Tech companies collaborate to improve browser extensions


 

Browser extensions can be difficult to develop and maintain, especially for extensions that want to support more than one browser. Firefox, Edge, Opera, and others built their own extension APIs across Chrome. But every browser adds its own changes and doesn't always implement new Google APIs.


And all major browser makers are now forming the WebExtensions Community Group, which aims to standardize APIs and functionality across all browsers. The W3C announced in a blog post: We are pleased to announce the launch of the WebExtensions Community Group (WECG). Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla are building this community group and they welcomed other browser makers, add-on developers, and interested parties to join this effort. The group aims to make extension development easier, by creating a common hub for functionality, APIs, and permissions.


Improving performance and security, as well as preventing abuse and privacy are other goals.


Browser optimization


The standardization process follows the same pattern as developing web standards. But it won't force browsers to ignore exclusive functions or APIs. Each browser vendor continues to operate its own add-on store completely independently. With its technical policies, revision, and editing. WebExtensions have been used as a generic term for a Chrome extension API over the past few years.


Opera adopted it when the browser switched to Chromium base in 2013. Firefox moved to the API in 2017. Safari also added support for it last year. However, the available permissions and APIs vary greatly across different browsers. The consolidation process is therefore significant news for developers. And if it works, add-on developers will have an easier time creating tools for all browsers. The effort uses existing APIs as a basis with more details available in the charter.


The group said, we do not aim to define every aspect of the existing web extension platform or applications. And we want browsers to continue to innovate and ship APIs that may serve as the basis for further improvement of the web extension platform.


Chromium-based browsers, such as Vivaldi and Edge, largely follow Chrome with few if any tweaks.

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