So today I started to look into Chrome extensions. Firstly, lets just say there are a lot of them. 761 in fact (and this number will probably have increased by the time I publish this post.) Especially after today when the social media world has been buzzing about the fact that Google advertised Chrome to a million people in the UK via this mornings Metro.
I’ve just read a blog post on webmonkey.com by a guy who is not a Chrome extensions convert. He cites the lack of some plugins that FF have – this is probably true, but it is still very early days, and it has been pointed out before how much easier Chrome extensions are to develop than FF ones. More significant however, is his point that Chrome will struggle to match FF in terms of extensions because of their guidelines which are designed to prohibit “products or services that violate third party terms of service, or products or services that enable the unauthorized download of streaming content or media.”
With all this in mind, I have explored the Chrome extension library to see how the current offerings compare to FF’s. They are certainly a lot easier to install as you don’t have to restart your browser each time, but not as easy to search as they are not yet organised by category. Here are some of my findings:
- Drag-N-Go – similar to FF’s Quick Drag in that I can highlight text in a web page and automatically search by dragging it up or down. Lets you pick which search engine to use depending on which direction you drag the text, which is a nice extra.
- Invisible Hand for Chrome
- Firebug Lite
- Google Wave Notifier – so I have only recently started using Wave and have just downloaded a FF extension that does the same thing. For both you have to select how often you want it to refresh, which is surely a fundamental flaw to this plugin – the whole point of Wave is that it is in real-time, so having a notifier that only refreshes at set intervals defeats the point. The only other solution I can see is keeping your Google Wave tab always open, which is not ideal (as you can probably tell I am yet to be convinced by Google Wave!)
- AdBlock – this is also available for FF but I hadn’t noticed it before – this is an advantage of there being less Chrome extensions at the moment! Blocks adverts from webpages (especially noticeable in Facebook)
- IE Tab – lets you run IE from within a Chrome tab. Can also be configured to automatically check when you open a webpage if that page would work better in IE.
- Google Calendar Checker – I like this a lot. It tells me how long until the next event on my calendar, and if I hover over it tells me what that event is. Also provides a nice way to get straight to your calendar.
- YouTube HTML5-ifier – uses the HTML5 video element to play videos in YouTube instead of Flash. Makes the video more efficient and use less CPU. Mainly I found this interesting as an example of the HTML5 video element actually being used, as it’s something we’ve been talking about recently.
- Mini Google Maps – by clicking on the toolbar button you can open a mini google maps pop-up. Useful as it doesn’t interfere with your browsing and means you can quickly check an address.
- Aviary Screen Capture – This is nice – not only can you take a screenshot very easily, you can then also edit it in your bowser with Aviary.com applications.
The main thing I noticed was that most of what is there is something that already exists as a FF plugin. But I guess this is to be expected. And they have certainly appeared quickly. The main problem with FF extensions is that if you are running a lot of them it tends to slow down page loading time. Chrome is notoriously quick at this without extensions, so if they manage to avoid this problem, they are certainly onto a winner.