Chrome Extensions Framework Inching Closer to Prime Time

Probably the most often requested feature for Google’s Chrome web browser was an extensions framework so that users can expand the functionality of Chrome in the same way people currently do for Firefox. Chrome has had an extensions framework for a while now, but it was turned off by default. They’ve now turned it on by default on the dev channel.

Before this change, you had to specifically tell Google Chrome to enable the extensions framework by the use of the --enable-user-scripts command flag. This is now no longer necessary if you’ve subscribed to the bleeding edge dev channel variant of Chrome.

This means that the feature will now finally receive some more widepsread testing, although it will still need to go through the beta channel before it reaches the stable builds of the browser. There’s a warning attached too, of course. “For this release, we focused on getting most of the basic infrastructure and security pieces in place, in particular our new permission system,” Aaron Boodman, Software Engineer at Google, writes, “However, you should still be cautious and only install extensions from developers you trust.”

Extensions for Chrome will be kept up-to-date the same way as the browser itself: that is, silently and automatically, using the Omaha protocol. “Like Chrome’s auto-update mechanism, extensions will be updated using the Omaha protocol, giving developers the ability to push out bug fixes and new features rapidly to users of their extensions,” Boodman writes.

There’s still some work to be done before the extensions framework is ready for beta; the user interface will likely be changed, and not all APIs are completely finished as of yet. More information on developing extensions can be found in the documentation, and if you’ve developed Chrome extensions before, this information about recent breakage is important.

It’s clear Windows is still the primary target for Chrome, as the Linux and Mac versions lag behind when it comes to the extensions framework. Boodman states that they’ve “enlisted help” to equalise the extensions framework progress across the three different platforms.


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