The Google Chrome Web Store is now open to developers. The developer preview means that developers have a fair amount of time to acquaint themselves with important aspects of the web store ahead of its public launch later this year. They can begin uploading apps through the Google Chrome Extensions Gallery and experience what selling web apps through the online store will feel like once it is live.
“Developers can now start uploading apps and experiment with packaging them, installing them in Chrome (using the latest Chrome dev channel) and integrating our payments and user authentication infrastructure,” Google said in a blog post. The web apps uploaded to the gallery during the developer preview will remain invisible to the general public.
We're not under any illusion that people refrain from running ad blocking extensions in their browsers (though we do hope your favorite technology site is on the whitelist). The Chrome Adblock extension (which many of you probably use) has added a new trick that brings it up to par with the Firefox Adblock Plus extension. It can now block ads from loading at all, not just remove them from the rendered page. In doing so, Adblock developer Michael Gundlach has made known a feature that only recently found its way into Chrome.
The so-called "beforeload" event was added to the Webkit trunk, and eventually made its way into Chrome. It was not contributed to Webkit by Google, but By Apple, who uses the same engine for their Safari browser. Googler Aaron Boodman said of the situation, "Thank Apple. They added it to WebKit. We just inherited it." Boodman also has pushed for the open Chromium project to allow better blocking options in the name of privacy.
So Chrome users can't say Apple never did anything for them anymore. Do you run an Adblocker in Chrome? Have you noticed a difference
Mozilla is working on an uncharacteristically big feature addition for the upcoming release of Firefox 3.6.4. The Firefox team has been hard at work to develop a component segmented system similar to the one that makes Chrome so crash resistant. Now the so called "out-of-process" plug-in feature is expected to roll out in the next release.
An out-of-process plug-in would run as its own process separate from Firefox itself. For example, in the Windows task manager you would see Firefox.exe as well as a process for each plug-in . In this way, a crashing component would not have to bring the browser to its knees. Firefox could endure crashes of Flash content or Java much as Chrome does.
The 3.6.4 release is planned for a May 4th rollout. Frankly, the sooner we see this the better. With the rapid pace of Chrome development and adoption, the folks as Mozilla can't afford to wait. If you just can't wait, the most recent nightly build has the feature enabled. So, any Chrome users planning to give Firefox another go with this feature?
Experimenting with new extensions is part of what makes Firefox great, but if you downloaded either the "Sothink Web Video Downloader", or "Master Filer", you probably snagged a nasty Trojan for your troubles. According to an entry on the Mozilla Blog both these extensions contain code which exploit vulnerabilities in all versions of Windows, and were downloaded close to 5,000 times before being spotted.
The extensions in question were contained in the "experimental" area of the official Firefox add-on site, and while it might seem like little consolation for anyone who got infected, users grabbing extensions from this section are warned before download that this could happen. Mozilla employs a special add-on scanner which supposedly checks all new entries for malicious code, but they were forced to acknowledge that the security process failed. "[Add-ons] performs a malware check on all add-ons uploaded to the site, and blocks add-ons that are detected as such," said yesterday's blog posting. "This scanning tool failed to detect the Trojan."
Mac and Linux users who downloaded these add-on's are unaffected, but anyone who used the extensions in Windows are being warned by Mozilla to delete all traces of the infected file, and run a virus scan. Mozilla is promising to boost the number of times it scans files for malware in the future, and will also step up how often it scans its entire catalog of add-on's.
Does this hurt your trust in Firefox extensions? Or was this bound to happen eventually?
Grown tired of Firefox or simply want to shake things with your browser? If so, you're in luck. Never has there been a better time to consider Google's Chrome browser, now in version 4. Not only does Chrome finally support extensions, but Google has now added native support for Greasmonkey user scripts as well.
"Ever since the beginning of the Chromium project, friends and coworkers have been asking me to add support for user scripts in Google Chrome," Aaron Boodman, a Software Engineer on the Chrome Project, wrote in a blog post. "I'm happy to report that as of the last Google Chrome release, you can install any user script with a single click. So, now you can use emoticons on blogger. Or, you can browse Google Image Search with a fancy lightbox."
No small deal, the addition of Greasemonky gives Chrome users access to over 40,000 scripts on userscripts.org along, Boodman points out. And because each one installs just like an extension, they're easily accessible to all users.
