KeeFox 1.2.5b1 released
Version 1.2.5 is nearly ready to be released so beta testers will soon be upgraded to this new version with a few small but important bug fixes:
- A fix for Thunderbird 25
- A couple of bug fixes that caused some passwords to not save to KeePass
- Danish, French, Korean, Portuguese and Russian languages created / updated (some not complete yet)
- Fix for intermittent failed KeePass shutdown on Mono (Mac/Linux)
- Some other small changes
Big changes in KeeFox 1.3 and 1.4
Some big changes are coming to Firefox at the end of this year and we’ll be watching them as they develop over the coming month or two so that KeeFox 1.4 can continue to work beyond 2013. It could be an exciting opportunity to make some improvements to KeeFox so within a couple of months I’ll be posting a bit more detail about the changes and what we can all do to help.
Before then, I’ll be releasing KeeFox 1.3 which contains just as many large changes but they are fairly invisible by comparison to the ones expected in KeeFox 1.4.
KeeFox 1.3 contains support for keyboard shortcuts, context (right-click) menus and some big changes to the way that KeeFox communicates with KeePass.
It’s the last change that I’m most interested in at the moment because of the security and usability implications of changes to this part of KeeFox.
If you’re not technical, feel free to stop reading now but if you think you might be able to contribute a little time to review the current KeeFox 1.3 alpha release that would be very helpful.
I’ve posted a draft of the new communications protocol to the manual so please start by taking a read through that. There’re also a few non-technical pages available in draft:
Version 1.3.0a1 is currently available as an experimental build on the 1.3dev github branch. Known issues include:
- Several incomplete features make the build unsafe
- Installing this build will probably prevent future versions of KeeFox (including later builds of 1.3.0) from working unless you delete your Firefox profile or make complex manual preference changes
- Only tested on Firefox 25 on Windows 7
- No UI to manage authorised clients
- No UI to change the keyboard shortcuts
- Context menu implementation incomplete
- First-time user experience not working
- Connection establishment logic needs more work and maybe better notifications to users, especially for the edge cases when things go wrong
If you come across anything else that’s a problem with either the specification or implementation of the new KeePassRPC protocol please raise an issue on github so we can discuss it further - note that no-one should be using this alpha version for sensitive data at the moment so don’t worry about responsible disclosure, etc.
I’ll add a few of the above issues to github so if someone else wants to help out by implementing some of them, please keep an eye on the issues listed in the KeeFox 1.3 milestone.
Over the next month or two I’ll be working on the remaining issues above, improving the documentation and generally working towards getting a beta version ready for the Autumn.
Thanks to the hundreds of people that offered opinions, suggestions, criticism and praise in the survey that I sent out last year.
I’ve now had time to analyse the results and read your comments so I thought I’d post a summary of the main points here. I’ll go into the results for each of the questions about feature priorities below but first here’s a summary of the actions resulting from this survey for those that want the quick version.
- Searching KeePass entries from within Firefox is coming in KeeFox 1.3
- Improved form detection and matching accuracy is coming in KeeFox 1.2; further improvements likely in 1.3 and ongoing
- Right-click (context) menus as an alternative to the toolbar buttons coming in KeeFox 1.3
- Fundamental changes to toolbar user interface not desirable but upcoming Firefox changes may force our hand in KeeFox 1.3 or 1.4
- Improved multi-page login support is coming in KeeFox 1.2; further improvements likely in 1.3 and ongoing
- Better support for specific unusual web sites (e.g. many banks) acknowledged as high priority for most users but technical and time restrictions will make for slow progress; some improvements in KeeFox 1.2 should help but many banks in particular will remain problematic for a long time to come.
Who answered the survey?
I only collected very basic demographic information but the following two graphs show that there was a nice variety of respondents who had been using KeeFox for varying lengths of time, with a slight skew towards long-term users (who presumably have had longer to form a “wishlist” of improvements). They also show that the vast majority of KeeFox users have installed KeeFox while looking to enhance their existing experience with KeePass (this ties in with the stats for the keefox.org website which shows that a majority of visitors to the download page are from the keepass.info plugins page).
Before getting into the details of the feature priorities, I’ll share this graph:
How content are you with the current KeeFox functionality? (1 = Not at all; 5 = Very pleased)
It’s encouraging to see that KeeFox is proving useful and this backs up some of the positive feedback you’ve been providing in AMO reviews. That said, there is clearly a long way to go before everyone is very satisfied so all we can do is hope that improvements this year will continue to push the graph in the right direction!
Individual feature priority breakdowns
I posted nine suggestions of improvements that need to be made to KeeFox and asked respondents to rank each from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (very important). Some of the suggestions were based on feedback I’d previously received and some on my own experience and expertise. I’ll put the graph of results for each improvement first and then comment on the results and explain what action might result.
