WebExtensions API fully supports everything Enhanced Steam needs to work properly, new builds will be available shortly after the Chrome version is updated (to account for Mozilla extension signing, etc).  Developers will be able to submit pull requests to the main Enhanced Steam repository on Github after having developed their new code in the browser of their choice.  All of this will require very little effort on my part, meaning development will no longer be fractured between multiple different user bases.

Finally, a huge “thank you” to all of Enhanced Steam’s Firefox fans who continue to be passionate about Enhanced Steam!  That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more news about Microsoft Edge which hopefully will be coming soon.

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Join Enhanced Steam for Extra Life 2015 and Win Awesome New Games

I’m playing 24 hours of video games on November 7th to help raise money for my local children’s hospital.  I’m also giving away over $1,000 worth of Steam games courtesy of IsThereAnyDeal.com to people who donate.

YOU CAN FIND THE FULL DETAILS BY CLICKING HERE.

By entering your Steam URL in the donation message box, this enters you in to a raffle (one entry for every $5 donated) to win some awesome Steam games courtesy of IsThereAnyDeal.com.  Entering your Steam URL in the donation message box (regardless of amount given) will get you a cool new “Enhanced Steam Supporter” badge for Extra Life 2015!  Here is a list of games you could win!

 

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Enhanced Steam Standalone Project Discontinued

As many of you have noticed, the Enhanced Steam Standalone is no longer available for download either on this site or on Github.  The reasons for this are somewhat complex, but I’ll try my best to explain why I decided to discontinue the project.

The Standalone project came about initially because a lot of people were emailing me and asking if Enhanced Steam was available in the Steam client, or telling me that they would never bother with Enhanced Steam because they did all of their Steam browsing in the game client.  The browser that the client used back then was terribly slow and buggy (it’s since been updated quite a bit) but I was able to work some magic along with the help of 7heo who originally came up with the idea of using a reverse proxy with static name resolution.  Thus the Standalone app was born, and it worked in any browser including the Steam client, and things were looking up.

Due to the open source nature of the program, I introduced the Standalone application to various Steam groups on Reddit, Neogaf, and Steam hoping to solicit people to help bug hunting and troubleshooting and made sure to add warnings that the program was in a very early alpha stage.  The installation was fairly complex and (at the time) involved editing the system’s hosts file while simultaneously running the application.  If the application wasn’t running, the end user wouldn’t be able to access Steam.  This was explained very clearly in the setup instructions.  While certainly not an ideal solution, the entire project was meant to be a “proof of concept”.

So what went wrong?  The project’s popularity exploded.  It was featured in the gaming press and suddenly people were emailing me constantly for support to help them with installation and because they didn’t understand that the software was alpha (although it was clearly labeled).  People started experiencing bugs and issues, and started getting upset because they expected the application to work flawlessly.  Meanwhile, something else went wrong with the application in that the static name resolution was causing lookup errors, because Valve was constantly updating the external IP addresses of the Steam servers, and the Standalone application didn’t have a mechanism in place to automatically update itself.

For these reasons, the architecture of the project was completely re-written to accommodate for these shortcomings.  The beta application shifted from a reverse proxy with static name resolution which required a host file edit; to a C# Windows application that ran a small reverse proxy and set the system global proxy settings whenever it was running.  The beta app didn’t need static name resolution, so it wouldn’t break when Valve updated Steam’s IP addresses.  The beta application also had a built-in update mechanism.  Under normal operations, the application would reset the system proxy settings when it was closed, meaning the application should be well-contained and would only affect a user’s system while it was running.  Things were looking up again.

So, what went wrong this time?  While certainly more stable than the alpha application, it was also much easier to install and configure (essentially just copying a folder to your computer and launching an exe file) making it more accessible, which meant that more and more people started using it.  There was also a scenario where a user might kill the Enhanced Steam task or reboot their computer without shutting down the program, meaning they had to either edit their system proxy settings or launch the app again when their computer restarted before they were able to access the internet at all.  Although these kinds of issues are quite common with proxy applications, the fact that the program made these changes for the user (for their own convenience) meant that most users didn’t know they were supposed to make this change during this scenario.  Additionally, the small reverse proxy application I had included in the Standalone program changed the terms of their licensing agreement and I was no longer allowed to distribute code created with their server application.  The Enhanced Steam part of the codebase was different from Chrome (and Firefox) development, meaning it also took a significant amount of time to port over new features.  Support for this program became a nightmare.

