Google Chrome Extensions

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Google Chrome Extensions

Based on the approved scope for this research, the detailed process of publishing an extension in the Chrome Web Store was presented below. The process involves the creation of the extension's zip file, the creation of a developer account, the extension file upload on the Chrome Developer Dashboard, the addition of assets, and the submission for publishing approval. Once reviewed and approved, the extension can now show up in the Google Chrome Web Store. These extensions should deliver a single objective that is sharply defined and simple to grasp. The extension details should not be in conflict with Google's developer policy.

Google's Extension Publishing Process

Creation of the Extension's ZIP file

  • Create a ZIP file that includes all the files associated with the extension.
  • The extension's manifest file needs to be in the ZIP file and it must have the following fields at the minimum:
  • "name": — name shown in the Chrome Web Store and in the Chrome browser
  • "version": — Metadata version, incremented
  • "icons": — An array indicating the icons that the extension will be using
  • The ZIP file may also contain other graphics and files that the extension needs.
  • The components of the ZIP file and the manifest will also be based on the specifics of the extension as indicated in the extension file guide.
  • It is recommended that the initial version number in the manifest be set at a low value (ex. 0.0.0.1).
  • This is to provide more leeway for the version number to increase once updates to the extension need to be loaded.
  • If the extension utilizes Native Client, the "application directory hierarchy and the ZIP file" can be arranged strategically to minimize the size of the user download bundle.

Creation of a Developer Account

  • Before an extension on the Chrome Web Store can be uploaded, a user needs to create first a developer account on the site.
  • The user will then need to access the developer console, register as a "CWS developer, pay a one-time registration fee," and agree to the terms and conditions.
  • If the extension is already in Google Play, there is also an option to have an "Available for Android" text on the Chrome Web Store listing. This can be made possible by ensuring that the extension has the same name on both sites. The developer account used should also be the same.

Extension File Upload and Addition of Assets

Submission for Publishing

  • The developer will then need to complete the additional listing information before the extension can be submitted for publishing.
  • There are four tabs that need to be reviewed and completed.
    • The Package tab shows the details of the uploaded extension. The page's fields are grayed out and cannot be edited when the developer first creates an extension entry.
    • The Listing tab indicates the details of the extension and how it will appear on the Chrome Web Store.
    • The Privacy tab needs to be updated with how the extension handles privacy and security matters.
    • The Pricing and Distribution tab allows the developer to indicate the countries that can list the extension and which segments can see it.
  • Before publishing the item, the details above need to be completed first.
  • Once done, the developer can hit the "Submit for Review" button.
  • The dialog shown below will then pop up to confirm if the developer wants to proceed with the review submission.
  • The confirmation popup above can also allow the developer to modify the publishing timing.
  • If the checkbox will not be ticked, the extension will not be published as soon as the review is done. The developer can then have the option to publish manually based on his or her preferred timing after the review is completed.
  • After the extension is sent for review, the review process will commence. The timing for the review process will be based on the nature of the extension.
  • The review completion timing ranges from a few hours to several weeks depending on whether the extension has some elements that might be against Google's standard policies. Other reasons for review delays revolve around powerful permissions that need a thorough review.
  • New submissions and updates to current listings will all need to undergo the same review procedure.

Best Practices when Publishing Extensions (What to Do?)

  • Extensions should deliver a single objective that is sharply defined and simple to grasp.
  • These small programs can have several components and various features but they need to harmonize with the overall purpose of the extension.
  • User interfaces should be kept to a minimum. These should also have a definite purpose. These extensions can appear as a simple image like the Google Mail Checker extension. They can also be activated to dominate an entire page.
  • Extension files are compressed into one .crx bundle that the users can download and install. This signifies that these extensions are independent of any content from the web as opposed to web apps.
  • Google also recommends using the group publisher in the Chrome Web Store to enable better coordination between extension owners.
  • The group should be set to private and seen only by those who are authorized to publish the extension.
  • If the group publishing option is not feasible, corporate emails can be used to publish extensions. Personal email addresses should not be used for this purpose to avoid problems when someone in the group leaves the company.
  • Avoid filtering emails to ensure that any communication about the extension such as take downs or violation notices can be readily seen and acted upon.
  • Developers would also need to configure a strong two-factor authentication security setup on all the accounts involved. The advanced protection program can be used as well.
  • Developers are also advised to regularly update their extension code paths to ensure that they can comply with the updated security and privacy guidelines. New Chrome releases should be regularly monitored as well.

Watch-outs When Publishing Extensions (What Not to Do)

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