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Preview: Adblock Plus and (a little) more

Adblock Plus and (a little) more

Published: Tue, 27 Jun 2017 19:15:38 GMT


The semi-authoritative, semi-complete history of the Adblock Plus project

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 16:38:38 GMT

Which one was first, Adblock or Adblock Plus? If Adblock Plus was created in 2006, how come there was Adblock Plus in 2005 already? The history of the Adblock Plus project isn’t straightforward and I already tried to explain it once. The article titled A not so short history of Adblock would have made a good blog article, except… it got published too early, before the Adblock Plus blog was created. And so it ended up on the website under “Documentation” where it was eventually removed because it wasn’t a good match. Here comes another attempt, looking back at more than ten years of project history.

New #?# syntax for advanced element hiding rules

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 15:21:59 GMT

Starting with Adblock Plus 1.13.3 for Chrome and Opera (and development builds as of there is a new and improved syntax which can be used for advanced element hiding filters. It allows for elements to be hidden based upon their contents using :-abp-has. CSS property filters have also being adjusted to be consistent with the new syntax, so both those and :-abp-has filters now use the #?# option separator.

So for example here’s a standard element hiding filter:

Which with the new advanced syntax could be written as:

The overall syntax is the same, but #?# filters have access to a few extensions implemented as CSS pseudo classes. This extra power comes with a cost however, the new #?# filters are much slower and should only be used where necessary. The above example is bad therefore, since none of those extensions are being used. Filters using the new syntax must also be restricted to as few domains as possible, without any domain restrictions they are rejected outright.

So which CSS pseudo classes are supported?

:-abp-properties() (CSS property filters)

The pseudo-class :-abp-properties() is a reworked syntax for the CSS property filter. The value of the -abp-properties attribute becomes the argument passed to the pseudo-class selector. Your old filters will be converted automatically when loading the filter lists, and will work the same way. For example:[-abp-properties='background-color: rgb(0, 0, 0)']

becomes: rgb(0, 0, 0))

Note the lack of quotes. As before, you can combine this into a more complex CSS selector.


With this change we introduced a new pseudo-class: :-abp-has(selector). Inspired by the CSS Level 4 draft :has(), this pseudo-class selects an element if it contains something that matches the selector passed an argument.

Example 1: > div:-abp-has(>

On the site “”, hide the element that has as direct descendant a element with the class “ad” and is a direct descendent of a

that has the class “sidebar”. We want the enclosing element because it contain other things with want to hide.

Example 2: > div:-abp-has(> div.sidebartitle) > .adtext

On the site, hide the elements with the class “adtext”, that are direct descendent of a

element that also has a direct descendent a
with the class “sidebartitle”, and that is a direct descendent of a
that has the class “sidebar”.

Note: It is recommended to not nest :-abp-has() where possible, as that will further slow down element hiding. Also it is recommended that the selector inside a :-abp-has() starts with a combinator like >, + or ~. Otherwise a lot of elements will be needlessly selected as more that one ancestor will match.

To the install page

Key elements of the new Flattr – the all-knowing, privacy-friendly algorithm

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 11:00:26 GMT

The new Flattr is completely automated, meaning that it flattrs your favorite content for you based on the attention you give it. This is done through our smart algorithm, but how does it really work? What does the algorithm know? What does it tell us? Let’s take a dive into automation, algorithm and privacy!

Key elements of the new Flattr - a status update

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 12:00:45 GMT

Soon we are officially launching a completely new, hands-off way to Flattr. So it’s about time to explain how it works and why we decided to do it this way. This is the first of a series of posts where we will also go into more detail about the internal work process around the new Flattr, as well as developer updates for some technical aspects.

Adblock Plus 2.9.1 for Firefox released

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 18:11:23 GMT

Install Adblock Plus 2.9.1 for Firefox

Unfortunately, the Adblock Plus 2.9 release didn’t go as smoothly as we hoped for. Most importantly, the performance degradation caused by the new data storage turned out more severe than we expected, some users were experiencing regular noticeable browser hangs. While the performance of reading and saving Adblock Plus filters hasn’t improved yet, we turned off filter hit counts by default in Adblock Plus 2.9.1 as a first consequence to make sure the data no longer needs to be saved that often (issue 5298). Users who need this functionality can turn it back on by clicking the ABP icon, going into “Options” and checking “Count filter hits.” We will be looking into other ways to improve this, even though the main issue can only be resolved by the Firefox developers.

It also wasn’t noticed before release that the new data storage doesn’t work in Thunderbird and SeaMonkey, so these users ended up with filters being reset on each restart. This has also been resolved in Adblock Plus 2.9.1 (issue 5279, issue 5285), the original data should show up again now. Some users are reporting similar issues in Firefox, a problem we couldn’t reproduce so far. If you are experiencing data loss on Firefox and are willing to let me debug the issue on your computer (via TeamViewer or a similar desktop sharing tool), please let me know in the comments below.

Fixing Adblock Plus 2.9 for Thunderbird and SeaMonkey users

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 12:23:08 GMT

Adblock Plus 2.9 introduced very significant changes to the data storage. The unfortunate side-effect was that Adblock Plus was broken for Thunderbird users as well as users on pre-release SeaMonkey versions, and nobody noticed before the release. After we discovered a problem with our original fix, as of Adblock Plus development build things should work correctly on all platforms. This being a rather non-trivial change, your feedback is appreciated. If no other issues pop up we plan to release Adblock Plus 2.9.1 next Tuesday, June 6.

To the install page

GlobalWebIndex study: people want to block ads on mobile – but only half know they can

Wed, 31 May 2017 12:00:00 GMT

We wanted to know why mobile ad blocking, something that’s big in the Asia Pacific region, is not popular in other parts of the world, so we hired GlobalWebIndex to write and conduct a survey of 1,011 users about the topic. Their findings, which you can download in an analysis here, play out basically as expected: that people don’t block on mobile and didn’t know they could.

Adblock Plus 2.9 for Firefox released

Thu, 25 May 2017 11:34:32 GMT

Install Adblock Plus 2.9 for Firefox

This release lays important groundwork for the Web Extensions migration. The way Adblock Plus stores its data has changed drastically, though for users everything should stay exactly the same (issue 5048). The new location of your filters and subscriptions is the browser-extension-data/{d10d0bf8-f5b5-c8b4-a8b2-2b9879e08c5d}/storage file in your Firefox profile, the same data will be used by the Adblock Plus build based on the Web Extensions platform once it is ready.

Additional changes

  • The hidden data_directory and please_kill_startup_performance preferences have been removed.
  • It is now possible to use { and } in CSS property filters (issue 4684).

Get your Samsung Internet ad-free experience on Samsung and Google Nexus devices today

Tue, 23 May 2017 12:24:38 GMT

Android users who have Samsung or Google Nexus devices can now surf without annoying ads thanks to Adblock Plus for Samsung Internet.

Adblock Plus for Samsung Internet 1.1.0 released

Tue, 23 May 2017 12:17:04 GMT

Install Adblock Plus for Samsung Internet 1.1.0


Please see this blog post for more details on the newly supported devices.