Call them extensions, plug-ins or add-ons; the terms probably owe their popularity to Firefox. The knock on effect is that it has almost become a gold standard for browsers to be judged by. Why not as these days we live inside the browser rather than anywhere else.
The need for extension support was almost a clarion call as soon as the browser hit the market. The ability to extend the browser’s prowess using little third party apps is what separates Firefox from the herd. And Google has been playing catch-up.
Has it caught up? No, but it is definitely a few yards closer.
The good news is that Google Chrome now officially supports browser extensions. That’s the little bit of good news along with the fact that there developers are jumping on the Google bandwagon and packaging new code to broaden the scope of the browser.
The little bit of bad news is that Google Chrome extension support is still not a feature of the stable version of Chrome but you get it in the latest build of the dev channel release. But as the Chromium team’s blog says, extension support is on the runway and taxiing towards a takeoff for all versions.
Not to get confused between Chrome and Chromium – Chromium is the open-source project behind Google Chrome which Chrome relies on for its final build.
So let’s get up and running with installing extensions in Google Chrome.
- Download and run the 2MB Dev Channel installer from the Chromium Developer page.
- The updated version (18.104.22.168) features an extension manager. The extension manager can be accessed in two ways ““
- Type in chrome://extensions/ in the location bar of a new window or tab.
- Access it by clicking the wrench icon and then Extensions.
- To those of us more attuned to the Add-ons box of Firefox, the extension manager will seem very basic. It features just three tools. The developer version gives you tools to load, pack and update extensions. Remember, Chrome still does not have anything similar to an add-ons gallery, so a direct route to search and select Google Chrome extensions is lacking.
- Click the install link below the snapshots and download the package and install in Chrome. If you have downloaded it to your hard drive, just drag and drop it into the browser window.
- For valid extensions, the Installed extensions section in the Extensions manager, displays the confirming information.
- Uninstalling or disabling the extensions is also just a matter of a single click from the extensions page.
But all this brouhaha for just three sample extensions! It could be a big letdown, if not for third party developers working behind the scenes on extensions of their own. I can straightaway suggest to you two sites that could empower your browser by a bit”¦
These sites are not associated to Google but are merely a place for independent developers. But they are the groundbreakers in every sense of the word as Chrome tries to become the internet’s Swiss army knife like Firefox. The salvo has been fired by Google. With time it could be a toss-up between browsers. We just have to pick the browser we want.
Do you think Chrome could soon match up? Do you know of any other sites offering Google Chrome extensions?