Search KeePass entries from within Firefox
Result: A very mixed result, suggesting that many users are content with their current methods of initiating the login process for a website but there is a definite desire among enough users to justify the addition of this feature. My personal view is that this is a feature which some users won’t be able to fully appreciate until they have either tried it out or built up a larger collection of passwords.
Action: I’ll be implementing this in KeeFox 1.3
Improved form detection and matching accuracy
Result: Very clear desire from most users for an improvement in this area. There are always going to be occasional sites that don’t work but I’ll keep working to get as many as possible to work correctly. The list of reasons for which a site may not be filled correctly will shrink when KeeFox 1.2 is released but the reasons with no known solution so far are:
- Sites that use form fields without an actual form (often a strong overlap with the first reason)
- Sites that ask for different information each time (usually banks)
Action: KeeFox 1.2 will improve matters for some websites. KeeFox 1.3 and beyond will continue to build upon the improvements in KeeFox 1.2 once achievable improvements are identified.
Support for filling in forms without password fields
Result: Slight desire for this feature but most people don’t see it as a high priority.
Action: KeeFox 1.2 will allow some forms that fall into this category to be filled in, but only if they are part of a multi-page form. Maybe the improvement will work on a wider range of sites than I’ve intended - we’ll keep an eye on how it behaves in the wild but given the lack of strong feeling to start with I think spending time improving this further might not be a great idea.
Securely store the KeePass password in Firefox to enable automatic login to KeePass
Result: A strong feeling that this is unimportant.
Action: When considered alongside the difficulty (impossibility?) of offering such a feature securely, I’ve got no plans to implement this in the foreseeable future.
Right-click (context) menus as an alternative to the toolbar buttons
Result: Not the most important feature in most people’s opinion but it’s got more supporters than detractors and I still think I’d personally find it useful.
Action: It remains a high priority task which I hope to implement in KeeFox 1.3 alongside the related feature of keyboard shortcuts.
Reduce the number of toolbar buttons
Result: A strong feeling that the current toolbar button situation is not a big problem. While I do personally re-configure the toolbar when using KeeFox I don’t ever wish for a reduced number of buttons. I still would like to investigate this topic in more detail because I’m interested to assess the reasons behind the very vocal strong opinions for a reduction in button quantity.
Action: While I acknowledge an increasing trend towards single button add-ons (to the extent that some systems only permit single button extensions) I remain to be convinced that it is a move that is always in the user’s best interest.
There are a lot of ways that the KeeFox toolbar could be modified or replaced - removing some of the buttons is one of those ways but I still like the idea of exploring a variety of possible user interface changes in future - if we can prove that a change will be beneficial to a majority of users, without significant detriment to other users I’ll implement the change.
In fact, some significant user interface changes are being worked on in Firefox as a whole at the moment. One of those changes appears to remove the essential functionality that KeeFox relies upon to create its toolbar. If Firefox do not reverse direction within a few weeks we’ll be forced to rapidly come up with an entirely new interface for KeeFox. That will be an exciting and interesting challenge but as explained above and borne out by your responses, it really would be best if we could focus on other priorities!
Improved multi-page login support (e.g. username on page one, password on page two)
Result: A strong preference for improvement here but a noticeable tendency for supporters to consider it an important but not crucial feature. I suspect this is due to the relative rarity of multi-page forms.
Action: KeeFox 1.2 will support forms with a username on page one and a password on page two although some sites may still require some extra configuration. With feedback from KeeFox 1.2 users I intend to improve the out-of-the-box behaviour in this area in future versions of KeeFox.
Better support for specific unusual web sites (e.g. many banks)
Result: Another strong desire for KeeFox to work accurately with more web sites.
Action: In this case, KeeFox 1.2 adds the ground work for some further improvements but as explained elsewhere, banks are sometimes going to actively try to prevent software like KeeFox from working - with very limited development time available we need to pick our battles carefully so while I can foresee some further improvements in this area over the coming years we’ll have to acknowledge the unlikelihood of getting every site to work.
Faster or simpler installation / setup procedure
Result: A strong feeling that the setup procedure is OK as it is, limited by the obvious caveat that nearly all respondents to this survey are people that have already successfully completed the setup process!
Action: There are a couple of tweaks I might make in a future version of KeeFox but since the broad setup procedure is dictated by the limitations of Firefox, KeePass and Windows (or Linux, Mac, etc.) there is not a huge scope for widespread changes at the moment.
As for the open comments that many of you kindly supplied, I have done a little tallying and found a surprising lack of repeated comments. The main gist of the feature requests (most common first) and my response are:
- Create KeeFox for Google Chrome: Sorry, I only just have enough time to devote to KeeFox so despite a desire to improve password management for everyone across all platforms, it’s just not realistic for me to take on a new project like this at the moment. If anyone is interested in working on a port to Chrome (or any other browser) I am going to be working on some changes in KeeFox 1.3 which should make it a more realistic possibility so please get in touch.
- Combine toolbar buttons: Covered above.
- Support Linux / KeePassX: Linux is now supported; making KeePassX work is not really an option at the moment but maybe that will change one day.
