Browser extensions make all of our web browsing experiences a lot easier, but they don’t often play well across the entire spectrum of browsers out there. Fortunately, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla are teaming up to change that.
The Browser Giants, Working as One
As announced on the W3 blog, the four browser titans are coming together to agree on how web browsers should handle extensions. The four companies sitting at the discussion table all own a browser that ranks in the top four browsers for market share; Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Microsoft’s Edge, and Mozilla’s Firefox.
If you’ve ever tried to move browsers, you’ve likely felt frustrated when you realize that your new browser doesn’t support all the extensions you liked on your old one. Or, you find that the extension developer made a version for your new browser, but it doesn’t work as well as it did on the old one.
This gathering of giants is likely a move to help make those problems a thing of the past. As W3 says:
Our work will be guided by a common set of HTML and W3C TAG design principles: user-centered, compatibility, performance, security, privacy, portability, maintainability, and well-defined behavior.
W3 is quick to add that it doesn’t want to box in what a browser can and can’t do; neither does it want every browser’s extensions to come from a single store. Instead, W3 believes that companies need a little bit of freedom to help innovate and create new things.
However, if these talks go down well, extension developers will have a much easier time porting their product to other browsers. In addition, the W3 charter states that extension developers should be able to spread their net without having to re-write their product every time, which should dramatically cut down development time.
However, it’s still very early days for the group, and nothing has been set in stone just yet. So we’ll have to sit tight and see what happens.
Are Cross-Browser Extension Woes a Thing of the Past?
It can be unpleasant to find that your shiny new browser doesn’t come with all the extensions you know and love. Fortunately, a new partnership between the top browser developers on the internet may make it a lot easier to bring one extension to every browser.
Hopefully, this meeting of the minds will help make extensions a lot safer for people to use. Rogue extensions have been caught stealing user data in the past, so hopefully, some standards will help patch out the holes and keep you safe.
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