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Monday, June 21, 2021

Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Mozilla are Working Together to Improve Browser Extensions

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Browser extensions are undoubtedly useful for users, whether its Chrome extensions, Firefox add-ons, or extensions for Safari. However, developing them across different browsers is often a hassle for developers. In an attempt to standardize browser extensions, key tech giants in the browser space including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Mozilla have come together to form the WebExtensions Community Group (WECG).

WebExtensions Community Group

The goal of WebExtensions Community Group (WECG) is to make it easier for developers to create extensions. To achieve this, participating browser vendors want to specify a consistent model of functionality, APIs, and permissions through this community. WECG also wants to improve the overall reliability of extensions by outlining an architecture that enhances performance and security.

“Using the existing extensions model and APIs supported by Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Safari as a foundation, we will start by working on a specification. We aim to identify common ground, bring implementations into closer alignment, and chart a course for future evolution,” wrote the W3C Team in the announcement post.

However, this doesn’t mean that browsers will no longer introduce new APIs that power specific use cases. In the same post, W3C clarified that the community will not specify every aspect of the web extensions platform.

“We don’t plan to specify, standardize or coordinate around extension signing or delivery. Each browser vendor will continue to operate their extension store fully independently, with their own technical, review, and editorial policies,” the post added.

The community urges other browser makers to join this effort. Furthermore, it will invite contributions after unveiling the first draft of the specification. If you want to learn the specifics of how this initiative will impact you as a developer, check out the full charter on GitHub.

Hopefully, we will soon be able to get better extensions for our Mac and Windows browsers, and everything else.

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