Chrome Extensions Likely by May

By Josh Catone
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We know that extensions are a priority for the Chromium team (Chromium is the open source project that backs Google’s Chrome web browser). Google engineers wrote in a design document a couple of months ago that they would like to create an extension infrastructure that is able to support “an open-ended list of APIs over time, such as toolbars, sidebars, content scripts (for Greasemonkey-like functionality), and content filtering (for parental filters, malware filters, or adblock-like functionality).”

However, even though extensions are by far the most request feature on the Chrome issue tracker, the document never mentions any specific timelines for delivering such an add-on system.

We noted in December that one of the main reasons many users hadn’t switched to Chrome from Firefox is the lack of such an extension system. A number of users, both on SitePoint and on the official Chrome discussion lists, have said that they really like Chrome, but can’t live without certain Firefox extensions upon which they have come to rely. So Chrome is a no-go without plugin support.

For Chrome, the best user base to target early on is early adopters — and those are people who are already using Firefox and likely already have an extension or two they don’t want to give up. “Once Google adds the planned extension framework to the Chromium project, [we] think we can expect to see its market share jump considerably. It won’t overtake Firefox overnight, but it will become a fairly major minor player — by which [we] mean: watch out Firefox, Opera, and Safari,” we wrote in December.

Now it looks like we may have a tentative date for extensions in Chrome: No later than May 27. That’s the day Google annual developer conference, Google I/O, is set to kick off in San Francisco, and one of the sessions spotted by eagle-eyed developer Nicholas Moline is called, “Developing extensions for Google Chrome.”

“Learn how Google Chrome makes it easy to write extensions using the web technologies you already know. This talk will cover the basics of the extension system (distribution/packaging, installation, updates), as well as the different APIs to enhance with the browser,” is the description of the session on the I/O site.

Likely, that means that by May 27 — and possibly earlier — Google’s Chrome browser will have extensions. Or, at least, the means for developers to create them. The Google Operating System blog points out that developer versions of Chrome already have support for user scripts, which could be a precursor to a broader extension system.

The browser war is about to get even hotter.

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  • graphicmist

    chrome with its extensions cool. this will really heat up the browser war and mozilla view on it will be worth watching while google was supporting firefox till now.

  • Jarryd

    If Google Chrome had an extension functionality and supported RSS feeds, I would definitely use a lot more frequently.

  • I’d be very interested. Besides, anything that can rip market share away from IE is a good thing…but I’m afraid the “second three” of FF, Opera, and Chrome will battle it out for their small share of users while IE continues to plow forward, wreaking havoc and destruction everywhere it goes.

    What can any of these browsers do to directly challenge IE, considering the various bundling issues, customer recognition and retention, and so forth?

  • I think chrome needs to fix its bugs, many pages it displays perfect but some pages I don’t know why, it just doest render some content at all. Often I think theres something wrong with the page, then I view the page in FF and its fine.

    I do love some things about chrome though, its very easy to open a new tab, its simple and seems very fast. My favorite thing of all is that if you accidentally close out a window you can open it back up, which is very handy if you didn’t know the URL.

  • AliQureshi

    I’ve just switched from Firefox to Google Chrome, and I have to say theres a significant improvement in speed, It even launches in an instant! The only thing is it uses a bit more memory when you have more then one tab open. If you don’t have any extra tabs open it uses less memory then Firefox, IE, and other browsers.. :]

  • With the Firefox Web Developer extension, or some equally awesome extension, I won’t ever do anything more than website testing in Chrome. I must have that extension!