Government // Enterprise Architecture
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12/1/2008
06:27 PM
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Google Chrome Browser To Support Customization

The move gives Google's Web browser the same level of third-party extensions as Mozilla Firefox.

Google has launched an effort to make it possible for developers to offer ad-blocking and other extensions for Chrome, a move that would give the Google Web browser the same level of customization as Mozilla Firefox.

The ability to install third-party applications that add capabilities chosen by users, but not provided by Mozilla, is a key reason for the open source browser's popularity. Google is apparently borrowing from that playbook in proposing the extension system to Chromium, the open source project behind the development of Chrome.

Google's proposal was introduced over the weekend in a blog post from Aaron Boodman, a Google programmer working on Chrome. The design document outlines areas that would have to be addressed, such as application programming interfaces to connect extensions to the Chrome engine.

Under the heading "use cases," Google lists some types of extensions that the company would like to support in Chrome, such as ad and flash blockers. Google makes its money from selling Web advertising but has decided not to ignore two of the most popular Firefox extensions. Other third-party apps Google says it would support include bookmarking/navigation tools, download helpers, and privacy and parental controls.

Having an add-on system from Chrome tops users' wish list. "If I can't even add a third-party extension, this browser won't stay long on my computer," one person wrote on the Chromium forum.

Google did not set a timetable for releasing an extension system for Chrome, but the design documentation for Chromium developers indicates the search engine has already started to work on the technology.

Google designed Chrome to be lightweight and fast, to have a minimalist user interface, and to resist crashing under have JavaScript demands of Web applications. While a reviewer for InformationWeek believes Google has largely met its goal, not having an extension system gives rival Firefox the upper hand. Microsoft also doesn't provide an open extension system for Internet Explorer.

Extensions give users more choices in customizing the browser to meet their needs, while relieving the browser maker from having to add a lot of features that can hinder performance. Internet Explorer accounts for more than 70% of the browser market, followed by Firefox with almost 20%. Chrome, which is in beta, has less than 1%.

InformationWeek has done its own breakdown of Google Chrome. Download the report here (registration required).

If you haven't seen Chrome in action yet, take a spin through our Google Chrome image gallery and have a look at the browser that's being touted as a game-changer.

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