At the end of the day, the project has been discontinued due to a combination of a lack of interest and complexity of support.  The Standalone application received 36,696 downloads total (not quite 1.5% of all Enhanced Steam users) and accounted for approximately 60% of the support emails I received on a weekly basis.  Obviously, there is a disconnect here, and I came to the conclusion that continuing to work on the Standalone application simply wasn’t worth the time and effort involved in maintaining and supporting the application.  This is especially true since the program needs to be rebuilt with a new proxy server back end, and even more true when that energy could be directed towards adding new features to the Chrome version of Enhanced Steam.

In closing, I hope that in the future Valve decides to open up the Steam client for more plugin-like functionality, even if it’s heavily moderated.  Before starting the Standalone project I conversed with my colleagues at Valve but was told that they had no plans to implement anything like this in the future.  Obviously, people see value in having extensions like Enhanced Steam running in the Steam client’s browser, so perhaps some day it will be possible again without having to resort to system hacks, reverse proxies, or any degree of complexity.  I also want to say thank you to the fans of Enhanced Steam and of the Standalone application for your continued support and understanding.

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Enhanced Steam 7.5 Adds Profile Theme Support

I’m excited to announce that with the new release of Enhanced Steam 7.5, users will be able to select a custom profile “theme” from their Edit Profile page on Steam that provides additional profile customization options. This initial release includes:

  • Clear Theme
  • Green Theme
  • Holiday 2014 Theme
  • Orange Theme
  • Pink Theme
  • Purple Theme
  • Red Theme
  • Teal Theme
  • Yellow Theme

Additional themes are already in development for future release.  A special thanks to Reddit user Teliko for providing the idea and for providing contributions to most of the available themes.  When combined with Enhanced Steam’s custom profile background feature, this provides an unprecedented amount of profile customization.  Here’s an example:

As you can see, the “clear theme” opens up a lot more of the background image.

I hope everyone enjoys this feature!  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

 

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Support Ending for Firefox Browsers

I’ve been researching the upcoming situation regarding Firefox and changes it will be making to extensions and their development / deployment practices in the near future.

I’ve come to the decision that Enhanced Steam will no longer be developed for Mozilla Firefox. There is simply far too much time and effort that goes into developing a Firefox compatible version of Enhanced Steam, and the new policies Mozilla is putting in place will increase this workload further.

The existing version (7.3) will be the final Firefox release. It will remain available for download, although it may not be able to be installed on versions of Firefox higher than 38. This includes Firefox 39 which enters the Aurora channel early next week.

My intention is to take the extra development time that I would normally give to Firefox and instead spend that time further developing the Enhanced Steam Standalone application. I’m hoping that by the time Firefox 40 reaches release status later this year (currently scheduled for Aug 11, 2015) the Standalone application will be a viable and feature-rich alternative for those who do not wish to change browsers to continue using Enhanced Steam.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support.

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Enhanced Steam Translation Project is Moving to Crowdin!

Our previous translation page was really great in helping people get engaged and interested in helping translate Enhanced Steam, and Smashman did an amazing job in creating it.  In fact, of the 26 languages that Steam supports, Enhanced Steam is now available in 20 of those with the other 6 having partial translations available.  However, Crowdin offers some incredible features and I believe this change will help improve the available translations, make translating new items even easier, and will let me enlist the help of our most trusted translators to oversee the future translations made in their language.  I’d like to go over a few of the new things you can expect to see if you’re interested in helping out with translating Enhanced Steam.

1. Voting on existing translations: Users will now be able to vote on existing translations, thus further strengthening or weakening our confidence that the translation that we have is correct.  This means that even if something has already been translated but you think it’s incorrect, you can let us know without needing to provide an alternate translation.

2. Screenshots: Users who wish to translate Enhanced Steam will now be given a screenshot of where exactly that text is used in the extension.  This should help give more context which in turn should result in better and more accurate translations.

3. Role based permissions: Crowdin provides several different roles, any of which can be assigned to any particular language.  This means that a trusted user can be assigned as the manager of a particular language who will have the authority to accept or reject newly proposed translations.  This will save me (as the “not even bi-lingual” developer) a lot of time because it means I’ll be able to delegate the task of approving new translations.

4. The ability to hide or delete translations no longer in use: currently when we retire a feature we have no way of deleting the existing string and it’s translations.  Within Crowdin, it’s possible to hide or delete entries for translations which are no longer being used.  This means that less time is wasted translating outdated info that will never be seen.  It also means that the compiled translation files will be smaller.

