Tag Archives: extensions
In a Chromium Blog post yesterday, a new contextual menu API was introduced, as well as two experimental ones: and Infobar and Omnibox API to offer developer more options when creating both extensions and webapps. Another possible API coming down the pipe would be sidebar functionality.
As Google’s Aleksey Shlyapnikov has proposed, a sidebar API would give “an extension control over a sidebar panel – a per-tab split-pane HTML container with the ability to resize horizontally to the right of the main page content.”
It makes sense, since webapps are going to need as much flexibility as they can get from Chrome’s existing windows. Sidewiki, which is a Google-made extension that allows users to add additional content to web pages, could use this type of API; currently Sidewiki pops out under the extension as opposed to being a full sidebar.
You can read more about the experimental sidebar API here. In the proposal, Shlyapnikove says that sidebar functionality can be already be tested for development purposes by using the “–enable-experimental-extension-apis” switch.
It has been big news recently that Chrome has overtaken Safari as the third most used browser in the U.S. While this statistic is one that’s skewed towards the United States since Chrome and Safari have been neck and neck, the reality is that Chrome took third place worldwide over Safari back in September.
The main reason that America has lagged in this regard is probably the fact that Apple sells so many computers in the United States, coming with the well regarded WebKit-based Safari.
But the point of this post is to understand how Chrome got this far in a period of two years. When I first tried Chrome as an early adopter-type in the beginning of 2009, I liked the design interface and the idea of “sandboxing” where every tab was its own process. The problem with Chrome at that time was one of compatibility: there were sites that did not function correctly with Chrome, a surprise to me because of its WebKit roots.
Over time, which really isn’t long by Google’s measurement, Chrome evolved. Many sites needed to adapt some functionality to Chrome, but for the most part it was the folks at Google working fervently to make the best browser available. Perhaps they knew that they were making the foundations of an operating system at the time, who knows?
In December 2009, Google launched the Chrome Extensions web site, an opportunity for the company to better compete with Firefox’s vaunted library of add-ins. Not only did they take an existing idea, they improved on it by putting security limits around extensions at their site, making sure that proper measures are taken to make sure that personal data and important computer processes cannot be compromised through the browser. Clicking around at the Extensions site the other day it appears that there are over five thousand now available.
In the beginning, Google offered an extension that you could install into Chrome and translate different languages of the web. Then they started adding it into the development Chromium builds, and finally it was released with the launch Chrome 5 to users a few months ago embedded in the browser itself. This feature is so easy to use, and it unlocks the web for everyone to read no matter their language. Google took an existing service they had and put it right into the browser where it’s the most useful.
No Messing With Flash
Maybe Google sees something in Flash that Apple doesn’t, but they decided to take a very different approach to handling Adobe Flash than Cupertino. Instead of eschewing it completely, Google has embraced the technology. Flash is used in YouTube videos, for some streaming music sites and I’ve recently noticed it needs to be installed to use Google Analytics. So, unlike other browsers that require you to install it and then update to newer revisions manually, Google preempts any inconvienence and risk by making it a part of Chrome.
In the End
Relentless innovation has gotten Chrome browser this far. This is due to Chromium as an open source resource as well as the amount of manpower that Google has thrown towards it in anticipation of Chrome OS. I didn’t even get to talk here about interesting features like the omnibox, bookmark sync and geolocation, but they are an aside to these three major developments that are propelling this browser’s growth. How much market share can this browser take from Internet Explorer and Firefox in the months and years to come?
Google axes Windows, saves millions.
Extension tips: Syncing notes across multiple computers with Chrome Notepad.
iPad rivals at Computex favor Android.
Chrome extension opens PDFs and PowerPoint with Google Docs.
In a bid to potentially undermine one of the main strengths of Mozilla’s Firefox browser, Chrome’s own version of the add-on is growing at a pretty good clip. That’s because the official Chrome Extensions count now is over three thousand different ones that you can install. This is pretty significant not just because it threatens Firefox’s dominance, but also the speed at which extensions developed for Chrome has grown in the past few months.
It was only in December that the extensions site was opened up for what was then Chrome 4 Beta, starting initially with a nascent 300 that were available, developed by both internal Googlers and outside developers.
Extensions are an easy way to customize Chrome. As an example, there are some good Twitter extensions as well as others that can help you keep your tabs organized or have a list of daily tasks to do right within the browser. This is all in an ongoing effort to make a majority of personal computing tasks located within the browser environment. I’ve previously written about some of the most interesting ones that I have found, but with so many coming out every day, there are probably some new ones that I need to check out.
With that being said, there are also some that don’t work very well, and can cause your browser to crash or just be plain annoying. Good thing its easy to uninstall them in that case. But at least with Chrome, extensions have some security features built in and need to be signed off by Google before they are allowed to be a part of their official directory.
Comodo, a mid-sized security company based in the United States, has decided to release it’s own version of Chrome browser that puts a particular focus on security aspects. It’s Comodo Dragon Internet Browser, and the purpose, according to the company, is to offer a safer and more protected web browsing experience. Their website notes that there are millions of potential malware and privacy threats that are out there, and that this browser is built to protect from these vulnerabilities.