Finally, I have to share this gem: “Do not really understand what keefox is or what it does or how to use it. I may be using it and just not aware of it.” Some people really love filling in surveys!
UPDATE: I’m currently analysing the results of the survey so please post any further suggestions or thoughts on the help forum. I’ll post any interesting results in a new article soon.
With KeeFox 1.1 recently released, I thought it would be a good time to ask you where you think KeeFox should be heading in future. To help me understand and keep track of your opinions and suggestions I have created a short survey which I would really appreciate you completing.
The survey has been active since version 1.0 was released but I’ve not yet received enough responses to draw any firm conclusions from the current results so please take a moment to answer the questions in the survey that you can find here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/view … rmkey=dEVIOHNxMnAtTy00c0w4TDVjX2loY3c6MQ
I’ll analyse the responses and then post a summary of the results in a couple of months.
If you have any further suggestions or questions in the mean time, don’t forget to check out the help resources at http://keefox.org/help/
If you have already completed the survey then thank you! I’ve not had time to read individual comments yet but will definitely do so soon.
The recently released KeeFox 1.1.2 contains dozens of new and improved features and a few important bug fixes, the highlights are below.
- Multiple database support. Seamlessly work with more than one KeePass database thanks to these improvements:
- Logins from all open (unlocked) databases are matched (and automatically filled / submitted depending on your configuration)
- Logins from all open databases are listed on the Logins toolbar button
- A new login can be saved into any open database
- Changing databases from within KeeFox is now reliable and predictable
- Improved form matching accuracy: when KeeFox knows how many form fields to expect for an entry it will now use that information to help select the correct form on a page
- Instant edit feature added: Review and edit every entry that KeeFox saves (disabled by default).
- Memory leak fixed: This will be a big improvement for heavy Firefox users who do not shutdown Firefox for days or weeks at a time
- Added option to require more accurate URL matching for specific entries (previously possible through a hidden KeePass “advanced string”)
- Thunderbird support (in beta testing)
- Improvements to setup instructions, especially for non-admin users and Mono (Mac & Linux) users
- First-run improvements (e.g. automatic save of your first KeePass database and a link to information about importing existing passwords)
You should get 1.1.2 pushed to you automatically unless you have disabled Firefox add-on automatic updates. You can manually install it from the main Add-on page.
Known limitation: Newsgroup authentication prompts in Thunderbird do not work with KeeFox.
Apple Mac support: The immaturity of the Mono platform that Mac users require to make KeePass work is keeping KeeFox Mac support in beta testing for the time being. You can install the development version if you’d like to give it a try (it seems to mostly work if you have some patience and know what you’re doing)
Known bug: Shortly after the release of 1.1.2 I learnt that users who enable the Firefox master password (for use by other add-ons, Firefox Sync, etc.) sometimes experience problems entering the master password when prompted before Firefox has completely started. I have put a fix into version 1.1.3 which you can download from here: https://github.com/luckyrat/KeeFox/blob/ … d79301bb/XPI-package/latest.xpi?raw=true.
1.1.3 is an experimental build - although it has very few changes since the well-tested 1.1.2 it has not been thoroughly tested itself so I advise only installing it if you need to. I’ll monitor its usage and consider releasing it as an official tested version if it looks like enough people are affected by this bug.
I’ll be starting work on version 1.2 in a few weeks time so do let me know through the support forum if you find any bugs that I should be working on for that release. In the mean time, enjoy version 1.1!
Thanks to everyone that notified me of the problems with the recently released version of KeePass.
I hope to release a new version in 4-6 weeks with a beta available within a few weeks. In the mean time, the existing version of KeeFox will continue to work with KeePass 2.17. As with the previous problematic KeePass upgrade, your upgrade route will be much simplified if you continue using KeePass 2.17 until after you are running a new version of KeeFox*. There are currently no known security problems with KeePass 2.17 that necessitate an immediate upgrade.
This time there were many changes to KeePass that prevented KeeFox from working. I was notified of at least some of these changes in advance of the release of KeePass 2.18 but did not have a development environment to work and test with until after the official release last week.
I have identified a way to get KeeFox to work with 2.18 and most users shouldn’t notice any differences but in light of the following major changes to the KeeFox code I have decided to push the fix to existing users quite cautiously - there’s no point in risking breaking KeeFox for everyone just so that some people can run the very latest version of KeePass.
For anyone interested, the two major changes to the KeeFox code are:
1) I’ve upgraded (and then customised) the Jayrock JSON-RPC server bundled within KeePassRPC
2) I’ve set .NET 4 as the default runtime for KeeFox users who don’t yet have a copy of .NET installed
This work required an upgrade to Visual Studio 2010 and I took that opportunity to make a clean break from the existing SVN revision control at Sourceforge; KeeFox code is now available on github, details will be announced in the coming weeks.
* Or at least downgrade to 2.17 before installing the new version of KeeFox.