KeeFox in 2016 and beyond

I'm planning to continue working on KeeFox for the foreseeable future but a lot has changed since I started working on it in 2008 and particularly in the past few months so I am going to outline where I currently see KeeFox development heading in the next few years.

There are three big concerns for the long-term viability and usefulness of KeeFox:

  1. Passwords no longer being a common authentication method on the internet.
  2. KeePass losing relevance as a result of decreasing PC usage.
  3. Firefox removing support for powerful add-ons like KeeFox.

I'd love to see secure alternatives to passwords deployed across the internet in future but even the most optimistic person wouldn't expect this to happen within the next 3 years so let's concentrate on #2.

This has already begun to a small extent but I don't predict any major risk here in the next few years so on to #3.

The Firefox WebExtensions proposal is potentially problematic. As it stands, the proposal will break KeeFox in around 12-18 months. There is quite a large gap between the functionality that KeeFox requires and that which Mozilla's proposal can offer the next generation of browser addon but maybe they will be able to close that gap.

The biggest problem is going to be finding enough time to rewrite the entire add-on in the new way Firefox will require. KeeFox 1.5 required a large part to be rewritten and I was only able to do this by working on it full time for nearly 6 months, something I won't be able to do again in the next few years. Even if I can somehow find the time to rewrite the add-on, it is likely that this will leave no time for developing new features.

I therefore must acknowledge the risk that KeeFox will have to be abandoned in 18 months time (although I certainly won't be surprised if this deadline slips by at least a year).

Since I don't want to spend lots of my spare time working on something that may only be useful for a short time I now have to consider the long-term benefits of any new feature I add to KeeFox. I don't yet know what this will mean in practice and it may well change as the months go by and the WebExtensions platform becomes more powerful or other technical advances are made by Firefox and KeePass.

What I do know is that my current focus on user support and bug fixing will remain into 2016, with perhaps a few small new features where the benefit is large enough and effort reasonably low. I'll keep an eye on how things evolve over the next couple of years and hope to be able to focus on substantial new features again one day.

Code contributions (of any size) are always welcome on github but I suggest you heed the risk that your effort might have a shorter-shelf life than we'd all like.

I remain hopeful that the long-term future for KeeFox will become clearer in the coming year and re-iterate that this is not the end for KeeFox but merely a warning that feature development will slow down significantly while the implications of these potentially terminal changes to Firefox become clear.

Article categories: [development keefox news]
Published on: 18 October 2015