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December 2, 2008

On Google Chrome's Future Support for Extensions

When Google Chrome was launched, many people wondered why there's no support for Google Toolbar or for extensions that are available for Firefox. After fixing the glaring bugs reported by users, improving bookmark management, adding autocomplete and starting to work on Mac and Linux versions, the next step is to open the browser to developers.

Google published a document that details how extensions will work in Google Chrome. "Chromium can't be everything to all people. People use web browsers in a variety of environments and for a wide variety of jobs. Personal tastes and needs vary widely from one user to the next. The feature needs of one person often conflict directly with those of another. Further, one of the design goals of Chromium is to have a minimal light-weight user interface, which itself conflicts with adding lots of features."

The extension development should be similar to developing web pages, the browser should include support for silent autoupdate, extensions should not be able to crash the browser process and they should be run in sandboxed processes. An interesting side-effect would be that you won't have to restart the browser after installing an extension, like in Firefox.

Google lists some extensions that should work in Chrome: bookmarking tools like a toolbar for Delicious, content filtering extensions like Adblock (sic!), download managers like DownThemAll and other popular extensions that are available for Firefox.

"We should start by building the infrastructure for an extension system that can support different types of extensibility. The system should be 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). Some APIs will require privileges that must be granted, such as access to the history database or access to"

In the end, we should see an extension gallery hosted by Google that will initially include a list of popular Firefox extensions. Chrome won't support XUL, so the extensions aren't going to be ported automatically. The latest Chromium buils already include an initial Greasemonkey implementation, so there's one less extension to build.

{ via Webware }


  1. Not only have I wondered about the toolbar and extensions but I wondered about why Chrome is still not available to Mac users.

  2. "I wondered about why Chrome is still not available to Mac users."

    Because it's not ready yet. You can find everything about the latest fixes, new features and development issues from this log page. Search for "Mac" or "Linux" and you'll find many matches.

  3. I imagine Firefox extensions like CustomizeGoogle won't work in Chrome, given that it offers to strip out the text adverts from appearing in the likes of Gmail and Google search results. A pity if so...

  4. Good News! I am very happy. AdBlock is a MUST! =(

  5. @KennyL

    Since Google's document explicitly mentions that extensions like Adblock will be supported, your statement is not accurate. Adblock can be used to hide any kind of content, including Google's text ads.

  6. @ Alex Chitu

    Ooh, thanks for this info! :)

  7. It's your computer, your browser, so you're entitled to choose what you see. I don't think ad blockers will ever be a threat for Google's business model since Google mainly delivers contextual text ads, which aren't annoying or aggressive and sometimes they're even useful.

  8. I wasn't overly fond of the first release of Chrome. The browser is too raw. Personally I will just keep using FireFox and see how things go. Possibly with some fix-ups the browser may be better.

  9. One thing I don't get is how an extension can run sandboxed, if there is interaction with the browser itself its not sandboxed (e.g. if adblock would mess up the whole page could stop loading... no way to prevent that).

  10. noscript! please please please. it's the only thing holding me back of using chrome as my primary browser

  11. Does the publisher of this post realise what 'sic!' means?
    He uses it in something he paraphrased from the source, which is posted later on, so I believe he must be under the impression it's akin to saying 'nice!' or 'great!', as the way it's used here is almost the opposite of it's intended purpose.

    From Wikipedia:
    "In writing, it is placed within square brackets and usually italicized – [sic] – to indicate that an incorrect or unusual spelling, phrase, punctuation, and/or other preceding quoted material has been reproduced verbatim from the quoted original and is not a transcription error."

  12. "Because it's not ready yet. You can find everything about the latest fixes, new features and development issues from this log page. Search for "Mac" or "Linux" and you'll find many matches."

    Were you being serious when you wrote that? I'm a avid user of Google's toolbar, email, docs, reader.... Imagine my shock when I downloaded Chrome on the PC that runs windows, only to find that it didn't have Google's toolbar! It was not finished when it was released for windows so please don't tell me it is not complete to be released for Mac or Linux.

    I have 32 extensions for Firefox. Nine of which have to do with Google. Chrome is a shining example of the major problem I have with Google. There are a tons of loose ends that never get tied together. A lot of tinkering with bells and whistles but never anything that ties the various online apps together to provide complete functionality. If Google is going to release a browser it should be aware that it's first adopters will be those of us that use gmail, docs, toolbar. To have included none of these as features in Chrome is mind boggling as well building a browser that is not even cross platform. To be frank, the coders at Google are spending way to much time navel gazing.

  13. @Michael:
    Of course I know what "sic" means, even though I don't know the proper usage in English (I'm not a native speaker). I used "sic" to show that what I wrote is actually correct, even though it's hard to believe.

    thus: inserted in brackets in a text to indicate that an odd spelling or reading is in fact what was written, even though it is or appears to be wrong [Latin]

    (Collins Essential English Dictionary 2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006)

    Another definition from WordNet:

    sic -- (intentionally so written (used after a printed word or phrase))

  14. @ppidgeon

    It's not a matter of the browser being "unpolished," it's not even finished. As in, it doesn't run properly. Some of the code needs rewritten before it even works on the MacOS.

  15. BluegrassGeek

    Bottom line is: It wasn't even finished when it was released for Windows. Besides, how can something not be finished and then released for use for Windows the predominant OS? That makes no sense. Besides you missed one of the important points. As someone who uses many of Google's services, I am prime candidate to be a first adopter of Chrome. Since Google failed to include even it's own toolbar in it's release of Chrome doesn't help it's case when it comes to it's most diehard users.