5. Activity feed and per-language discussions: Crowdin’s system lets you see an activity stream for your language , as well as discuss translations with other translators.

 

There are lots of other features that Crowdin has such as reports, paid translations, a web API and more.  If you’d like the help out, you can create a free Crowdin account and visit http://translation.enhancedsteam.com to get started.

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Enhanced Steam 7.3 Released

Enhanced Steam has been updated to version 7.3. This release includes the following changes:

  • Added an option to hide games in search results you’ve marked as “Not Interested”
  • Added a column to the market showing the current lowest price of active listings
  • Firefox: Added back features that were previously removed in version 7.2.3
  • Fixed a bug in the feature that shows the purchase date on a game’s store page
  • Updated 3rd party DRM detection to include more places that publishers hide it
  • Updated PCGW button to include new link structure and new icon
  • Removed redundant SteamTrades profile link

 

This update is available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Firefox users using version 7.2.2 or lower must manually update by removing the extension and then installing this version using the link above.

As always, please let me know if you encounter any issues with this release.

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What’s new for 2015

Greetings blog readers!  I apologize that the Enhanced Steam blog hasn’t been updated lately – one of my New Years resolutions is to use this blog to help keep everyone more informed.

Things have been really busy here between the fall and winter sales, server upgrades, and adding new features.  I’ve also been working on another little program you guys might already be familiar with, called Steam Idle Master.  Anyway, things are shaping up nicely for 2015 with Enhanced Steam.  Our Patreon donation drive is going great – thanks again to everyone that’s contributing – this extension really wouldn’t be possible without all of your help.  As a result, I’m confident that this year we’ll be able to afford enough server power to handle the unusually high load we typical see during the big sales.

Additionally, I’m working hard on putting the finishing touches on the next release of Enhanced Steam: version 7.3.  In addition to the regular bug fixes, this version will have improved dynamic item detection on activity pages, improved 3rd party DRM detection in the store, the ability to filter games from search results that you’ve marked as “not interested”, and much more.  Look for this version to be released some time later this week.

Thanks again to all of the fans of Enhanced Steam and I hope you all have a wonderful 2015!

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Join Enhanced Steam for Extra Life 2014 and Win Awesome New Games

I’m playing 24 hours of video games on October 25th to help raise money for my local children’s hospital.  I’m also giving away over $1,000 worth of Steam games courtesy of IsThereAnyDeal.com to people who donate.

You can find the full details by clicking here.

 

By entering your Steam URL in the donation message box, this enters you in to a raffle (one entry for every $5 donated) to win some awesome Steam games courtesy of IsThereAnyDeal.com.

* One copy of each of the above games will be given away at the conclusion of the live-stream.  The chosen winner’s Steam account will be checked to see if they own the game already.  If they do (or if their Steam profile is private) another winner will be chosen.  Some games subject to change based on availablity and release dates.  Limit one prize per person.

 

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Over 1 Million Downloads, and Lessons Learned from the Summer Sale

First of all, a huge “Thank You” to each and every one of you running Enhanced Steam.  With your help, we’ve now had over 1,000,000 (one million) installations.  I never thought something like this would be possible.

Here are some of the lessons we learned from the Summer Sale this year:

  • The number of concurrent Enhanced Steam users FAR exceeded our expectations.  Our servers are capable of supporting around 200,000 users simultaneously but we typically saw between 400,000 and 550,000 users during peak times.  I apologize for the issues this caused some people.  The lesson learned here is that we will plan on having additional server power during the big sales, to make sure that everyone has a chance to access all of Enhanced Steam’s great set of features when you need them most.
  • We learned a lot about the number of requests that Enhanced Steam makes, and about caching as much of this data as possible to reduce the stress on our servers (and Valve’s!).  There are some big changes coming up surrounding this, but needless to say we are working hard to make sure that Enhanced Steam will be running as efficiently as possible going forward.  The good news is that incorporating these types of changes will make things like highlighting and Early Access banners much faster in future releases.
  • Being featured in articles on Kotaku, Lifehacker, and others is a great way to get the word out about Enhanced Steam.  It’s also a great way to see our already melting servers turn into a pile of mush.  As we’ve already mentioned, we’ll be sure that our servers are up to the challenge.

Again, thank you all for your support, as well as your patience with Enhanced Steam during the sale.

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