I went ahead and downloaded Comodo, and while you can tell that the Chrome UI has largely stayed the same, they have added their own skin to Comodo that make it their own. Like Chrome, when you install the browser, it allows you to import your things from whatever browser you have been using, which is helpful.
One of the first things I realized about this browser is that I was unable to install extensions. This would lead me to believe that Comodo Internet Browser is based on an earlier version of Chromium browser that did not support extensions, but I’m not entirely sure of that after reading their technical documents and forum. You are able to install your own theme – but for some reason you’re not be able to install extensions. That could be an issue for some people, especially since you aren’t even able to use Google’s own approved extensions from their official site.
It appears that the main benefit of using Comodo right now is to restrict Google themselves from accessing the information that is normally sent back to them while you surf. Features that are inherent to Chrome browser have been stripped out. This include things such as reporting back to Google’s servers of the version number of the browser, the GoogleUpdate auto-updater, usage statistics and RLZ-tracking, which sends to Google information about where you downloaded Chrome from.
I surfed around with Comodo Dragon, and the experience wasn’t any different from using the latest Chrome version, which is 5 Beta right now. Although Comodo’s website says there are added security features, I could not find any located within the options menu. In fact Chrome 5 has more content setting options than Comodo Dragon, so my guess is that they plan on adding more features with a security focus soon.
You can download Comodo Dragon Internet Explorer right here. Unfortunately, it only runs on Windows for now – from XP and up.
I’ve already talked about dealing with too many tabs, and its probably not beyond reason that there are others that have the same problem that I do. That’s why I appreciate the Unread Bookmarks Extension. Instead of leaving a tab open for days until you come across it and is now worthless in value for whatever reason, you can save the most important ones that you know you aren’t going to get to anytime soon.
That’s exactley what the Unread Boomarks Extension can do for you. Instead of using Chrome’s crappy (in my opinion) history interface to try to search for something after the fact, you can simply store it as a saved place that you can go back to that isn’t really a bookmark. And its probably better that way, as that is the purpose of this extension; its just a way to save a temporary bookmark.
As it sits in your extensions area of Chrome, you can look at your unread bookmarks whenever you feel like it. That’s the point, right? If you feel like checking out that link, or applyong fpr that job, you will when the time is right. You can even open your list as its own tab where you can jump into new tabs, reorganize by priority or even delete certain sites. It’s your choice.
You can check out the Unread Bookmarks extension here. You’ll probably like it. I know that I do.
Google has announced today that the Chrome Beta 5 browser for Mac now has support for Bookmark Sync and Extensions. Bookmark Sync allows users to have access to their bookmarks from whatever computer they can access their Google account from. Extensions are small applications that allow for additional functionality mo found in the standard release of the browser application, and are created by independent developers outside of Google.
You can check out the official directory for Google Extensions right here. With thousands of extensions already available, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which ones to install without feeling like you are overloading your browser with bloat. If you’re interested, I have written an article about some useful extensions you might be interested in trying out that I have found to be useful to my browsing experience.
The task manager has also been integrated into this new version. Since tabs in Chrome are running as separate processes, this can be helpful in casa a page or application within the tab becomes unstable and/or is buggy. There also now is Cookie Manager in Tools as well.
Google has posted a video for users who are interested in trying out the browser for themselves:
For users who already have Chrome – don’t worry about updating, as the browser will do so itself. You can always go to your tools menu (wrench icon) and go to About Google Chrome to see if you have the latest beta release, which is 5.0.307. Remember, this is for beta users of Chrome 5, not the stable release of Chrome 4.
You can get Chrome 5 Beta here if you don’t have it already. Users who are interested in checking out the entire release information put out by Google themselves can check out the entire post right here.
Extensions that now run in Chrome browser could easily be labeled as applications themselves, and in the near future I’m pretty sure that’s what they will be. It will be especially true when you consider that Chrome OS will run next to every program for users native to the browser itself. With applications really being the focus of an operating system, it’s important that all the parts work together right and give an experience that a user wants to come back to. Although making a device work is part of the goal, speed and simplicity help in terms of making a better UI than what is currently available:
As the clip also talks about, customization for users is also going to be key. For example, you can create extensions that provide HTML-based popups, yet do not create another tab in the main screen which could seem obtrusive. Towards the end of the video there is an example of what is really exciting about having extensions and people developing interesting new apps for this platform because of the potential to make more interactive content.
There are a lot of offical Google resources out there for getting started developing an extension. The best part about learning about this early is that an extension for the browser will be able to be used in the operating system when it is released.
I rarely ever use the default Chrome homepage that is set up. Basically, it gives you the eight most popular sites that you use, a listing of recently closed tabs and a row of bookmarks that line the top of the window. When I am opening up a new tab, it’s generally because I’m inspired to find some information and I want to get to a website as fast as possible.