    "As in, it doesn't run properly. " Another words it's ok to run Chrome on Windows. Reality check time. The bulk of PC users are not gamers, coders, geeks, and graphic designers. They are regular people who are using the latest technology for their jobs and personal use. They want they buy and/or download to work! That goes for Chrome also!

  16. The only thing keeping from using Chrome more extensively has been the lack of add-ons. (Mostly AdBlock, gaudy banners are poison to my eyes.) A lot of people are going to be glad they're developing this support.

  17. @ ppidgeon
    Ever heard of this fantastic word called "Beta"?
    Yeah, if you hadn't noticed earlier, Chrome is very early Beta.
    It was released early for testing since the "surprise" was ruined.

    The reason the other ones aren't there is that the others have a lesser priority than Windows does, because believe it or not, its the most common OS for personal computers and developers.
    The word "finished" is a wrong word, i give you that, but Chrome on Windows is "stable", it works, just, but the other versions, as far as i know, don't work very well, if at all.

    Anyway, i am actually surprised that they mentioned AdBlock, i never expected to see that one there for their compatibility list.
    But i guess if they are to have a fairly open system that can modify a website will obviously have to allow for AdBlock, regardless of their intention.
    I still don't get why people care so much for that silly extension, a HOSTS blocker is much better because it works on everything, period.

  18. To be fair, the initial release of Chrome works a lot better than the Mozilla browser did when it was released (and for a year or two after that).

    Granted, Google has the advantage of several years of community work on web standards, expected browser functionality, etc. Even so, if Chrome looks this good as an initial beta, I think it bodes very well for its future.

  19. Also, expect Google Gears to become a centerpiece of Google's various online applications in the not too distant future. With Gears, I think we'll see a much tighter integration of Google's services, and a much closer approximation of fully-featured desktop application functionality within the browser.

    As Google likes to say, this is just the beginning..

  20. Great! It looks pretty clever and sweet, i love it so much.


  21. I found this- Running Latest Chrome Browser in Advance and it's worked.

  22. Hunnter

    Yes I am well aware of what BETA means. I fairly up to date on my geek vocabulary. Now did you actually read my comments or are you one those people who insist on defending something even though you know it's bullshit.
    Hunnter, beta is not an excuse for something that has so many of the glaring omissions that are evident in Chrome has. Beta is not an excuse for not having Google's toolbar built into Chrome, something an avid user of Google services would come to expect.

    I know you actually didn't take time to read my comments because you would have noticed that I referred to Windows as the predominant OS.

    "It was released early for testing since the "surprise" was ruined." WTF!? Do you actually buy this comment? You telling me they put out a browser that lacked some of the most obvious items one would expect in a Google browser?

    Did you also miss my comment about the fact that I didn't think Chrome was even ready to be released for Windows? Of course you did. Why you might ask? Because as I have stated already the first adopters of Chrome will be those who use many of Google's services.

    Hunnter, answer me this: How does Google leave out it's own toolbar? I should think that would be in the top 10 items to be in a Google browser don't you? And I refer to my above point about first adopters. Why do I say that is because I am writing this comment using the Chrome browser. The bookmarks at the top of the browser are exactly some of the sites you would find on the Google toolbar on I have on Firefox.

    I know Hunnter it so much more geekery discussing extensions, api's, and the nuances of some obscure code. But there are people out there that actually use Google services for something other then getting a geek high.

    Getting it right is more important then satisfying the rumor mill.

  23. Working on new feature instead of focusing on bringing the Linux/mac version to the user is enlarging the gap of windows and these platform and making the Linux/mac users handicaped if compared with te windows users.

    Please consider about focusing on bringing the Linux/mac version as top priority.

  24. Mac and Linux version will be ready by mid 2009 and Google Chrome would be out of beta by January-February says Google. My opinion is that Google Chrome should come out of beta in late 2009 with add-ons support/extensions etc instead of releasing the 1.0 release of chrome without it and many other missing features/bugs etc.

  25. I love google chrome, it is very fast. I hope that more add-ons will be avaible in the future (like translator in google toolbar) and also that the bookmarks feature should also be updated. I dont like the alphabet way, it would be nice if it can be the previous way in IE after importing.

  26. speed is chrome's big advantage over other browsers, it is a joy for js heavy apps...burdening it with extensions may just run against the reasons it was developed..

  27. wow. it is beta, google omitted it's own toolbar because, it seems to me, the product is not there yet. The author states google's intent to release APIs that would allow toolbars to be used:

    "We should start by building the infrastructure for an extension system that can support different types of extensibility. The system should be 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). Some APIs will require privileges that must be granted, such as access to the history database or access to"

    now why would they throw in their toolbar just to say they have included their toolbar if the extensions system is not in place yet? its beta test the browser, then they can add features and extensions later once they get their core more solid. It is their beta, they can release it as they seem fit.

    I have developed software, you can test all you want, your team can test it into the ground, but the first user in the outside world can find a bug in seconds. They released a fast, reliable, pleasing beta web browser, they did not release something to compete with Firefox 3 or IE 7, yet.

  28. There actually is a Google Toolbar on Chromium. On the address bar, just search anything. For example, "cars." Just press enter, and cars will be Google searched. You can change the search engine, too. Options>>Basics>>Default Search: Google, Yahoo, Youtube, etc.

  29. chrome sucks - it will never beat IE and firefox. cant even use google toolbar on it.

  30. How can I change Google Chrome's download list?
    I don't like how google chrome's download page ctrl+j is, I prefer firefox's, mainly because I can't clear all downloads and the way it looks. How can I change Google Chrome's download list to look like FF?

  31. What do you think about chrome right now?