Boodman warns that not all Greasemonkey scripts will work in Chrome right off the bat. The reason? Greasemonkey, if you're not aware, is a Firefox add-on, which means that scripts written up to this point have been aimed at working with Mozilla's browser. Because of this, Boodman expects some 15-25 percent of Greasemonkey scripts won't work in Chrome, but recommends letting the author know if you run into one that appears busted.
"In the meantime, we'll keep working on bugs on our side to bring our implementation closer to Greasemonkey," Boodman added.
First, it was Firefox, then it was Chrome, and now it is VLC. Another fantastic open source software title is making it easy for developers to enhance an already fully featured application.
At the moment, VLC extension support is limited to the nightly builds, so there currently is not a “stable build,” and subsequently there aren’t many extensions to download (one, in fact). The extensions use a lightweight scripting language known as Lua, which is embedded inside the media player. Extensions can range in functionality from getting lyrics and finding subtitles, to getting the latest concert information for an artist.
It’s interesting to watch product development in the raw. Google’s Chrome is just a basic browser. But the underlying technology allows for so much more. Once Google gets Chrome stable it pushes Chrome forward, opening up new features that make it more useful--all of which we get to watch in real-time. Two new features, which appear in the newest stable Windows version of Chrome, are extensions and bookmark synchronization.
Extensions aren’t really new, for Chrome or any other browser. But, Google has moved them out of their beta stage and into the release version. Extensions add versatility to Chrome, allowing easy access to favorite web applications, or streamline common online tasks, such as getting directions or browsing photos. Google says there are now over 1,500 extensions available, ranging from AdThwart to Chromed Bird (for Twitter) to Google Mail Checker.
Bookmark synchronization isn’t a new concept either, but a free version is. Google has built in the option for those with Google accounts. Each computer you use can be set up for near instantaneous syncing of bookmarks, regardless of which computer a bookmark is created on. It’s a simple matter of turning on the sync bookmark preference and letting the “magic” happen.
Not on Windows? Google says that extensions for Linux are in enabled on the beta channel. Mac users, however, are going to have to cool their heels--Google is still working to implement them in the Mac beta.
The addition of extensions to the latest versions of Chrome have given Google some serious geek cred in the browser market, but for the most part the extensions we've seen to date are typically knock offs of versions that have been available to Firefox users for years. What Google needed to win over the hearts and minds of those on the fence was a feature nobody else could offer, and now they have it. The Google Voice extension for Chrome is now live, and adds some killer new features to the snappy little browser for anyone who also uses their free voice service.
One of the most useful new additions is the ability to click and call any phone number you find in a web page. This is extremely handy when surfing through business listings, and when you click the number you are given the option to use any of the phone numbers linked to your account. Users will also have a voice icon added directly to the right of their address bar which will allow them to call anybody in their address book, or even send and receive text messages / transcribed voicemails.
TechCrunch has reported some instability in the latest Mac version, but since most of our readers are typically running Windows, I don't expect this will be much of a problem around here. Is this enough to get you to switch to Chrome?
Google has released a new Chrome extension at Google Campfire One. Bruce Johnson, Engineering Director, wrote on the Google blog about a cool new developer tool unveiled at the development gathering.
The new extension dubbed “Speed Tracer” is aimed at web developers and helps to optimize performance of web applications. The Speed Tracer application features many useful metrics for developers to identify performance issues within a particular application. Of note, it features a “sluggishness graph” that shows developers a quick and dirty overview of how the application performs and where it should be streamlined.
Brian Rakowski, the Google Chrome product manager, dishes out the details on the Official Google Blog. The Google Chrome betas for Mac and Linux, he says, were engineered to meet the demanding expectations of both platforms. Mac users, he says, will be impressed with the almost instantaneous launch time--so fast “there’s hardly even time for the icon in the dock to bounce!” The Mac version integrates with Mac features, such as the Keyhain, spell check, and SandBox for enhanced security.
For the Linux beta, Google remained faithful to the open source community, with more than 50 contributors contibuting to Chrome's foundation, Chromium. Google Chrome for Linux fits natively with the operating system where possible, including integration of native GTK themes, and updates managed by the standard system package manager.
Google, according to Rakowski, is all too aware that a browser without extensibility just isn’t a browser. But, at the same time, Google didn’t want to jeopardize Google Chrome’s speed and stability. Extensions, according to Rakowski, accomplishes these objectives. Extensions, says Rakowski, “are as easy to create as web pages, easy to install, and each extension runs in its own process to avoid crashing or significantly slowing down the browser.” Rakowski says there are more than 300 extensions now ready for use, but only for Windows and Linux boxes.