Looking for a way to better prioritize my work, I was searching for an extension or app that would be effective in putting together a list of things I need to get done. Fortunately, someone has already thought of this by creating the Things To Do Extension. Instead of every time you open Chrome or a new tab within the browser and seeing the default favorites page, you can have a reminder that yes, you do have stuff that needs to get done:
From the options menu, Things To Do is fairly customizable. You can change the color of the background in case you need a bright reminder of what needs to get done. You can modify the font in several different ways – type, size and color. But in terms of simplicity, all that needs to be done to make this extension work for you is fill it with the most important things you need to do. That will help you get them done, since you can’t avoid seeing them every time you venture to another place on the internet.
You can download Things To Do from the Google Extensions site.
Some people find that extensions (also known as add-ins if you’re a Firefox user) to end up being meaningless bloat that simply slows down the perofrmance of their browser. But I beg to differ. Chrome has some plugins that can seriously change your web browsing experiences, and while some of these extensions are available in other browsers, the speed with the which these run along with the browsing experience differentiates Chrome from its comeptition. Not that there’s anything wrong with a little competitive drive in order to further progress technology.
1. Google Translate – We do live in a global world, and at this point language should no longer be a barrier to information access. That is essentially what this extension does. Instead of copying and pasting text into babelfish – which is what I used to do for translation – I can now click on a icon in the top of my browser and get a translation into English. No, it’s not always perfect but it does the job better than any other free translation tool out there.
2. Chromed Bird - While subjective to whether or not you use Twitter, but for those who do, Chromed Bird allows you to essentially eliminate a browser tab by having an extension that is able to keep you up to date on the latest tweets. You’re able to use this to send out messages as well as get pop-ups when you are replied to or retweeted. This is excellent for the power Twitter user.
3. Google Mail Checker Plus – This is an awesome extension for those who obsessively check their email; let’s just hope for the sake of this extension that you use Gmail. Installed as an icon in your browser, Google Mail Checker Plus will let you know if you have any new messages. It also allows you to reply, delete and compose new messages all from whatever browser window you may be in. So you can write that quick email on the fly, should you be inspired to.
4. RSS Subscription Extension – It’s great that every major site for information has an RSS feed, but it can only be useful if I am able to organize that information into my RSS reader so that I can be updated in real time the latest news and other goings-on around the web. That’s why the RSS Subscription Extension is so useful to me. When a site has a feed that is available, there is an RSS icon that is displayed in my address bar. I simply click on it and I am whisked over to the RSS reader of my choice for saving the feed. Pretty useful, and if you have never really got into RSS feeds, this extension helps out a lot.
5. TabJump – Ever experience tab-madness? If you have, then you should try Tabjump. Neatly placed in your navigation bar, TabJump allows you to better interpret the mass amount of tabs that come with modern browsing. You are able to look at full descriptions of the tabs you are looking at, plus they are also grouped as related topics. You can also reopen recently closed tabs, which often happens in mass ordeals when your system memory starts to freak out because of all the Chrome instances you have open.
Did I leave out your favorite extension that make Chrome the best browser to use or has changed your experience using the internet? Let us know.
Now that extensions are available for the Chrome browser across all platforms, the Chromium team from Google has posted on their blog some resources for developers to get started working with Chrome to develop apps for both the browser and eventually what will be the Chrome operating system that is expected to ship in the third quarter. Third quarter Google Chrome netbook? Sounds a little early, but at least that’s what Acer has been saying today.
Anyways, with the newest stable release of Chrome browser (version 4), there is support for some things like the Web SQL Database API for localized storage, a Websockets API for faster data tramsmission and unobtrusive status alerts for users.
As for where to get help for Chromium related development, those interested in extensions can head to the official Google threads to get involved in that discussion as well as take a look at a short tutorial on how to create your first extension. There is also a new Chromium HTML5 Group that was just started recently. And for those of you who have used the Chromium OS Discuss Google Group in the past, it has moved to a new location, so be forewarned that old posts from the previous Group database have to be found at the old site to search for answers from. Otherwise, you may need to post a question that has already been asked at this point.
And while not so technically-focused, we also have a forum here for discussion.
Coming out of beta, Chrome browser is now at version 4 stable. What does this mean? Well, the most recent version before today that was being run was a beta of version 4, and now Google has declared it a “stable release”. Some of the features that have been enhanced in this version include support for extensions, which are pretty much like Firefox’s add-ins. Also, Chrome 4 has a host of newer application programming interfaces (APIs) for web development that will provide better performance as well as increased support for features such as offline storage. Unfortunately, this is only a new stable release for Windows. The Linux and Mac versions are still in beta for now.
So where do you get it? Don’t worry, as this is part of the Chromium project: automatic updates for major releases.
With version 4 moving to stable, Chrome browser’s bookmark sync is also coming out of beta. What bookmark sync does for users is allow them to keep the same links with them as they move from computer to computer as long as the are using the internet with Chrome. It’s accessed through the tools menu, and you’ll need to sign into your Google account in order to allow your bookmarks to be properly saved. You can check out more about bookmark sync here.
But the biggest deal is the amount of extensions that are now available on the official site. There are now extensions for every platform. By Google’s count, there are over 1,500 extensions that are available. My favorite? I recommend checking out Google Translate, which allows you to surf to sites that don’t speak your native language. Pretty cool. You can also check out a video about Chrome 4 here: