Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge join forces to improve browser extensions
The teams behind Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge browsers have come together to improve extensions, add-ons that you can download to customize the software. This should mean that your extensions will perform better and have a better security base to protect you from malware.
On Friday, the teams unveiled a discussion and development forum at the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, dedicated to developing standards for extensions. The forum, the WebExtensions community group, provides a space for engineers to create a unified, more secure baseline for extensions.
The group also hopes to make it easier for developers to write extensions, as a shared standard will help bridge the differences between browsers.
“We aim to identify common ground, [browsers] into closer alignment and chart a course for future development, ”community group members said of their goals. There is not yet a public calendar for the publication of a draft of the standard or its integration into browsers.
Extensions are crucial for PC browsers. Pieces of software can block ads, integrate with password managers, remove code that follows you around the internet, and find coupons when you place items in your shopping cart. An extension allows users to replace Donald Trump photos with cats.
Google’s Chrome is the world’s most widely used browser. But the differences between browsers mean that an extension developer is less likely to support other browsers. Standardization should align browsers to reduce difficulties for developers. There will always be differences between browsers, but the community group plans to ensure a common core of capabilities.
The news comes on the eve of, the Apple Developer Conference which runs from June 7 to 11. At WWDC in 2020, Apple announced that it was adopting Chrome’s extension approach in Safari, although significant differences in packaging extensions for Safari remain.
The idea of standardizing extension technology has been around for years. Opera, another browser maker, tried to unify extension technology when it adopted Chrome’s extension approach in 2010.
One thing that won’t change is the way you get your extensions. Each browser manufacturer has their own extension download site, along with procedures for checking them out. The focus group will not address this topic.
But several other aspects of the technology are under discussion, according to the browser extension group’s charter. The group hopes to define programming interfaces that are as compatible as possible with today’s extensions, that do not slow down website performance, that do not compromise privacy, and that increase security to “reduce damage.” what compromised or malicious browser extensions can do. . “
Compatibility is the top priority on the list. “It should be relatively easy for developers to port extensions from one browser to another, and for browsers to support extensions on a variety of devices and operating systems,” says the group’s charter. .